I conducted a virtual interview with Saumya Garg, co-founder of Energy Empowered, a recent runner-up in the Smart Power Prize category in the 2008 California Cleantech Open business plan competition.
The Clean Tech Open is an organization of businesses, entrepreneurs, academics and investors working to foster the development of clean technology startups. Their marquee event each year is the business plan competition which provides mentoring and workshops for the contestents. Over 100 startup teams submitted an entry for the 2008 competition; winners received a "startup-in-a-box" prize package worth $100,000 in cash and services.
Energy Empowered is targeting the consumer market with "smart plugs" that track and report the energy consumption for home electronic devices; they estimate the building energy efficiency market is worth over $178 Billion per year. I asked Saumya to tell me about his experience with the Clean Tech Open business plan competition, and give some advice for startups considering entering next years competition. Saumya especially valued the industry-expert mentors assigned to each startup team, and the ability to participate in the competition online and by teleconference - it's not necessary to be based in Silicon Valley to compete.