Three San Francisco entrepreneurs with backgrounds in automotive advertising want to help green technology ventures get off the ground.
On Tuesday, the trio officially launched Greenstart, a program modeled after Silicon Valley web-star-tup accelerators like TechStars and Paul Graham’s Y Combinator, which count companies like Dropbox, Reddit, Airbnb andDailyBurn among their alumni. But Greenstart will focus exclusively on greentech ideas that “grow the use of clean energy or reduce use of dirty energy,” according to Mitch Lowe, a co-founder and chief executive of Greenstart.
Behind the project are Mr. Lowe, founder and former chief executive of Jumpstart Automotive Media; Dillon McDonald, a former Jumpstart executive and creator of the Entrepreneurship Center at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo; and David Graham, co-founder of the car classifieds Web site Open Auto and a managing partner with Arizona Bay Technology Ventures.
The founders intend to to provide seed financing for an initial class of 10 companies. These start-ups are expected to give up a 3 percent to 10 percent stake to Greenstart in exchange for three months of networking opportunities, a $25,000 direct investment, work space in a downtown San Francisco office building and mentorship from industry insiders, includingMarc Tarpenning, the Tesla Motors co-founder, and Steve Wilhite, the former Hyundai North America executive and creator of the “Drivers Wanted” campaign for Volkswagen.
Ideally, Mr. Lowe said, participants graduating from the program would leave with valuable connections to the Energy Department and strategic investors like General Electric, as well as a business model that would enable them to raise venture capital.