Green tech incubator Greenstart ups its game
We’d all like to accelerate cool green tech, but maybe the initial acceleration is less important than the distance traveled.
At least that’s what Greenstart, which Grist profiled back in October, seems to be thinking as it retools its business plan: No longer an accelerator, Greenstart will essentially become a venture capital endeavor, with a focus on helping companies through multiple stages of their development instead of just shoving them off a cliff with bags of money.
“This change was 100 percent motivated by listening to our startups,” writes founder and managing partner Mitch Lowe in a post today very effectively titled “We Killed Our Accelerator.”
This week, Greenstart announced that it’s shutting down its three-month accelerator program — and morphing into a combination early-stage venture capital firm and design studio. What happened?
“It was simply because entrepreneurs were saying loud and clear that 90 days is nice but we want a partner for the life of our company,” says Mitch Lowe, managing partner at Greenstart. “You just get to the good stuff at 90 days. You’re starting to add real value.”
Greenstart will now be writing even fatter checks to its portfolio companies, funneling $250,000 to $500,000 into about a dozen startups each year. And those companies won’t just be incubated — Greenstart is in it for the long haul.
To that end, the company is beefing up its own in-house design team in order to help the start-ups with more than just a little spending cash to start with. From Forbes:
The focus on design comes from a recognition that products that are beautiful and easy to use can make their users swoon and pay good money for them. …
“Really high-quality designs are so hard to come by. Bringing them to companies at this formative stage of their experience is a great magnet for companies that want to work with us and for us to lower product, technical and market risks,” Lowe said.
“We are either onto something or totally crazy,” he added.
Rich, pretty, and possibly crazy? Sounds like a venture capital firm to me! Greenstart may soon be investing in more cleantech start-ups than any other VC firm. We’ll be watching to see how it does.