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WRAY: Investing in startups and grandkids

  • WRAY: Investing in startups and grandkids

The combination of last week’s tax day and today’s Earth Day make this a great time to introduce you to Savannah’s GreenBadger.

We at The Creative Coast have the blessing of supporting, promoting and mentoring hundreds of companies through our entrepreneurial programs such as FastPitch, One Million Cups, StartupLounge, Investor Weekend, Geekend and various workshops.

Each of the companies participating in these programs has the opportunity to apply for a more intensive yearlong, hands-on incubator program called Bizlab that includes the building of daily relationships at the Creators’ Foundry.

GreenBadger is one of the BizLab companies.

GreenBadger is TurboTax for LEED development, the most widely used green building rating system in the world. If you have ever thought the paperwork, receipts and documentation for taxes was a hassle then you have a glimpse why a construction company securing LEED development certification would want to simplify the process and reduce certification costs.

I first was impressed with GreenBadger when I saw CEO Tommy Linstroth use his mobile phone to scan the barcode on a paint can. The GreenBadger mobile app immediately uploaded the environmental impact qualities of the paint and registered its use in the LEED certification process for the construction project.

Are your taxes that simple?

As you know, there are a number of critical aspects to consider in evaluating whether a business will really take off and be successful. The team and market are perhaps most important.

In GreenBadger’s case, Tommy has a decade of experience as a LEED consultant and is so connected to the green construction movement he founded the Savannah and Georgia chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council. He also launched the 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization Sustainativity, which hosted an incredible live art party fundraiser for Earth Day last weekend.

It was amazing to see Savannah’s artists create masterpieces in only a few hours and exciting to have the art auctioned off for a great cause. Clearly Tommy has what it takes to lead a LEED-related company.

What about the LEED market? Is it big enough? Is it growing?

For these answers I consulted the U.S. Green Building Council, which reports green construction as a whole is a $70 billion market and last month alone 346 projects representing 61.5 million square feet were LEED certified.

The Council also reports a 46 percent increase in the demand for the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) and LEED Green Associate credentials. Obviously the demand for LEED certification is growing and there is a significant market for LEED-related services such as GreenBadger.

It is no wonder Savannah’s first venture capital firm, SLAAM Ventures, chose to invest in GreenBadger. This is a clear indication that Savannah can and is growing the types of companies that early stage investors are seeking.

Our goal at The Creative Coast is to not only support these companies in helping them obtain the capital they need but also to make Savannah’s own burgeoning early stage investment community aware of the existence of these entities and what they are achieving in our own backyard.

For those interested in growing the business community here in Savannah, which will undoubtedly create jobs for our children and grandchildren, I encourage all of you to give serious thought to not only investing in education and experience for your children but also in the startups that will seek their expertise in the future.

As the saying goes, my door is always open to talk about how you can get involved in angel investing and what opportunities are available right here in Savannah.

 

Bea Wray is the executive director of The Creative Coast, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the creative and entrepreneurial community within the region. Bea can be reached at 912-447-8457 or bea@thecreativecoast.org.

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