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Greenstart unveils latest clean-tech startups

Green-tech incubator shows interest in variety of startups from window treatments to biodiesel.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (center) with David Graham (left) and Mitch Lowe (right) at the formal opening of Greenstart at its downtown headquarters.

At a ceremony attended by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, Greenstart showcased its first four investments in green tech.

The green-tech incubator, which has been described as a Y Combinator for green tech, had announced in June it was looking for ideas that could produce what is known as fast startups--small, nimble companies that are "capital efficient and capable of generating revenue in 12 months or less."

Yesterday afternoon, Greenstart announced its first picks.


The Picowatt from Tenrehte Technologies is a Wi-Fi-enabled plug with the ability to collect and send data over a home network. It enables electronic devices to be controlled with regard to energy consumption, and avoid what's known as vampire power, appliances sucking down electricity unnecessarily while not in use. The Picowatt was also a Best of CES 2010 selection.

The Wa.tt, based in Portland, Maine, also offers energy monitoring; only this system enables users to monitor multiple energy sources in different locations, while informing the consumer of its energy use. Wa.tt claims its system reduces consumer energy bills by 15 percent.

Lono makes smart glass technology called SmarterShade, a material that can be applied to windows and skylights for greater energy efficiency. At the flip of a switch, the SmarterShade material, which is installed between the panes of a double-pane glass window, will tint a window and let users regulate the degree of tint. SmarterShade also offers an after-market option; it can be applied to existing skylights, windows, and doors. The technology was developed at the University of Notre Dame, and received $100,000 from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as the clean-tech winner of the 2011 Rice University Business Plan Competition.

At the other end of the green-tech spectrum, Sylvatex has developed a biodiesel fuel made from renewable biomass that can be mixed with traditional diesel fuel to reduce carbon emissions. Sylvatex calls its concoction SmartFuel.

In addition to investing between $25,000 and $100,000 in each of the startups, Greenstart provides its charges help with prototyping, legal counsel, design, and grant writing, as well as setting up meetings with potential investors during a 12-week program.

Greenstart begins accepting applications for its next session, starting October 2.