Author: Russell Muren
It's been a very busy summer at Rebound from a business/publicity perspective. Event participation has really helped us A) get our message out and B) learn how we can better our company, technology and development strategy. We wanted to take a moment to highlight some of these events and lessons learned while thanking those organizations for including us.
In May, I was nominated and honored to give a talk at the 2013 TEDx Milehigh conference in Denver. I set off to give a talk not so much about REbound, but about our technology development philosophy: that tailored cleantech systems offer a cheaper and faster path to climate change mitigation.
TED style presentations create a challenge for those of us accustomed to technical PowerPoint talks, especially when attempting to describe a thermodynamically intensive idea to an audience demanding a broad, non-technical, 35,000 ft. explanation. It took more time and iterations than Kevin and I care to admit, but in the end, generating an engaging, flowing talk without visuals was extremely beneficial exercise in communication.
The day of the talk was fairly overwhelming due to the sheer number of people who turned out to watch me speak. I’ve presented to large groups at conferences, but more than 2,000 folks showed up for TEDx Milehigh and I was continually floored (and more than a little bit flattered) that so many people were willing to pay money to watch the group of us speak. It was interesting how many people approached me after to chat about how my talk affected their lives. To be one of the individuals at the center of this event was, to say the least, an honor.
In late May REbound was selected as a semifinalist for the Cleantech Open. If you are not familiar, the Cleantech Open it’s the country’s largest cleantech accelerator/business plan competition. It began in early summer with regional finalist announced in mid October and national winners announced in November.
While the Cleantech Open has a few faults that both Kevin and I struggle with, it has succeed in doing just what it’s meant to: accelerate. It pushes a methodology devoid of robust technical discussion; an issue we’ve seen throughout all Cleantech circles and a trend that we feel has led to questionable investments in the sector. However, in the end, the Cleantech Open has been invaluable in helping us participate in the pitch-centric system while forcing us to tackle some tasks, such as dynamic financial models, previously left off the priority list. We may not agree with a system that at times appears completely uninterested in how a technology actually functions, but if a technically light presentation is what it takes to grab an investor’s attention, we’re all about conforming.
Since entering the program we have already had a few opportunities to pitch publicly around Denver, but the most important events are still upcoming: Cleantech Semifinals in October and, hopefully, the Cleantech Open Finals in November.
Denver Startup Week: Shark Tank
REbound was invited along with three other teams to this fun and light-hearted pitch competition comprised of a 7-minute pitch to an investor panel followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. There was a “People’s Choice” winner as well as a winner selected by the judges.
Now, REbound is more than moderatly skeptical about how well the pitch-centric investment approach truly works. That said, I love pitching and we have spent a lot of time refining our pitch so that it is approachable, clean, and (not to brag) beautiful. So we were happy to see such a great reaction to our pitch at the shark-tank. REbound not only was the crowd favorite, but also managed to win over the judges. The prize: nearly $11k in in-kind services. Not to shabby for 7 minutes of talking!
Defense Technology Energy Challenge
REbound was one of 16 winners selected by the Defense Technology Energy Challenge to present at the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo in Honolulu. The event took place September 9-11 and was REbound’s first exposure to the defense funding community and a great learning experience at that. First, we learned that DoD funding is not right for our current stage. It was an honor to be named a winner among larger, established companies like Primus Power, Sheetak, and SEaB, but after my talk, it became clear that the DoD folks didn’t exactly know what to do with a 1.5 year old company at the prototype stage. I did meet a handful of great contacts and believe that, instead of funding our R&D, the DoD would be a fantastic validation partner.
Special thanks to...
- Jason Dilg, Jeremy Duhon, and all the staff/volunteers at TEDx Milehigh
- all the Cleantech Open coordinators/volunteers
- Patrick Tierney, our Cleantech Open mentor
- David Talon of iGrowth Strategies for throwing us in the shark tank
- The DTEC for selecting REbound out of 200 other applicants