Working towards a greener future?
Working towards a greener future?

A group of MaRS cleantech clients made the trek to present at Cleantech Boston. Why? For the clients, it was to raise money. For MaRS, it was our introduction as a high-quality cleantech deal-flow engine, one capable of delivering quality deals to American venture capital firms.

There are three things you, the Ccleantech entrepreneur, can learn from the MaRS Boston trip.

First, stop thinking about Canada (or even just Toronto) as the place to pitch. I and many others often complain of the dearth of risk and venture capital here at home. So let’s stop talking and solve the problem – let’s go to where the money is! American venture firms may have felt the heat of the last, annus horribilus of capital constraints and liquidity crunches. But that doesn’t mean deals aren’t happening. Cleantech is the hottest sector and in my view will remain the hottest sector for some time to come. And funds are starting to write cheques.

But if you’re going south to look for money, remember this: you need to think big and you need to get into shape. American venture firms are unlikely to do small deals and even less likely if the CEO isn’t thinking big. World-dominating big. Don’t ask for less than $4 or $5 million and be prepared to let them know that you’re building a team capable of taking on global markets. Anything less just won’t turn heads.

And your pitch? Practice for hours and hours before thinking of hitting the stage. Our very own Peter Evans helped whip our clients into shape, both the form of the pitch and the cadence. You have to come across as a person capable of delivering a global company, building a global team. That means you need to project confidence and have a pitch honed to grab their attention. Remember: all the pitch gets you is a meeting, but that meeting is hard to get! Once you’ve got the meeting, the real work begins.

The last thing? MaRS is a brand that can help. We are establishing ourselves as the source of high-quality deals, of interesting and promising companies. When MaRS brings you – a client – forward, we put our name and reputation on the line. So be prepared to work, but also – be prepared to get some attention. You’ll deserve it.

This year’s green stars at Boston:

NIMTech – non-invasive measurement techniques
RealTech – UV organic testing instruments
Alternative Fuels – green transportation fuels
Vicicog – energy efficient gear systems
Skymeter – Smart metering for vehicles

Our next trip is to Cleantech San Francisco in February. The best and brightest may apply!

Tom Rand

Tom leads MaRS’ role in the Canadian cleantech ecosystem and works with our Advisory Services group to support our growing portfolio of cleantech ventures. See more…