Showcase Recap: E8 Summer Showcase and Reverse Pitch

Guest Contributor Lisa Shmulyan, Student, University of Pennsylvania 

During the E8 Summer Showcase portion of the CleanTech Innovation Showcase, nine cleantech companies presented two-minute pitches to an audience of 350 attendees. The start-ups ranged from Impact Bionergy, which manufactures portable bioenergy systems that convert organic waste materials into energy bio fertilizer, to Green Canopy, a construction company that builds homes with sustainable materials and methods, to Fledge, an accelerator for social impact entrepreneurs. The full list of featured companies is: Impact Bioenergy, Vartega, Stormsensor, Green Canopy, Sealed, Retrolux, RynoMoters, Teadora, and Fledge.

Reverse Pitch Session: Boeing, Costco and Snohomish PUD

To turn the tables, the Afternoon Session also included a Reverse Pitch that put leadership from established companies in the hot seat. Senior managers from Costco, Boeing, and the Snohomish County Public Utility District shared their biggest pain points, or the “biggest devil they are wrestling with in their organizations.” In doing so, they gave entrepreneurs in the audience a clearer idea of the kinds of innovations major industries are seeking.

The panelists were Craig Peal, the Assistant Vice President for Energy and Building Controls at Costco Wholesale Corporation, Keith Warner, Utilities Senior Manager at The Boeing Company, and Jessica Matlock, Director of Strategic Accounts and New Initiatives at the Snohomish County Public Utility District. Jimmy Jia, CEO of Distributed Energy Management moderated the discussion.

Warner asked how Boeing could most effectively reduce their carbon footprint nationally using standard solutions. Boeing has set goals to reduce energy use by 10% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025. He is interested in how his company can meet those goals. He is curious about using new technologies such as automation to better integrate the production systems.

Peal discussed how one of Costco’s biggest pain points comes from refrigeration. He estimates around 65% of the power his company uses is on refrigeration, and refrigerants are a significant greenhouse gas. The company is also often looking for new ideas on how to cost-effectively meet regulatory and environmental requirements.

Matlock is trying to facilitate the electrification of Snohomish PUD’s systems for independent companies and transportation while also overcoming the perceptions associated with electrification. She wants to convince companies that bumping up their electric cost and need is not necessarily a bad thing when it means they are simultaneously reducing carbon use.

A networking happy hour followed the Reverse Pitch, offering entrepreneurs in the audience the opportunity to learn more about these companies’ needs and start working on ideas for solutions.