At the three-day conference in San Jose, California, Brinc’s Sustainability Program Manager, Janina Motter, had the chance to meet with many connections from the Brinc CDR program, attend various speaker events and participate in networking sessions. Here, she shares her experiences and key takeaways from VERGE 23.
The Innovation Imperative
This session focused on how to increase funding and support for underrepresented founders. Ahmad Thomas, CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, stressed that founders should ideally seek trusted partners aligned to their values, instead of working with anyone offering capital. Many tools were shared across the working groups (some we promote to startups in our cohorts already, and some, like Climate Finance Fund, I’m excited to learn more about), but the main message for me was the importance of consistency if organizations are serious about making a difference.
Carbon Pitch Competition and Accelerate Pitch Finals
I was super excited to see the progress by Tim Sperry and recognition of their solution! The session judges also shared a few words of wisdom for founders. Matthew Claxton, Partner and Global Director of Sustainability at Plug and Play Tech Center, suggested there’s never been a better time to be a deeptech founder. Meanwhile, Tomás Álvarez Belón, Investor at Collaborative Fund, urged founders to think creatively on costs and their business model to lower upfront investment required for CAPEX in a high interest environment. Both emphasized that investors want to feel excited to join a founder’s startup after a successful pitch, along with the strong need for differentiation and utilization solutions for carbontech startups in today’s market.
At the happy hour sponsored by Clean Energy Ventures, Powerhouse, and Trinity Capital, Rajesh Swaminathan, Partner at Khosla Ventures suggested that knowing what questions to ask of whom is one of the most critical decisions founders typically face.
The State of Climate Tech Investing
An attendee asked about supporting startups from APAC and how founders should think about international markets. Tanuj Dutta, Partner at Congruent Ventures, suggested the importance of aligning with the right strategic partners to support entering new markets. After several days of content centered around maximizing impact, I was disappointed there was so little dialogue on the potential to decarbonize Asia (currently representing over 50 percent global emissions and home to increasing population centers when looking ahead to 2050).
Early stage founders should definitely prioritize and concentrate on markets they understand, but Brinc is happy to support founders in kick starting conversations with potential partners to better inform their long-term strategy and expand global collaboration.
Applications for the Spring 2024 cohort are now open and spaces are filling up.
The next round of reviews closes on December 4, 2023 – Apply to the Climate Tech accelerator program that works for you today.