TiEcon is over until next year, but I have a few last thoughts generated by the conference. While TiEcon originated as an organization of technology entrepreneurs from the Indus community, it has become much more. Initially, “tech” in Silicon Valley meant information technology. But TiEcon 2007 covered four tracks: Entrepreneurship, Information Technology, Life Sciences (covered last year) and — for the first time — Clean Technology. I spent my breakout session time in the clean tech panel discussions.
People at this conference, including major venture capitalists, see clean tech as the big technology opportunity. How soon will it big? Depends on which technology, and you can count on it shifting over time. This isn’t a start up opportunity for anyone who hasn’t already spent some time in the industry, so if this fascinates you, find a place to get experience first.
As Andrew Chung, Senior Associate at Lightspeed Venture Partners, explained in his opening comments, 2006 was the year that clean tech went from being a movement to a venture. On the transportation energy side, ten times as much venture money went into biofuels in 2006 as the previous year. Regarding electrical energy, twice as much money was invested in solar technology than in 2005, and solar has had a running start on biofuels. These are the technologies with the most momentum right now, but there is a remarkable amount of development doing on other energy sources that is nowhere close to commercialization.
But if the industry fascinates you (as it does me) and you aren’t it in now, two areas the market is ready for today that are easier transitions for someone outside the industry are energy management systems and energy efficiency technology. If these intrigue you, I recommend you do a Google search on those phrases and see what is out there.
Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures says if you are passionate about this area, get in and “repurpose yourself.” You’ll need vision and patience, but mark my words: In twenty years, this will be as big an industry as the Internet is today.