Starting a company is by no means an easy task. Oftentimes, founders spend days on end holed up in their rooms trying to do everything at once, often multitasking and trying to wear all kinds of hats from being the resident accountant to fixing bugs on their website.
Becoming a part of an incubator can act as a launchpad for prospective business owners to grow and expand their business under the guidance and supervision of industry experts. With the world finally waking up to the fact that all future growth needs to focus on sustainable practices, several incubators and accelerators have cropped up that place a special focus on making sure that our future is in good hands.
Funding: $80,000 over a period of 18 months
Echoing Green has been supporting entrepreneurs who want to have a social impact for over 30 years. They run a full-time fellowship program, which invites people who have the requisite leadership skills and a purpose-driven vision to work on one of six areas of impact. This includes climate change, education, health, human rights, poverty, and racial justice.
Selected fellows receive a stipend of $80,000 over a period of 18 months, pro-bono support from leaders in their fields of choice as well as professional mentorship and mental support. The idea that the fellow is working on can be an NGO, a for-profit startup, or a combination of the two, but must be focused on having a social impact. Founders who are still in the idea stage are also welcome to apply!
Funding: €15k initial investment per startup
Startupbootcamp's sustainability accelerator is an intensive, 3-month digital program for entrepreneurs who are specifically focused on one of three key areas: prosperity and social inclusion, clean energy, or sustainable production of goods and services.
Participants in the program get €15k as an initial investment per startup as well as access to a global network of investors and VCs, mentorship from a hand-selected group of leaders in the sustainability space, and over €500K in exclusive partner deals from leading technology providers such as Amazon, HubSpot, SendGrid, among others.
Funding: up to $100K toward pilot execution
The 100+ Accelerator is a program for startups in their early stages that are focusing on many different sustainable practices such as smart agriculture, climate action, upcycling, circular packaging, and water stewardship.
They invest in companies from the Seed to Series B stages. The program runs remotely over a period of 6 months and offers participants a guided training program to accelerate the growth of their companies.
Location: United Kingdom
Funding: £30k for 7% equity over a 12-week program
Bethnal Green Ventures runs the Tech For Good program to identify, support, and fund early-stage founders so that they can build and scale their own tech for good startups. The program runs twice a year over a 12 week period and provides £30k in funding to each startup. After the program is over, they also provide follow on funding to a select few companies.
The main focus of Bethnal Green Ventures is on companies that strive to drive a positive change in the environment and on society, with three main focus areas: a sustainable planet, a better society, and healthy lives.
BGV is looking for new companies that have traded for less than 2 years and are at an early stage. The program is based in the UK and participants must have the right to work and live there, though there is more flexibility of location with their online program.
Location: United Kingdom
Sustainable Ventures' Sustainable Accelerator is a program that invests in early-stage startups which are focused on addressing climate change and resource scarcity. To apply for the program, companies must be a team of at least two entrepreneurs with a clear sustainable impact.
Participants in the program receive equity investment to accelerate their goals, membership to Europe's biggest cleantech startup ecosystem, and access to a co-working space.
6. Techstars Sustainability Accelerator
Location: Boulder, Colorado (USA) or remote
Funding: $20,000 for 6% of the company's equity
Techstars is a pretty well know incubator in the startup community and now they have partnered up with The Nature Conservancy to start an accelerator program centered around sustainability.
Zach Nies describes the kind of people they are looking for as purpose-driven entrepreneurs who are building a for-profit venture that tackles some key challenges facing humanity today.
We support purpose-driven, for-profit entrepreneurs who are excited to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing humanity, in these five main categories: tackling climate change, providing food and water sustainably, building healthy cities, protecting land and water, and making use of cross-cutting technologies that bring people and nature together.
Techstars runs a three-month program for its participants where they get access to funding, mentorship, and a network of industry leaders and VCs who are willing to put more funding into your idea.
Location: Stockholm and Malmö (Sweden)
Impact Startup is a Sweden-based accelerator that provides participants with all kinds of tools and resources to help them maximize their impact while making their company investable.
Prospective participants focus on solving society's most pressing problems and in return get access to a network and capital to streamline and scale their businesses.
Location: Honolulu, Hawai’i (USA)
Funding: up to $100,000
Blue Startups is focused on improving the economy of Hawaii and prioritizes startups whose ideas will have a positive impact on the people of the island state. The incubator is located on the beautiful island of Honolulu, and recruits startups focusing on three key areas: software, travel tech, and sustainable solutions.
The program runs for a period of 13 weeks and participants can get support from a global network of over 130 mentors. Founders also get space in a co-working space in Honolulu's business district so that they can build their company in paradise. Each company is eligible to get up to $100,000 as an investment. This is broken down into two parts. Founders get $25,000 as an up-front investment with other guaranteed perks such as a workspace and a knowledge-base for them to grow their company. An additional $75,000 is awarded as follow-on funding for companies that can meet certain milestones during the program.
Incubators and accelerators can be beneficial because they provide training wheels to your business before it is ready to take off. Starting and running your own company can pretty much be wild west county, and having the right support, mentorship and guidance can go a long way in making a positive difference in your business practices.
Some of these top accelerators can also give you access to an elite network of business owners and industry leaders who can really help launch your sustainable startup towards success. A lot of these incubators also support multiple startups at a time which means that there is a sense of community and belonging that founders do not often get to feel as it can be quite an isolating experience.
By being a part of such a community, founders can learn how to collaborate early on and learn from the mistakes of their co-participants.