Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's Next in Tech? Discuss the Growth Opportunities, on June 25th

I'm moderating an event on June 25th called "What's Next in Tech: Exploring the Growth Opportunities of 2009 and Beyond."

The idea is to provide a picture of the tech clusters that are going to drive the next waves of growth here in Massachusetts, from cloud computing to robotics to videogames to energy efficiency to social media. Speakers include venture capitalist Bijan Sabet from Spark Capital, iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner, Brian Halligan of HubSpot, and Tim Healy, who runs the publicly-traded EnerNOC. (Note: The early registration rate ends on May 15th -- tomorrow.)

One goal leading up to the event is to start some blog conversation about the high-potential areas in tech right now... a discussion we'll obviously continue at the event on June 25th. (Boston University's Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization is hosting it.)

Bloggers like Don Dodge, Pito Salas, Larry Cheng, Doug Levin, Tom Summit, Gregg Favalora, Furqan Nazeeri, Chris Herot, and the folks at Mobile Monday Boston have already published their lists of "what's next in tech." If you decide to create one, post a link to it in the comments here.

Here's the list of tech areas I'm following most closely (in no particular order...and excluding here all things outside of pure tech, such as life sciences, med devices, energy):

    - Healthcare IT and electronic medical records
    - Digital video (esp. getting Internet video onto the TV)
    - New analytics companies (in the vein of, Visible Measures, Localytics, etc.)
    - Mobile apps
    - Robotics
    - Video games
    - Intersection of IT and energy efficiency/management
    - New forms of media/reporting/content creation
    - Online payment and micropayment
    - Better management/prioritization of e-mail
    - Cloud computing and SaaS (wrong to group those two together?)
    - Social media and marketing (wrote about this pretty recently)
    - Ways of connecting bands (and other creative artists) with their fans (a la Sonicbids)
    - Enhancing e-commerce (a la Paragon Lake, which does custom jewelry)
    - New ways of interfacing with computers (touch, speech, thought, etc.)

I could go on, but that's a start...

(The hashtag for the "What's Next in Tech" event is #whatsnext09. Feel free, of course, to Tweet about it... and hope to see you there!)

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Today's Globe Column: The Amazing Story Behind EnerNOC

If you're running a start-up and you need some motivation, today's column is especially for you. It's the story of EnerNOC, a company founded in the midst of the dot-com aftermath, in which the main lessons are about persistence and unshakable belief in one's ideas.

Here's the opening:

    The first time I met Tim Healy, at a cocktail party in 1999, he was an associate at Commonwealth Capital, a Waltham venture capital firm.

    The next time I bumped into Healy, at a cocktail party last month, the 38-year-old entrepreneur had taken his company, EnerNOC Inc., public on Nasdaq, and he was on his way to Manhattan to ring the stock market's closing bell.

    What happened in the intervening eight years is an entrepreneurial fairy tale.

(That makes it sound like all I do as a reporter is go to cocktail parties. Close to the truth..)

The video is below, in which Healy talks about the challenges he faced raising VC money, and how he tried to tilt the odds in his favor. There's also an e-mail message from Healy, when I asked him about a rumor that he funded the company, pre-VC, with credit cards.

During the process of working on today's column, I asked Healy how much credit card debt he accumulated. He responded via e-mail:

    For a variety of reasons, I don't give out how much debt we accumulated but I can tell you that at the time EnerNOC raised its Series A, I had approximately 17 different credit cards open by that point and I am pretty sure almost all of them had a balance. I can only imagine what David's personal situation looked like [David Brewster, Healy's co-founder] but we tried not to talk about the debt since talking about personal debt wasn't a whole lot of fun and we always believed it would be worth it in the long run. For a little while after we first got funded I couldn't really afford a place to live in Boston so I actually slept in my car and in my office for a month before a friend's place opened up and he graciously let me stay there for a while. I remember that I also bunked at another friend's place -- John Pepper's. The only reason I mention it is that John is the CEO and founder of the Boloco chain of restaurants in town (formerly The Wrap) and also a Tuck and Dartmouth grad so we shared a lot of early startup stories back then, keeping each other motivated and convincing one another we weren't crazy. After I allocated some friend and family stock to him in May, I feel as though I finally repaid him for those free nights and the great dinners his wife made me....needless to say, he's very happy now, since our stock is up and we just finished telling Wall Street about the great growth we see ahead. [EnerNOC's first quarterly conference call was this past week.]

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