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Industry Profile: Green Technology

Rebekah Bishop - Tuesday, November 27, 2012
What is Green Technology, and how can it improve your business strategy?

Green technology has become a buzzword over the last few years, referring to a variety of innovative products and techniques designed to promote sustainable living. As both our need and awareness increases for alternative methods of protecting the Earth's resources, green business strategies have become valuable tools for increasing efficiency as well as attracting a growing market of eco-minded consumers. Many business owners still believe that green technology can benefit only those businesses involved in energy or food production, however, with the advances being made in areas such as heating systems and recycling methods, every business can find ways to employ earth-friendly alternatives to their existing processes.

Developing and providing green technology has been the platform for many new businesses to find their niche in a competitive world, businesses such as Wolbrink Architects Chartered, a Chicago architectural firm that designs and constructs eco-sensitive, energy efficient buildings. Their ongoing project, Green Dream, is creating ENERGY STAR-rated condos in Chicago. Impressively, each unit is between 46.5-57.5 % more energy efficient than ENERGY STAR's baseline standards. In response to this incredible innovation, Wolbrink Architects received the 2006, Mayor Daley's Greenworks Award for market transformation. http://www.wolbrinkarchitects.com/

Directly capitalizing on green technology, is the dry cleaning service, Greener Cleaner. Using a liquid silicone solution, the non-toxic alternative to the commonly used perchloroethylene, Greener Cleaner is able to say that their product is safer to use and non-hazardous to the environment to make or dispose; it also cleans more effectively and is gentler on fabrics, giving clothing longer life cycles and reducing waste. http://www.greenercleaner.net/

Even fashion can be green, as proved by Mountains of the Moon, an eco-friendly clothing line that focuses on sustainability and responsibility. They are committed to using only low-impact dyes and long lasting fabrics such as cotton and hemp, grown without the use of pesticides and manufactured in US, sweatshop-free facilities. Designer, Melissa Baldwell intentionally creates “designs that are stylish but that can also be worn for multiple seasons and that surpass short-lived fads and trends . . . less likely to end up in landfills.” http://www.mountainsofthemoon.com/

Innovative businesses like these are receiving encouraging responses for their contributions to the green movement. Not only do a growing number of consumers prefer green products, but some states and influential corporations have begun to offer incentives to green businesses. Several grant funds are available in Illinois, including assistance for installing efficiency technologies to incentives for green building projects. 

http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?State=IL 

In the corporate world, the investment firm, Goldman Sachs, announced this year a “$40 billion target for financing and investing in clean technology companies over the next decade.” http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/focus-on/clean-technology-and-renewables/index.html

Other opportunities available to green-minded entrepreneurs include franchising schemes which allow you to operate your own business from an established platform. One such opportunity is being offered by EASI Energy Automation Systems Inc. which creates products designed to improve efficiency in existing electrical systems. EASI provides the needed training, tools and support to entering affiliates, and start up costs are minimal as inventory is kept by the corporation, and affiliates may work from home and at their own pace.

http://www.energysavingbusiness.com//energy-automation-systems-opportunity.php

Another valuable resource for Chicago entrepreneurs is the recent establishment of the Green Exchange building housing a wide range of tenants each operating a sustainable business within the localized community. Renovated from a factory built in 1913, the five story building now features state-of-the-art green technology including a green roof with 8,000 SF organic sky garden, high efficiency heating and cooling system, a 41,329 gallon rain cistern, and an escalator with occupancy sensors. Tenants benefit from increased exposure, synergy opportunities with like-minded businesses, and reduced overhead as a result of building efficiency and by sharing common spaces and amenities. http://www.greenexchange.com/

Opportunities like these make eco-awareness a valuable and even necessary consideration for forward thinking entrepreneurs. To learn more about how you can green your business or start a green business, visit these additional resources.

Green Certification and Industry Partnerships: http://www.sba.gov/content/starting-green-business

Find Green Business Grants: http://www.brightgreentalent.com/green-business/green-business-grants/

Green Franchise Opportunities:

http://www.franchisedirect.com/greenfranchises/?gclid=COnypqjA4LMCFexAMgod1VUAGw

5 Green Businesses You Can Start From Home: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/199952




Raising Capital Takes 3 P's

Grace Yi - Thursday, January 12, 2012

Posted by Brian Jenkins

 

 

 

I believe that every challenge presents an opportunity.

Identifying the capital to move your idea from the dream stage to launch stage is both a challenge and an opportunity. First know this: you are not alone.  For many launching their first business, or even for those who have successfully launched, identifying start-up and growth capital is a daunting task.

My own experience in raising capital proved to expose and engender me to opportunities that I had never expected. However, the difference between chasing capital versus securing it has more to do with you than you think it does.

A few years ago, I was invited to pitch a project to a new group of potential investors that I had never met at their investment club meeting. A few of the people there were some of Chicago's key business leaders and represented significant wealth--the 1% as politicians would refer to them as. For the most part, they were regular people that happened to be friends of the host, and I enjoyed meeting with them. Though nervous at the onset of my presentation, I kept it focused and clear while confidently sharing about the opportunity involved. The host pulled me aside as people were preparing to leave shortly after my presentation and informed me that enough funding was secured to move the project forward. I was elated! What occurred next was remarkable.

On my drive back to Chicago, I received a call from a couple that had attended the presentation, asking if they could schedule a meeting to learn more about my story and the details of the company. I was shocked at their interest, but knew I had to be prepared for an opportunity I hadn’t anticipated.

We met as scheduled over breakfast and connected while learning about our respective backgrounds, families, and future goals. A single question was then asked of me: “What would you do with $250,000 in investment?” Though caught off guard due to the nature of their interest in my work, I responded—to their amazement—by pulling out 2 copies of my business plan for their review. Surprises were exchanged both ways, but it wasn’t for any lack of preparation on my end that prevented our conversation from moving forward.

The next day, I received a call asking when I would like to stop by their home to pick up the check. I had secured investment capital and found partners who wanted to join me. That experience has informed me to advise many entrepreneurs, both youth and adults, to always: Pitch your ideas, identify Partners, and always be Prepared for success.

The 3 P’s in Raising Capital:

  1. Pitch, Pitch, Pitch (and then pitch some more) your idea within your circle. A colleague shared, “If you don’t pitch…you won’t know what the questions are.” Most presentations and pitch opportunities will likely lead to future prospects to pitch, allowing you to “Tell Your Story” while connecting you to seasoned experts in the field as well as their networks. 
  1. Partner – Identify a capital partner within and outside your circle of influence. Many will immediately say, “But I don’t have a capital partner!” My response: new ideas may require new relationships. It’s likely you’ll have to expand your circle. They’re out there, but where do potential capital relationships “hang out”? Find out who they are, where they work, what do they do, and what social gatherings they typically attend to get to where you want to go.
  1. Preparation – Total preparation demands strategic anticipation. Simply put, if you want to successfully secure capital, you must anticipate securing the capital before the meeting takes place. Developing a healthy Positive Visual Outcome (PVO) will hone your awareness. Visualizing yourself executing the steps in your business plan requires prior planning to achieve outcomes for yourself as well as the potential investor(s) you meet with. Many entrepreneurs have great ideas but have not planned for success, thereby limiting their own opportunities.

 

photo credit: Liz Song

 


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