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Erik G. Birkerts
Chicago, Illinois
Advisor to entrepreneurial, growing companies or companies that wish to become such.
Recent Activity
New clean, intelligent and energy efficient technologies have re-set market lifecycles in many traditional product categories. Product categories that were in the late maturity phase a few years ago are now back in the early adoption phase. This has tremendous impact on go-to-market strategies and companies are moving quickly to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
We highlight our concerns about Solyndra blowback damaging promising energy efficiency and demand-side initiatives in this article published by The Daily Energy Report. Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Massive transformation is sweeping across the once stable and conservative lighting industry. New technologies such as LEDs, digital networks and wireless communications are displacing legacy products. Lighting is also no longer about discrete applications - it is now an essential element of broader smart grid enablement. The sales strategies and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Competition Heats Up in Demand Response - Who Will Prevail? published by The Daily Energy Report. The article examines how the large building efficiency services providers -- such as Johnson Controls, Siemens and Honeywell -- are aggressively pushing into the demand response space and may potentially threaten the first-movers in... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by iGreenBuild.com. During the conversation I shared my perspectives on the strategy and sales challenges facing clean energy companies. I emphasized that most clean energy technology companies are underperforming relative to the expectations placed on them and that much of this underperformance can... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
The Commercial Buildings Consortium published Spotlight on Capital Constraints in Retrofit Financing: Innovative Models Overcome First-Cost Barriers. My article examines several new and innovative financing models that help companies overcome the first cost hurdles associated with energy efficiency proejct development. Read it at Commercial Buildings Consortium The Commercial Buildings Consortium... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Published in The Deal Magazine, Riding Gazelles shares my experiences and perspectives as an executive at two high growth companies and offers observations on creating and managing through periods of high growth. Read it at The Deal Magazine Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
As we meet with potential clients to discuss their businesses, we frequently hear one or another variation of the following lament: "we've signed up a bunch of channel partners but they haven't sold a damn thing!" Unfortunately, this "sign them up and they will sell" mindset is the channel sales... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2011 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Mergers and Acquisitions Magazine publishes Hey, Where's My Gulfstream?! Five observations from the IPO process. Please check it out (click here) and let me know what you think. Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Ben - I have been following Saras Sarasvathy's work for some time and I am a fan. However, what I find most interesting is the point of transition when a company/culture must begin blending Causal Reasoning with Effectual Reasoning. Assuming success, a point will be reached when planning and process do matter. Conventional thinking is that this is the time to replace the "entrepreneurial founder" with "professional management." I am not convinced this is always the best answer --one needs to look no further than Apple and Steve Jobs.
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A mere six days after new economy powerhouse Google announced it was stopping online sales of its Nexus One smartphone, old-line stalwart Procter & Gamble announced the launch of eStore - its first foray into selling its brands direct to the consumer via the Internet. What's going on? Why is... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
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It was tough not to see some irony in Google's quiet admission last week that it was stopping online sales of its Nexus One smart phone and moving to "brick and mortar" retail sales. It was just this past January when Google announced that it was going to "end run"... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
My wife is an executive recruiter who often works on CEO-level placements. Not only does she interview potential candidates herself but she also observes how company Boards conduct interviews of leading candidates. Through this process she has witnessed the full spectrum of questions from the mundane to the bizarre and... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
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Because new product development often starts with a blank slate, the temptation is to overload features and functionality. Coca-Cola Co.'s experiences with the innovative Freestyle soda fountain illustrates the risks of unchecked engineering enthusiasm. Monday's The Wall Street Journal featured Coke's experiences in an article titled "Coke Goes High-Tech to... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Most companies would kill to have the problem Apple currently has on its hands. Last Wednesday the company announced that it was postponing the overseas launch of the iPad because initial demand was outstripping production. Part of the production pinch was tied to the fact that Apple’s component suppliers weren’t... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Most sales metrics tell you that you have a problem after the fact. Performance versus quotas, win/loss percentages, average deal sizes, sales cycles and margin contributions are valuable measurements. However, these measurements become operative only after the passage of time when enough deals have worked themselves through the system. Sometimes... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Question: what's more important than $400 million in capital? Answer: having some of it come from Kleiner Perkins. Last week's coming out party for Bloom Energy exemplifies Kleiner's power to annoint kings. I'll let others debate whether Bloom's technology is the real deal and truly disruptive. I'm more fascinated at... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
The following quote/ anecdote was featured on Seth Godin's blog yesterday: Tim Cook at Apple: “This is the most focused company I know of, am aware of, or have any knowledge of... We say no to good ideas every day.” Cook then pointed out to analysts that every single product... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Don Dodge is an evangelist at Google (his official title is Developer Advocate) and he writes a blog called Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing. In his January 28 post "How Google sets goals and measures success" he outlines a nifty approach called setting OKRs. Interestingly, Mark Pincus, the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Huh? Such was the title of a Wall Street Journal "Theory & Practice" article that ran on January 25, 2010. I was immediately intrigued as I am a big believer that strategic drift and failures to plan are business killers. Just yesterday I wrote about how Toyota got slammed because... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
Yesterday witnessed Akio Toyoda, Toyota's president and chief executive, doing the perp walk in front of the US House Oversight and Government Reform committee in Washington. Subjecting the leader of the world's largest automobile maker to the political theater that is known as a congressional hearing is ripe for opining... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
There are more than enough articles, books, seminars and experts examining the topic of effective leadership. Nevertheless, I enjoy studying and talking about the topic and, in particular, I enjoy reading articles featuring people in leadership positions sharing leadership philosophies. The Sunday Business section of The New York Times runs... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
I know I am onto a good thing when I can apply the word mettle when talking about an individual or organization. Mettle - synonymous with courage; strength of character; strength of spirit; fortitude; nerve; spunk; stamina; and heart. Clearly a quality that is a leading indicator of success in... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2010 at Entrepreneurial Mettle
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Feb 20, 2010