Friday, September 16, 2011

"So, What are You Doing?"

"(These Days?)"

The motion of juggling balls hand-to-hand
~ I've been asked this, or questions like it, quite a bit lately. Perhaps, thanks to this lovely turnover economy, it's because many of us are changing positions, jobs or careers at a frenetic pace. Perhaps, unfortunately, it's because my LinkedIn page doesn't provide the simplest summary. Or perhaps it's because today's my birthday, and birthdays are a great time to ping friends and colleagues with such whazzup questions.

It's hard even for my close friends to figure it out; the line-up changes all the time. And indeed, I need several prosthetic memory devices (laptop, Droid, calendar, and many, many lists) to stay on top of it myself.

While I do consulting and contract work, what I really do is serve as a kind of entrepreneur-at-large, pursuing several opportunities where I can help turn the chaos of a general idea into a growing, successful business.

The current line-up? My favorites (that I can talk about):
  • Enerdyne Solutions provides products and services for the thermal management of electronics—cool solutions for hot problems! Every 10°C rise in operating temperature reduces lifetime in half. We make the industry's highest-performing thermal interface solution (sold retail and OEM), provide a void-free compliant solder process for clients, perform environmental, life and stress testing, and do consulting on thermal solutions in everything from wind turbines to satellites.
  • ArchSkills has a proprietary treatment modality for behavioral (mental) health needs that provide the skills necessary to live successfully. According to NIMH, 26% of the US population suffers from some form of mental illness. The program, delivered in training sessions with reference materials and workbooks, has been under development and real-world testing at Fairfax Hospital (Washington's largest psychiatric hospital) for several years. It is also efficacious for other populations, including: businesses, correctional institutions, social service agencies, non-profits and families.
  • Phytelligence, a WSU spin-out, has developed advanced techniques for the micro-propagation of fruit plantlets using tissue culture—smarter plants. Years of deferred replanting, a trend towards higher orchard densities and a supply backlog of as much as 4 years. We produce plantlets faster, with greater vigor and more uniform genetics and morphology. Currently: apple, pear, cherry, strawberry and grape, with more to come. (Learn more at the upcoming NWEN First Look Forum.)
  • Another WSU spin-out, as yet unnamed, produces red alders, the dominant hardwood tree in the Pacific Northwest. WSU has rights to license and propagate and further develop clonal varieties gifted by Weyerhaeuser that both have excellent properties and grow significantly faster than other varieties. Current field trials show 9" stems in a mere 9 years; with these varieties red alder rotations can be half or less of the former 35+ years, effectively doubling production and revenues on the same amount of land. Most cabinetry is made of red alder; other uses include furniture, plywood, pulp and paper, and feedstock for (aviation) biofuels. (More on this in about 3 weeks.)
  • I am forming another company with the director of Western Washington University's acclaimed Vehicle Research Institute that focuses on producing compressed natural gas (CNG) from anaerobic digesters to fuel vehicle fleets. While raw biogas can drive electrical generators (e.g. Farm Power) the distributed production of transportation fuels from local biomass (manure) is needed throughout rural America to run farm machinery. A prototype is well along, more details on this in coming months.
There's other things percolating too, but nothing I'll write about now. What else am I doing? Some volunteer things:
  • I'm part of the Washington Clean Technology Alliance (WCTA) Events Committee helping plan and execute social events as well as informative presentations and panels on policy and technology developments and issues.
  • Under the aegis of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) I'm a mentor and resource to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking advice, feedback and introductions.
  • As a member of the newly formed Keiretsu Forum's Cleantech Committee I'm interested in how this leading angel investor group can nurture local clean technology companies and help build a stronger ecosystem, as well as fill the pipeline of investor-ready ventures.
  • In 2003 I was a charter member that formed the Rotary Club of Sammamish, and since 2006 I have chaired the Scholarship Committee that provides financial assistance to worthy high school seniors to continue their education. And again this October you'll be able to find me in the cast of the Nightmare at Beaver Lake, this year sponsored by Classic Rock radio station KZOK! It's our largest fund-raiser and community activity, and also the largest outdoor haunted house in a park next to a lake named for a rodent. Or maybe I'll find you first—check it out!
In what time that remains I enjoy Bikram (hot) yoga, occasional hiking and golf, reading, (never enough) travel, writing this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes even still a bit of juggling learned back in my Velvet Sweatshop days. (Bring your clubs and we can do some passing!) And of course—most favorite!—catching up with friends old and new over coffee or ales.

So, what are you doing?

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