It takes perseverance to make it in cleantech, perhaps even more in recent years than before.
Venture capitalists have scaled back their cleantech investments since 2011, thanks in part to big failures like Solyndra and macro trends like cheaper natural gas and solar panels, according to a Brookings Institution report last year.
That has led cleantech entrepreneurs to seek alternative sources of funding at the early stages. They’re relying more heavily on supporters like angel investors, philanthropic groups, and large corporations, which have been willing to invest in and partner with cleantech startups lately, says Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, a cleantech incubator located in Somerville, MA.
Organizations like hers have helped, too, she says. Startups that rent space at Greentown get access not only to work desks, conference rooms, Wi-Fi, coffee, and other amenities now expected after the co-working space boom; they also get access to lab space, expensive equipment, and connections with potential investors and business partners.
“It’s actually very interesting to see how scrappy cleantech entrepreneurs have become,” Reichert says. “You used to think of cleantech as you need $100 million [in venture capital] to do anything. Well, actually, if you’re in a place like Greentown Labs, you have a lot of resources at your disposal that are going to keep those costs low in your beginning years and help you move further, faster.”Read Complete Article