In Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on October 22, 2011), show host Donald Simon talks with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek Ventures to discuss current trends in the cleantech investment landscape.
Claremont Creek Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in early stage information technology companies. Their East Bay location allows them to work closely alongside many excellent research-driven “incubating institutions,” such as UC Berkeley, UC Davis and the Lawrence Livermore and Berkeley Laboratories.
According to Randy, the investment climate is actually seeing some positive moves, despite what you read in the papers. He claims that there is a 12% uptick in 3rd quarter investing over 2nd quarter in the cleantech space this year. And Northern California is a great place to be in this sector. We still get 35 – 40% of the deals being done in the United States and about half of the total dollars. While the early part of the year saw increased IPO activity, the overall venture capital investment climate is stronger now than it has been in the past couple of years.
Donald and Randy discuss the impact of the research and development funded by U.C. Berkeley and local labs. Historically, these types of institutions have not been as nimble as some of the private schools and institutions when it comes to licensing the technology they develop. Even so, the fundamental “game changing” research that they can inspire sets a great stage for technology to evolve into the marketplace.
Further, Randy shares his view on the market shift in the types of deals being done. Previously bigger amounts of money went to fewer projects. More recently the trend has move toward smaller deals that look like early stage software technology deals. The models of lean investing that have been previously used in the technology industry are becoming more popular in cleantech. Deisgn, develop and deploy runs parallel to programs for customer engagement to speed the time to market and ensure a strong company launch. While these tactics have been used for consumer internet companies for a number of years, other industries including cleantech and healthcare are adopting the tactics.
The two wrap up with a brief discussion of the common pitfalls that Randy has seen with early stage companies when they neglect some fundamental legal issues in their early development. So often, young companies start out with a couple of friends and a handshake. That may be a fine way to start out, but ignoring issues regarding how the company will be structured and who owns what rights to innovation can lead to problems down the line. As he says, “It matters if you’re successful.” So what are the three key areas that deserve attention? Randy suggests:
- Corporate Formation
- Intellectual Property and Licensing
If you’re interested in hearing more perspectives on the investment climate and meeting some of California’s “Game Changing” clean tech companies, check out the California Clean Tech Innovation Conference happening in Oakland on November 2-3. Randy will be a panelist at the Energy Efficiency session. Go to the conference website for more information or to register.
At the Kaiser Center in Oakland CA, you will see California’s leading Clean-Tech policymakers… Hear from “Game Changing” Clean-Tech companies on Energy Efficiency, Water, Recycling & Environmental issues along with renewables such as Solar, Water, & Wind & Green transportation. Also speaking will be Clean-Tech experts from California’s leading Universities & Federal Labs, as well as numerous Angel Investors, Venture Capitalists & Private Equity Funds. Grow-California brings all the influencers together at one Clean-Tech Conference. http://www.grow-california.com/conferences/clean-tech-innovation/
Interview with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek: Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum (27:35 mins; mp3)
California Cleantech Innovation Conference website: http://www.grow-california.com/conferences/clean-tech-innovation/
Claremont Creek Ventures website: http://claremontcreek.com/view.cfm/3/Home
Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html
Donald Simon website bio: www.wendel.com/dsimon
March 19, 2011
In Episode 6 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Saturday, March 12, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), Dick Lyons discusses the opportunities and consequences of issuing Series A stock, or a first round of convertible preferred stock, as a means of raising money for our fictional company GreenCo.
Usually issued at some point after the company has raised its initial capital from founders, family and friends, the Series A stock can infuse the company with much needed capital for growth. Along with Series A, come “redemption rights,” which allow investors to demand the company repurchase their shares after a set period of time. What might this mean for our fictional company GreenCo?
Listen to Episode 6: wendel_forum_6.
March 11, 2011
Having a great idea is not enough to bring your product to market. You also need to fund it. In Episode 5 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Saturday, March 5, on Green 960 AM radio) Dick Lyons discusses investment in a green business (a hypothetical company called GreenCo) from the investor’s perspective. In future episodes we’ll address investment issues from the company’s perspective. To raise capital, a green company can offer convertible preferred stock. What’s in it for the investor? What about offering dividends?
Tune in to Green 960 AM radio at 11:26 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, to hear a continuation of the investment conversation. This time focusing on Series A stock and redemption rights.
In other news, Dick is currently attending the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim. Say “hi” if you see him. Reports from the floor indicate there is a lot of activity and some great new products being showcased. Hot trends this year include gluten free products, natural sweeteners, and clean labeling (check out this Food Navigator interview with Chris Kelly, Director of Technical Service for Advanced Food Systems at the Research Chefs Association conference in March 2010). We’re following the chatter on the Twitter feed #expowest and posting from @WendelRosen.
Link to the audio download of Episode 5: wendel_forum_5
Link to Green 960 AM radio green morning line up: http://greenmorning.org/pages/greenmorning/
Link to Natural Products Expo West website: http://www.expowest.com/ew11/public/enter.aspx
Link to Food Navigor interview: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Financial-Industry/Facing-the-challenge-of-clean-label-demands