Had the great pleasure of attending and appearing as a panelist at PacificCrest's Emerging Technology Forum yesterday in San Francisco. If you've never attended a venture capital/emerging business conference, there is no comparison to any other type of conference in terms of energy and ambiance.
I'll probably have three separate posts about what I learned and observed at the event: a report on Verdiem, the energy efficiency panel I participated in, and some great commentary from two companies about engagement with utilities on automated metering and smart grid projects.
I've been to a half-dozen events like this one, and the ambiance is always the same: a mixture of unbridled enthusiasm (our company is going to change the world) with an undercurrent of paranoia (please invest in my start up before our burn rate overtakes our current funding). That is balanced with the most open atmosphere you will ever experience in terms of networking, as everyone wants to share their perspectives and insights.
For example, I sat with a very charming chap from China who was here on his first visit to the US, and he shared incredible information about the status of the wind generation industry there. Evidently China met their wind energy target for 2020 last year, but 20% of the generation is lost due to the lack of transmission capacity from the farms to the cities. Their target is to own the wind turbine manufacturing business, and the US is in their crosshairs.
Those of you who know me will appreciate this observation: attendees were absolutely the best-dressed group I have ever seen at a conference. I would say three-quarters of the men were in suits (though most without ties), with the rest in sport coats. Only one pair of jeans and a smattering of fleece vests!