photo by Andrea Della Adriano

How to Accelerate your Cleantech Startup

I like to say that it takes a village to raise an entrepreneur and accelerators all over the country certainly play a role in helping grow young companies into viable and profitable businesses. Startup founders that own platform technology usually cannot reach the market via organic growth. Thus, commercialization of such platform technology into high growth, high impact company requires venture capital cash infusion in the range of millions of dollars which is a challenge in itself.

photo by Andrea Della Adriano
Global warming photo by Andrea Della Adrian

Even though venture capitalists invest into most innovative companies, their own industry has not embraced innovation as they typically invest in companies in their own backyard. Silicon Valley still holds disproportionate amount of capital available for investment (about 75% of Series A, B deals are done in California), with NYC and New England supplying about 20%, which doesn’t leave much to go around for the rest of the country. In addition to geographic preference (Bay area), venture capital investors also have a bias for certain industries, mostly software. In fact, in 2013, over 40% of all deals were done with software companies, with distant second, media and entertainment trailing by three fold.

So, what if you have a startup that is not based in California or New England? And, if your technology doesn’t fit into sectors that are currently getting all attention from investors?

Specifically cleantech companies may have this problem to solve, so I would recommend them to join the Cleantech Open national accelerator because it has presence in all fifty states. Other than broad geographic coverage, startups will benefit the most from education, advising and mentorhip from this accelerator. Even though business owners cite that insufficient financing is the number one reason that prevents them from achiving their busines goals, it’s actually the lack of adequate management experience that is a leading cause of business failure. One-on-one advising from industry experts and education offered through the accelerator significantly mitigates this risk, so startups graduating from the program will be investment ready. Finnaly, the broad network of investors that Cleanteach Open nurtures will be more than interested in meeting startups and possibly investing in them. After all, clean technologies or “Resource Revolution” as McKinsey calls it, remains a very attractive industry for investors as it has a lot of room to grow in the future (see recent publication by McKinsey on realities and myths of clean technologies).

Personally, I have been supporting Cleatech Open Southeast Region since December of 2012, so I have personally seen dramatic improvements made by the startups that went through the process, from investor’s presentation and pitch, teaser, business model refinement and even pivot. Hence, I would encourage all entreprenuers that have companues rooted in sustainable business practices to consider this accelerator.

Testimonial by 2011 Cleantech Open Alumni

Smart Office Energy Solutions was a global Finalist in the Energy Efficiency category of the 2011 Cleantech Open. This presentation was given Bryan Hassin, CEO and Founder, at the launch of the 2014 Cleantech Open and offers some of Bryan’s thoughts on what his company has gained by participating. The video is available here.

Bryan Guido Hassin, CEO and Founder for Smart Office Energy Solutions is an executive with 11 years experience starting and leading cleantech companies with worldwide operations. Proven track record in general management, team building, and rapid growth. Global leader committed to addressing the energy challenge.

Key takeaways:

  • Access to subject matter experts
  • Polished a business model and executed a successful pivot
  • Increased market place visibility for a brand new company
  • Networking that led to meetings with potential investors

Dragana Mendel, a management consultant for startups, small and medium size businesses develops and executes growth strategies for her clients.