35 Innovators Under 35: Meet Sam Blackman

Sam Blackman is the Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and co-founder of Elemental Technologies, a green video processing firm. With a strong belief that sustainable business is the only way to do business, Blackman focuses on ways to make video processing less energy intensive while striving to create high quality of life standards for his employees.

Elemental accomplishes energy savings through an innovative video processing technique that reduces the amount of power needed to format video for distribution over the internet.  This procedure significantly reduces energy consumption at the data centers where large amounts of video are processed. In particular, it reduces the need for air conditioning, a potent environmental degrader.  Blackman notes that “using only half the power consumption as in the past--that just makes good business sense.”

These sustainable efforts have not gone unnoticed by the business community. Elemental Technologies recently secured $7.5 million worth of financing from Steamboat Ventures, a leading investment firm in the digital media industry.

Blackman puts forth incredible efforts to encourage quality of life in the work place. He encourages employees to participate in service projects such as trail-building in Forest Park and helping Habitat for Humanity build houses for families in need.

Something that Blackman does to feed two birds with one seed (think social greening) is to provide staff with strong motivation to abandon single occupancy vehicles to get to work. Incentives include secure bike parking, tri-met passes, and Zipcar memberships. Elemental Technologies can boast that every employee arrives to work by a mode other than a single-passenger vehicle! “These tools are great for recruiting the very best and brightest,” Blackman said.

Another effort that Blackman makes to enhance quality of life for his employees is to bring in a speaker each week to discuss current political, economical and environmental issues. Notable recent speakers include Representative Ben Cannon (D-Portland) and Multnomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen.

“I try hard to explain to my peers and colleagues about what makes Portland such a great place to live,” Blackman said. “People often don’t realize that it is our past policy decisions in land use that have made the city this way. Education is key for what folks like myself can do.”

Blackman has proven himself as both a sustainable businessman as well as community leader. Since graduating from college, he has chaired the Multnomah County Chapter of Oregon League of Conservation Voters and was chosen as OLCV’s Volunteer of the Year in 2006. Blackman was a pioneering member of the Oregon Bus Project, and worked to start a NW Portland chapter of Stand for Children.

People like Sam are hard to come by. As Oregonians, we are all better off for having him in our state!