Leah Edwards

A strategy and marketing consultant, Leah enjoys highlighting the efforts of, and providing information for, social entrepreneurs. In her consulting practice, she works with cause-related businesses and enlightened investors--to see people succeed at doing good for the planet and local communities while doing good for themselves.

How to Pitch Your Green Business to a Venture Capital Firm or Other Investor

In my last post I talked about the pitch-to-pitch, that is, how to even get a potential investor to listen to your pitch for funding your green business. In this post, I’m going to assume you have a good plan for networking and outreach to venture capital firms and/or angel investors. The next question is how to distill all of the supporting points for your tremendous chances for success into one paragraph or a brief conversation. If you are like…

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How to Get an Investor to Even Listen to Your Business Idea

In past posts, we’ve covered how to write a business plan and even how to pitch a professional investor such as a venture capitalist. However, there is a missing step between those two activities, which an Ecopreneurist reader wrote in to ask about, and that is: How do you even get an investor to return your call (or email)? Although this answer is an over-simplification, I’ll recommend to you: Personal Contact. A few days ago, a venture capitalist told me…

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Green Market Research in Six Easy Steps

Guest Post: This is the second guest post by Jennifer Kaplan who teaches a market research course at Marymount University in Arlington, VA and is a partner in the marketing consultancy, Greenhance LLC. — Leah So you want to get consumers to tell you what they will buy, when they will buy and why they will buy? Market research is the way. With a little time, and little to no money, you can gather consumer information that will connect you…

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First Steps to Greening Your Existing Business

Guest Post: Several months ago, Jennifer Kaplan contacted me to ask for more details about a post I had made about consumer attitudes toward green products. She teaches a market research course at Marymount University in Arlington, VA and is a partner in the marketing consultancy, Greenhance LLC. In the following post, Jennifer reports back on a project that demonstrates where to begin when considering any change to your business, with research. — Leah To Green Or Not To Green:…

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How to Do Cause-Related Marketing Well

The goals for a businesses – nonprofit organization partnership or cause-related marketing campaign are generally one or more of the following: 1. Branding – Associating with a good cause 2. Awareness – Getting the nonprofit organization to promote the business among its supporters 3. Promotion – Incenting consumers to buy from a business in a particular time frame, such as by donating a certain percentage (or a fixed amount) of sales to a charity Businesses need to beware that the…

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Get Advice on Founding and Funding a Green/Clean Technology Business

If you are a scientist or researcher with a great idea for a green business, you should check out what universities have to offer you (even if you are not in school). As an example of the types of programs available, consider UC Davis’s Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy (GTEA), which provides a free week-long intensive for science and engineering researchers. Yes, I did say free, and it’s held at Lake Tahoe, Nevada in July—a very nice plus. According to UC…

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DOE Partners With VC Firms to Launch Renewable Energy Businesses

At the Cleantech Forum XVI in San Francisco on February 27, 2008, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner announced the three venture capital firms chosen to partner with the Department of Energy to place an Entrepreneur in Residence in national research labs. Each venture capital firm will select an entrepreneur to work very closely with a particular lab to speed commercialization of research in renewable energy technology. I spoke with Steve Vassallo, Principal at one of…

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How to Approach a Venture Capital Firm with Your Eco Business

First of all, don’t worry about the business plan. I realize that sounds like crazy advice coming from a business consultant. However, I have seen too many entrepreneurs stalled or stressed when trying to write up a business plan when the plan really is not the critical issue. Many green business ventures that would be of interest to venture capital firms are in the cleantech, new materials, information technology, and life science spaces. If you are an ecopreneur with an…

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Green Business Founded on Desire to Meld Beauty with Social Responsibility

I recently had the chance to talk with the co-founder of VivaTerra, Bonnie Trust Dahan, about her motivation to found the catalog- and online-retailer of high-design, green products. Dahan had authored three books on interior design and headed merchandising and/or branding for major retailers including Banana Republic and Smith & Hawken. However, it was her personal shopping preferences that made her want to market beautiful products made from organic, recycled, and renewable sources. I have noticed that a number of…

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