Sunday, April 15, 2007

Entrepreneurs Drive Eco-Innovation

Struggling WebGen eyes IP asset sale This story link may not seem positive, but it is part of the process when speaking about entrepreneurship.

From what I know of Webgen Systems (I spoke with members of their staff about working there back in 2006), their web-based energy management software was launched as a way for commercial building managers and operators to reduce their energy consumption. With energy prices climbing and companies always eager to reduce costs, you'd think they were operating in a good space. Perhaps their technology is not that good, or they do not have the correct personnel to take the company where it needs to go. Either way, they created IP, what small, new, and innovative businesses bring to the game, potentially revolutionary ways of doing something. Even if Webgen Sytstems does not continue as its own entity, the IP that someone may buy could go on to make tremendous contributions to energy management and economic development. I wonder if EnerNOC is interested in WebGen's technology?

There seems to be articles about small companies playing in clean tech, sustainable manufacturing, renewable energy, resource reuse, etc. in every issue of Mass High Tech. I suppose it makes sense, since energy and environmental issues are on more minds lately. Nextworth, a Babson spinout, and a company mentioned in Fast Company and the Boston Globe appears in the latest issue. They are providing a second-hand marketplace for consumer electronics, focusing on the iPod. What's cool about it, from my perspective, is that they help keep used electronics out of landfills by providing a place to sell them. As far as I could see, there is no mention of the initial "green" focus of the company on the website, though the print version of the article quotes the founder and CEO David Chen:
What we originally founded the company on - being responsible about recycling consumer electronics and helping the consumer maximize their investment - is still the same.
No mention of "green", that's fine. As I was quick to blurt out in the session with Prof. Stuart Hart last week, mention a green product or service to an average consumer and they think it costs more, performs poorly, and appears crude when compared to a conventional, and one would assume polluting, product or service. Why limit the audience?

Secondary markets for consumer electronics is a great idea. Assuming it is proven in the lucrative iPod market it could easily be expanded to PDAs, laptops, cell phones, and the like and then on to industrial products. With the increase in products that fall under RoHS and WEEE regulations, here's a service that could be sold to corporations.


Michael Hunter said...

So what ultimately happened to the WebGen? Please advise.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You're tapping into my memory banks. Thanks for reading. I looked and the website's still up, with the latest update sometime in 2006. I was referred to them by a friend that knew I was interested in the energy efficiency space and they were hiring a bizdev person back when I was looking. I guess the short answer is that I'm not sure...