Apr 22, 10:23 AM by Eric Allen
Last night I participated in RPI’s first ever Elevator Pitch Competition. Pitches were limited to exactly 90 seconds, which was really tough for this idea. Even so, I won “best presentation style” for the Ideas category! There were a lot of great pitches, and I’m glad I got to be part of such a cool event. I wish I could participate next year!
The context: I’m pitching to an investor with a portfolio of internet and alternative energy companies looking for new opportunities to reinforce your existing companies.
The personal carbon offsetting business is growing like crazy. Were talking about $700 million a year in voluntary offsets, growing at over 80% per year The market has moved so fast that consumers are now faced with a bewildering number of choices, and minimal regulatory oversight. I can buy offsets from an organization like TerraPass, but I have no idea exactly what they’re going to. What do we do about the confusion? Often, nothing.
Conservation Marketplace changes all of that. Instead of blindly throwing their money at vague “offsets,” consumers come to an online marketplace where they can fund other individuals to make lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon footprint. For example, I could fund you to switch from driving to work to taking your bicycle.
By reducing confusion, Conservation Marketplace gains access to a huge segment of the market that is currently underserved. With the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars per year in transactions on the site, conservation marketplace can generate high-quality web traffic for advertisers looking to gain access to green-minded consumers.
Conservation marketplace pairs people who want to pay off their ecological guilt with people who are willing to make lifestyle changes, given a little push. It is a web service that cuts out the inefficient middlemen of an existing, proven market, with exceptional advertising potential.
Somebody is going to get the brand for personal carbon offsetting. Let me make it be you.
What do you think? I’m still iffy on the idea, but I did get some positive feedback. Accountability, of course, is the hardest part of this.
Oh, and videos will be posted soon. I’ll tweet a link when they go up.
Feb 17, 08:01 PM by Eric Allen
When I first arrived here at RPI, I met a number of students who were going crazy with their course work trying to double major, triple major, graduate in three years, get a B.S. and an M.S. in four years, or some other crazy goal. I, of course, was not crazy. I was going to take my time and enjoy college, completing a B.S. with one major in four years. I spent lots of time working on projects and participating in clubs like UPAC Sound, not to mention getting much better at skiing. I really did enjoy my freshman year at RPI. I was off to a good start.
That was then. Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself racing for the finish line faster than I’d ever imagined. Somehow I’ve managed to line things up to graduate an entire year early, and I’m going for it. I’ve got an awesome job waiting for me in San Francisco at Sauce Labs that has me really excited. I’m even working for them part-time during my crazy final semester. To finish off my education at RPI, I’m taking 22 credits (the normal limit is 21, so I’m paying extra for the 22nd credit). I’m taking Advanced Computer Hardware Design, Capstone Design Experience, Basic Drawing, Professional Development II (and III), and an independent study with my favorite professor (to think I actually dropped his class two years ago!!). I’ve cut back to basically no club activity, though I am keeping up the skiing. Oh, and I’m participating in RCOS for the fourth semester running. Think that’s enough to keep me busy?
What changed? What turned me from the happy little freshman taking his time to the crazy workaholic I’m being now? Honestly, it’s a lot like my transition from high school to college. I’ve by no means exhausted the classes at RPI, and money isn’t really a problem. I have friends here, and I enjoy most of my time. So, then, what is going on? I just feel that it’s time for me to move on. College admissions departments didn’t seem to like that reasoning, but it’s one of the best life decisions I’ve made. I might have gotten into a more prestigious college if I’d stuck around for another year of high school, but I’ve gained so much over the last three years that it’s hard to argue against that choice. Now, I’m doing it again. I just feel like I’ve grown about as much as I’m going to grow here, and I see so much more opportunity to grow in the next stage of my life. I’ve grown an amazing amount over the last three years, and I’m looking forward to continuing that growth.
One thing I’ve wondered about off and on ever since I started college is whether my choice of major was right. I’m not a computer hardware designer, and I’m probably never going to be. I’m a software guy through and through. Why didn’t I choose Computer Science, then? Frankly, it’s because I don’t agree with the way Computer Science is taught at RPI. Looking back, though, I can’t help but wonder if CS would’ve been a better choice. I spend a lot of personal time learning what are essentially CS concepts, and I could have done that in the classroom instead. I’m convinced I made the right choice, though, for one reason: teamwork. Most software developers I’ve met are terrible at working with others. From what I’ve seen of CS curricula, teamwork is rarely emphasized, if it’s even done at all. RPI CS students get one class where they have to do much teamwork, while Engineering students (like me) get something like half a dozen teamwork opportunities. Heck, even my Economics class last semester involved a significant team project. Specific skills are easy to pick up, but meta-skills like teamwork are much harder to acquire. If teamwork were the only thing I’ve gotten out of my college experience (and it’s certainly not), it would still have been worth it. Thank you RPI for helping me learn how to work with other people!
Dec 7, 01:17 PM by Eric Allen
I went to RubyConf this year. As it so happened, the conference fell on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and only a few miles from my parents’ house! With a page of paperwork, I was officially excused from classes for Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, and I moved forward with my surprise. I didn’t tell my parents I’d be home for Thanksgiving, and I showed up on their doorstep on the evening of the 18th. Much to my surprise, though, they weren’t home!! Mom was at work, and dad was staying in San Francisco for an early class the following day. What a surprise for me! Anyway, I had a great time in California spending time with my family and friends and catching up with my network.
Speaking of surprises, I’ve got one for you: I’m graduating this May. For those of you who’ve been counting, yes, that’s only three years from when I started. I’m a bit leery of making an announcement prematurely, but it’s time for me to commit. I’m doing RPI in three years. Why? Well, mostly because I can, but if you want more details you can get in touch with me directly. I’ll be taking some classes in January over Winter Break, and I should be completely done with my undergraduate education by May 2010. That means I suddenly find myself job hunting! Here I was looking for an internship this summer, and suddenly I’m staring down the barrel of getting a Real Job. Of course, my roots are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s unlikely I’ll land anywhere else. I’m coming home!