The Cleantech Open has been called the Academy Awards of Cleantech -- perhaps because of the golden statues taken home by the winners. But the real win is the money that such attention at the "world's largest accelerator for cleantech startups" can pull down.
This year, Efficient City Farming took home the prize for the category Agriculture, Water & Waste. If that sounds like a shoo-in for a company that plants a greenhouse on top of a shipping container full of fish to create a perfect aquaponic ecosystem that can sustainably provide both protein and vitamins from any parking spot in the world, keep in mind that the competition was stiff. Then they bested the winners in all the other categories -- a story that will raise chuckles as the company grows under this bright new spotlight.
Proud of their category win, the ECF team ditched the rest of the forum, not even considering that they could be in the running for the big prize, the overall winner of the 2013 competition. When they got the call from the forum organizers, they were already 90 miles away from Silicon Valley where the conference is held. The pitch for the big win had to be made in ten minutes!
Skype to the rescue: the ECF team powered up and broadcast via large screens to the judges and audience, adjusting for circumstances:
"In the beginning of my pitch I usually start asking: who of you shares my passion for good food, please raise your hands. But as I cannot see you today, let me do it this way: give me a shoutout if you like good food!" ...now, that went well! It is quite impressive hearing a large crowd cheer over the small MacBook speakers.
Well, of course we thought our chances are like zero, pitching via Skype. So after the pitch, we closed the laptop and went out for some beers and food in Chinatown.
Learning your idea ranks as the best startup concept in the world and still cruising the Taquerias and Chinatown restaurants -- we cannot wait to see what these guys do next.