GloSho’15: 6 Questions and 3 Takeaways from the Event
I ducked under a spiderweb revealed by the drops of dew from the early morning. As I drove along PCH, fog floated in the air along the coast. The traffic lights diffused into translucent snow cones, and the slick roads ruined any hope of a clean car for the day. The smell of the ocean creeped through the car filter, and the fog felt like the ocean’s blanket from a long night’s sleep.
Once the sun rose, the fog lifted and life went on along the coast of Southern California.
Did you know fresh water can be harvested from fog by using a “fog net?” I sure didn’t, but I do now. An actual fog net imitates the way a spider web collects moisture from early morning dew. I met the company leading this project at theLos Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s (LACI) third annual Cleantech Global Showcase: GloSho’15 at the JW Marriot @ L.A. Live. I was thrilled to engage with many other cutting-edge green tech startups who were displaying their new and innovative technologies positioned to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
The two day conference, presented by JP Morgan Chase & Co., kicked off with a speech from Mayor Garcetti. Its focus was connecting entrepreneurs with investors, as well as a discussion of the evolving cleantech investment ecosystem not only in Los Angeles, but globally. GloSho’15 Expo showcased over 80 startups representing entrepreneurs from the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Finland, Israel, China, Japan and India.
This world-wide slice of startups had the opportunity to meet with local and international investors, as well as interact with Los Angeles community cleantech enthusiasts. More than just a showcase and competition, GloSho’15 provided the stage for an impressive list of speakers, featuring expert panels on cleantech and clean transportation issues.
The ballroom drew large crowds on both days for speakers, including California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who shared his passion for innovation in regards to renewable energy and clean technologies.
I had the pleasure to sit down with Fred Walti II, President and CEO of LACI, and Executive Director of the GloSho’15 conference. Here are six questions and three key takeaways for startups interested in the cleantech space.
Q1. What is the GloSho’15 event all about?
The purpose of the conference is to gather the ecosystem players in cleantech together: all of the entrepreneurs, all of the investors, the scientists, business associations, and corporate players, all in one room for two days. The goal is to listen and learn together, meet and greet, and do some deals.
Q2: Tell me more about the different elements of the conference?
We have structured it into three parts. The first day is all about investors. If you are an entrepreneur looking for investment, we had over 30 investors from all classes, from seed to corporate players to venture capital. Investors took the stage and talked about what their respective investment landscapes for cleantech as we gear up for 2016. The second day is the reverse, focusing on innovation. The third element was our GloSho’15 Expo with 80 companies, 25 of which gave presentations about their disruption and innovations in a range of seven different technology sectors.
Q3:Why do you think LA is a hub for cleantech?
Los Angeles is a leading city when it comes to sustainability. We have the second largest green economy in the country, we employ more people in the clean economy, it is fast growing, we do more hybrids, we do more recycling. One great example of how LA continues to be a leader is how Mayor Eric Garcetti has appointed the very first ever City of Los Angeles Chief Sustainable Officer, Matt Peterson. And Matt has put together a sustainability plan to make the city sustainable in the next 5 to 10 years, a big part focusing on electrification of the fleet, such as police cars and trash vehicles.
Q4: Do you see more hardware or software?
Our companies tend to be more hardware oriented because they are clean technologies; they are motors, generators, batteries, and solar. Yet at the same time, we have a lot of IT companies aimed at making greater use and efficiency of energy. There are a number of sensor companies that gather data, and then figure out how to sell the data to make the environment of the building more efficient. We have a number of companies that are a combination of hardware and software, companies I call deep tech. They all have very difficult jobs to do, but particularly difficult and more time-consuming when they have to introduce new technologies to deal with existing infrastructure.
Takeaway #1: Think about how you can gather and sell data to make existing infrastructure or systems more efficient.
Q5: Is there a sector that entrepreneurs should look at that is underserved?
There is one that I’m most interested in, but it is pretty well understood. It is energy storage. The key to the entire sustainability world resides in driving down the price of either lithium ion batteries or figuring out utility scale energy storage solutions. That way, we can harness wind power and solar power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once we can do that, the sustainable generation of energy will change everything. I just believe that energy storage is the key to everything and there are a lot of people working on it, but no one has really solved it yet. Tesla’s batteries are incredibly expensive. Elon Musk is approaching it via scaling, which is a terrific thing. He is building a huge battery plant, one way to drive down the cost. But there is a lot of new and interesting technologies out there. The Holy Grail of sustainable energy is energy storage of one kind or another. There are a lot of people working on it, but when someone cracks that code, it will all change.
Takeaway #2: Crack the code for energy storage and you shall find the Holy Grail!
Q6. What are the biggest mistakes you see entrepreneurs make in the cleantech space?
I think that entrepreneurs make two primary mistakes, regardless of the sector, but it is more accentuated here in cleantech because it is more difficult. First mistake is they don’t talk to the customer as they are designing their technology. They design the technology, and then and only then do they refer to the customer, leading to a mismatch between the features and customer satisfaction. We encourage our folks to iterate quick, but iterate with customers, so that you are building something satisfying the needs of someone willing to pay for it. Second mistake is not watching your cash. Cash flow is critical for all startups, and too often I see companies run out of cash.
Takeaway #3: Iterate with your customers closely, and keep your cash close!
View the conference program here for more insight to the topics of discussion, and if you are interested in learning about how to get involved with either the LACI or next year’s GloSho’16, find more information atwww.laincubator.org.
#Cleantech #glosho’15 #sustainable #greenbusiness
What are some green tech and sustainable energy companies that we should all be on the look out for? Please share via comments!