Recent clean and alternative energy news has been dominated by strides made by major automotive manufacturers — the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, the Nissan Leaf EV — but a new program called Greenstart, launched by three San Francisco entrepreneurs, looks to seed innovative ideas from energy-focused start-ups.
All three of the Greenstart founders have business roots tied to the automotive industry: Mitch Lowe founded Jumpstart Automotive Media; Dillon McDonald was a Jumpstart executive; and David Graham co-founded Open Auto, a car-classifieds web site. The idea for Greenstart, according to Lowe, is to support projects that “grow the use of clean energy or reduce use of dirty energy.” The seed financing venture will provide capital for an initial class of 10 companies, which are expected to relinquish three to 10 percent of company stake to Greenstart in exchange for $25,000 worth of direct investment, workspace in downtown San Francisco, networking opportunities, and mentorship from industry professionals. Mentors include Marc Tarpenning, co-founder of Tesla Motors, and former Hyundai N.A. exec Steve Wilhite.
Like other seed financing ventures for emerging tech, Greenstart’s approach differs from traditional venture capitalism through a strong focus on flexibility and quick development. According to Lowe, companies are expected to have a “strong possibility of revenue in 12 months or less”; this by nature excludes long-term and capital-intensive programs that require cooperation or partnership deals with major automotive brands, but opens the door for companies developing social tools to maximize efficient driving habits, or OEM products that improve fuel efficiency in existing vehicles.
Read more about Greenstart at Wheels.