Click to continue reading »
Young entrepreneurs are often thought of as naive or idealistic, that is, until their fresh perspective and unabashed distain for “the status quo” turn an industry on it’s head. That’s the goal of Martin and Rob Drake-Knight, the two brothers behind the, Isle of Wight based, Rapanui Clothing Company.
Don’t be fooled by the homemade website, limited product offering or simple designs. These guys turned a profit with their first clothing line, while raising the bar for transparency of a products complete life-cycle. Not to mention, they’ve caught the attention of folks like Ben & Jerry’s, redesigned clothing’s conventional distribution system and still find time to get a few surf sessions in.
I sat down and had a digital chat with Rob Drake-Knight, Rapanui’s Marketing Director. This is an edited version of that conversation.
[Matt Levinthal] What made you guys want to start Rapanui?
[Rob Drake-Night] Two main reasons; 1) we both got sick from surfing in polluted waters from the field run of agriculture chemicals 2) Martin was studying Renewable Energy Engineering and was bombarding me with information about the state of the planet. We both had some experience working in clothing and knew there was a growing gap in the market.
How did you come to building the business around supply chain transparency?
The idea was born from frustration caused by the abuse of buzz words like “organic” and “green,” basically greenwashing.
Do you select products by what can be made sustainably or by trends and just figure out the sustainability part?
We tend to back engineer. We start with the end in mind and work out how we’re going to do what we want to do. We’re looking at some really sweet belts and flip flops made from recycled rubber at the moment as well as a number of other cuts for the women’s garments. The next collection is coming along nicely.
What have your biggest challenges been in creating this level of transparency?¬†
Click to continue reading »
Click to continue reading »
If you haven’t heard of RecycleBank, it’s only a matter of time. The company bills itself as a “premier rewards and loyalty program that motivates people to recycle” and the New York Times calls the premise, “elegantly simple.” In brief, RecycleBank partners with municipalities or private haulers to measure household recycling via a smart computer chip in each recycling bin. They then compensate participants based on the quantity of their recyclables.
Founded in 2004, RecyleBank is already active in 18 states. According to Marketing and Communications Director Lisa Pomerantz, Recycle Bank is on pace for exponential growth and projects that by the end of 2009 “We’ll be servicing millions of people as we launch across the states and into the United Kingdom.”
Winner of the World Economic Forum as a 2009 Technology Pioneer, the company won its seed money via the Eugene M. Lang Center for Entrepreneurship award from Columbia Business school. Ron Gonen, CEO and cofounder of RecycleBank, made some time to reflect on scaling the company from his New York City apartment to a growing global enterprise.
Back in February, we highlighted Mission Motors, a quintessential startup founded in a San Francisco garage and fueled by no shortage of innovative thinking, driving vision, and just enough chutzpah to make it succeed.
The product borne of that driving vision is the Mission One, an all-electric, emission-free motorcycle that debuted at this year’s TED conference as “the fastest electric motorcycle in the world.”
That’s the kind of statement that leads one to say “prove it.” Mission Motors is the kind of company that plans on doing just that. In its own full-torque, whisper-quiet, and screaming fast sort of way.
This is one electric bike that’s not intended for your morning commute to your job across town. It has a bigger point to make.Click to continue reading »
Question: What has a steering wheel is made from carrots, has a body made from potatoes, is powered by waste chocolate and vegetable oil, and it goes 125 mph around corners?
1. Bugs Bunny’s carrot mobile
2. Mr. Potato Head’s Funny-Face Car
3. GM’s latest prototype
4. A Formula-3 race car
The answer, of course, is #4, and it’s the Environ-MENTAL, the first Formula 3 race car designed and made from sustainable and renewable materials, and, according to its designers, “putting the world first by effectively managing the planet’s resources.”
The Environ-MENTAL is the vehicle of choice for the WorldFirst Racing Team, a project of the University of Warwick’s U.K.-based Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (WIMRC). The team’s goal is to prove to the automotive industry that it is possible to build a competitive race car using environmentally sustainable components. Much like electric-car manufacturer Tesla, the team seeks to change the common perception that environmentally-friendly means boring. They want to prove that sustainability can be exciting.
WorldFirst has set out to design not just a racing car, but an entire sustainable racing system: “If you are going to wholeheartedly embrace the ‚Äògreen is great’ ethos and do more than merely posture, you have to broaden your vision. This must encompass a strategy that stretches throughout the chain from the raw materials to the final disposal of the car. The project clearly demonstrates that automotive environmentalism can and should be about the whole package.”
Click to continue reading »
Every year, homeowners with fruit trees, whether they be orange, lemon or apple, face a dilemma: what to do with all of the excess produce? If they are industrious and have some free time, they may avail themselves of nature’s bounty by cooking up some homemade jam, pies or cobbler. But for the kitchen-challenged, fall may bring nothing more than a front yard littered with rotting citrus remains.
But, there’s another side to this story. Every harvest, under the cover of darkness, shadowy figures stalk the urban landscape, seeking the sweet nectar which sustains them. They call themselves by various names: Strawberry Stealer, Cherry Picker, Pineapple Pirate, but they all share one thing in common: an insatiable need for homegrown fruit.
Kaytea Petro, a local San Francisco artist, maker, entrepreneur, and recent MBA graduate has a vision: bring peace and harmony to this apocalyptic scenario by dragging local fruit monsters out of the shadows, and providing them with the thing they crave: cheap, local fruit grown right in their neighborhood. Owners of the aforementioned bounty now have a way to feed these endless hordes of ravenous fruit-feeders, while making use of their previously-untapped seed-delivery devices.
When Kaytea first told me about her concept for Neighborhood Fruit, connecting local fruit tree owners with those looking for pickable fruit in their neighborhoods, I though she was, pardon the pun, “nuts.” It turns out that I was completely unschooled in the ways of the “Urban Forager.” Apparently, there are some very dedicated groups of people all over the country, who scope out available local fruit trees, and share that information with their fellow foragers. According to the trend-watching organization The Intelligence Group, sharing back yard harvests is a new hip trend, along with D&D drinking games, cop glasses and fixed gear bicycles. There has also been a surge in local food growing due to the state of the economy. After learning all of this, I realized that Kaytea was on to something really neat.
It’s well under a year old, but Virgance has managed to do something completely unusual: attach a business model to activism. How? By starting anti-boycotts. By fostering collective bargaining for alternative energy buys. By letting ordinary citizens dip into huge corporate philanthropy funds.
What started last year as one novel idea – that maybe consumers should try to buy their way into making a business more sustainable – has grown into a venture-funded startup that calls itself a platform supporting Activism 2.0. If the Web 2.0 movement showed that the Internet could be monetized, Activism 2.0 might prove that do-gooders can turn a profit.
Brent Schulkin is an energetic 28-year-old who always seems to have a group of people around him. He certainly did when I met him at the K&D Market in San Francisco’s Mission district one Saturday morning in late March last year. In fact, there were hundreds of people, lined up nearly around the block waiting to get into a completely unremarkable bodega. Schulkin, by using email, Facebook and bevy of other social media tools, had managed to entice the crowd to arrive and shop en masse, forming what he called a Carrotmob (oh, that’s Carrotmob™ now). To earn such patronage, K&D agreed to use a 22 percent cut of sales made during the buying frenzy to make efficiency improvements in the store.Click to continue reading »
Click to continue reading »
Shripal, your observation that business considerations tend to delay the implementation of carbon sequestering is acute. The ecological value of an implementation now is indeed much greater than in the future, but yet the carbon pricing trend would indicate the reverse. I think this is the classical “Don’t miss it till it’s gone” syndrome.
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire Joe
And they call the wind Mariah”
– from the song
In the wide and seemingly ever-expanding world of renewable energy technology, vertical axis wind turbines haven’t gotten much respect. Besides challenging age-old design conventions, the fact that they are suited to small-scale, distributed and off-grid applications has meant that they’ve been pretty much orphaned by the fast moving, big money crowd. Those attitudes have been changing of late, however; thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of people working at and investing in entrepreneurial start-ups such as Mariah Power.
The “offspring” of a successful entrepreneur and two inventors who, having come up with a design for an extremely efficient generator, decided to apply it to the design of a vertical axis wind turbine, more than 100 of Mariah Power’s Windspire 1.2-kilowatt VAWTs are now up and running around the country, and the company and partner MasTech Manufacturing are about to start high-volume manufacturing at the latter’s upgraded metal fabrication and assembly plant in Manistee, Michigan.
“I believe we’ve already changed some attitudes about vertical axis wind turbines, by taking our product seriously. There are a lot of people who really want to see a VAWT succeed, they just didn’t think it could be done,” Mariah’s Tracy Twist asserted. Click to continue reading »
Since the L3C appeared on the social venture scene last year, this new corporate form has been catching on. One of the latest L3C entrants is interSector Partners, L3C, a Colorado-based consulting firm headed by Rick Zwetsch and Caryn Capriccioso. The new firm is offering education and consulting services to nonprofits, for-profits, and government agencies. They also plan to consult with any new ventures exploring the L3C route.
The L3C is a new form of limited liability company which combines the best features of a for-profit LLC with the socially beneficial aspects of a nonprofit. Robert Lang, CEO of the Mary Elizabeth & Gordon B. Mannweiler Foundation, Inc. who created the L3C calls it “the for-profit with a nonprofit soul.” This hybrid business form is designed to attract a wide range of investment sources from foundation Program Related Investments (PRIs) through to conventional investors seeking market-rate returns. Last year, Vermont became the first state to recognize the L3C as a legal corporate structure, and similar legislation is pending in other states. Click to continue reading »
When attempting to connect consumers with causes, there is no greater tie than tapping into the local community. While high profile causes are important, often tmes, unless it affects someone directly, it is difficult to forge that compelling personal connection. And there are many types of local causes that need support, where consumers can relate in a meaningful way and be instrumental in making a direct impact that ultimately affects them personally.
Recognizing this need, Shannon Kelly, a brand strategist, “trendscaper” and founder of In Your Head, a strategic consultancy specializing in top-of-mind awareness marketing, decided to create a program to foster her Seattle community, and help local businesses thrive in a challenging economic climate. So she developed City Stimulus, an affinity-based grassroots program designed to reward participants for shopping and supporting their local retail establishments and restaurants. The goal was to incentivize local shoppers to forego the super-mega-big-box in favor of the mom & pops, and help level the playing field to keep dollars in the local market. Click to continue reading »
Before WM+P was founded in 1994, “Bill had run a small architecture firm in New York– since the mid 80s,” media relations director Kira Gould recounted. “He and the firm have seen and been a part of many of the milestones set on the way toward where the market and the public mindset is today. We are gratified to have witnessed and been a part of this shift – more and more clients are understanding the value in what we do and how we think.” Click to continue reading »
Better Place began with a $200 million venture capital investment, and the company has easily garnered that much again in enthusiastic publicity. Since its founding in late 2007, barely a week goes by without the electric vehicle-and-infrastructure project cutting a new deal that makes business headlines in newspapers across the world. Why? Certainly, founder Shai Agassi is the consummate salesman, and a photogenic, charismatic, and literate entrepreneur.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to this: What Agassi is promoting could revolutionize the automobile industry just as surely as the Model T did a century ago.
Agassi hasn’t invented a fuel-efficient 100 mpg-engine, or a powerful new battery technology that will propel EVs for more than 250 miles on a single charge. Instead he’s bringing stakeholders together to create the electric car infrastructure that will power the first generation of EVs and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs).
The Better Place principle is actually quite simple, and it seeks to circumvent the classic chicken-and-egg scenario that was dogging the EV industry for years before the first Tesla rolled off the production line.Click to continue reading »
The President understands, but judging by coverage the American media is still in the dark. Very few seem to realize that North Dakota’s devastating floods are just the opening salvo in what will become a steady stream of severe weather stories. After two relatively cool years thanks to a strong La Ni√±a event – years that would have been scorching hot by Victorian standards – scientists are predicting that either 2009 or 2010 will be the warmest on record, and that warming will accelerate dramatically over the next decade. And though it’s impossible to peg any one event to climate change, the likelihood for severe weather is increasing.
“I actually think the science around climate change is real. It is potentially devastating,” Obama told reporters last week. “If you look at the flooding that’s going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, ‘If you see an increase of two degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?’ That indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously.” Click to continue reading »
Click to continue reading »
A better question is when.
Fuel is by far the biggest cost center for airlines, mainly because aviation fuel is the most expensive fuel to refine and, well, airplanes guzzle a lot of it.
That’s why the drive to develop an alternative aviation biofuel is becoming increasingly urgent for aircraft and engine manufacturers.
But even with the attention of the two largest aircraft makers, Boeing and Airbus, aviation biofuel is not exactly on the near-event horizon: Think 2025 before biofuel accounts for even 25 percent of the fuel airlines use, says Christian Dumas, vice president of sustainable development and eco-efficiency for Airbus. “I hope we can go faster than that,” he added.
Let’s get right to the point – losing your job sucks. Looking for work is a drag. Going to endless job interviews is stressful at best, at worst it’s a humiliating exercise in futility.
This is the unfortunate experience for a steadily increasing number of people, as the monthly employment reports regularly remind us. But not only is the economy receding, it is shifting as well, as new technologies and energy sources combine with a realization that “bridled growth” is the path to long term sustainability (pdf) and triple bottom line economics become the basis for what emerges from the other end of the current downturn. And the shining star in all this is the clean tech sector. Perhaps for most yet more promise and hope than reality, what is needed is a way to help individual job seekers smooth their transition to the “Clean Tech economy.”
The mission of CleanTechies.com, is just that. Combining a clean-tech job board, specialized resume writing service, interactive community, and the latest in industry news and trends, CleanTechies has set out to help ease the way into the new energy economy,
Looking for a job may still suck, but what results from the effort just might be the start of a new career that helps grow a new economy, one where “CleanTech” becomes a core component of the mainstream economy.
Okay, that’s a lot to ask from a single website – let’s back up a moment and take a closer look.Click to continue reading »