Why Massachusetts is the most exciting clean-tech cluster in the world

Posted by Susan Hunt Stevens

Sep 30, 2014 11:48:00 AM

MA_Cleantech_blog_post_imageYesterday, I had the great honor to join Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Bartlett, and the CEO of MassCEC, Alicia Barton, for a celebration to mark the release of the 2014 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report. The report highlighted that Massachusetts’ clean energy sector is now a $10BB industry and that since 2010, the clean energy industry has grown by nearly 50% with nearly 90,000 total jobs. The report also shows industry job growth by types of clean energy jobs and region, and includes an analysis of the Commonwealth’s clean energy business climate. The event was hosted at the Boston Green Academy, an exciting charter school that strives to prepare all students, especially those who struggle, for success in college and the workforce of the 21st century “green economy.” 

I was honored to be the CEO chosen to represent the clean-tech sector and celebrate Massachusetts’ continued progress in building the most exciting clean-tech community in the world. I also had the rare opportunity to share WeSpire’s journey and how founding our company in Massachusetts has helped us succeed; a story we thought would also be good to share with you, our fans and followers. We believe it's a great example of why clusters work, how the public and private sector help each other, and how it truly takes a village to raise a start-up:

It is an honor to be here to celebrate the continued progress in building the most exciting clean-tech cluster in the world. Thank you to Governor Patrick, Secretary Bartlett, Alicia Barton and the whole team from the Mass CEC for doing the important work that led to these results. And to Headmaster Holzar and all of the students here, it is so inspiring to see what you are learning.  What I hope you remember when the homework piles up and you are up late prepping for a test is that you are preparing yourself to be part of the solution for one of the most important challenges of our lifetime. This world needs your creativity, your passion and your smarts and I can’t wait to see how you contribute.

The story of WeSpire is just one of 5,800 stories about why Massachusetts is a great place to start a clean-tech business. The story begins with an unusual personal challenge: running Boston.com by day, dealing with my (then 3-year-old) son’s serious food/environmental allergies, and a green home renovation gone amok leading to a night course in sustainable design at the BAC. It was during a class in advanced performance buildings that I realized that my expertise in interactive technologies like mobile, social mechanics, and game mechanics could be used to help motivate and inspire people to be healthier and more sustainable. The vision was a LEED system for people—or for those of you who don’t know what LEED is—a Weightwatchers for Sustainability. 

Despite not being part of this sector at the time, I was fortunate to be able to share my idea with several people who were, including one of the leading venture capitalists in the space. Over breakfast at Johnny’s Luncheonette, he told me to quit my job—that day—to go start WeSpire. About 6 weeks later, I did. 

But for a start-up to succeed, you need a lot more than a good idea. You need a special mix of human capital, financial capital, people willing to be first customers, and yes, a lot of lady luck.

When starting out, I tapped first into our strong university sector: hiring students from BU’s School of the Environment to do research, hiring Co-ops from Northeastern for marketing and computer science, and attracting a lifecycle scientist from MIT to create our scoring system. We took advantage of the strong local tech scene and convinced outstanding engineers from “regular” tech startups that they could not only write great code, but in the process work on something really meaningful and important. As we outgrew my dining room table, we moved into Dogpatch Labs, an incubator space that enabled us to learn from companies ahead of us. And as we’ve continued to grow our team, we’ve benefitted from the fabulous MassCEC intern program—and hired several of the interns as employees.

When we needed capital, we got backed first by CommonAngels and then the Clean Energy Venture Group and Launchpad Venture Group—three local angel groups who not only provide capital, but expertise and connections to customers and new team members. When we started offering our platform to companies to use with their employees, EnerNOC—truly a pillar company in our sector—became our first customer. CA Technologies in Framingham became our first Fortune 500 customer and we now work with over 30 global customers who collectively have 2MM employees. Our most recent exciting news is that EnerNOC has gone from first customer to an investor and partner, and will now be offering our software to their customers. 

What’s also immeasurable is the impact of the people who have helped informally, including many of you in this room. You’ve recommended potential employees, nominated us for awards, introduced us to your college roommate who happens to be a Chief Sustainability Officer, written blog posts, or commiserated over coffee about start-up growing pains. You’ve been part of a thriving eco-system that helps start-ups succeed in Massachusetts. 

I spend most of my time with the sustainability leaders of large global corporations.  They recognize that Massachusetts is leading the nation and this world on all fronts—policy, research & development, commercialization, and adoption of the technologies in this critical, booming sector. We are blessed to be citizens of a state where leadership just gets it.  The clean-tech sector is about innovation; it’s about creating jobs; it’s about efficiency; it’s about resilience; it’s about our health and our children’s health both now, and in the future. And most fundamentally, we are in a state where people increasingly understand that the transition to a cleaner economy is very, very good for business.

One of my favorite sayings is that “it takes a village to raise a start-up.” I feel very fortunate that my village is the state of Massachusetts.  Thank you.

WeSpire CEO & Founder, Susan Hunt Stevens, with Governor Deval Patrick
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Topics: Insider

5 Ways to Use Game Mechanics in Employee Engagement

Posted by David Taylor

Sep 26, 2014 1:34:00 PM

5 Ways to use Game Mechanics in Employee EngagementIn the last month, major news publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and InformationWeek have all published articles describing the do’s and don’ts of gamification, or the process of incorporating game mechanics into everyday life. Although a difficult topic to define clearly, one writer claims the main objective of gamification is to make “reality suck a whole lot less.” Another warns leaders to do their research because “the concept is also surrounded by myth.” One thing they all agree on is that games and gamification are not the same.

On the WeSpire platform, we don’t treat sustainability or employee engagement as a game, we use game mechanics to help people live healthier and more sustainably in real-life. In particular, we use five main game mechanics in our platform to motivate employees to take positive steps at work, at home and in their communities.

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Topics: WeSpire Labs

Employee Engagement: Small Actions = Big Savings

Posted by Holly Battelle

Sep 23, 2014 2:22:00 PM

Small Actions = Big ImpactThe dogs days of summer have just ended, making it an opportune time for a quick summer recap as we get ready to pull out our fall wardrobes and eat and drink everything pumpkin flavored. So what are the biggest sustainability trends in employee engagement we saw this summer? Of the 20 actions that generated the biggest waste, water, emissions, fuel and energy savings, 60% were commuting and travel related. Whether at work, or at the beach, WeSpire users are making a significant impact. To begin, let’s take a look at travel-related actions of employees using WeSpire’s platform:

During summer, it’s a little more enticing to get out of the car and take public transportation, walk, or bike to work – and together, these three actions generated about $7 in environmental savings per user – that’s in addition to the gas money saved! [Note: all numbers are generated from WeSpire’s proprietary Impact and Savings Report, which aggregates each individuals’ environmental impact – energy, fuel, emissions, water and waste – from corporate employee engagement programs. For more information on how these numbers are calculated, see our Methodology page.]

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Topics: WeSpire Labs

Corporate volunteering: A quadruple win for employees

Posted by Krisztina Pjezka

Sep 12, 2014 12:01:00 PM

Corporate volunteering: A quadruple-win for employeesCorporate volunteerism has been linked to increased job satisfaction, employee engagement and retention rates, and improved brand reputation. Consequently, many companies such as Demos have hailed these programs a “triple win,” as not just the communities, but the participating employees and companies also reap the benefits of corporate volunteerism. However, all these benefits suggest that the warm, fuzzy feeling from helping others is sufficient motivation for your employees. What about those of us who need to know there’s something in it for us? What if we're looking for that quadruple win?

More skills to pay the bills

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Topics: Industry Leader

Organizational sustainability is catalyzed by broader employee engagement

Posted by Danielle Guerin

Sep 9, 2014 11:06:17 AM

Organizational sustainability is catalyzed by broader employee engagementI work at an organization that is helping to transform an entire industry. We are the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. We work with companies and organizations throughout the value chain to develop sustainability tools (the Higg tools) for apparel, footwear and home textile companies to measure their impacts. Measuring these impacts is an important step to better understand which processes must be improved, and in order to implement measurement on a company-wide scale, it is important to engage employees internally.

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Topics: Industry Leader

Why employee recognition may be as easy as uploading a picture

Posted by David Taylor

Sep 5, 2014 12:30:00 PM

Why employee recognition may be as easy as uploading a pictureIf you consider that according to Josh Bersin, CEO and President of Bersin & Associates, there is a $46 billion market for recognition, it is clear that recognition programs can be quite costly. But according to some recent studies, the most effective aspect of a recognition strategy may actually be the cheapest.

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Topics: WeSpire Labs

3 Steps to Engaged Employees (and a World Series Championship)

Posted by Josh Nislick

Aug 29, 2014 10:47:00 AM

The Red Sox Team from 2011A year before their championship season, the 2012 Red Sox were an infamously disengaged group: manager Bobby Valentine publicly questioned the commitment of one of his best players two weeks into the season; pitcher Josh Beckett played golf two days before missing a start with a muscle injury; and in July, a story surfaced that several players secretly implored the owners to fire their manager, and then denied all reports of this supposed mutiny. An ESPN reporter described the team’s culture as “toxic.”

But twelve months later, the Red Sox had ascended from last place in their division to World Series champions. While there are many reasons why the Red Sox won the World Series, higher engagement is one of the biggest. A stronger culture, greater team cohesion, and a more purposeful mission all boosted the team’s performance in 2013, even while the team cut its payroll by $15 million from the year before. 

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Topics: Industry Leader

Engage the Power of Your Employees with WeSpire [Video]

Posted by Lauren Mason

Aug 26, 2014 1:18:04 PM

Engage the Power of Your Employees with WeSpire from WeSpire on Vimeo.

Today is the big unveil of our rockin' new WeSpire video! Live on our homepage, it's a snapshot of our company and solution, and features three of our customers offering insights on the importance of employee engagement. A huge thanks to MGM Resorts International, eBay, and EMC--they're just three of the many reasons why we do what we do. Enjoy!

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Topics: Insider

The Secret to Employee Engagement: Find out what motivates your employees

Posted by Holly Battelle

Aug 22, 2014 11:36:00 AM

The Secret to Employee Engagement: Find out what motivates your employees

To successfully engage employees and promote positive behavior change, “meet people where they are.” This was one of WeSpire's Founder and CEO, Susan Hunt Stevens’, key takeaways from a recent interview with Sustainable Brands. By establishing a common ground that aligns your employees with your organization’s corporate values and goals, you are able to engage employees in a space where they feel both comfortable and motivated, setting your organization and employees up for success. 

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Topics: WeSpire Labs

WeSpire Announces Strategic Investment & Partnership with EnerNOC

Posted by Lauren Mason

Aug 19, 2014 1:22:00 PM

Untitled_3Very exciting news to share from WeSpire headquarters, today! This morning, we announced a partnership with EnerNOC to accelerate adoption of our engagement technology. EnerNOC, a public company and leading provider of energy intelligence software (EIS), has made a strategic investment in the company. 

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Topics: Insider

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