John Rooks of Rapport (left), Bonnie Frye Hemphill of E2Tech, and Steve Musica of Beltane Solar at the NYC Cleantech Summit.

John Rooks of Rapport (left), Bonnie Frye Hemphill of E2Tech, and Steve
Musica of Beltane Solar at the NYC Cleantech Summit. (photo/E2Tech)

Rapport, the Portland company which earlier this month impressed AOL co-founder Steve Case, continued its winning streak this week at a regional pitch competition in New York City.

On Monday, Rapport was named one of four Northeast regional winners of the Cleantech Open, a hybrid program that is both a startup accelerator for companies working in the clean energy and technology space and a national competition. The win comes with $15,000 in cash, $5,000 of in-kind services, as well as a trip to the national competition in San Francisco in November, according to John Rooks, CEO of Rapport.

At stake at nationals will be $200,000 in cash, but Rooks said “the other real value is a national platform” to promote the business.

Rapport has developed a cloud-based software product that allows companies to easily track their sustainability initiatives, whether reducing electricity usage or the amount of waste they generate. Rooks, who has worked as a business sustainability consultant for a dozen years, realized that while large companies had the resources to develop enterprise-level software, small- and medium-sized businesses lacked affordable software to track their sustainability efforts. Just as QuickBooks delivered easy-to-use accounting software to the masses, Rapport will “democratize sustainability” for millions of businesses, Rooks told the Press Herald in a July profile of the company.

The company has been on a winning streak this year. Earlier this month, it won a $100,000 investment from Steve Case, co-founder of America Online, after a pitch competition held in Portland as part of Case’s Rise of the Rest tour. In early June, Rapport received $10,000 as winner of the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s Top Gun Showcase event. It’s also one of the two dozen companies on the Greenlight Maine television show vying for a $100,000 prize.

Rapport was one of 79 companies that applied this past spring to the Cleantech Open Northeast. Of that number, 27 were chosen as semifinalists to participate in an accelerator program over the next several months and eventually compete in the regional competition, the NYC Cleantech Summit, held on Monday. Those 27 semifinalists included one other Maine company, Beltane Solar of Topsham, though it was not selected as one of the regional finalists, according to Jeff Marks, director of the Environmental and Energy Council of Maine, known as E2Tech, which is a partner with the Cleantech Open.


Rapport and the other regional finalists will pitch at the Cleantech Open Global Forum, held in San Francisco on Nov. 19.

Several Maine companies have participated in the Cleantech Open Northeast program, but until now only one has ever been chosen as a finalist to compete in the national competition. That was Westbrook-based Pika Energy in 2012, which did not win the national competition.

Rooks said like any good accelerator program, the Cleantech Open Northeast helps sharpen a company’s focus and “really holds your feet to the fire in terms of deliverables,” such as nailing down a business plan, financial projections, filing patents and other tasks needed to protect intellectual property.

“It provides a great deal of focus on the strategy of building a business that can get lost in the day-to-day slug-fest of doing the work,” Rooks said.

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