The Academy Rewards


We spent last weekend at the Cleantech Open Academy in San Jose. That’s right, the whole weekend. In the middle of the summer. In a Doubletree next to the airport. And it rocked.

Well, maybe it wasn’t quite as much fun as the quinceanera on the main floor ballroom on Saturday night looked to be. But it was fabulous nonetheless.

There are few things more valuable to a cleantech startup than free advice from successful VCs, serial entrepreneurs and business school professors. And I dare say there are few things more encouraging to an entrepreneur or investor than the caliber and spirit of the semifinalists in this year’s Cleantech Open. There are few things we find more encouraging either: 163 “damn the torpedoes” startups, founded and run by hundreds of courageous, smart, and resourceful people from across the country.

Also great to see? Valley legends like Steve Blank offer up gems like these:

There are no facts inside your building, so get the Hell outside.”

“I don’t believe in customer data unless I can see pupils dilate.”

And music to our ears specifically, from other presenters:

“Make it simple; translate it into English. You have great stories to tell; tell your story!”

(Seth Mones of the Appollo Group)

“Clear communication differentiates winners from our semifinalists.”

(Rex Northen, Executive Director of the Cleantech Open)

We look forward to working with the teams from the 16 Rocky Mountain semifinalist companies. And we can’t wait to find out whose stories make the judges’ pupils dilate this Fall. They’ll be the companies we’ll all be reading about next year.