Archive for the ‘Entrepreneurship’ Category

Next Generation Solar Solutions

November 8, 2011

FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Next Generation Solar Solutions, featuring:
Facilitator Shirin Cooper, Business Development, Sylvatex
Panelist Sean Garner, Manager, Energy Systems Group, PARC
Presenting Entrepreneurs Vikas Desai, CEO, EchoFirst Inc
Presenting Entrepreneur Jason Lu, Founder and CEO, EnFocus Engineering
Presenting Entrepreneur Alain Poivet, Founder and CEO, SunPlanter
Please join us in thanking our hosts at PARC and our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a wide range of perspectives on the panel: entrepreneurs from Asia, Europe and India, technology innovations in microinverters, integrated power and lighting, customized and integrated solar solutions with web-based user interface, and solar plant managers. Together, they have spent decades in the clean energy space, watching the ups and downs and have remarked on the following trends:
• Partly due to the manufacturing and process innovations introduced by China, (and neglecting the environmental impact of these changes) solar panels have become largely a commodity, impacting the industry overall.
• Led by Germany’s embracing of the solar market potential through subsidies, many European countries followed and enjoyed leadership in adoption and market, but financially-imposed policy changes in most European countries other than Germany makes it now difficult for both innovators and customers in Europe. Hence, people are looking more closely at markets in Asia and Latin America.
• The US with its huge market, technology innovations, entrepreneurial culture and great weather has the potential to be a leader in this space. However, local, state and federal policy hurdles, infrastructure challenges, lack of cooperation and coordination between major stakeholders, funding challenges, local government bureaucrats and policies are making it difficult for entrepreneurs to succeed.
Our panelists recommended the following opportunities ahead:
• Develop integrated solutions, leveraging existing and hybrid technology – for example, integrating power generation and lighting, or leveraging microinverters , or a racking system that saves installation time.
• Create cost-effective technologies that will provide an attractive ROI of 2-4 years, without subsidy.
• Develop solutions which can be easily integrated into existing buildings, infrastructure etc. For example, if a solar panel could replace a sunroof, it would be much easier to sell the value proposition.
• Find a way to use all the energy from the sun, leveraging mirrors or other technologies. Currently, there is a lot of wasted energy through heat.
• Develop manufacturing process improvements – perhaps something that doesn’t require the dicing of wafers, leveraging exfoliation techniques, perhaps something that requires less materials or is less labor intensive.
• Leverage sensors and software to provide details about solar energy usage.
Below is advice from our panelists for entrepreneurs in this space:
• Work with other stakeholders to minimize policy/reimbursement and pricing and installation uncertainties.
• We live in a global world, and markets will be global. Have a clear strategy on which markets are hottest now, the easiest to navigate, and prioritize your target markets accordingly.
• Focus less on the technology innovations and think deeply about the technology integration opportunities and the business model innovations.
• The market is still young and the opportunities are huge. Don’t let the recent failures in the market discourage you from exploring the opportunities in the space.
• Despite the hype, there are fewer subsidies for solar than there are for other emerging clean energy options including nuclear. And established businesses such as coal and gas have the largest subsidies of all.! So it will take leadership to forge change and encourage policies, people and markets to embrace more sustainable energy solutions.
• Create a solution leveraging and integrating proven technologies which is not capital intensive, and shows quick wins.
• Collaborate with all stakeholders to support the advancement of the industry overall, not just in the US, but all the global markets.
• Look closely at the opportunities in the retail market. What will generate a clear and quick ROI and be painless to install and implement?
• Scaling your solar business leveraging channels and social networks, partnerships and relationships, without compromising the brand experience.
• Start off in niche markets delivering quality solutions and strategically expand from there.
• Make your solutions more affordable and less dependent on spikes of energy you might get from natural sunlight.
• Propose a way for surplus energy production to be sold back to the grid.
In the end, it is the resilient, entrepreneurial leader who will succeed and lead their company, and bring the industry to the next level, so don’t focus on the (policy, infrastructure, funding, image and other) challenges but do focus on the opportunities ahead.

Drug Delivery Innovations

October 18, 2011

FountainBlue’s October 17 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Drug Delivery Innovations. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a range of perspectives on the panel, with a mix of entrepreneurs, researchers, providers, engineers and executives. Everyone’s diverse perspectives, thoughts and experience led to a rich, thought-provoking discussion around drug delivery innovations.
The panel commented on some of the hot areas of innovation in the drug delivery space:
• Delivering drugs to difficulty-to-treat areas, including the eye and the brain
• Consider chronic disease treatments and other illnesses which require frequently injection or medical procedure and the opportunity for delivering regular low-dose medication as an alternate to this more invasive approach.
• Provide less-invasive drug delivery mechanisms for the elderly which are more effectively and more convenient.
• Make implants less invasive, more reversible, easier to use and more effective. Same with inhalable and other methods.
• Consider delivering proteins and peptides in novel ways to address specific patient needs for many potential patients.
• Research existing and expired patent on drugs and consider the opportunities for delivering them in a novel way.
The panel had the following advice for entrepreneurs innovating in this space:
• Visualize and realize success, based on understanding the customer and their needs, and delivering it in a way that is both efficient and effective.
• Always start with the problem, not with the solution looking for the problem. If you start with the problem and work backwards from there, you would be more likely to remain customer-focused, a cornerstone of success for any company, particularly early-stage life science/biopharma companies.
• Consider the end-to-end needs of the solution, from the market, design, delivery and manufacturing/distribution perspectives.
• Be selective about which drug you choose for which drug delivery mechanism, considering factors such as market size, optimal delivery mechanisms (and why), stakeholders currently delivering solution, resistance to use and adoption, addictiveness and side-effects of drugs, and innovative alternative drugs (which may get approval, making your solution moot).
• Partner with large pharma companies, who may have limited budgets for internal R&D, but are chartered with creating new solutions, and finding more solutions for existing drugs. They are now in general interested in renting talent and expertise to solve problems in the market, and generally have a prioritized view of which markets are hottest.
• Partner with research organizations and universities, who may share the R&D costs and burden. There may even be existing solutions you can leverage and integrate into your desired solution. But this is not an easy path, so navigate it gingerly, considering the needs of all throughout the process.
• Focus on creating and leveraging value from the customer perspective, not just creative the latest hot technology.
• Consider leveraging existing delivery mechanisms and existing drugs for new purposes and markets.
• Funding is tight, unless you have a proven solution and are past the R&D phase, so focus on leveraging grants, partnerships, seed funding, etc and live leanly while building momentum.
• Optimize the number of ‘shots on goal’ by being strategic, recruiting the right team, and executing well.
• Select a drug delivery technology that changes the risk-benefit profile for the better.
Although all the panelists commented on the importance of the technology innovations, they were even more vocal about leveraging that technology to best address the needs of the customer, and working with the system and the stakeholders to bring the solution to market. This is a far greater challenge today than in decades past, when there were fewer patents, fewer and less stringent regulatory hurdles, fewer generic options, and larger R&D budgets.
But in the end, despite these challenges, the panel was bullish about the promise of drug delivery innovations, noting that innovations in the new and even established ways drugs are delivered can impact the efficacy and effectiveness of existing drugs and also provide new ways to deliver new and existing drugs, all with an eye to ease of use, needs of the customer, and optimal treatment for the patient.

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Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s October 17 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Drug Delivery Innovations:
Facilitator Robert Mackey, Biopharma Consultant
Panelist Richard Haiduck, Impel NeuroPharma
Panelist Matthew Hogan, CFO, Durect
Panelist Jeffrey Schuster, Triple Ring Technologies
Panelist Eric Sheu, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer for Vanton Research Laboratory, LLC
Presenting Entrepreneur Adam Mendelsohn, CEO, Nanoprecision Medical
Presenting Entrepreneur Harm Tenhoff, Bay Link LLC

Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment

October 4, 2011

FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists were quite bullish about the opportunities around sustainable solutions for the built environment, ranging from the materials innovations around building materials to the hardware, software, mobile and sensor opportunities around energy generation and management, to the design, operational and implementation options available leveraging today’s technology innovations in networks, software, mobile and other technologies.
But each panelist describes the hurdles interfering with rapid adoption, including:
• A fragmented market with a range of stakeholders and providers throughout the value chain, and the need to coordinate with each of the established players in that market;
• The dominant tendency to embrace complacency and the status quo with existing building materials and functionality; there’s no strong impetus to act for most people;
• Current low-cost options for everything from windows to lighting to building materials, making it difficult to select more sustainable, much more expensive options;
• The lack of policies and incentives to stimulate changing existing functionality and options;
Yet, despite these challenges, our panelists are able to secure funding, develop technologies, invest in research and development, and otherwise drive forward alternative solutions for the built environment which is building momentum and adding value. They shared some advice for others innovating in this space:
• Partner with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, universities and other innovators to solve a real problem with real paying customers.
• Work with utilities and policy-makers to facilitate and incentivize wider and faster adoption.
• Identify and sell to areas of greatest need rather than focusing on educating a market that doesn’t yet feel a need.
• Collaborate and partner with all players in the value chain.
• Offer integrated solutions leveraging the latest technology to manage and automate energy usage.
• Use energy efficiency as an entry point, speaking to the ROI, but also provide additional information which provides added value and information beyond energy usage trends.
• Leverage the passion of sustainability enthusiasts.
• Facilitate the adoption of sustainability standards.
• Generate measurable results and speak to each person in the value chain based on what’s most important to them.

The bottom line is that there are huge opportunities in this space, but also huge barriers to success, like the Google and Microsoft projects. The successful innovators will understand the market needs and deliver products and services which address those needs, working with all pieces of the value chain, collaborating in creating a standard for the market overall.
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We would like to thank our speakers for FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the topic of Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment:
Facilitator Andrew Barnes, CEO, Asia Cleantech Partners
Panelist Joseph Gordon, Office of the CTO, Applied Materials
Panelist Jeremy Stieglitz, VP of Building Solutions, Redwood Systems
Presenting Entrepreneur Joshua Slobin, Director of Marketing, Daintree Networks Inc.
Please join us also in thanking to Applied Materials for graciously hosting us for this month’s event.

Third Annual Virtual Worlds Trends Event

October 3, 2011

FountainBlue’s held its Third Annual State of the Virtual Worlds Industry Event on September 30. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a range of experienced panelists actively engaging in the range of virtual worlds activities. The discussion began with an overview of the industry trend, moving from more entertainment purposes to more serious applications, from text and 2 dimensional renderings to more 3D and web experiences. Drivers for richer adoption of virtual worlds solutions include:
• Technology advancements on the client side for everything from PCs to browsers, to mobile, TV, and headsets which allows users to experience immersive interactions with others dynamically, real-time;
• Increased networking, connectivity and performance, which allows users more options for dynamic, interactive, engaging experiences with others; and
• Diminishing development costs, which make it easier for companies to provide solutions in this space.
• Gen Y grew up surrounded by technology, and will push the immersion solutions and technologies and create the kind of demand that can help spark the industry. They are also fostering a social transformation with the convergence of personal and business life, which will impact the market need and technology direction.
Although there have been many technology advancements, some of the cutting edge applications, the ‘cool’ things are solutions we can do pretty much today. But the seasoned entrepreneur looks for the business model, the customer needs, the funding opportunities for these solutions. And many of these solutions are centered around immersive simulation, training, educating and connecting, especially as it applies to real-life needs in the area of healthcare, military and defense applications. In the corporate arena, virtual worlds are leveraged to filter information, make it relevant and engaging, and make it available real-time, with specific measurable results.
Our panelists were quite bullish for the opportunities ahead in the industry – see industry reports in the resource section below, and commented on the opportunities ahead:
• The rise augmented reality solutions like Microsoft’s KINECT motion detection input device has specific implications for virtual training and gamification.
• The rapid rise and adoption of social networks including FaceBook and Google+ will soon demand a net for virtual communities, where existing groups can connect more virtually, where platforms will allow trusted others or strangers with similar interests to connect.
• Hybrid events will become more popular, where there’s a combination of real-life, face-to-face meetings and virtual connections as well.
• Virtual events may facilitate more communities and conversations and connections on an ongoing basis, either online or virtually or a hybrid of the two.
• Virtual trainings will continue to be leveraged in critical situations where personal safety and expensive equipment might be at risk: in hospital care, in military training, in aerospace, etc.
• Virtual trainings will continue to be leveraged by forward-thinking companies to better connect with customers and partners and staff and other stakeholders, and to better prepare, train, measure, reward, communicate at all levels.
• Leverage the knowledge of subject matter experts from around the globe to solve real-world, real-time problems so that all benefit.
• Translate accepted standards of procedure into virtual worlds experiences and even certification and re-certification processes can not only increase adoption of virtual worlds solutions but also provide customers and practitioners with immediate benefits.
• The trend is to create generic platforms which can be adopted to the needs of specific customers, with their content, their functionality, their look and feel. There is a huge opportunity in making it easy for customers to customize these solutions for their own needs, or doing it efficiently for them.
The challenge today is not really around the technology, but around providing the right solutions to wow the customer and connect them with people more deeply and more easily than they thought possible. Our panelists provided the following recommendations for those in the space:
• As mentioned in Blue Ocean Strategy (see resource area for book information), rather than go directly against the competition, find and delight the customer, those who would benefit from connecting with others, deepening relationships, and/or training and educating key stakeholders in their network.
• Measure the solution you provide with data on whether they like it, whether they master the information, whether they use it, whether business outcomes come from the usage and communicate the results in terms of ROI.
• There is a lack of standard definitions about the industry, and a lot of hype and bad experiences from early adopters and users as well as lots of investment dollars lost on what-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time. These need to be overcome to facilitate deeper and quicker adoption.
• Find the business model around your virtual worlds solutions – how do different types of people make money in participating and what does it mean to him/her?
• Leverage social media and word-of-mouth to build your community and solution.
• If you’re transitioning from real-world to virtual world communities for financial or other reasons, work with your customers to deliver the knowledge, recognition and connections they seek, and also to find other opportunities for them to get that real-world connections. Don’t also expect to have the same feedback, knowledge and results immediately upon the substitution, especially if it was a last-minute, unpopular decision, but if you stick with it, it will continue to generate results.
• Because of these associations, it’s a matter of semantics, and you can speak more about working in a ‘visual social platform’ rather than in a ‘virtual world’ solution.

If Confucius if right when he said ‘I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand,’ and we can prove that virtual world solutions will help people to better understand, the adoption curve is likely to be swift and steep. And we are challenged to make the case that interactive online experiences around community can directly benefit the bottom line now and in the long term. And those who get that it’s more about the people and opportunities to educate, train and connect them real-time, virtually and in-person, and less about the technologies, as enabling as they are, will be more likely to succeed.

Resources:
• Avista Partners, Interactive Entertainment Summit 23 Nov 09, http://www.slideshare.net/pheydon/avista-partners-interactive-entertainment-summit-23-nov-09-main-pres
o Online as 70% of 106 billion dollar market cap
• Blue Ocean Strategy http://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/
o A bestseller across five continents, published in 40 languages with more than 2 million copies sold, Blue Ocean Strategy is based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning 100 years and 30 industries, and provides a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and creating uncontested market space.
• Forrester Research, Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds, by Erica Driver, Paul Jackson, with Connie Moore, Claire Schooley, Jamie Barnett, January 7, 2008, http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/getting_real_work_done_in_virtual_worlds/q/id/43450/t/2
o . . . it’s still early, pioneering days. You’ve practically got to be a gamer to use most of these tools — setup can be arduous, navigating in a 3-D environment takes practice, and processing and bandwidth requirements remain high. But within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today. Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds. Use them to try to replicate the experience of working physically alongside others; allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects; and make remote training and counseling more realistic by incorporating nonverbal communication into same-time, different-place interactions.
• Kzero Universe Charts http://www.kzero.co.uk/blog/slideshare-presentation-of-q2-2011-universe-chart/
o Virtual worlds, MMO companies by size, average user age and launch date
• Virtual Worlds Landscape, Barry Holroyd
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FountainBlue’s September 30 Third Annual State of the Virtual Worlds Industry Event featured:
Facilitator Barry Holroyd, CTO, Masher Media
Panelist Andrea Leggett, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC
Panelist Dannette Veale, Virtual & Digital Technology Strategist, Cisco’s Global Sales Experience and Virtual Partner Summit
Presenting Entrepreneur Parvati Dev, President, Innovation in Learning
Presenting Entrepreneur Raj Raheja, Founder and CEO, Heartwood Studios
Presenting Entrepreneur Nanci Solomon, Founder and CEO, Xulu Entertainment
Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to EMC for graciously hosting us for this year’s annual event.

Emerging Trends in Medical Devices

September 20, 2011

FountainBlue’s September 19 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Emerging Trends in Medical Devices: Mobile Health, Personalized Medicine and Consumerization. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists concurred that it’s an exciting time to innovate in the medical device space, because of the advancements in technology, rising consumerization and expansion into global markets, and the growing receptiveness of an industry which has historically been slow-moving.
Technology Advancements Enabling Innovation
They remarked on some trends in the medical device space and their implications for the industry. The overarching themes is the advancement of technology and the transference of technology solutions from traditionally other sectors and impacting the medical device industry.
1. There was much discussion around the miniaturization trend, where products which were the size refrigerators are reduced to the size of a microwave, products the size of a microwave reduced to the size of a hand-held, and products formerly the size of a hand-held are getting really small, even nano size. The implication is that products will be manufactured, tested and delivered more efficiently and more cost-effectively.
2. Sensor technologies are being applied to implantables, therapeutic, diagnostic, and other devices.
3. Database solutions are enabling business analytics solutions which address challenges ranging from IT in healthcare to patient diagnostics to personalized medicine.
4. Cloud storage is an enabling technology for business analytics and other database solutions, making it more cost-effective to manage huge volumes of moving data, and empowering fact-based decision-making which impact patients, providers, care-givers, insurers, etc.
5. Advancements in wireless and mobile devices and software are enabling novel diagnostic, monitoring, enabling and other solutions for patients and their caregivers.
6. Technology advancements in biochemical discovery and genetic markers are enabling additional opportunities for medical devices around diagnostics, monitoring, and other areas.
Consumerization and Expansion in Global Markets
Baby boomers in the US will increasingly demand more consumer solutions to better monitor, enable, and support their personal health and well-being, especially given the rising cost of healthcare, the increased needs of an aging population, and the growing range of options available. This techno-philic demographic group will also be receptive to technology-enabled solutions which would deliver the information they seek in a timely manner.
Emerging countries such as Asia, India and Brazil will have an ever-growing, more financially independent middle class with a similar desire to take more control and responsibility for their own health.
Growing Receptiveness and Collaboration Based on Technology Advancements and Market Trends
With technology advancements and rising global demand, our panelists are hopeful that the industry will see more collaboration and cross-pollination between pharma, medical device and medical imaging companies, leveraging software and technology plus more opportunities for getting solutions developed, tested and into the hands of eager users.

With these overarching trends, our panelists had words of wisdom and caution for those innovating in this space:
• Minimize technology development and regulatory and market adoption risks by being strategic and proactive, so think carefully through your regulatory needs and work early and well with the right regulatory bodies and people to help ensure the approval of your product and think strategically about your customer and your markets.
• Whatever your solution, deliver higher-level care at lower cost.
• Sometimes miniaturization may compromise quality. Sometimes that’s OK, sometimes that’s not, depending on the needs of the customer.
• Innovation is coming from small companies, and small companies with partnerships with larger corporations may get the market, funding, research and other support they need to continue innovating.
• When consider FDA approval, note that the FDA standards require both safety and efficacy, whereas just safety is required in other regulatory bodies. Remember that the FDA approval team itself encourages your communication and wants to get your products approved, but may be locked into a process which makes it difficult.
• We will come to a crossroads and have to decide do we pay more or get less? We can’t have both or it will squeeze innovation.

Specific opportunities around medical devices include:
• Leveraging medical devices as a diagnostic, tracking or monitoring or communicating tool, whether it’s related to mobile solutions or web or other platforms (e.g. beimmunized.com)
• Monitoring devices that look and act like medical devices but don’t call themselves that and avoid FDA approval needs;
• Gamafication leveraging mobile phones and tablets to monitor, manage, communicate, train, connect, etc.
• Health self-management tools and resources leveraging databases and clouds and even social media;
• Outsourcing of innovation for specific problems

The bottom line that there is a wealth of opportunities ahead and the industry itself is rapidly evolving and growing, and it will look much different in many ways, in the next quarter, in the next year, in the next three-five years.
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We would like to thank and acknowledge our speakers for FountainBlue’s September 19 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the topic of Emerging Trends in Medical Devices: Mobile Health, Personalized Medicine and Consumerization:
Facilitator Gil Peterson, VP of Sales, Triple Ring Technologies
Panelist Geetha Rao, PhD, Springborne Life Sciences, CEO and Founder, MyMedFax; Vice President of Strategy and Risk Management, Triple Ring Technologies
Panelist Frank Ingle, CEO and CTO, Instruments for Science and Medicine
Presenting Entrepreneur Bronislava Belenkaya, President and Founder, 3S Corporation
Presenting Entrepreneur Jay Miller, former President and CEO, Zonare Medical Systems & Vital Images, Inc.

Energy Storage and Management

September 13, 2011

FountainBlue’s September 12 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Energy Storage and Management. Below are notes from the conversation.

Energy storage and management is a critical piece of the energy equation as storing and managing generated energy makes energy more predictably available, with less variability. The challenge is to proactively generate large quantities of energy and make it readily and dynamically available to a ever-growing and demanding audience.
The panelists concurred on the major challenges for providing efficient storage and management systems:
• Storage and management solutions must be scalable and cost-effective.
• They must work within the existing infrastructure.
• Solutions must be easy-to-use in order for customers to adopt it.
• To fit the above three criteria, solutions must leverage proven, solid technologies in order to be cost-effective, scalable, and readily trusted and adopted.
Our panelists also commented on how storage and management solutions will be tied to the evolution of electric vehicle adoption and markets. The jury is still out in terms of how the EV market will grow and evolve, but there’s no debate that EV adoption will impact energy storage, distribution, management and usage patterns, and customers, government, businesses, utilities, and other stakeholders will need to adjust to the changes as they go, whether or not they choose to buy an EV.
Our panelists commented on some of the upcoming opportunities in this space:
• Create sensors as components of the grid, to help monitor, track and manage energy flow and distribution.
• Provide services which would help governments and utilities and homeowners and businesses to monitor and upgrade pieces of the infrastructure in a cost-effective, as needed way. A mass overhaul of infrastructure might be cleaner and even necessary, but it’s too daunting and expensive a task and it would be hard to find someone to pay for it.
• As such, perhaps the lower-hanging fruit is in emerging countries with huge energy needs, without the barriers of aging, outdated infrastructure.
• Leverage hardware and software to automate and manage energy usage to prevent un-intended problems.
• However, this may lead to intentional problems caused by hackers, rebels, militants and others bent on compromising access to energy, so there’s an opportunity to provide security services and solutions to prevent this.
• Convert renewable energy into liquid fuel, as we already have an infrastructure to deal with liquid fuels, through our traditional vehicle fueling stations.
• Consider how software and IT can be applied to existing problems in energy management and storage.
• Find technologies where you don’t need new materials, new equipment and new factories which take a lot of money. Applying existing solutions in new ways that make sense not only saves you time and money, but it also makes the idea more fundable, and is easier to develop and distribute.
• As the EV industry grows, we may progress from having resources adjust to the load to having the load adjust to the resources. There will be opportunities for those who can help various stakeholders adjust to new requirements.
In the end, whether we are talking about compressed air, pumped hydro (good solution, but many of the prime sites are taken), batteries (cost effective challenges here, but re-used EV batteries might be an opportunity), liquid fuel, solar thermal, biofuel, etc., successful clean energy storage and management companies will need to leverage existing and proven solutions in hardware, software, and other areas, to address the demanding and growing need for huge volumes of reliable energy with less variability and lower cost.

Resources:
• Eric Wesoff: September 12, 2011: Terrajoule Unstealths: Distributed Power via Solar, Steam and Storage http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Terrajoule-Unstealths-Distributed-Power-via-Solar-And-Energy-Storage/
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FountainBlue would like to thank and acknowledge our speakers for our September 12 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of Energy Storage and Management:
Facilitator Steve Adelman, Managing Director, Nexus Partners
Panelist Matthew Denesuk, Ph.D., STSM, Manager of Natural Resources Modeling and Social Analytics, IBM Research Partner, IBM Venture Capital Group
Panelist Scott Elrod, Vice President, Director of Hardware Systems Laboratory, PARC
Panelist Jon Eric Thalman, Director, Regulatory Strategy & Support, PG&E
Presenting Entrepreneur Steve Bisset, CEO, Terrajoule
Please also join us in thanking our hosts at PARC for their support of this event and this series.

Software Meets Healthcare

August 13, 2011

FountainBlue’s August 8 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Software Meets Healthcare. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists shared many different ways of implementing software meets healthcare solutions: from pharmacy prescription management to simulations and training, from development tools to mobile monitors and sensors. Regardless of the application, the focus is on serving the customer, by improving efficiency through software automation, by training and learning new behaviors in a safe environment, by reducing development time, by better monitoring behaviors and symptoms, or by providing more accurate, personalized and timely products and services.
Software meets healthcare offers huge opportunities, but there are also many barriers to entry. Solutions must serve a market and customer need, and meet policy, reimbursement and regulatory requirements which are ever-changing. Some of the advances in the technology world, including business analytics, cloud computing and mobile applications, are being leveraged in the software-meets-healthcare space, in the areas of sensors and monitoring, personal genomics, electronic medical records, and other areas. Indeed, we
are moving to a world of intelligent agents, which would assume a more active monitoring role than a typical nurse or doctor, in a much more cost-effective, automated and efficient way. This becomes so much more important as demand increases for a variety of reasons, including the aging of the population in general, the increasing health care costs, and the ever-increasing demand for real-time, inexpensive solutions from patients, hospitals, care-givers, providers and insurers alike.
Below are some examples of upcoming opportunities in the software-meets-healthcare space:

– Intelligent agents will help monitor, track, report on and inform
others regarding basic indicators from glucose to heart rate to ocular pressure. There is an opportunity for automating hardware and software agents and generating actionable reports to people who would pay for it, and making it easy to spread the word through social media.
– Training and education which would help people make positive
lifestyle changes and creating tightly-knit, easily-expandable communities can not only help raise the overall health and quality of life for all in the community, but also create revenues for those managing and creating those communities.
– Adopting software and database solutions into the healthcare spaces offers opportunities in electronic medical records, diagnostics, genomics, and many other areas which require rapid processing of huge amounts of data, and generating reports that inform, educate, and facilitate decision-making.
– There is a drive from the patient side and the provider side for
patients to assume more responsibility for their care, and training and education, automation and monitoring solutions which are easy to manage and easy to use for laypeople will be in high demand.
– Solutions which inform the patient and their select network will
empower and inform, and ultimately help patients live more independently for longer period of time, which is less expensive and more satisfying for all.
– Mobile devices and solutions will be in high demand, if they are
readily available and easy to use. But to ensure ready adoption, make it easy for customers to leverage social media to spread the word and IT departments to approve and support them.

Below is advice or entrepreneurs innovating in this space:
– Develop a solution which your target customer can easily navigate and utilize with minimal training. Take into account, for example, the dexterity, visual acuity, flexibility, etc. of your customers, particularly if they may be limited by physical ailments/diseases, aging, etc.
– Consider the security and data integrity standards for the industry overall.
– Protect patient-sensitive information as people are as sensitive and protective of that as they are of their personal financial information, where there are high standardized requirements for security.
– Serve an existing and passionate market, don’t just create a
technology looking for a problem.
– For many reasons, the adoption rate is much slower in the
software-meet-healthcare space. Invest time in building relationships with hospitals, insurers, providers, etc.
– Build your credibility by having a great solution for a ready, proven market, having an experienced team, developing a scalable solution, and delivering based on milestones.
– Consider who will ultimately pay for the solution, which may not be the end patient, and build a business case on why it is in the best interest of the payor to do so.

The bottom line is that there are huge opportunities for those who are persistent, work with all the key stakeholders and deliver solutions to an eager customer base willing to pay for it.
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FountainBlue would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for our August 8 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of Software Meets Healthcare:

Facilitator Dipankar Ganguly, CEO, BioTelligent
Panelist Ted Driscoll, Technology Partner, Claremont Creek, Member, Life Science Angels and Founding Director, Sand Hill Angels
Panelist John Sotir, Senior Manager, Medical & Test Group, Altera
Presenting Entrepreneur Rohan Coelho, CEO, Rexanto
Presenting Entrepreneur Parvati Dev, PhD, FACMI, President, Innovation in Learning Inc., Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Media-X, Stanford University, Former Director, SUMMIT Lab, Stanford University School of Medicine
Presenting Entrepreneur Marco Smit, President, Health 2.0 Advisors

Please join us in thanking our sponsors at KPMG for sponsoring this event and this series. Thank you also to our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts.

Business Analytics in Financial Services

August 5, 2011

FountainBlue’s August 5 Bi-Monthly Business Analytics Event focused on Business Analytics in Financial Services. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have such experienced panelists who shared a wide range perspectives and thoughts on business analytics trends. They commented on the volume of data, the advances in both hardware and software technology, and most importantly, the importance of building customer-centric, solutions which can help companies make data-based decisions which would serve their customers real-time. Indeed, business analytics is changing the way we do business, and the vendors on our panel spoke about how analytics and data are helping their companies to better understand and respond to the needs their customers and plan for updating and upgrading their products and services based on their customers’ needs. The panelists commented that we are already serving the customers well, much at the same level as a Marriott might treat us, remembering our stay frequency and personal requests. But with additional data and analytics, we could learn to treat our customers more like how a Ritz Carlton might treat us – remembering and anticipating every request, for a stellar experience.

Whether they are working with the ever-growing volume of data available, or serving a larger volume of customers, or integrating with a larger myriad of devices designed easily communicate real-time facts to enable effective, targeted decision-making, it is clear that the most forward-thinking companies are 1) leveraging technology to better serve their customers, 2) valuing the high-impact customer, 3) raising the bar for how to better serve customers real-time, 4) seeing the value business analytics solutions as a competitive advantage, and 5) training and educator internal staff, partners and customers to accept and adopt these solutions and integrate them into their day-to-day work.
The bottom line is that as amazing as current and projected results are, there will be an ever-increasing demand for speed, scalability, and functionality, and companies that can keep ahead of the curve are well positioned to better serve, impress, recruit and retain customers.

The panelists commented on how financial services industry differs from other industries: 1) they may be more adverse to technology solutions, 2) they may be more risk-adverse and more likely to have data security concerns, 3) their legacy applications, including those around loans for example, most be easily ported and integrated into a new business analytics solution, without revamping how the old processes are done, 4) those in the industry are more comfortable with paper than with computers or tablets, and 5) regulations and policies will both make leaders in the financial services more reticent and risk-adverse *and* force them to adopt technology-driven automated processes.

Below is some advice for those innovating in the business analytics in financial services industry:
Be Strategic:
• It’s not just about collecting data for data’s sake, but more about how that data that empower fact-based decision-making.
• Ensure business analytics solutions are in alignment with company goals.
• Consider how regulatory, privacy, security and governance impact customer purchase decisions and factor that into your strategic growth and expansion plans.
• For entrepreneurs running and growing a company, choose a tool before you think you need it. Don’t just rely on your instinct to tell you it’s time to do it, but have the tool show you the data about *why* you need to do *what* in a quantifiable way.
• Small, medium-sized and large companies have similar needs for business analytics, but their volume of need, the volume of transaction and level of support vary. Know which market you serve and focus your communications and services on that niche market.
Be Customer-Focused:
• Focus always on what the customer is doing, what’s important to them, where they are spending their time, where they are physically, what tools are useful for them, etc
• Develop and enhance relationships with customers through digital and other channels, and also watch for the merger and integration of CRM, ERP, ATM and other systems.
• Help customers use the data to break down silos around roles and products and build collaborations within an organization, between customers and vendors, channels and partners.
Leverage Technology:
• Use the right technology to secure the most relevant data, with the right objectives, using the right assumptions for the right people.
• Leverage social media for outreach, community-building, and feedback.

The bottom line is that to better serve the financial services industry, one must make the technology simple, easy-to-use, understand and act upon, and integrate it into their daily operations seamlessly, while proving the value through measurable reports and bigger customer retention and acquisition.
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Please join us in thanking and acknowledging our panelists for FountainBlue’s August 5 Bi-Monthly Business Analytics Event:
Facilitator Melissa McDonell, Brand Voice Marketing
Panelist Satya Kunapuli, Director – Research, Testing and Analytics at Intuit, Principal at Esskay Solutions Inc.
Panelist Raj Sen, Group Manager, Multi-Channel Analytics, Adobe
Panelist Carl Snyder, Senior Industry Principal, Banking, SAP America

Transportation Greening Advances

August 3, 2011

FountainBlue’s August 1 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Transportation Greening Advances. Below are notes from the conversation.
We may be crossing the chasm in the green automotive world. Driving factors for this shift include 1) the advancements in a range of technologies (from hardware to software to biofuels to networks), 2) the slowly evolving infrastructure necessary to support alternative transportation options, and 3) the increased global demand for green transportation options ranging from materials innovations to alternative fuels to novel manufacturing to software enablers in transportation from telematics to vehicle controls to customer communications.
Based on their current and past work in the clean transportation area, our panelists covered a wide range of perspectives, from batteries to electrification of vehicles, from telematics to auto manufacturing, from drive trains to cylinder optimization, and including a wide range of software solutions for dealers, automakers and drivers, as well as software which helps cars self-manage and optimize settings!
They commented both on the technology advancements creating new opportunities and the challenges and barriers to innovation and adoption and spoke about the exciting possibilities ahead. Below are some of their thoughts and advice.
Thoughts about the industry overall:
• Green transportation companies often needs to work with both automakers and oil companies – industries which are both powerful, having lived with entitlement for a century or so, *and* slow-to-change, plus less likely to be techno-philic.
• Investors are reticent to fund capital-intensive clean transportation solutions, especially if it requires manufacturing, advanced technology development which takes a long time, etc. Investors, especially those experienced in high tech investments, tend to favor green transportation are leaning toward proven technologies, perhaps involving software, for a ready market, headed by an experienced team.
• Companies from other more traditional sectors from batteries to oil to semiconductors, are recognizing and responding to the green transportation opportunities and innovating into different slices of the opportunity, depending on where their established technologies, markets, channels, etc.
Thoughts on the Opportunities Ahead:
• Today’s vehicles are too heavy, and too energy-inefficient and the industry is too fragmented, too slow-to-adopt, and too dependent on dated infrastructure, and the customers are too ROI-conscious, too complacent with the status quo, and the manufacturing process is too labor-intensive, too expensive, too distributed, etc. There are opportunities in all these ‘toos’.
Advice for Entrepreneurs:
• As with any other industry, you must have the right technology, for a proven market and execute on milestones, particularly when funding is tight, when investors have felt burned by previous investments, when capital-efficient solutions and innovative business models are so important.
• The exploding markets in India, Brazil and China will provide huge opportunities for a large range of vehicles, and they are markets which may be easier to enter than the US markets, where regulations and policies and entitlements make it harder to grow an industry and serve a market.
• Consider the question of who will pay for necessary infrastructure upgrades, required up-front investments, etc and find a business or financing model which would make it easier for them to approve a purchase decision.
• Policy changes will impact purchaser buying decisions and create new opportunities, so track them and strategize how these changes will impact your customers and potential customers.
The bottom line is that we need to make cars affordable and usable, and make it easy to get it in the hands of customers.

Resources:
• Boston Consulting Group Report: Batteries for Electric Cars: Challenges, Opportunities and Outlook to 2020, http://www.bcg.com/documents/file36615.pdf
• Forbes Blog, August 1, 2011: How to Build a Car that Gets 54.5 MPG, by Jim Gorzelany, http://blogs.forbes.com/jimgorzelany/2011/08/01/how-to-build-a-car-that-gets-54-5-mpg/?partner=daily_newsletter
Policy Updates of Interest
1. On July 25, 2011, the CPUC issued Decision 11-07-029. http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/FINAL_DECISION/139969.htm This decision relates to the role of electric vehicles in California. Specifically, it does the following:
o Directs electric utilities to collaborate with automakers and other stakeholders to develop an assessment report to be filed in this proceeding to address a notification processes through which utilities can identify where Electric Vehicles charging will likely occur on their electric systems and plan accordingly;
o Affirms that, with certain exceptions, the electric utilities’ existing residential Electric Vehicle rates are sufficient for early Electric Vehicle market development, and, similarly, that existing commercial and industrial rates are sufficient in the early Electric Vehicle market for non-residential customers. The decision also sets out a process to reexamine Electric Vehicle rates in 2013;
o Considers opportunities to migrate toward new and lower cost metering technologies for Electric Vehicle charging and sets out a process to develop an Electric Vehicle metering protocol to accommodate increased Electric Vehicle metering options, such as submetering;
o Determines that, on an interim basis, until June 30, 2013, the costs of any distribution or service facility upgrades necessary to accommodate basic residential Electric Vehicle charging will be treated as shared cost;
o Defines the role that utilities may play in education and outreach related to Electric Vehicles;
o Requires utilities to perform load research to inform future Commission policy; and
o Addresses utility ownership of electric vehicle service equipment.
2. CAFE Standards Set to Rise to 54.5 mpg for 2025
• Will Your 54.5 MPG Car in 2025 Be Electric or Gasoline? International Business Times Staff Reporter, August 2, 2011 http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/191144/20110802/cars-vehicles-miles-per-gallon-mpg-fuel-efficiency.htm Fuel efficiency in the United States will rise substantially under an agreement reached by the U.S. Government, auto manufacturers, and the state of California.
• The new efficiency standard will cover cars and light trucks for model years 2017-2025, and require a performance equal to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2025. The standard will reduce greenhouse gas emission to 163 grams per mile, and it also betters the previous requirement of 35.5 mpg by 2016. The new standard will reduce U.S. oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2025. The United States currently imports 9.1 million bpd of oil.
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FountainBlue would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for our August 1 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of Transportation Greening Advances:
Facilitator Jim DiSanto, GM, Earthrise Technologies
Panelist Ray Jenks, Electric Vehicles and Energy Storage, Interstate Batteries
Presenting Entrepreneur Biswa Ghosh, VP of Engineering, Tula Technology
Presenting Entrepreneur Simon Saba, Founder and CEO, SABA Motors Inc.

Please join us in thanking our sponsors at KPMG and our hosts at SRI for their ongoing support of the series.

The Patient Revolution

July 25, 2011

FountainBlue’s July 18 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of the Patient Revolution. Below are notes from the conversation.
With the aging of the baby boomer generation, and the resultant huge volume of older, more affluent, more empowered consumers, there have been increasing demands for delivering life science solutions, from diagnostics to personalized medicines, from devices to nutragenics. Our panelists agreed that the challenge and the opportunity is to cost-effectively and efficiently create personalized, patient-specific data, services and products which would serve the breadth and depth customers from individual patients to physicians, hospitals and clinics, from payors to small providers to insurers. Indeed, the key is to leverage technology in a way which automates the production and distribution of information and services while minimizing risk and maximizing impact and quality treatment for the patient, benefiting everyone throughout the value chain.
Baby boomers have created a population spike which, like a snake who has swallowed a mouse, has impacted markets and industries throughout their life cycle, from infant to toddler, from teenager to young adult to middle age. As boomers are techno-philic, affluent, health-conscious and influential, their voices have been heard and have impacted market development and direction. So as they age, infirmities and elected treatments of an aging patient, from obesity to diabetes to sleep apnea, from baldness to arthritis, from sports injury treatment to knee replacement, will quickly rise in demand.
So the opportunities are there, but there are also challenges in meeting the opportunity, including reimbursement policies (particularly with Medicare changes), regulatory approval (particularly in the US where the FDA is becoming both more stringent and more unpredictable), as well as the ‘normal’ challenges of the life science industry overall: the longer development cycle, the greater need for capital, the greater risks involved, etc.
Those who will be able to meet those challenges will be more creative in bringing their products to market. Our panelists’ suggestions on how to do so are listed below:
• Put your products in the hands of the patient through channels such as your local drugstore (like Walgreens) or market (like Costco).
• Where possible, avoid the need for FDA approval or seek approval in countries outside the US before bringing it to market in the US.
• Serve a market need and target customers who are willing to pay for it, even if it has to come from their own pockets. Leveraging personal health care savings accounts (an increasingly popular strategy for patients) might help.
• Angels are syndicating and supporting early stage companies with a promising business model and plan and proven technology. Build relationships with angels who might be great mentors and potential funders.
• Help our policy-makers make decisions which would reward physicians to do the right thing for their patients, reward patients for making effective health decisions.
• Leverage social media and the web to grow your customer base, build your brand, create new channels, etc.
Our panelists commented on some hot opportunities for better serving the empowered patient.
• Help providers such as clinics and hospitals better, more efficiently treat and serve their patients leveraging IT offerings from databases to cloud to business analytics.
• The days of the blockbuster drugs are past, so whether you are in pharma or devices or biomed or mHealth, create personalized solutions which serve all stakeholders more cost-effectively.
• Baby boomers have historically adopted wellness and nutragenics solutions throughout their lifetime, and as they age, their preferences and needs will change. Anticipating and addressing this need will help forward-thinking companies succeed.
• Baby boomers love their independence, so products, services, solutions which help them remain independent as they age-in-place will likely be popular.
• Services and solutions which would help baby boomers make good health decisions for diet and exercise, and those that help patients understand their risks and genetic make-up will continue to grow.
The bottom line is that all stakeholders, from patients to providers to clinics, hospitals and insurers and policy-makers, need to forge a convergence between the world of technology, with its access to databases, business analytics, dynamic solutions, etc and the world of patient care, with its combination of pharma, device, medical record and health management solutions. The trick is t do this in a way which helps all parties make the best health decision *and* the most cost-effective solution for all parties, and collaborating to make it work.
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We would like to thank and acknowledge our panelists for FountainBlue’s July 18 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of the Patient Revolution:
Facilitator William Wright, VP Operations/ Business Development, Bay Area, at California MedTech LLC
Panelist Richard Ayllon, Director, Global Business Development, Ventus Medical
Panelist Don Ross, Healthtech Capital
Presenting Entrepreneur Ash Damle, Founder and CEO, Medgle
Presenting Entrepreneur Howard Edelman, President & CEO, VitalWear
Presenting Entrepreneur Oostur Raza, President & CEO, OmegaGenesis

Please join us in thanking our sponsors at KPMG for their ongoing support of the series.