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Public crisis in clean energy – Read Kassia Yanosek’s article in Foreign Affairs

August 4th, 2011 by Greg Boutin

Kassia Yanosek, a friend and ex-classmate at Stanford, just co-wrote a fascinating article in Foreign Affairs on “The Crisis in Clean Energy“.

Stimulus to renewables are certainly a controversial topic in times of financial restraint. In an ideal world, renewables could compete on an equal footing with 20th-century sources of energy because there would be no subsidies (direct and indirect) to carbon and nuclear energies, and there would be market-based mechanism to incorporate societal costs (e.g. effect of emissions on health and environment) into their prices as well.

Unfortunately, it is not an ideal world just yet, so a faster way to level the field is to subsidize renewables. Easier said than done because, as opposed to the largely hidden subsidies to the oil and nuclear industries (military support, environmental clean-up, health system etc), the direct subsidies that renewables receive are much easier to pinpoint and attack.

Quick article excerpt below – I suggest you read the rest on Foreign Affairs.

Plugging the commercialization gap is far trickier than plugging the technology gap because the costs are greater and the best policies require government agencies to work alongside private actors without undermining market competition — a delicate balancing act. And it is in this area that the clean-energy industry is most in trouble today.

Kassia Yanosek

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Emotional intelligence and startup fundraising (“Pathos”)

June 27th, 2011 by Greg Boutin
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) skills by four qua...

Image by slark via Flickr

In my previous post, I explained the importance of a logical business case anchored in compelling facts. I’ll expand in a future post on how to build a solid case. First, let’s highlight that in practice, compelling business cases will frequently fail to convince investors. And occasionally, entrepreneurs with evidently subpar business cases will manage to close a financing round. Why is that?

In a nutshell: because investors are people too. Yes… even venture capitalists. Since some may disagree on whether they have a heart, let’s just call it a right brain – the part of our brain that contains the subjective, intuitive functions.

Investors use their right brain extensively when making go-or-no-go investment decisions. While those decisions might sometimes seem illogical as a result, there are several reasons investors rely on more than just a purely analytical approach: (more…)

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The art of Inception for fundraising entrepreneurs (“Logos”)

June 23rd, 2011 by Greg Boutin
Inception-movie-poster

Image by Shing Yan via Flickr

In the movie Inception, any logical incoherence in the structure of a dream threatens to interrupt the dreamer’s suspension of disbelief – and wake them up. Pitching investors is a lot like incepting them: they need to (literally) buy into your dream. And likewise, the logic of your case must be flawless.

What makes it even harder is that, just like in the movie, most investors’ subconscious is militarized. Professional investors in particular, such as venture capitalists, have developed a fairly good BS detector, and will kick you out of their heads quickly if they detect logical impossibilities in your case. Friends and family are easier, but that’s because you’ve already overcome one of the key defense mechanisms: trust (we’ll come back to that point later in this series of post). Usually they will still turn you down if they don’t believe in your dream, though. (more…)

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Web appsThe art of Persuasion for fundraising entrepreneurs (or what you can learn from Aristotle and Steve Jobs)

June 22nd, 2011 by Greg Boutin
Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...

Image via Wikipedia

As a budding entrepreneur, you might have the best concept in the world, but if you can’t communicate it effectively and persuade others to believe in you and in your project, you will fail regardless. On the other hand, mastering Persuasion could make you the next Steve Jobs (who hasn’t heard of his “reality distortion” field?)

That is especially true in the context of fundraising. Unless you have a history of building successful startups (and even then), potential investors, clients and collaborators will judge you based in large part on the credibility and rigor of your business case. (more…)

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