Ron Dembo founded financial software company Algorithmics, and now runs a green tech company called Zerofootprint, which develops carbon-management software. As closing keynote speaker at the PROFIT 100 Summit, he confessed that he started Algorithmics without a business plan.
Dembo got into risk-management software for financial institutions while a professor of mathematics at Yale University. He says Algorithmics dominated its market because it saw the future more clearly than its competitors.
And the future for entrepreneurs today, he says, lies in greening the planet. He now sees global warning as "the mother of all risks."
With global warming an increasing threat, Dembo says it's just a matter of time until we measure and tax carbon consumption. "Your kids will have a lower footprint than you, or the world will just go to hell."
Dembo's idea is that Ontario should "reskin" its tall buildings to create an insulating and energy-generating layer on the outside that will actually save landlords money. He says it's the perfect growth industry for Ontario, and will generate energy savings equivalent to the entire transportation sector.
He suggests Canada and Ontario would have done better to invest $10 billion in training autoworkers to retrofit buildings, rather than bury it in the black hole called General Motors. He would like to see Ontario become a leader in green technology, and to do that ZeroFootprint is sponsoring a prize for green building projects - the biggest prize for architects in the world.
Sadly, says Dembo, our cars today are smarter than our buildings. Making smarter systems for buildings could be the entrepreneurial opportunity of tomorrow.