VIEWS: Green Technology Conference

A Dispatch by SSC Intern Lila Holzman

During the beginning of November, Opportunity Green along with UCLA’s Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies hosted the third annual sustainable business conference in L.A.  Over 600 participants attended the two day conference including both Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, sharing experiences regarding green products and sustainable practices.  Opportunity Green organizes such environmental industry forums throughout the United States.  Their goal according to co-founder Mike Flynn is, “to broadcast to the world that there are viable and highly profitable business opportunities that are environmentally responsible.”

Clorox Co. was present to educate on their planned phase out of chlorine use in U.S. bleach manufacturing facilities.  They also have recently come out with a line of plant-based household cleaners and are reducing energy costs by producing concentrated liquid bleach.  Executive vice president of their Oakland office Beth Spring encourages that, “even a 100-year-old company can not only reduce their carbon footprint, but they can grow by meeting the sustainable needs of consumers and customers.”

Of the start-ups present, HUMAN Healthy Vending was highlighting as a success story.  Sean Kelly founded this business to provide energy efficient vending machines with healthy snacks.  The machines use LED lighting and are manufactured with extra insulation.  During its first year of business, HUMAN Healthy Vending sold 80 machines and expects to sell 1,000 in 2010.

Another start-up founded by college friends Alex Velez and Nikhil Arora involves using used coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee & Tea outlets to grow gourmet mushrooms.  They then sell these mushrooms at Whole Foods Markets.  The two began this venture just a few months out of business school and expect to make over $200,000 during their first year.  Arora says, “Our goal is to transplant this urban model to every city in America.”

LA continues to invest in green companies despite the recession, trying to build up clean-tech businesses to reduce pollution and increase employment.  According to YouNoodle Inc., a San Francisco company that helps start-up businesses in various ways, venture capital firms invested $335 million in clean-tech industries throughout L.A. during the second and third quarters of this year.

To learn more about this conference, check out this L.A. Times article.