Greentown Learn is developing two offerings to address challenges that we see for cleantech companies in bringing products to scale. The diagram below illustrates the stages of company development which Greentown Learn is focused on supporting. Our claim is that most educational programs support companies through the Prototype stage but there are few if any structured offerings for the scale-up period, from Partnering with larger suppliers or customers through Product Design, Pilot validation and Production at scale.
Drawing on several years of program development at Greentown Labs and the experience of companies that have participated in the Greentown incubator, Greentown Learn is developing a new educational initiative to provide mentoring and strategic partner support to select cleantech companies. This program, called Greentown DEPLOY, is structured to support companies and their mentors through the process from prototype to production of a product and deployment at scale. The Manufacturing Initiative is one part of this offering.
The problem Greentown Learn is trying to solve is the lack of structured mentoring and guidance through the long development period cleantech companies face. Companies typically enter an incubator like Greentown Labs with a working prototype. They have participated in educational programs that have helped them develop the idea, model a potential business, and create and test an initial prototype. When they seek support to further their product and their business they find a collection of offerings but no organized process specific to cleantech or related sectors.
Existing accelerator programs are almost always oriented to software companies, even if they accept cleantech companies. While they may be of value, cleantech companies have much longer timelines than software companies and a more complex process to get through pilot validation to deployment.
Greentown Learn is beginning to model a tool to support the structured mentoring process, providing tracking of a startups plans and guidance along the way.
The tool, DEPLOYx, will support organizations like Greentown Labs and other incubators in the tracking and management of member companies and point startups to educational offerings and guidance appropriate to their specific needs.
A key problem the tool will solve is the challenge mentors and support organization have in keeping track of the long development period of a cleantech company. The vision for the tool is to embed past experience and make this available to new entrepreneurs--analogous to a clinical support tool in the medical profession.