by: Nancy Fechnay, MEM/MBA ’14; Aaron Gress MBA ’14; Lisa Huber, MEM/MBA ’14, and Mark McDonald, MBA ’14
There is no substitute for the real world as a learning laboratory. For the second consecutive year, Duke’s Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE) partnered with ’05 Fuqua alumnus Paul Straub of Claremont Creek Ventures (CCV) to provide Fuqua students with a unique mentored study opportunity to work in the cleantech venture industry. The focus of the project was to investigate the microgrid market, and to propose a growth strategy for one of Claremont Creek’s startup portfolio companies. This company, called Blue Pillar, offers an IT solution to help clients manage their critical distributed energy assets. The Fuqua team of Nancy Fechnay, Mark McDonald, Lisa Huber, and Aaron Gress assessed Blue Pillar’s current offering and provided recommendations on other industry verticals where their product may meet an urgent customer need.
Straub, employing Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad mantra, encouraged the team to “get out of the building” to test its hypothesis about attractive industry verticals. The team took his advice by traveling to CCV’s headquarters to meet with the venture firm’s partners, and then connecting with Blue Pillar’s entrepreneurs, current clients, and industry experts. These experiences were instrumental in understanding CCV’s vision, comprehending Blue Pillar’s value proposition, gathering and assessing client feedback, and ultimately providing a rigorous recommendation for Blue Pillar. Continue reading