A recent article on TechCrunch highlighted a new clean tech startup incubator called Greenstart, which has decided to narrow its focus to companies that are “sexy” enough to attract investors. This got us thinking about how important it is to have incubators for clean tech startups in particular, as we were fortunate to receive support from TechStars. New companies in this industry face a unique set of challenges, not only when it comes to being “sexy” enough to attract funding, but also due to regulatory barriers, development cycles, and other characteristics of clean tech.
When it comes to regulated industries, clean tech and energy certainly present an excellent example of a challenging environment for startups. Not only do young companies have to navigate complicated rules that may involve hundreds of pages of information and months of difficult applications, they may also not have the resources to invest in having any regulatory impact on those rules. Having the support of an incubator network that can help give entrepreneurs the contacts they need to get started with this process is invaluable.
Depending upon the product that a new company is focused on developing, clean tech can also present unique challenges in terms of the length and intensity of the development cycle. Creating hardware or new renewable energy technologies involves significantly more investment and time than software development cycles, which can be much faster and may require little more than a laptop and an internet connection.
Fortunately for Simple Energy, we have been able to combine the agile development cycles of a software startup with the exciting potential of the clean tech industry, receiving incredible support from the TechStars community. Without the network and contacts we were able to develop during this incubator program, it would have been much more difficult if not impossible for our company to exist as it does today.
Clean tech specific incubators like Greenstart are essential for supporting other innovative companies as they go through the challenging process of starting a new business in this industry. Narrowing their focus as Greenstart has done will create better opportunities for companies that fit that niche, as the incubator will be able to offer a more specific network of contacts and mentors.
As the TechCrunch article explains, “This time around, the organization is tightening its focus to concentrate solely on the intersection of I.T. and cleantech, specifically in areas of smart grid, the built environment, consumer services and transportation.”
“We’re trying to make cleantech a little sexier in the investment community,” explains Greenstart co-founder Mitch Lowe who runs the program alongside five other entrepreneurs and greentech/cleantech believers. “Cleantech has gotten kind of a bad rap lately, and we want to show that this intersection of cleantech and I.T. has a lot of good investment opportunities,” he says.
We’re excited to see what these innovative new companies are able to achieve with the support of such a great program. Clean tech is an industry with plenty of potential for dynamic development, especially surrounding the intersection with I.T. on which Greenstart is focusing.