"In these tough economic times, the global water industry is a $500 billion industry," said Glenn Oliver, founder and president of H2bid.com. According to a 2008 Water State of the Market report from Lux Research, hydrocosm (universal water) revenue will grow from $522 billion in 2007 in $1 trillion in 2020. With the global water industry growing by such lengths, consider one of Michigan's largest natural resources - water. Then imagine how successful Michigan's blue economy, or water economy, could become if local businesses found a way to market their needs and services towards such a booming industry.
This is precisely what Oliver had in mind when he created H2bid.com in 2006. H2bid.com is an online marketplace where water and wastewater utilities from anywhere in the world can post contract opportunities for water projects, and interested contractors or suppliers can submit bids. What's unique about H2bid.com is that it's the first worldwide marketplace for commercial transactions in this industry. "Now any company - small or large - can find relevant water utility contract opportunities anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse," Oliver explained.
After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School, Oliver worked as a clerk for former Mayor and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer. After Archer became mayor, he recruited Oliver to join his Cabinet and appointed him to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Board of Commissioners which approves utility contracts. It was during this experience that he had the idea to create a "clearinghouse" module where utilities and vendors could meet in a more efficient manner. "It became clear to me that the Internet would be a better way to advertise contract opportunities, and it's a way to provide immediate access to bid on contracts in the water department," Oliver said.
Oliver's first influential figure in business was his grandfather, who was an entrepreneur in El Dorado, Arkansas, when Oliver was a child. As the first African American to have a business on the main street in town during that time, Oliver's grandfather showed him what it takes to work hard and succeed. "He really taught me how to think like an entrepreneur," Oliver reflected. "He was the man who had a successful business with a fourth grade education, and here I am coming from some of the best schools in the country. Certainly, I could start and grow a business."
But as with any...