Business model design

Open Forum

Government Plays VC in CleanTech

For Open Forum at Inhabitat: “If we can get three home runs, that’s terrific,” announced Steven Chu, the DOE Secretary at a press conference on Monday, October 26 at Google’s campus in Mountain View, CA. Chu was at Google to deliver 37 energy technology projects funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program (ARPA-E), the DOE’s first effort at funding $151 million in experimental energy technology grants, focused on high-risk, high-payoff Read More

Compost or Pay: The Journey to Zero Waste

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: San Francisco has joined the movement to zero waste, and is now leading the charge by implementing a mandatory composting law. Within six weeks, San Francisco residents and business must compost their food and organic waste scraps, or they will risk being fined up to $1,000. Rather than protest, San Francisco residents are reported to be eagerly awaiting their new curbside composting bins. Over 72 percent of Read More

Google Wants You to Know Your Own Power

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: If you could know the energy usage of all of the appliances and gadgets in your home, right now, on your handheld device, would you look?  Would you care? Google’s philanthropic arm,, believes that you would care, and that you would change your behavior to lower your household environmental impact. developed a free, Web-based tool that visually shows your personal home power consumption, the Power Read More

When Hard Metrics Inhibit Success

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: OK, so I caught your attention for a moment. In an economic cycle like the one we’re currently experiencing, it’s impossible to make any move or decision that is not tied to hard, cold, clear metrics. Increase sales by X%. Attract Y new customers. But there are times when overemphasizing numeric goals can get in the way of success. Case in point: an enormous pro bono Read More

Entrepreneurs: The Movement

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: Who will save the economy? It is all up to you. The entrepreneur. The Kauffman Foundation recognizes that entrepreneurs are the backbone of this economy, but rarely represent their opinions and ideas in a unified voice. To provide a platform for the entrepreneur’s voice, Build a Stronger America was launched last week. The website, Twitter feed, andFacebook fan page all encourage entrepreneurs to submit their ideas to solve Read More

What’s in a Rubber Duck? Stuff Under Scrutiny

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: The Ecology Center recently launched a provocative website, Healthy Stuff, which lists the environmental toxins contained in over 900 products, anything from cars to children’s toys to women’s handbags. Rather than rely on product ingredient lists or company social responsibility reports, the data comes directly from a machine called an XRF Analyzer, which uses X-ray fluorescence to detect the presence of toxins such as lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, Read More

Paying for the Experience of Making: The Bamboo Bike Studio

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: It’s not enough to just buy green. The greenest consumers want to do more than just vote with their wallet. They may just want to roll up their sleeves and help you teach them how to make the very thing that you’re selling. Take the example of the Bamboo Bike Studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The Studio, opened in June of this year, offers a two day, Read More – A Recommerce Company Making Cash from Trash

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: Preparing for a move back to the east coast,’s cofounder Israel Ganot took his collection of used electronics to Staples for recycling. He was surprised to discover that the recycling program asked him to pay approximately $15 for the privilege, even though he knew from his days at eBay that the gadgets could be re-commissioned and even resold for value. was born to not just Read More

The Measure of Money: Social Impact Investing Grows Up

For Open Forum at Inhabitat: Are financial markets a force for social good? 1000+ entrepreneurs, NGO staffers, and financiers attended the second annual Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP09) to answer the question. One year later, the conversation transformed from enthusiastic optimism to a more scrupulous discussion about measurement, metrics, and proof. Interest in environmentally and socially beneficial investment is at an all time high, and so is the need for a common Read More

For Profit, For Good

At Open Forum for Inhabitat: Socially-minded venture entrepreneurs want a new kind of company. Choose for-profit, and you are unable to receive grants from foundations looking to fund the very social benefit you are aiming to provide. Choose not-for-profit, and you kill the entrepreneurial spirit, as you are limited from offering stock options, owning the company, or rewarding top employees when the organization is successful.  What is a burgeoning social Read More