5 Questions in 5 Minutes: Rob Writz


We find it fascinating to learn why people do what they do and think what they think. Last month, we checked in with Rob Writz, Director of New Ventures at CleanLaunch, a Colorado-based cleantech incubator.

Why do you do what you do?

My personal value system leads me to seek out professional experiences that contribute to multiple bottom line returns. My goal is that the work I do provides positive economic, ecological, and/or social benefits. I want to do the right thing, and make a lot of money doing it. Economic, ecological, and social returns are not mutually exclusive of each other.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to look back on the incremental victories and defeats and see how they culminated into a growing startup, product, or service. The work that CleanLaunch and impact entrepreneurs do is all about grinding execution. Execute, execute, execute. We are always striving for the next stage, milestone, or version and it is refreshing to take a moment to pause the frenzy and to celebrate the journey.

In your experience, what’s the one thing that most often gets in the way of great marketing?

I frequently see confusion of the expression of value in the customers’ terms. Entrepreneurial ventures that target multiple bottom line returns frequently have direct paying customers and “n” indirect customers who also derive a social, ecological, or economic benefit from the product/service. To raise capital and execute on that capital we must have the challenge expressed through the paying customer’s terms, but we frequently underestimate the power and influence that indirect customers have on operational results post product launch.

What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned as a marketer/advocate?

Marketing is all about customer development. Marketing goes far beyond the 4 P’s and has a strategic role to play in determining what markets to enter, when to enter, how to enter, and how to integrate the customer into an iterative product development process.

If you could wave your wand and make any product or service in the world a smashing overnight success, what would it be?

I am going to cheat and wave the wand twice. First, it would be for the startups and companies using gamification to influence consumer behavior. We do a lot of work to commercialize more efficient energy, waste, and water technologies, but the best technologies won’t matter if we don’t change our usage behavior. The second wave would be for a transdisciplinary social and economic shift in the use of the valuation of ecosystem services for decision making. We do not have an economy without the provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural contributions of the natural world.


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