When Sustainable Companies Talk, They Need to Show the Green ($$$ that is…)

Boston is poised to be a mecca of sustainable (aka: “green”) technology and services companies for years to come.  MIT is hosting annual Summits that attract multiple Fortune 500 sponsors.  We have investing thought leaders like Rob Day daily describing from the front lines where the action is heading.  We have key analysts firms like Lux Research in the backyard.  And we have renewable energy companies and projects like A123 and Cape Wind that are finding their way and making progress in what are still early days for a nascent industry.

So why is it that there seems to be so much gloom and doom, with national stories about the Cleantech market going bust?

The previously mentioned Rob Day has a great recent post detailing the finer points of where the market is today, following on last week’s BostInno post by Walter Frick pointing out that there really isn’t a bust in the works.  Dig into these observations and supporting data, and it becomes obvious we have a perception gap that widens with dramatic failures like Solyndra.

If you’re a startup in this market trying to make a name for yourself, this gap can be a significant gating factor.  You’re excited about your innovation; you want the world to know and know NOW so you can get the tail wind that drives companies in the multiple ways that accelerate growth (new orders/partners/employees/investment, etc.)  Beyond attending events and talking to the industry, companies will lean on the marketing lever to pivot from unknown to high awareness – and that’s not the wrong strategy, but in today’s market it comes with a caveat.

If you don’t have deployments, if you don’t have late stage pilots, if you can’t show statistics on real ROI possible with your technology…you need to accept marketing will only get you so far.

In today’s hyperconnected social media driven landscape, word gets around quickly which is great for startups.  Word also dies on the vine quickly if not followed up with market traction or data.  The questions start to pile up…we haven’t heard from [Insert Promising Cleantech Company Here] in a while?  What exactly are they doing?  Do you think they can last? Is their solution real?  Couple this with the macro economic trends and you run the risk of being out there with nothing real to say, damaging your credibility and brand.

We’ve had the fortune of representing multiple early stage companies in the sustainable space, and most successful programs were ones where the company was ready to talk about ideas beyond their technology and show real data, like Retroficiency

I’m not saying don’t market – that’s like a company not breathing air.  But have a strategic plan in place, a clear feel for how you will tell the market your solution can quantifiably effect change for customers and be ready to prove it with models, third party data and hopefully early stage customers.  The noise around this space is only going to increase – be part of the positive top line conversation by talking about savings, ROI and real adoption.

See the original post from BostInno here: http://bostinno.com/channels/when-sustainable-companies-talk-they-need-to-show-the-green-that-is/

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