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Energy via Climate, Economic Opportunities & Security

ImageEnergy Secretary Moniz was in Middlebury, Vermont, today to participate in the Middlebury Energy Summit – a community-wide conversation inclusive of policy development, practical advancements and Vermont’s future as a leader around the intersections of energy and climate, economic opportunity and security.  The Secretary was joined by the Vermont Congressional delegation, Governor Shumlin, representatives from the state’s business sector, the academic/ research community and an impressive member from a local energy committee – Jamison Ervin.

One of the primary takeaways was that we are all in this together – here in Vermont and elsewhere too. “We” as in New England, the U.S., the western hemisphere and everyone on the planet. Given the role that energy has across so many different aspects of life on earth, it’s really hard to separate any plan or policy furthering negative climate-related changes in one region or country or continent from the rest of the world. Likewise, advancements around energy innovation leading to business opportunities have broad global markets and potentially high returns on investment.

The Secretary’s points around energy security made the greatest impact on me, however. I found parallels around food security and the need to build a foundation to address the root cause associated with any type of insecurity. When our allies abroad have high rates of energy insecurity, we have political, social and economic problems. When folks in Vermont are spending twice as much as they should be to heat their homes because of a lack of efficiency or a lack of resources with regard to weatherization, and they in turn, have to choose between heat and food or between lights and transportation then we have political, social and economic problems.

Consequently, if you are an entrepreneur in the energy space please know that we want to have a conversation with you. If you happen to have an innovative idea for a new service or product that addresses a business opportunity associated with energy we want to have a conversation with you. Here in Middlebury, Vermont, we are building a local economy around sustainability, entrepreneurship, human capital and quality of place. If access to U.S. cabinet secretaries, U.S. senators/members of Congress, a governor, top level executives and policy wonks is attractive to you, we want to have a conversation.  Middlebury is a great place and it is only going to get better.

Vermontbiz Dot Com

The Middlebury Business Development Fund continues to evolve and move forward.  If you’ve heard about us and have some additional questions or if you happen to have some interest in creating wealth via the unique attributes inherent in our community, check out our newest piece in Vermont Business Magazine :

Middlebury, Vermont is a great place and is only going to get better.  Allow us to bring value to your personal and professional calculations of ROI.  We understand business, entrepreneurship and with the recent announcement of natural gas service to our community the cost structure around success here just got better.  We are building on the tradition of Middlebury as the cultural, educational and economic hub of central Vermont.  Join us.

Repost from HBR:

This Is Your Brain on Entrepreneurship

by Kevin Evers  |   3:00 AM December 27, 2013

New research shows us exactly how an entrepreneur’s brain works. When a problem first presents itself, entrepreneurs — founders in particular — are quicker to react and are less inhibited than non-entrepreneurs. In the latter stages of the decision-making process, they also tend to think through the problem much more intensely. These characteristics, both learned and inherited, suit them well. They’re able to assess opportunities quickly — gut instincts — but also have the patience and fortitude to wait until their uncertainties clear up.

SOURCE:  Entrepreneurs’ Brains are Wired Differently by Peter T. Bryant and Elena Ortiz Terán

Opportunity: Middlebury

Vermont tops the list of states via 16 different measures of opportunity!  Given that our community – Middlebury – is also the intellectual capital of Vermont, I think today is officially “a good day.”  Please feel free to share the report and to spread the word around how our community is special.  We are very fortunate to live, work and play here but it is refreshing to have someone else actually measure that degree of fortune.


The Middlebury Office of Business Development & Innovation

Entrepreneurship & Emotional Intelligence 2.0

One of the most underappreciated aspects of successful entrepreneurs is a highly developed emotional intelligence.  This deck of slides represents a presentation I was fortunate to share with the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship earlier this week.  The dropbox formatting might need adjustment but the primary ideas are still available.  Check it out and think about opportunities for purposeful engagement in your own work or professional endeavors – in entrepreneurship or otherwise.

Here in Middlebury, Vermont, we understand entrepreneurs and we know what it takes to move your team, company and/or innovative product, service or model from point A to point B.  If you are in the process of scaling operations or developing structure around an idea feel free to contact us for assistance.

Come meet Vermont author Natalie Kinsey-Warnock!

Jamie Gaucher:

A fantastic opportunity for our community here in Middlebury, Vermont and especially for the children at our primary public elementary school. The annual Read-a-thon demonstrates the premium around education and learning that is such a vibrant piece of who we are. For those that might not be aware, prizes are given to children based on how much they read – not how much money they are able to raise. We are fortunate to be in a place that maintains a focus on what is important. READ!

Originally posted on The Mary Hogan School READ-A-THON:

Every family has stories that are too good to be forgotten, stories that need to be written down and told and passed on to the next generations.

— Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

Mary Hogan School is thrilled to welcome Natalie to our school in Middlebury from her home in the Northeast Kingdom on Thursday, November 7, at 6:00 p.m.

Natalie will share how many of her stories are based on her life and her own passed-down family stories, as well as talk about the book writing process. She likes to encourage students to explore the stories in their own families.

Natalie’s books include The Canada Geese Quilt, The Bear Who Heard Crying, and Wilderness Cat. You can read more about Natalie and her books on her website, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. If you’d like to have Natalie sign a book for you, visit our Read-a-thon partner, The Vermont Book…

View original 12 more words

The Operating Manual

If you are an entrepreneur or a team on the verge of launching or raising money please read this operating manual.  It may not be representative of how every potential investor approaches what they do, but there are extraordinary insights around what is expected of a founder and how the potential downstream relationship (post funding) is originally planned.  Incredible view into this firm’s process and the balance between science and magic!

Emotional Entrepreneurship

emotional intelligence


Skill in perceiving, understanding, and managing emotions and feelings.

Without this skill or access to this skill an entrepreneur cannot be successful.  Emotional Intelligence is one of the most basic, fundamental, requirements around being able to take advantage of a business opportunity, and yet very few people spend the time to talk about it or work on developing their “intelligence.”  If you are assembling a team, the process often includes finding a group of people with the appropriate skills – think Excel or Coding – AND finding the individual person who happens to be the right fit for the organization – sometimes referred to “being on the same page.”  That is Emotional Intelligence.  Likewise, if you are in the process of identifying a market and bringing definition to your “customer” you need to understand that person’s emotional responses – think empathy. What does your customer fear? What keeps him or her up at night? What messages do they already receive at home or in the workplace? What would make them happy? Only then can you successfully deliver a product or service that meets their needs and delivers value.

That is Emotional Intelligence.

If you are in the midst of a negotiation, there are certainly advantages to having a well developed emotional intelligence.  The ability to understand another’s position and the respective outcomes associated with that position better enable you to collectively create a mutually beneficial outcome.  You can get the deal done.  Yes, there is math and probably a contract but there is also a great deal of perceiving, understanding and managing – all at the same time.  Again, Emotional Intelligence.

Here in Middlebury, Vermont, we strive to educate our business community and entrepreneurs around the importance and advantages to having well-developed Emotional Intelligence.  At the center of our community, we have a nationally ranked liberal arts school that prides itself in preparing young people for the world they will soon encounter.  That process is largely focused on skill development (think communications, analytical abilities, hard skills, etc.) and an underlying tenant to much of that work falls back to or includes developing emotional intelligence.

If you need assistance around being better able to define a business opportunity from the perspective of emotional differentiation, contact us.  We understand the emotional connections and we have the skills and tools to bring value to your situation.


No – it’s not LeBron James or even sports related.  It represents the work and achievement of a Minimally Viable Product and for entrepreneurs looking to start a company or launch something new it is one of the most important milestones.  I learned about prototyping quite some time ago, but the term MVP was introduced to me by Eric Ries via The Lean Startup – great blog too.  The difference between a prototype and an MVP is that the later represents an idea that that customers understand and are willing to pay for.  The difference between “can something be built or done” and “should something be built or done.”

An MVP does not need to be perfect or fully functional.  In fact it specifically shouldn’t be.  There should be additional work around moving the technology forward, engaging the market at an appropriate scale and building a business around the opportunity.  An MVP is really only step one but it is a big step.  This achievement allows an entrepreneur and her team to cross the threshold from idea to tangible, measureable, thing – think form, shape.

So, if you are in the process of developing an innovative product or service and need assistance around engaging customers for feedback or design assistance, contact us here in Middlebury, Vermont.  We know innovation and we know entrepreneurship and we can assist you with both.

Two Ladders


Developing a technology or innovation to the point where it might have commercial viability is a process in and of itself.  Building a corresponding business case around that specific technology or innovation is a completely separate and independent process.  Within the world of innovation-based economic development, I often refer to these dynamics as “the two ladders.”  The progression starts at the bottom and moves upward toward a specific destination – an evolution.

Technology advancement is sometimes best evaluated against what are commonly known as “Technology Readiness Levels” – a scale that starts with a technology concept or application being formulated; moving toward validation in a laboratory; moving toward a prototype that is in turn validated in a lab and then in a relevant environment; to a fully functional system or successful incorporation of the technology in an operational setting.  The process may take several years or only a couple of weeks but development toward a specific series of goals is the focus.

On the business-focused ladder, the evolution is likewise best evaluated via specific milestones.  Different business models have different pieces, but generally the questions around determining value; gaining market intelligence; developing a brand; and engaging customers are most common.  These specific achievements can be fluid as well – as a technology or innovation advances, new value or additional applications may be realized thereby requiring further development of the business opportunity.

If you are an entrepreneur currently wrestling with the process around bringing a technology or innovation to the marketplace, feel free to contact us here in Middlebury, Vermont.  Our expertise may allow you to find a viable path up each of these two ladders.


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