While Silicon Valley remains the birthplace of some of the best tech start-ups, what’s good about the valley (and North California in general) is that has one of the highest levels of eco-consciousness.
I’d like to point out 5 such entrepreneurs who’re running successful green tech companies in the valley, and making us all proud.
1. Tom Skazy & Jon Beyer Terracycle:
The brain child of Tom Skazy and Jon Beyer, Terracycle deals with one of the world’s most pressing ecological problems: Waste disposal.
Skazy and Beyer’s idea was to recycle the waste and turn it into products. While it may sound impossible, he found a way to do it successfully. By using a composting method called vermicomposting, they managed to turn the waste into organic fertilizer for plants.
Terracycle, established in 2001, had very modest beginnings where Tom and Jon collected waste from local restaurants and university dining halls. Now they run campaigns at schools and colleges to collect waste from them.
Apart from organic fertilizers, they also make urban art pots from crushed computers and fax machines, as well as furniture, bags, pencil cases etc. Because of the success of their venture, they’re now expanding their operations overseas.
2. Lyndon & Peter Rive Solar City
Solar City is a clean tech company that provides solar panels as an alternate source of energy. Brothers Peter and Lyndon managed to set up Foster City in California powered by solar panels.
Since being in the valley means being “closely watched by VCs”, Elon Musk (co-founder of Paypal) invested $10 million in the company.
The aim of Solar City is to make the installation of solar panels as easy as ordering a satellite dish for their roof.
The company encourages customers to pay for the initial capital to set it up and then just rent it out (instead of buying it). Now that’s a serious commitment to providing sustainable energy, and giving people incentives to finally make the switch.
Their current customers include home owners, schools and universities, US government departments as well as corporate giants such as Intel, British Motors and eBay.
3. Harrison Dillon & Jonathan Wolfson – Solazyme
Founded in 2003 by college friends Harrison Dillon and Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme is a biotech company that comes with a lot of difficult scientific terms to describe what it does.
To put it (rather) plainly, Solazyme processes algae to produce oil which is then passed onto other green bio-tech companies to turn into fuel. Their aim is to create substitutes for diesel and crude oil.
The company’s focus is on engineering and processing algae to produce bio fuels. Under the leadership of Dillon and Wolfson, Solazyme left its competitors biting the dust when it came up with a cost effective way to produce algae oil in sufficient quantity.
The company caught the interest and imagination of Silicon Valley VCs who’ve invested heavily in them, giving them the funds to strengthen and grow their company.
4. K. R Sridhar – Bloom Energy
Bloom Energy was raising $150 million in funding earlier this year, and is now working on producing regenerative fuel cells. It is backed by a very prominent venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who’ve been the leaders in investing in green technology.
5. Dick Swanson & Tom Werner Sun Power
The company was founded by Dick Swanson who is the company’s President and Chief Technical Officer, while the CEO of Sun Power is Tom Werner who was brought in 2003 to run the business side of the company and head it’s growth.
Sun Power is a solar cell and panel producing company. They claim that their cells and panels produce 50% more power than conventional solar technology.
Their solar cell technology has been used in some high profile projects such as the NASA helios solar powered air craft.
More and more green entrepreneurs are making headlines with innovative products that solve complex problems. Who is your hero?