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Matching Talent and Expertise with Funding

From Idea to Funding: Stepping Stones for Climate Tech and Energy Entrepreneurs

“Are you going to let the obstacles in your life be stumbling blocks or stepping stones? Choose the positive. You are the master of your attitude.” – Bruce Lee

You’ve got an idea. An innovation that could transform our energy future. You believe you’ve figured out a way to make Direct Air Capture (DAC) a more commercially viable form of carbon sequestration. Your idea could change something, or it could change a lot. But now you need to make it real.

Seeing what lies ahead, anyone else would be worried. But that’s not you. Yes, it takes the right attitude to turn an idea into a commercially viable product. It also takes brilliance, drive, and tenacity—the personal qualities that have gotten you where you are today. Now it’s time to plug into the support that will bring your energy innovation to life.


The whole world wants you to succeed. No pressure.

According to information compiled by Statista, the climate tech market is expected to reach $182.5 billion by 2033. The world is demanding solutions in energy production, management, and storage; carbon removal and capture; energy efficiency, and renewables. There are tons of opportunities to make your mark. But startups in the energy sector face unique challenges. During previous tech booms, companies could launch and scale quickly, gaining traction and generating revenue to fuel growth. Climate tech startups tend to be more capital-intensive, especially when they include a hardware component that requires investments in manufacturing, inventory, and distribution. And the climate tech innovations that will make the most impact are the ones transforming industries like oil and gas, and power grids too. That means long sales cycles that can eat up bank accounts. 

Of course, you’re not easily dissuaded. With the right people and resources, that idea of yours could be just what the world needs. At Onward, climate tech and energy entrepreneurs are turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones, accelerating product concepts into commercially viable ventures that are attracting investors and potential customers.


Stumbling block #1: Expertise

You’re smart. In fact, along the way someone probably called you a know-it-all. But if you’re really that smart, you’re well aware that you don’t know it all. Having the right people around you is what’s going to turn your idea into the success you know it can be. You could hire all the experts you need (if you can find them), but there's a problem: you need their help to make your concept viable, but it’s hard to get sufficient funding to hire them until you have a viable concept. 

In the Onward Accelerator program, cohorts of seven to twelve startups collaborate to refine their concepts into marketable solutions. Energy-industry mentors help fill any gaps in expertise, and founders have meaningful access to subject matter experts as well as potential partners and team members.


Stumbling block #2: Business smarts

You certainly know by now that simply “building a better mousetrap” is no guarantee of success. Making a business out of your startup involves a constellation of disciplines including customer and competitive research, marketing, financial modeling, manufacturing and logistics, legal and regulatory expertise, and even human resource management. While some of this will scale as your company scales, serious investors will want to see that you’ve got a handle on what it means to run a business.

Participants in the Onward Accelerator program get expert help putting all the pieces together. When you’re able to present a complete business plan to investors, you’re more likely to get the funds you’ll need.


Stumbling block #3: Connections

Despite myriad opportunities, it still takes some doing to get plugged into energy innovation. Even if you have a short list of companies that would benefit from your idea, it can be hard to know who will let you in the door. Making your concept business-ready will happen a lot faster with the right connections. 

To create a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs, Onward has built a global ecosystem of talent from the oil and gas, energy, and climate tech industries. Members of this ecosystem are predisposed to help each other, driven by the urgency of a world in need of a multiplicity of solutions.


Stumbling block #4: Money

The difference between a brilliant idea and a world-changing product is money. It’s reassuring when people say they believe in you, but solid funding is what’s going to keep your business moving forward. Investors are looking for well-developed solutions that show real promise. The money is there, but it takes some work to turn on the spigot.

Startups in the Onward Accelerator program learn how to hone their pitch so that investors and customers will share their excitement. They participate in at least two showcases that attract investors and customers looking for energy and climate tech solutions. Since 2020, Onward has invested more than $3.2 million in companies chosen to participate in the accelerator program.


Stumbling block #5: That voice inside your head

Bruce Lee again: “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.” When you’re ready to turn your climate tech idea into reality, Onward may be just what you need to get to the next level. We’re looking for pre-seed to early seed companies that are ready to contribute to a sustainable energy future. 


Learn about how to put together a great pitch, then get your application started for the 2024 Onward Accelerator Cohort. 


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. 

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Use our expertise, technology, and community to fuel your next breakthrough.