Local Events

August 23rd, 2011

Boston GreenFest 2011: Green Gone Bad


Last Thursday, August 18th through Saturday August 20th – City Hall Plaza hosted the 3rd Boston GreenFest. Having gone in the past, I wanted to return to this popular event to learn about new green solutions that companies and non-profits had to offer.

What I found was a bunch of pushy car salesmen-like reps who would speak at me with a rehearsed, un-personalized pitch. On the opposite hand there were a lot un-staffed tables or staff who were sitting and looking down at their mobile devices. I initially (and excitedly) thought was to monitor and engage with their Twitter following – but I learned that was sadly not the case. An alarming percentage of (B2C) companies I spoke with had no social media strategy (at all) apart from tweeting the ole; I’m at @BosGreenFest from 12-6 or setting up Google Alerts. Many of them had shunned their following – by not replying or even following them. I also saw a lot of overflowing trash and unsanitary food prep. The free juice samples were nice, but the event staff could not answer how sustainable the manufacturing process was – except having all natural ingredients. Thought there was a handful of vendors who were upbeat, prepared and engaging – my overall experience was that it felt flat and not genuine.

So what would have made the event a success? How could the event organizers improve for next year? First, I’d recommend allocating resources and volunteer time to improving GreenFest’s website SEO and usability – and utilizing social media to truly connect with audience rather than just pushing out event info while helping to set example for exhibitors and sponsors. Creating an event hashtag as well as identifying digital ambassadors would allow the conversation to play out simultaneously online as well as at the event for word-of-mouth and ROI optimization. Including links to exhibitors’ websites (and their social media channels) would also help to further engage visitors and help keep this event top of mind.

As far as vendors? I would have liked to have seen more listening – and less me, me me. Again, utilizing social media to identify and connect with people who were talking online about the event/company/organization would have been an easy way to acknowledge the very people (and their following) they want as customers/members. I also noticed a ton of paper collateral and only one vendor with a QR code. I would have also liked to have seen an exhibitor develop and execute a social media campaign designed to showcase their though leadership on how their unique solution helps address an environmental concern. To that end, most companies I spoke with could also benefit from watching a recent talk by Laura Fitton (@Pistachio), titled: Social Media Bootcamp for Startups and implementing her advice to; listen, learn, care and serve…not just push-out marketing info. Because no one wants to be subjected to used-car salesman monologues, and especially not online!

How was your experience? What did you find interesting or disappointing?

November 4th, 2010

Goal of the First #Cleantechtech Meetup


A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Boston’s 1st cleantech + tech meetup, which for twitter purposes is now being called the #cleantechtech meetup.

At first, it was just an idea that came into my head that I wanted to see if people were interested in. It was just a hunch, but I’ve noticed there really is a need for this. It became clear when I read a comment to a recent post I wrote titled: Why Are There No 24 Year Old CEOs in Cleantech on The Energy Collective.

A comment came from Bennett Fisher @ Retroficiency and it went something like this:

Boston has a bunch of them, myself and Retroficiency being one.  The differnece that I think you hit on is that this industry requires skills beyond just coding that are learned from years of experience.  I have often said that it is ‘easy’ to find great energy engineers and great software people, but almost impossible to find an enery person with software experience or a software person with energy experience.  What that means is that us young CEO visionaries have to find both of those great people and then be the catalyst and to help them understand each other and work together.  Its being done, albeit not as quickly as Facebook, but stay tuned – great things are happening with the younger crowd in Boston.

What really stuck with me this:

I have often said that it is ‘easy’ to find great energy engineers and great software people, but almost impossible to find an enery person with software experience or a software person with energy experience.

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October 20th, 2010

The 1st Boston Young + Cleantech + Tech + Save the World Meetup


“Why is there so little overlap between the cleantechies and regular techies in Boston?” The question hit me a couple weeks ago and I’m going to do something about it. In Boston, I’ve noticed that there is a HUGE amount of BUZZ and interest in both web-tech and cleantech, specifically in the young crowd. At the same time, there seems to be very little overlap between the two crowds. My goal is to change this, at least in a small way. On Friday, November 5th, at Tommy Doyles Pub in Kendell Square between 6pm and 8pm we’ll be hosting the 1st Young + Cleantech + Tech + Save the World Meetup. I’ve created an eventbrite page but you don’t need to register to come, I just thought it would be useful so we can all connect with each other. We’ll be using the hashtag #cleantechtech to share information about the meetup. The goal for it right now is simple, to measure the interest from both groups in collaborating and to gather ideas to see if its something we should make larger in the future.

Whats the story behind the Young + Cleantech + Tech + Save the World + Brewskies meetup?

For 3 years I’ve been very much involved with the green and cleantech scene in Boston but never the tech side. As of 9 months ago, I knew nothing about tech, and I still barely know anything. Then, I decide to start a blog (the one you’re readying right now) and began to learn what HTML, CSS, PHP and what all that other good stuff is. At the same time, I decided to get plugged into the local tech community, going to DART Boston events, hanging out with Kyle Psaty and the BostInnovation crew and randomly bumping into Jason Evanish of Greenhorn Connect fame. While going to these events I noticed that I barely ever bumped into any of my buds from the green scene.

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October 16th, 2010

Market Something, Sell Something, Build Something


If you’re interested in cleantech (renewable energy, green building, energy management, water, etc.) and you’re getting out of school put yourself in a place where you can actually create something. This is my takeaway and new piece of advice for all college students that I’ve stolen from Octobers Cleantech Student Mixer, hosted by Digital Lumens and Chen PR a couple weeks back. The event was half networking, oh how I love networking, and a portion of it was the panel taking questions. The panelists were asked a series of questions from the moderator and then it was opened up to the floor.

Surprise, surprise, many of the students’ questions were advice about the type of job or activity they should do after graduating or if they should just stay in school. My favorite response was when one of the panelists — I don’t remember exactly who — replied by saying that you should put yourself in a place where you can build something, anything, but something that you can point at and say “Look, I did that”.

It’s a very simple piece of advice but very profound. Also, in cleantech, as opposed to other industries, I feel like it makes a lot of sense. Almost all of the challenges the cleantech industry face have to do with creating new products, designing and installing new technologies on existing infrastructure, and getting people to change behaviors from old wasteful ways to more efficient ones. They’re all very hands on activities, so it’s useful to get your hands dirty.

Photo Courtsey: emrank

September 24th, 2010

How to Make the Most of Green Networking Events


Last week I was sent an invite to a Cleantech – Student Mixer that is hosted by Digital Lumens and CHEN PR. It will be happening this Tuesday in Boston. I’m no longer a student, but I’ve decided to go because I love that the meeting expressly states the value of student interns, something you don’t notice too often. If you’re a student in Boston and are free on Tuesday night, you should come. I thought I’d share a couple dos and don’t  green events that have been helpful for me over the past couple of years.


Be Working on Something – The number one item I’d suggest to anyone going to an event is to be working on something, anything. Even if it’s something small, like writing a column for the student paper (which you may or may not actually submit to the paper, and no I’m not suggesting you lie) Working on a project makes you seem proactive and productive. It will also make it easier to have something to follow up about in the future.

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