10th Annual Babson Energy and Environment Conference
The following post is from Chirag Shah M’16.
Entrepreneur’s looking for ideas would have found plenty at the 10th Annual Babson Energy and Environment Conference. This year’s theme, Redefining Consumption, was oriented around megatrends such as: The Sharing Economy, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality, Recycling and Upcycling, Demand Response, and The Internet of Things. In addition to educating the audience on upcoming trends, the conference also inspired them to become more conscious consumers through discussions on a zero waste life style. Based the audience’s reaction, there two major areas that entrepreneurs should focus on as they reinvent the future of energy and the environment.
Bea Johnson & The Zero Waste Lifestyle
The Babson Energy and Environment Club was able to persuade the awe inspiring, Bea Johnson to attend and be a keynote at the conference. Bea’s entire life is meant to inspire common consumers to take a more thoughtful and deliberate approach in how they consume, whether that be a candy bar or clothes. Bea who was once a chronic consumer, adopted a zero waste life style in 2008. Since then, she’s been able to gradually reduce her volume of waste to a mere quart size jar! This phenomenal achievement allows her to live more freely and focus on having experiences rather than simply owning things. She advocates against needless waste by applying her 5 R’s:
Implement these in your life and you’re sure find out that they give you more space and time to create meaningful experiences for yourself and others.
What can entrepreneurs learn from her lifestyle? Due to the availability of low-quality junk in our day to day life, entrepreneurs who focus on providing high-quality, reusable products can generate a competitive advantage. By focusing on quality which is sustainably sourced, entrepreneurs can persuade customers seeking durable and functional items.
Jim Heppelmann & The Internet of Things
Jim Heppelmann, the president and CEO of PTC, spoke on the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) now and in the future. Along with Michael Porter, Jim has co-authored numerous articles on the transformational impact that IoT will have on business. He emphasized that continuous data collection and pervasive connection will allow mechanisms within the business value chain to operate at optimal levels. Further, he noted that products and services will be significantly more responsive and attuned to real-time needs. Ultimately, IoT will lead to a much more efficient and effective economy.
What can entrepreneurs learn from Jim? If you are creating a product, imagine how it could be connected. What type of data could it collect? Do you have the capabilities of including technology? If so, try to make a smart product. The smarter your product, the more connected it could be. Consequently, your product will not only be in demand by your end-user, but also companies that value the data you are collecting and using.
In addition to seasoned professionals, the conference also highlighted the impact that sustainability minded entrepreneurs are already having on the economy. Dylan Husted from Save Ohno, a platform that allows for rapid societal change, Shriyans Bhandari from Greensole, an upcycler of footwear, and Declan Keefe from placetailor, a clean energy efficient architecture firm, are all making a significant impact on the growing space. The pace of entrepreneurship is growing, the impact is unbelievable, what are you waiting for?