Accel Partners is one of Silicon Valley's premier venture capital firms. Over the 25 years that it has been in business, Accel has funded way too many successful start-up companies to list here.
Accel is aggressively investing in energy-related start-ups and recently released Entrepreneurial Energy, a white paper covering its analysis of this market. The conclusion: Changes in the energy industry are creating a wide range of opportunities for small, entrepreneurial companies.
I caught up with Accel VCs Rich Wong and Craig Lawrence to discuss the energy sector and the white paper. They see five key energy areas as having the best small-business opportunities in the coming years:
Completing the Solar Ecosystem. The solar energy infrastructure is starting to take shape owing to heavy investment and government incentives. Building out and improving this infrastructure, especially around how residential solar energy is brought to market, will continue to be a fertile area for entrepreneurial companies.
The Energized, Green Consumer. Increasing consumer interest in reducing energy consumption and carbon footprints is creating demand for an array of green energy-related businesses. Energy monitoring, management, and control are areas that Accel considers especially rich with opportunity.
Energy Efficiency. Accel believes energy costs will continue to increase, driving demand for energy efficiency products and services. Because there has historically been little incentive to conserve, there are now conservation opportunities almost everywhere energy is used.
The Smart Grid. The vision of the smart grid has evolved from automated electricity meters to a complex information and communications network integrated into the electrical grid. Building out, managing, and making use of the data generated by the smart grid are all areas with opportunities for entrepreneurial companies.
Energy Storage. New ways of storing energy have the potential to fundamentally change how energy is generated, distributed, and used. New products and services will be required to realize this vision.
Accel's motto is the famous Louis Pasteur quote "Chance favors the prepared mind." Deep industry analysis is part of the "prepared mind" process. And thanks to the white papers, the rest of us can be better prepared.
Steve King is a partner at Emergent Research , where he leads an ongoing research project to identify, analyze, and forecast the global trends and shifts affe cting small business. He blogs at www.smallbizlabs.com.