As founder and CEO, Dan Shugar developed NEXTracker into one of the fastest growing cleantech companies in the U.S. Here, at CTO's National Academy West launch at Plug and Play in Sunnyvale, Shugar offers sage advice to early-stage cleantech start-up entrepreneurs.
More than100 cleantech startups from around the country embarked last week on Cleantech Open’s rigorous four-month accelerator program of focused mentoring and intensive workshops. Now in its 12th year, the Cleantech Open program culminates early next year with cumulative cash and in-kind rewards of up to $250,000 across Cleantech Open's regional and national showcasing competitions.
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—July 6, 2017: More than 100 startup teams selected from Cleantech Open’s eight U.S. regions were inducted last week into the 2017 business accelerator program. At a time when clean sustainable technology needs more support than ever, the selected cleantech startups began the four-month program with two days of intensive instruction and networking at two National Academies.
Each year, the Cleantech Open (CTO) launches into its summer acceleration program with National Academies in Boston and Silicon Valley. These intensive two-day bootcamps give the startups a preview of the topics they will cover over the next 16 weeks with their assigned mentors.
At CTO’s National Academy WEST, held this year at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, 55 early-stage cleantech startups from across the Midwest and West attended this year's highly interactive program to launch into a summer of intensive business acceleration. Cleantech and entrepreneurship luminaries such as Andrew Chung, Bill Reichert, Michael Echkardt, Dan Shugar, Danny Kennedy, and Bridgett Luther offered the teams seasoned advice on a range of topics, including developing an effective business model canvas; creating correct product-market fit; integrating sustainability; pitching to investors; engaging ecosystem partners and corporates; building an effective financial model and funding roadmap; and addressing early-stage legal requirements.
“We’re excited to kick off the Acceleration phase of our program year with an impressive 2017 cohort of early-stage cleantech startups from across the country,” said Cleantech Open Western Regional Director Ian Foraker. “Each year, our National Academies give our startups a preview of their roadmap for the next few months as we work with them to perfect their readiness for securing first customers and raising venture capital. This year, more than ever, cleantech innovation and entrepreneurship matter — and we’re here to help.”
At the National Academy EAST, held this year at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 48 early-stage cleantech startups representing the Northeast, Southeast, Rocky Mountain & South Central, and Midwest regions of Cleantech Open also engaged in a two-day intensive business bootcamp. Teams heard from keynotes Ted Yang, Founder of Innovation. Executed. and Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder & CEO of WeSpire. Attendees also took part in an interactive customer discovery session with Mitch Tyson, Principal of Tyson Associates and engaged in panel discussions that included topics such as Funding, Corporate Partnerships, and Legal Challenges.
At the Academies, each team was paired with expert mentors, who will coach their team through a series of rigorous exercises that result in a robust set of business tools that the companies will use as they engage customers, investors, strategic partners, and policymakers. The same tools will ready the startups for regional judging and award ceremonies in late October and early November, and the Global Forum and Investor Connect events in late January. Finding, funding, and fostering environmentally sustainable startups, the annual Cleantech Open Accelerator is made possible by the generous support of its national sponsor Wells Fargo.
Composition of this year’s cohort of entries
After sifting through a strong showing of applications, the Cleantech Open’s Northeast, Western, and Midwestern regions each selected nearly 30 participants in all of Cleantech Open’s eight categories—energy generation, energy distribution and storage, energy efficiency, green building, transportation, agriculture, water and waste, chemical and advanced materials, and information and communication technology. The Southeast and Rocky Mountain regions each selected around ten participants. In the Northeast, for the first time ever, the greatest number of applicants was from companies developing Agriculture, Water, & Waste technologies and businesses, with 15 applications in this category.
In the Midwest, 25% of the selected teams are led by female CEOs. In the Northeast, this year’s class includes teams who have received funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). In the West, this year’s cohort represents a broad geographic area ranging from San Diego to Seattle and east to Idaho with startups in all eight industry categories, including the initial awardees from the California Energy Commission's CalSEED program.
Throughout the four-month accelerator, companies will be connected with mentors, entrepreneurship education, visibility, opportunities to access capital, and other vital resources to help entrepreneurs and technologists launch a successful cleantech company. Meanwhile, Cleantech Open continues to expand its network within the cleantech commercialization support ecosystem. CTO supports this year's startups with a robust network of business experts developed over the last 12 years across the country, and with a newly enhanced curriculum.
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ABOUT THE CLEANTECH OPEN
The Cleantech Open is the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn innovative technologies and ideas into successful cleantech companies. Since 2005, upwards of 1,000 startups have participated in its annual accelerator and mentorship program in the United States alone. Of these, roughly 70 percent are still active today: these cleantech startups have collectively raised a total of more than $1.2 billion and created thousands of jobs. In 2014, the Cleantech Open expanded the reach of its acceleration program beyond the United States through the Global Cleantech Innovation Program (GCIP): a joint program of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Cleantech Open. In addition, the Cleantech Open runs the annual Global Ideas competition in collaboration with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). This program showcases the most promising clean-technology ideas across the planet and has included entrepreneurs from 43 countries. Fueled by an expanding global network of more than 1,000 volunteers and sponsors, the Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making the cleantech sectors a thriving economic engine around the world. For more information, visit www.cleantechopen.org, or follow us on @cleantechopen and Facebook.
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