C3 Gets An Impressive Start As It Evolves From Idea To Startup

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with the C3 leadership team in their San Mateo, CA, headquarters. Many of you may not be familiar with C3, as they have been operating in stealth mode for the past few years, working with industry thought leaders, partners and customers to build out their very robust energy resource management software platform. "Monitor, mitigate and monetize your energy and resources" is the company's tag line.

 Tom Siebel, the founder of C3 (also founder of Siebel Systems which was later acquired by Oracle), opened up the analyst meeting I was attending by telling the story of C3. He described the journey he took as he pulled together an impressive team from various business, political, and educational backgrounds to form the startup venture that now has large customers like PG&E, GE, and HP. They currently have a total of 7 customers who have implemented the C3 software suite to optimize their "energy resource strategy and carbon footprint." One fascinating customer that is worth checking out is Masdar City which is a real-life model of "sustainable urban development."

C3 has all of the right elements to make it a leader in the energy resource management space. The company is well-funded, has large customers behind it, and has a brilliant team in place to take it public. All great news for the C3 folks I met with last week. But why should C3 be of interest to you, the tech marketer? When Tom Siebel spoke about C3's journey from idea to fully formed startup, he noted how the company only recently launched its marketing efforts. Until last week, the company had done minimal to no marketing. "We now have a product brochure and a website that has contact information!" Mr. Siebel noted with enthusiasm. 

During the meeting, an attendee checked into C3 on Foursquare and exclaimed that he had become "mayor" at C3 headquarters and that it may be time for C3 to get a social media strategy. Not so fast. C3 employees are obviously not thinking about Foursquare as a marketing tactic and for good reason. I would not expect C3 to have presence on Facebook or Twitter for that matter, either. At least not in the near future. C3 is approaching its B2B marketing strategy very carefully and although it may be slowly incorporating traditional marketing tactics it is only a matter of time before they bring in social elements to their mix. C3 is in an excellent position to do social media strategy the right way. By first understanding the social behaviors of their customers and how they seek out the unfathomable volume of information that is exchanged on topics such as energy regulations and incentives, I expect that C3's marketing folks will launch a very innovative social strategy that will provide true business value to its customers. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of C3 in the months ahead as it gears up its marketing strategy to help them reach their goal of becoming the leader in energy resource management software. Stay tuned...