Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cleantech in India- Less rhetoric, more business!!

The energy at the TiE 2010 Cleantech Seminar was palpable!

If the first Cleantech conference last year was all about gushing about the huge potential, and the sudden urgency to rush into the 'next dot com' boom, there was a lot of maturity in the latest edition. The ecosystem was just perfect-a very good balance between a bunch of entrepreneurs that TiE Hyderabad was able to encourage -and a community of venture capital firms, investors, management consultants, 'wanna be' entrepreneurs, service providers,...keen to zero in and be part of the next big story.

During the day, the 150 plus eager listeners were treated to about 16 presentations-of folks showcasing, very articulately, their products and services, on the progress they have made in their respective forays-and a glimpse, of what could be the potential-if the right kind of resources were provided. Close to a dozen VC firms also trotted up-and mentioned about their global portfolio, their focus on cleantech and their sweet spots-handing out their coordinates!

To me, it seemed the theme wasn't so much of the 'pot of the gold', but the evidence of a lot more opportunities for the asking.

-The emphasis this year, was not as much on the energy efficiency & smart grid domains, but about the huge potential in recycling & waste management- and more so, in the Water segment.

-The romanticism of the solar voltaic solutions seemed to be less, as there was a distinct need for more economic solutions- with people talking about alternates like thin films, and patents in the pipeline.

-VCs too were no longer willing to fund 'ideas on paper napkins', but the emphasis seemed to be on those with a proven track record in the 'go-to -market' ability. Most of them have eyes on investment sizes of 3m US-and so were naturally desirous of a certain critical mass!

-Among the assortments during the day, were some established players in the green space wanting to scale up with new applications ( Nandan Biomatrix, Sharada Inventions), some new kids off the block ( Waterlife, Mobile Water cleaning plant), some wanting to penetrate into the rural markets, and a couple of old economy companies -changing their avataar and jumping into the bandwagon of the "energy' euphoria!

-I must mention the networking sessions were very vibrant with folks reaching out very comfortably with purpose. Almost every group had someone with an "American accent'-driving home the point that there were quite a few NRIs/ returned Indians conscious about the domain.

-It was interesting to see a slew of management consultants, representatives of angel investors, as well as some prospective service providers who could prove as catalysts /incubators and perhaps ride on the greenfield projects.

As a recruiter, it was particularly warming, as almost as the promoters mentioned 'the need for talent' almost in the same breath as 'the funding required'...though I must admit I was a little disappointed that our fraternity wasn't represented -apart from yours truly!

Yes, the trend is apparent. Opportunities for jobs -especially in the middle & senior management exist galore for

- the R&D /technical operations. I can see options for scientists, and all those environmental engineers who can transplant their experience internationally to help companies put systems in place in India.

- sales & marketing-especially those with experience in rural marketing of products/services-reaching out to remote locations with almost negligible electricity. The challenge is to also spread awareness and increase adoption!

(Incidentally, we have mandates for a 100 crore solar company-that wishes to foray into the telecom industry by expanding their applications to as the power back up for towers etc. )

-finance professionals to help the technocrats present their financials with a bid to attract investments -not just at angel, but also project financing and if possible, venture capital.

-I can also see a lot of opportunities for all those in their mid career blues- some of who had missed out on the wave of IT & Telecom in the last decade- and especially those who have taken a break to pursue that one year MBA-to take course least till such stage the cleantech space finds ready made & qualified talent. Not to mention -for those have 'been there, done that' and now want to give back to the society and lesser privileged.

And for those abroad..I reiterate -as I did when I signed off at the end of the last conference. there is a huge opportunity to lure some in the Indian diaspora, either NRIs (non-resident Indians) or Indian-origin foreign nationals, to return to India to participate in this growth sector :-)!!

Cheers! Please feel free to reach me offline for some specific clarifications, as usual! I shall be glad to connect you to those who are in the know ....

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