On Wednesday, April 17, three emerging Toronto cleantech entrepreneurs participated in Entrepreneurship 101’s Meet the Entrepreneurs Cleantech Panel.

Paul Bottero from inMotive, Bruce Townson from Ecotagious and Jack MacDonnell from EnerMotion sat down with Jane Kearns, senior advisor with the MaRS cleantech practice, to discuss the cleantech landscape in Toronto and to provide advice to budding entrepreneurs, many interested in the clean technology space.

Meet the Entrepreneurs: Cleantech Panel
Meet the Entrepreneurs: Cleantech Panel

The panel covered different sectors in the cleantech space, including energy efficiency, transportation and smart-grid technology. Despite some sector-specific differences, several overarching trends arose as the conversation progressed.

The three panellists could not overstate the importance and difficulty of raising capital to finance startups. All three emphasized the need to maximize government granting programs, including scientific research and experimental development, talent granting programs, business development funds and more.

Bruce also emphasized the necessity of strategically choosing people to reach out to and capitalizing on introductions and recommendations from current contacts whenever possible.

When asked about the Canadian innovation environment, the panellists discussed the plethora of resources available to entrepreneurs, including access to a very talented workforce, especially around technical skills.

Perhaps the most interesting responses came when the panellists were asked why they pursued entrepreneurship as their career paths. The responses were unanimous: all three felt a passion for their idea and wanted to be challenged and excited each and every day in their careers, an aspect that they were unable to find in more traditional work roles. Paul also talked about not focusing on the challenges and negatives of entrepreneurship, but rather looking toward the future and taking a leap of faith.

When asked for some final advice for upcoming cleantech entrepreneurs the panellists responded with the following fantastic tips.

  •  “If you’re passionate about it, don’t overthink it and jump in.”  — Paul Bottero
  • “Focus on the customer and their needs.”  — Bruce Townson
  • “Don’t take no for an answer.”  — Jack MacDonnell

You can watch the video of the event here:

Video services provided by MaRS Media

MaRS is here to help entrepreneurs commercialize their technologies and grow strong businesses. Our advisors are experienced entrepreneurs who provide world-class guidance to clients while working to connect them to capital, talent and strategic partners. If you want to get engaged with MaRS Advisory Services please apply here.

Next lecture: Terms of Investments on Wednesday, April 24, 2013


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Jennifer Minelli

Jennifer manages the accelerating ventures program at MaRS, supporting high-growth ventures in the cleantech, health and information & communications technology (ICT) sectors.See more…