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Passion to Profit: A Guide to Monetizing Your Climate Tech Vision

You’re no ordinary entrepreneur. To you, success means more than launching a new kind of widget into the world. You can see a net-zero energy future, and you’re going to be part of it. You’re a climate tech visionary, an energy entrepreneur, and an innovator. You’ve got an idea that could make a difference in how we power the future.

And you’ve got passion. Passion to do something that’s never been done before. That’s because you see things other people don’t. Where they see problems, you see a stimulating challenge. And you have the drive to keep moving forward, even when there seem to be more walls than doors. Because you know in your gut that you’ve got a winning idea. If only …

If only. Two little words you work hard to suppress. If only more people understood the vision. If only your team could connect with the right partners. If only you knew what investors were looking for. Nonetheless, you keep putting in the hours because the world needs this invention. Turning your passion to profit means connecting with the right market so you can scale to meet the urgent need for sustainable energy solutions. 


The entrepreneurial mindset

At Onward, we’re working with energy innovators and climate tech startups to accelerate their path to marketability. Cohorts of three to seven startups work side by side with energy-industry mentors and subject matter experts to refine their concepts and develop compelling business plans. Startups in the Onward Accelerator program participate in showcases that attract investors and customers who are looking for energy and climate tech solutions.

We do this because building a viable business takes more than a great idea. It takes an entrepreneurial mindset. Harvard Business School has identified 10 characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, and we see these traits in the successful graduates of the Onward Accelerator program:

Curious. Entrepreneurs are always testing the boundaries, questioning the status quo and even their own thinking. They know they don’t have all the answers, but they have the drive to find out.

Willing to experiment. Even the most amazing idea needs to be thoroughly tested to determine if it’s going to live up to its promise and meet a true market need.

Adaptable. Entrepreneurship is all about confronting the unexpected. Both challenges and opportunities require an open mind to navigate toward success.

Decisive. While flexibility and adaptability are key, entrepreneurial leaders also need to be ready to make tough decisions, then take corrective action if those decisions don’t turn out as expected. 

Self-aware. Being aware of their strengths and weaknesses leads entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people who compliment their talents.

Risk tolerant. Entrepreneurs not only embrace uncertainty, but they also seek to understand and anticipate potential risk factors so they can take steps to mitigate them. 

Comfortable with failure. The long-term commercial success rate of startup businesses is low. The entrepreneur has the drive to move forward despite daunting odds, knowing that failure can be a lesson for their next venture.

Persistent. Entrepreneurs don’t give up easily. If the first path they follow has too many boulders in the way, they find a new route to reach their goal.  

Innovative. Innovation can come in the form of a new product, but also in the application of existing technology. In the energy climate tech arena, it can mean finding a way to scale an idea up for global impact or scale it down so it can get into the hands of eager consumers.

Focused on the long term. It’s not enough to build a beautiful prototype. Entrepreneurs look beyond the initial excitement of launching something new. It takes a long-term perspective to turn passion into profit.

If this list resonates, you have all the traits of an entrepreneur. What more do you need? You’ve certainly got a reason to pursue success. Your innovation could be a component of the global energy transition, but only once it’s adopted by the market and scaled for impact. With the right kind of help, you have a better chance of getting there.


Dream to reality

At Onward, our accelerator program is turning ideas for renewable energy, sustainability, and ways to augment traditional energy resources like oil and gas into real, viable startup businesses. We do this by identifying people and concepts with potential and then providing the support, mentorship, and access to funding that will make a difference. For energy and climate tech entrepreneurs, the journey from passion to profit means:

Connecting with the right people. Find out what others have to offer, whether it’s a new perspective, mentorship, or expertise you can add to your team. You may find that those you once saw as competitors could be collaborators. Onward is creating a global ecosystem of individuals who share an urgency for solving difficult energy challenges.

Understanding the potential market. You believe in your concept, but belief alone isn’t enough to turn it into a viable product. Thoroughly assessing the market will help you identify your product’s appeal to potential customers — whether you’re targeting companies or individual consumers. Onward helps startups connect with experts and resources that help replace that gut feeling with actionable market data.

Knowing what makes you unique. Climate mitigation and energy sustainability projects are getting a lot of attention from funders and companies with net zero goals. It’s critical to know who the competition is and what you can offer that they can’t match. Often, innovators come to believe that there’s no competition because their idea is so groundbreaking. Onward helps innovators see outside their bubble to understand what’s competing for the market’s time, money, and attention.

Getting the numbers right. Innovation in the energy sector is in high demand, but it still needs to make economic sense if you’re going to ask companies or consumers to adopt a new technology. Today, you may have built a handful of prototypes. But your profit dreams will only come true when you’re able to scale your venture to meet the market with a price and cost structure that makes business sense. Onward helps accelerator participants work through the reality of making a business out of innovation.

Creating a compelling case. Your enthusiasm for what you’ve created will keep supporters engaged, but you need more than a cheer squad. Investors who provide funding for the next generation of energy projects are looking for a solid plan that includes a clear-eyed understanding of the problem you’re solving as well as potential challenges and threats you may face moving forward. Participants in the Onward Accelerator program work together to refine their plans so they can pitch with confidence

Many entrepreneurs tackle each day with a “fake it ’til you make it” attitude, but it may not be enough. Passion, drive, zeal — whatever you call it, that energy goes much further in an environment where you’re getting honest, informed feedback from people who know the energy industry, where people get to know you and your goals and help you connect to the resources that can make them real.

You’ve got a great idea. It could mean a lot to a world undergoing a fundamental energy transition. Now may be the time for you to surround yourself with other innovative thinkers and supporters who will help you turn your passion to profit.

If you’re a data scientist, geoscientist, climate scientist, or passionate problem-solver working in the energy industry and someone who gets a kick out of collaborating with peers, experts, and like-minded innovators on some of the world’s toughest energy transition problems, join our community today. If you’re part of a pre-seed to early seed company that’s ready to contribute to a sustainable energy future, we are accepting 2024 applications for our Accelerator right now.

ThinkOnward  |  ThinkOnward Team

ThinkOnward is a nexus of innovation, collaboration, and energy entrepreneurialism focused on energy resilience and pursuing a net-zero future. We’re creating a hub for the “thinkers”, the “change makers” who want to foster new ideas, leverage and use powerful data and tools, and collaborate with the best scientific minds, together with investors and entrepreneurs committed to accelerating the commercial success of innovative energy and climate solutions. 

Join us.

Be part of the community that will transform our energy future.