(Photo by Flickr user PROBilly Wilson, used under a Creative Commons license)
The word “accelerator” has become an umbrella term — it can be a coworking space, a curricular program, a pitch event.
There’s no real bar as long as an accelerator is, indeed, accelerating an entrepreneur or an idea. But what does that look like in the social space?
It looks like GoodCompany Ventures, the company that developed a platform for entrepreneurs to engage with public policy. That work resulted in FastFWD, the public-private public safety accelerator. Now, the model is being scaled — globally.
Last year, GoodCompany responded to President Barack Obama‘s Climate Data Initiative, a call to arms for the public and private sectors to take on climate change using government data, with Climate Ventures 2.0. CV2, according to GoodCompany, will look and feel a lot like FastFWD. Driving that platform is a four-stage process:
- Reframe the issue. In this case, positioning climate change threats as business opportunities.
- Source the entrepreneurs. CV2 will look to bring in a cohort of 10 to 12.
- Develop. The bootcamp, like FastFWD, will accelerate startups over the course of nine months.
- Pilot. Entrepreneurs will have access to pilot funding opportunities.
The accelerator was supposed to kick off this past summer, but founder Garrett Melby said a ceaseless flow of partnership opportunities with organizations like the Clinton Global Initative, Rockefeller Foundation‘s 100 Resilient Cities, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration prolonged the launch.
Melby said it all started 15 months ago, when he and GoodCompany managing director Catherine Griffin bumped into a rep from the Office of Science and Technology after the White House announced the Climate Data Initiative.
“They had commitments that were being made by Google and Amazon, Intel and Microsoft, from people in the food sector like Walmart, Kellogg, Nestle, Coke, Pepsi — all these resources were being committed to an initiative, but there wasn’t any mechanism to attach those resources to any output of any kind,” Melby said. “They were just kind of stacked up on the shelf as inventory.”
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Melby and Griffin told the rep about FastFWD, and were encouraged to use the model as a response to the Climate Data Initiative.
The call for entrepreneurs is out. Griffin said ideal candidates will already have some traction.
“Maybe they’ve raised some friends and family money, but they’re still at enough of an early stage that they are really ironing out wrinkles in their business plan,” Griffin said. “Our expertise is helping social entrepreneurs specifically figure out what business model will really allow them to go to market at scale.”
Griffin said the entrepreneurs will spend two days or so in Philadelphia. The rest of the week for the first cycle, according to Melby, the cohort will be “geographically agnostic.” But it will still be extremely intensive, by design.
“We try to really foster an environment where folks feel comfortable exposing their vulnerabilities and really working through them. That’s where we find the greatest impact,” Griffin said.
After graduating from the program, the CV2 entrepreneurs will not only pitch venture capitalists, but through the partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, they’ll have the opportunity to pitch their pilot to Chief Resilience Officers. Griffin said that partnership will allow entrepreneurs innovating in food or water security issues to begin testing out their key assumptions on the ground across the globe.
GoodCompany is expecting to make their final selections mid-late January and begin the program in February.-30-
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