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Trees in forest

Ready to go to work for the environment: Reflecting on Cleantech Forum

I just returned from the 17th annual Cleantech Forum San Francisco. It’s a yearly gathering of the global cleantech community, consisting of corporate executives, cleantech startups, investors and government agencies.

At Symmetri, our purpose is to help blaze a new trail for those who make life better. Companies who are making this world more sustainable fit the bill perfectly. Not to mention, the environment is one of my true passions. Attending the conference reinforced the excitement I have for Symmetri to dive into this space.

And it’s a much broader space than most people realize. When I talk about cleantech, most people think clean energy, like solar and wind. But the companies attending the conference are solving problems well beyond energy. From agriculture to construction to healthy buildings to smart roadways and electric vehicles, these companies are doing amazing work to solve difficult problems across the spectrum of society.

These are a few examples that truly stood out for me:

CarbonCure is leading the global movement to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete industry. Concrete is the most abundant man-made material in the world. But cement, the critical ingredient that gives concrete its strength, is responsible for up to 7 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. CarbonCure has invented a system for making concrete that traps these emissions by injecting CO2 into concrete as it’s being mixed. This makes the concrete stronger and reduces the need for cements, while also sequestering the CO2 forever.

Currently, around half of all food grown ends up in a landfill. Apeel Sciences is fighting this global food-waste crisis with plant-derived coatings that keep produce fresh as much as two to three times longer. Apeel’s natural technology keeps moisture in and oxygen out, which dramatically slows the rate of spoilage. By maintaining moisture and reducing oxidation, Apeel supports the plant’s natural abilities to resist environment stressors.

Mango Materials is focused on turning methane into a resource, rather than a liability, by transforming it into a biopolymer that can be sold to plastic producers. When the bioplastic ends up in a waste facility, it biodegrades back into methane, creating a closed-loop, cradle-to-cradle process. And even if it ends up in the ocean, the biodegradable material can be digested naturally by marine life — a drastically different outcome compared to the persistence of oil-based plastics.

And those are just three of the participants. Heliac. Artveoli. Spire. Kairos Aerospace. Planet Labs. Miovision. And so many more truly impressed me with their businesses.

The title of the event was Diversity of Thought: Harnessing the Power of Difference. I went to the event with the hope to inspire and create belief that building your brand is as critical as developing the technology — a thought that goes against the conventional wisdom in many startup companies. So I had the privilege to speak about building brands and designing experiences.

I heard many questions during and after the sessions. “How do I combat a competitive company that is making untrue claims about the performance of their technology?” “Should I build a marketing plan first or invest in my brand?” “Should I brand my company or brand my technology?” A key point I made was to listen to their customers. And as I reflect on the conference, and specifically these questions, I will heed my own advice. The questions I was asked offer me many ideas for how to help them solve their problems. From tips and tricks to guides and workshops, there is much work Symmetri can do to help cleantech companies drive growth for their organization through effective marketing.

If you’re a clean technology company — from agriculture to construction, healthy buildings, smart roadways, electric vehicles and beyond — who believes marketing can help drive growth, please reach out to Symmetri. We’re ready to go to work for you, and for the environment.