It is a cliché that everything goes in cycles -- up and down, creation and destruction, end of one thing and the beginning of something else. It is also reality. I had the great fortune to run two small businesses back to back for the last 15+ years. The two businesses had some things in common: there were long periods when the business was all-consuming and working 6-7 days/week was the norm. In other ways, they were very different.
The first business was in electronic design automation (known as EDA, my area of specialty in the tech industry), where opportunities abounded and getting customers was never a problem. I started the second business, CleanMetrics, at the end of 2007 – intending to solve some important problems in sustainability using rigorous analytical methods, and also to find out if I could “do well and do good” at the same time.
I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in four short years: innovative software tools for life cycle assessment (LCA) and resource efficiency, the largest LCI database for North American food production and processing, a long list of publications (peer-reviewed journal papers, book chapters, conference papers, trade press articles), and some three dozen customers in diverse economic sectors -- focusing on numbers and analysis rather than empty talk.
Although so many companies are now talking about “sustainability”, the market for analytical tools and services in this space became very soft in the last year or two – at least as seen from where I was sitting. I believe that the lack of a serious response to climate change and the resulting lack of clarity on GHG targets have been at the root of this, posing a serious challenge to solutions providers like CleanMetrics.
At the same time, I came across some interesting new career opportunities back in the tech sector. So, I have now "returned home” to work on next-generation technology (which happens to be microchips for mobile devices).
As we move forward, the informational resources and publications on the CleanMetrics site will continue to be available to researchers and practitioners. We are also hoping to make some of our tools and databases available at low/no cost for non-commercial research and academic use in the near future. More on that soon.