Insights from Greentreprenuer Panel Sponsored by MIT/Stanford Venture Lab

Green Cleantech Circuitboard used in Consumer ProductsLast night I attended a panel discussion called GREENtrepreneurs Help Individuals Go Green: Green Tech for the Consumer Market sponsored by MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB)

Venture capitalists have begun funding greentrepreneurs who are inventing green-consumer products that the mass market consumer will purchase. We all know about the green car, the solar panel, and the CFLs. The question is: What will come next? What factors will influence consumers to adopt new products.

Three greentrepreneurs presented their product pitch to a sold out crowd:

  • Michael Murray of Lucid Design Group: A energy dashboard to help building owners track and monitor energy use. Universities and corporations are some of the early adopters. (According to the speaker, as of January 2008, the Lucid Design Group is actively searching for more employees.)
  • Frank P. Paniagua of Green Plug: This company is solving the problem we all face with product-specific chargers that are bulky and awkward to travel with. The new GreenPlug charger will be used with any product and will “know” how much power to pass on to the product.
  • Ron Gonen of RecycleBank: An innovative business model that encourages residents to recycle to help cities reduce the amount of waste the goes to landfill. The more residents recycle, the more coupons they earn to use for everyday purchases.

The two VCs at the event (John Denniston of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and Steve Westly of The Westly Group) discussed a number of the variables that will increase the rate at which consumers purchase green products.

  • Green consumer products must provide a financial advantage as well as make a substantive impact on emissions.
  • Innovative public policy is key to speeding up the shift to green products. (If you have skills you can contribute in the public policy arena, this is an opening to have a big impact on the green movement.)
  • Putting a price on carbon (through a cap and trade system or a tax) will impact the entire marketplace.
  • Increasing research funding will enable technological breakthroughs to happen more quickly.
  • Shifting subsidies from the coal industry to the solar industry will stimulate the renewable energy sector.

The site indicates they offer videos of past events. This service is free while they test the system. Watch this page to see if the Greentrepreneur event hits their video page.

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