Investors turn green ideas into profit

By Lisa Amin
March 21, 2008 10:48:20 AM PDT
Investors are sinking millions of dollars into the latest tech trend: green and clean products.

Inventors met in San Jose and shared bright ideas got a primer on how to sell themselves and their concepts.

"This is a battery electric car, no fuel involved, but it's extremely fast. It goes 0 - 60 in three seconds," said Ian Wright.

That was the driving force behind Ian Wright's idea. In three years, he developed and launched Wrightspeed.

"It's actually been out on a track and beaten some of the world's fastest super cars," said Wright.

But more importantly, the totally oil and gas free car, which will eventually sell for $200,000 dollars each is backed by a group of investors.

In a time when venture capitalists and investment groups are on the look out for green and clean tech companies, Ian Wright figured out a way to crack the investor code.

You have to figure out how to make a business out of it. What do the numbers look like, can you sell the product at a decent margin will people buy it? You've got to work all of that out before you go ask for money," said Wright.

"A lot of inventors think they have the next great thing," said venture capitalist Richard Helfrich.

Silicon Valley inventors who are sure they have the next great 'green' idea.

"To convert heat into electricity," said Ramesh Gopalan.

It's Ramesh Gopalan's first time talking about his solar energy plan. He's hoping a venture capitalist at this nanotechnology association event will back it.

"I'm proposing it's going to be cheaper than solar panels," said Gopalan.

But, it's a concept this venture capitalist has heard before. Fifty solar power plans have already crossed his desk in the past few months.

"It's more of an art than a science," said Helfrich.

While it's science and technology that opens the door for these inventors, investors are looking for more marketability and sustainability.

Competition is fierce for the entrepreneur from beginning to end. In fact, only 8 percent will actually gain a profit for the investor. But in the end, it's 2/3 that end up failing within the first five years of starting up.


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