cleantech insights

When Big Data and Cleanweb Collide: An Interview With WatrHub

Gannon McHenry

The rapid adoption of sensors into our electric and water distribution systems has created a wealth of new data. Start-ups in the Cleanweb sector attempt to digest these vast quantities of data and identify areas for improving efficiency. The recent IPO of Opower and increasing attention paid to companies like Bidgely and C3 Energy has served to further demonstrate that this sector is here to stay. WatrHub is a Cleanweb startup focused on the aggregation of water-industry data. Last week Cleantech Group had the pleasure of interviewing Sunit Mohindroo, WatrHub Inc’s Chief Product Officer to learn more about the company’s platform and challenges they are focused on solving.

sunit mohindroo

Q: Could you explain the problem which you set out to solve and what initially got you interested in the water space?

The essence of WatrHub is we are a data and analytics company focused on providing equipment manufacturers within the water industry with timely and actionable sales leads through our data. Myself and my co-founder, Ahmed Badruddin, having previously worked at Apple and Microsoft, wanted to do something with more of a social and environmental impact. We looked at opportunities in the water space and we …


Web-Based Recycling: a Consumer-Centric Approach to Waste

Leo Zhang

The cleanweb theme has received positive attention from venture capital and corporate investors in its innovating business model of connecting cleantech innovation with the web. Recall Cleantech Group’s Cleanweb and the City event (and associated White Paper), which highlighted some of the latest innovations in urban mobility, waste management, and energy management.  Drilling down on how cleanweb has impacted the Recycling & Waste sector, let’s look at the Web-Based Recycling subsector, the investment trends and some of the leading companies in this space. As the chart below illustrates, the web-based recycling sector attracted a series of equity investments, including several mega deals in 2008.


Let’s take a closer look at the latest innovations on web-based recycling:

Recyclebank, the New York-based developer of a financial rewards system for household recycling, is working towards the ultimate goal of changing conusmer’s behavior in an effort to increase their recycling effort.

Gazelle, the Massachusettes-based provider of an online recommerce service, allows consumers to easily recycle and get paid for their used electronics. In addition, ReCellular, the Michigan-based online marketplace, is also working on similar projects.

thredUP, the California-based provider of an online platform for used clothing, allows consumers to …

yerdle: Exploring Decentralization at Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014

M Paschich

On March 11-13, Cleantech Group is hosting the largest and longest running Cleantech forum in the world, Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014. This annual gathering of the global cleantech innovation community offers a comprehensive development program along with exclusive opportunities to network and make deals happen. In the lead up to the Forum, we’re chatting with leaders across the resource innovation space to discuss the changes decentralization is causing across different markets, end-users, enterprises, technologies, and business models. Yerdle2

Andy Rubin is Co-founder and CEO of yerdle.

What is the essence of yerdle’s story?

The idea of yerdle starts in our closets and garages: all of the high quality items we collectively own are perfectly good to someone else even if we, the current owners, are done with those items. This is not a fundamentally different idea, but the way that yerdle is bringing this market and community together, that’s what’s extraordinary. Yerdle grants shoppers access–through information and through mobile–to the collective warehouse that is all of our closets and garages.

The push for me to help start yerdle came from my 20 year experience in retail. The last 10 were spent as a senior executive at Walmart, and included …

Harvesting Innovation: The Changing Face of African Agriculture

Brett Richardson

Africa is in the midst of an agricultural revolution, with innovation driving new avenues for increased crop yields, better resource and capital operating efficiencies, and general farm management knowledge. Africa is home to almost 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, or about 60% of  the world’s total. This contrasts the fact that 1/3rd of sub-Saharan Africans are undernourished, with population expected to grow to 1.2 billion people by 2050. The cleantech world is driving the changing scope of African agriculture with an influx of new companies offering innovative solutions which will alleviate stresses to the current system and support farmers.

global uncultivated caption

Both local and international startups are addressing some of the most basic challenges of agricultural production in Africa. 20%, or 4 billion dollars of grain harvest, is lost every year and 35-50% of fruit and vegetables spoil from crop and storage pests. UK based companies Plant Health Care and Exosect are targeting this inefficiency with pilot projects in Africa using their proprietary crop protection technologies. Plant Health Care provides natural pesticides which leaves no residual impact on the environment and helps to activate certain defensive and growth responses. Exosect also makes bio-control pesticides that can be applied to …

Searching for Borders in the Cleanweb

Marie Watanabe

It seems that everyone is talking about Cleanweb these days. Nest, which manufactures thermostats and smoke detectors but is at its core a bet on Cleanweb “Internet-of-Things” connectivity, was acquired by Google for $3.2B this month, and investors are likely all the more keen on Cleanweb models that could catch the eye of large tech giants. In 2013 alone, hundreds of Cleanweb companies including Uber and LiquidSpace raised millions of dollars.

Amidst all the excitement surrounding Cleanweb, one question remains – What exactly defines Cleanweb?

Cleantech Group recently had an internal discussion on how we define “Cleanweb”. In the report, Sparking the Cleanweb, led by Cleantech Group and Pure Energy Partners, the term Cleanweb is loosely defined as “web or IT-based solutions that optimize resource use and accelerate the clean economy”. The paper identifies four main Cleanweb segments: Catalyzing Cleantech, Resource Cloud, Big Data, and New Frontiers.

Catalyzing Cleantech includes companies like Mosaic and Clean Power Finance which create and facilitate distribution channels for clean technologies and solutions. Resource Cloud includes companies such as Sidecar that offer a shared pool of resources to the user. Many Energy Efficiency companies including Opower and Honest Buildings are leading Big …

#Cleanwebcity Interviews: BMW iVentures

Jill Bunting

On November 12-13, Cleantech Group and The Cleanweb Initiative are co-hosting “Cleanweb and the City,” the first senior executive summit on cleanweb. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is catching up with leaders in NYC cleanweb to learn more about what the rise of cleanweb means for start-ups, corporates, investors, and the overall innovation landscape. Click here to learn more about Cleanweb and the City and request an invite.

ulrich quay bmw iventures

Ulrich Quay, Managing Director, BMW i Ventures

Some corporates seem to be either unsure of, or even hostile towards, disruptive cleanweb applications like sharing platforms. BMW seems to have embraced the potential in this space. How do you view the opportunity in cleanweb for a company like BMW?

We’ve been studying mobility needs in the future. There’s a lot of potential, especially in urban areas, for BMW to play an important role here. We view it as, instead of customers having no BMW experience, we rather they have an experience through mobility services. For our parents and grandparents, they were saving their money for a car. Mobility behavior for people today has clearly changed, and a company like BMW has to be part of that future.

We …

#Cleanwebcity Interviews: ThinkEco

Jill Bunting

On November 12-13, Cleantech Group and The Cleanweb Initiative are co-hosting “Cleanweb and the City” the first executive summit on cleanweb. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is catching up with leaders in NYC cleanweb to learn more about what the rise of cleanweb means for start-ups, corporates, investors, and the overall innovation landscape. Click here to learn more about Cleanweb and the City and request an invite.

Jun Shimada, CEO, ThinkEco

What’s the challenge you’re working to solve?
We’re addressing energy efficiency from the consumer side. Utilities have issues with peak demand because supply is difficult to increase, and we aggregate demand savings.

Looking at the cleanweb landscape, ThinkEco is somewhat unique both because of its relative maturity and because you have a hardware component to the business. How has ThinkEco thrived as other energy products, such as in-home displays, fell away?
Fundamentally, we always believed that the consumer gets engaged through software. People who are trying to create another display will always fail, because consumers don’t want another thing. However, in order for us to provide a service to utilities, we need hardware. Utilities are hardware companies and need to have the …

#Cleanwebcity Interviews: Bandwagon

Jill Bunting

On November 12-13, Cleantech Group and The Cleanweb Initiative are co-hosting “Cleanweb and the City,” the first senior executive summit on cleanweb. In the lead up to the summit, Cleantech Group is catching up with leaders in NYC cleanweb to learn more about what the rise of cleanweb means for start-ups, corporates, investors, and the overall innovation landscape. Click here to learn more about Cleanweb and the City and request an invite.

David Mahfouda, CEO, Bandwagon


What’s the challenge you’re working to solve?
We’re working to increase the passenger occupancy of vehicles by making it easy for people to share rides.


What’s different about your approach?
We’ve created a turn-by-turn routing algorithm that optimally combines itineraries. Other companies have tried to use things like message boards to help people share rides, but outsourcing to consumers doesn’t work. This makes it automatic.


What’s it like being a cleanweb company based in NYC?
Because our technology benefits so many stakeholders, it’s been very advantageous to be in NYC. With Mayor Bloomberg, everyone is aligned on the value of data and efficiency. We were funded by [public benefit corporation] NYSERDA to increase transit from LaGuardia, and we’ve had overwhelming …

Seven ways the US military is embracing cleantech

Whitney Michael

Great piece today from Earth2Tech on seven ways the US military is “investing and proselytizing the value of clean power, biofuels and energy efficiency products and services for job creation, energy security and (insert your favorite cliché here).”

It makes sense.  According to this post, the Defense Department accounts for 80% of the energy used by the federal government.  As huge employers, users of fuel and energy, and stakeholders in cutting-edge technologies, the armed forces have a lot to gain (and save) by conserving energy and reducing fuel consumption.

We’ve just confirmed Tom Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Navy, Energy, to headline a panel on the Government’s Role in Cleantech at the Global Cleantech 100 Summit in October.

He’ll speak to the Navy’s biofuel, energy storage and renewable energy initiatives.  Tom will be joined on the panel by Keith Curtis, Senior Energy Advisor from the US Department of Commerce.

We’re going to announce the 2011 Global Cleantech 100 list at this event and bring together cleantech’s thought leaders to discuss the companies and market forces that will drive the global clean economy forward.  Seats are still available and early registration discounts are in place through September 16.  …

In a Sea of Rankings the Global Cleantech 100 Floats to the Top


If there is one thing the cleantech space has enough of, it is rankings, lists and awards. I am personally aware of more than 100 and got the feeling this may have all gone too far when I came across Energy Priorities’  ‘Top 10 “Cleantech Top 10″ Lists for 2011’.

However it is clear that this plethora of rankings and lists exist for a reason; people crave a light of clarity to be shone through the fog that permeates our fast moving sector. Even a full time analyst has to make a concerted effort to keep abreast of the sector’s developments, with a constantly shifting legislative framework and torrential investment activity: we saw 165 venture and 217 M&A deals last quarter alone (see Cleantech Group’s Quarterly Investment Monitor).

There is one question that is central to all stakeholders in our industry: who are the most promising cleantech companies out there? Start-ups need to know the benchmark of success, and all aspire to be recognised in such a category. Investors need to know who to invest in; corporates need to know where to source the next wave of disruptive innovation.


Many approaches have been taken to provide …