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:

  1. Corporate Formation 
  2. Intellectual Property and Licensing
  3. Employment

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. 

California Cleantech Innovation Conferencecleantech conference icon
November 2-3, 2011
Kaiser Center Auditorium

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.

Post Links:

Interview with Randy Hawks of Claremont Creek: Episode 37 of The Wendel Forum (27:35 mins; mp3)

California Cleantech Innovation Conference website:

Claremont Creek Ventures website:

Green 960 AM radio website:

Donald Simon website bio:


In Episode 32 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on September 17, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio) show host Bill Acevedo takes a closer look at our oceans, a subject near and dear to his heart as an avid surfer. Show guests are Ashok Kamal, CEO of Bennu, and Dean LaTourrette, Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition, a non-profit engaged in coastal protection.

Ashok Kamal Photo

Ashok Kamal of Bennu

Ashok was the author of “Blue is the New Green” a recent blog post on Triple Pundit that gotten a fair amount of attention for its focus on the issues of preserving our oceans.

He argues that when we talk about environmental issues, we often fail to talk about our oceans as a part of this holistic system. Problems ranging from trash in our oceans and its impact on the ocean ecosystem to the acidification of our oceans can go largely unnoticed, but are not separate from what happens above the waterline.  Bennu, his social media marketing company, has taken on a number of initiatives to build creative and tactical online campaigns supporting eco-friendly companies and causes, including a recent one called Ocean Aid.    

Dean LaTourrette Photo

Dean LaTourrette of Save the Waves Coalition

Dean shares some of the programs that Save the Waves has in place to help combat issues around sea level rise and coastal erosion. He points to a study just released bySan Francisco State University professor Phil King that attempts to place economic valuations on coastal environmental losses for California cities.  

Other Save the Waves programs discussed on the show include the Surfenomics program (which has put an environmental and economic value to Mavericks of about $24 million annually), world surfing reserves, and analysis of the fight to save Sloat beach, a 3 mile stretch that offers world-class surfing in San Francisco.  

Show Posts:

Listen to the interview: Episode 32 of The Wendel Forum (27+ minutes, mp3)

Bennu:  (from here you’ll find links to all of their social media pages)

Blue is the New Green blog post on Triple Pundit:

Save the Waves website:

Bill Acevedo’s website bio:

Green 960 AM radio website: