New Business Helps Cleantech Startups “Accelerate” to High Gear0

Laurie Stark | Tue Sep 6 2011 |

“It’s really hard to start a company.”

Those words might sound obvious to some, but they’re the driving motivation behind why Mitch Lowe decided to co-found Greenstart: a new startup accelerator that helps cleantech ventures get off the ground.

This decade has been heralded the second coming of green; you can’t throw a CFL bulb without hitting another cleantech startup. But which ones have the staying power to last? That’s the question Greenstart is hoping to help answer.

“We’ve started companies that have been successful, and we’ve started companies that haven’t,” says Lowe. “There are a lot of lessons we wish we had known when we were starting—Greenstart is meant to provide that.”

Greenstart’s concept is simple: tackle the global energy crisis by supporting and empowering entrepreneurs who are determined to change the world. The company plans to help launch more than 500 startups over the next 10 years.

For startups in their three-month program, Greenstart provides $25,000 in seed funding, collaborative office space in San Francisco, access to more than 30 personal mentors, a vetted network of resources, and the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists looking for the next big thing. In exchange, Greenstart gets a three to 10 percent stake in the fledgling company.

The startup accelerator is designed for businesses that can get off the ground quickly and with relatively little capital. More than good ideas, they’re looking for the entrepreneurs who have them. Since most initial ideas evolve, Greenstart is looking for more than good ideas; they believe the important thing is the passionate team behind the ideas.

Nearly 130 startups applied for Greenstart’s first class, which begins in September. Of those applicants, just eight finalists remained.

Interestingly, the founders of Greenstart don’t come from a background in sustainable business. “We’re in the same boat as these young entrepreneurs,” Lowe told the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve been out there in other sectors, and for the next phase of our lives we want to focus on something that matters.”

Applications for Greenstart’s next session open October 2.

Illustration by Clayton Junior