Are you an entrepreneur looking to scale a transformative climate technology? Are you invested in scaling a solution that brings both climate and social impact?
The priority application deadline is April 14 and applications will be accepted through May 31, 2023.
At Elemental, we provide funding and in-depth support to promising climate tech startups with social impact potential. Over the past 13 years, Elemental has invested in more than 150 portfolio companies and built a vibrant community of entrepreneurs with world-changing solutions.
of funding and coaching to help your company strengthen its core growth strategy, including market intelligence, sales and growth, operational scale-up, equity and access, messaging, fundraising and policy
of funding and tailored support, including expert coaching, to deploy a transformational commercial project in any global market (a majority of projects will be funded in the U.S.)
A lot of the work that we’re doing is affecting people’s real lives but you need resources and partnerships to create systemic change. Elemental gave us the reinforcement and support around that model and it gave us a lot of confidence that we could do this and replicate it.
The only reason FreeWire is what it is today is because of the help that we were provided by the entire community around Elemental.”
Participating in the Elemental program has been transformational for us. The coaches understand the nuance and complexity of the climate tech markets and equip you with the necessary tools to position your company for success.”
The Elemental team has been a catalyst for our growth. They challenged us, built us up when we were struggling and celebrated our successes. It has been a big part of my personal development as a leader and I would recommend it to anyone.”
It is mindblowing. The introductions to corporate partners keep on coming and we keep having these amazing conversations. Because Elemental is so respected in the space, the businesses take us seriously and treat us with respect.”
Elemental's Suite of Support
Built on the belief that it takes more than funding for companies to succeed, Elemental provides a suite of services, resources, events and tools to help move the needle for commercial success and social impact. Elemental portfolio companies receive up to $1M of in-kind support.
After Elemental’s initial investment and program completion, you will be eligible for follow-on funding for project deployments or overcoming challenging market conditions, along with additional coaching services.
Connections and Community
At Elemental, you are joining a community that loves to share, learn, support and grow together. You can join our annual leadership summit, get personalized introductions to investors, partners and Elemental Navigator members and much more.
Coaching and Curriculum for Strategic Needs
Elemental’s expert coaches help you navigate fundraising, project development and more. We also offer executive coaching for founders of traditionally excluded backgrounds, and our Policy Lab helps identify policy and government affairs priorities.
Equity and Access Strategy
Elemental’s Equity & Access strategy ensures social equity is at the heart of every climate deployment. Our Equity In/Equity Out framework, EDICT Internship Program and Square Partnerships model help you build equitable internal practices, while supporting prosperity in communities where your technology is deployed.
With support from national PR firms, our in-house communications experts work with you to elevate your content strategy and secure opportunities to showcase your solution and impact to investors, policymakers, community partners and other market players.
Additional Tools and Resources
Thanks to our network of partners built over 13 years in climate tech, your company will gain access to a comprehensive catalog of active climate investors and operational support services, as well as discounted services from technology partners such as AWS, Autodesk and IBM.
We invest across 6 interconnected systems
Can you help us decarbonize the grid?
The power sector is the single largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for more than a third of the global total. It’s high time we modernize, harden and even localize energy infrastructure to optimize for resiliency. We’re interested in enabling the grid to better handle the growing influx of renewable energy sources, while supporting new approaches to energy harvesting and management.
Can you help us accelerate the shift to clean mobility?
With transportation accounting for nearly a quarter of global emissions, we invest in entrepreneurs committed to equitable and decarbonized mobility systems. From mobility options in frontline communities, enabling car-lite cities or designing low- to no-carbon shipping, rail and delivery systems — we are open and eager for creative approaches.
Can you help us protect our water resources and become better stewards of our oceans?
With a quarter of humanity facing a water crisis of some kind, the challenge to safeguard our water resources and oceans is one of the most pressing of our time. We’re excited to invest in entrepreneurs taking a decentralized approach to providing equitable water access in frontline and rural communities — whether through rethinking outdated infrastructure or reimagining systems for efficient and data-driven water management.
Can you help us create regenerative food systems?
From preparing soil and cultivating crops to getting food into homes around the world, emissions permeate our food systems — which collectively accounts for a third of global GHG emissions. We’re investing in sustainable and equitable approaches to food production, with an emphasis on technologies that help us adapt to harsher agricultural conditions and avoid emissions throughout the food supply chain.
Can you help us harness nature to reduce and remove emissions?
Nature is its own best healer. To this end, we invest in nature-based solutions that curb GHG emissions, enhance carbon removal, support biodiversity and improve resilience to natural hazards. We’re excited about approaches that enable ecosystem restoration and conservation, and the technologies essential to monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) their success.
Can you help us clean up industry?
From manufacturing raw materials and products to constructing buildings and chemical production, it’s imperative that we redesign industrial processes that account for 20% of global GHG emissions and disproportionately burden frontline communities. We invest in technologies that decarbonize industrial materials, support a resilient supply chain and unlock green jobs, so companies can meet rising demand while safeguarding the environment and human welfare.
At a minimum, we require your company to:
- Be a startup addressing climate change and related issues
- Be a for-profit, stand-alone venture
- Have at least two full-time employees
- Have an operating prototype
- Have an initial pilot deployment in progress or completed
Your company will get the most out of Elemental if you:
- Are Pre-Seed – Series C+ stage
- Have demonstrated product-market fit and customer traction
- Are looking to do something transformational for your business, such as expand your product, customer base, equity outcomes and/or geographic reach
- Are building solutions that create good quality, local jobs for people who live in frontline communities and are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)
- Are an engaged CEO with a diverse executive team that wants to be an active part of a global ecosystem of change-makers
Who we do not fund
- Project developers (solar, wind, storage, etc.) selling third party products
- Consulting firms
- Marketing or PR agencies
- Acquired startups
Application Process and Timeline
Applications open for Elemental's Cohort 12
Applications will be reviewed as they come in and select applicants will be invited to progress through interview rounds on a rolling basis.
Interviews and reference calls
April – July
Select applicants will be invited to share more about their technology, business and strategy for scaling impact. We will also spend time getting to know their customers, investors and community partners.
Which Track Is Right for You? Elemental Live
March 22 | 12 p.m. PT | Virtual
Danya (Managing Director, Portfolio) and Gabriel (Director of Innovation) will help you determine which track is right for your stage of growth.Register
How to Design an Elemental Project Elemental Live
April 4 | 11 a.m. PT | Virtual
We'll cover what we're looking for in a project proposal, hear from portfolio company leaders on how they designed successful project scopes and answer any questions you may have, including what it means to identify and collaborate with a community partner for project deployment.Register
Priority application deadline
Companies are encouraged to apply early and increase their chances of securing a spot in Cohort 12.
How to Position for Your Dream Deal Elemental Live
May 10 | 11 a.m. PT | Virtual
From Seed to Series A, B and C, join a discussion with Elemental's Venture Coach, Avra Durack, for an insider’s perspective of how to achieve the best deal structure in this dynamic and challenging market.Register
Navigating the JEDI Journey Elemental Live
May 16 | 11 a.m. PT | Virtual
Part of Elemental’s programming around equity involves setting a mission, vision and values statement centered on equity. Join us in a conversation with one of our entrepreneurs about JEDI (Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion) alignment across start up companies and what it takes to implement equitable practices from top to bottom.Register
May 31 | 11:59 p.m. PT
This is the final deadline to submit an application for Cohort 12. The sooner you apply, the better chance you have at securing a spot in the cohort. It is possible that the cohort is filled ahead of the final application deadline so we encourage you to submit an application as soon as possible.
Selection and onboarding
May – October
Cohort offers will be made on a rolling basis. Following program acceptance, companies will become acquainted with Elemental’s team, systems and services. Project Track companies will work to finalize their Scope of Work and kick off their projects. Strategy Track companies will align on program priorities and prepare for our work together.
Cohort Kickoff and CEO & Leadership Summit
Cohort 12 companies will spend time in person getting to know the Elemental team, fellow cohort members and our partners through workshops and facilitated discussions. Then, we'll be joined by other alumni CEOs and and leaders from the Elemental portfolio to share knowledge and connect.
Have more questions? Download the Cohort 12 Application Packet to learn more about the program.
How does the rolling acceptance timeline impact cohort selection?
The rolling application process was designed with the following outcomes in mind:
- Elemental can be more nimble with our due diligence process and get back with questions and decisions at a faster rate.
- Accepted companies will have access to Elemental’s suite of services even before Cohort Kickoff in October. Accepted Project Track companies will be able to launch projects on their own timelines, rather than waiting until the full cohort has been onboarded.
- Given we fund 15–20 companies per year, the sooner you apply, the better chance you have at securing a spot in the cohort. It is possible that the cohort is filled ahead of the final application deadline (May 31, 2023) so we encourage you to submit an application as soon as possible. Rest assured, all companies will be evaluated using the same criteria.
Can you provide more information on the funding instruments you use?
As a nonprofit organization, any proceeds from our investments go to supporting future climate tech entrepreneurs. We use either a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), convertible note, or in some cases may be able to participate directly in an open round. We’ve shared a high-level overview below and will provide more specifics upon acceptance into the program.
Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE):
Y Combinator created the SAFE as a simpler alternative to convertible notes. It allows investors to purchase shares in a future round at a pre-negotiated discount (industry standard is 20%). We like this investment vehicle because it is founder-friendly and flexible, allowing us to work with companies outside of their usual fundraising cycle. Accepted companies will execute three separate SAFEs with Elemental, each aligned with program milestone deliverables and payment amounts.
In some cases, we will use a convertible note. This flexibility allows later-stage companies to choose the right instrument for their needs. We can share more information about the commercial terms
of our convertible note at an appropriate time in the application process. Accepted companies will execute three separate notes with Elemental, each aligned with program milestone deliverables and payment amounts.
In some instances, Elemental will be willing to directly participate in an open round if the timing aligns with completion of the milestones deliverables. In addition, as Elemental is constantly looking to fill financial and programmatic gaps, we may offer other funding mechanisms in the future, such as additional debt offerings. We will work closely with accepted companies to find a path that makes sense for both parties.
Can I apply to both tracks? Can I switch which track I'm applying to in the application process?
We ask companies to identify the best track based on needs. In the application, companies interested in applying for the Project Track will be asked to submit details about their proposed project, including project description and ideal outcome, budget, timeline, project partners and the status of commitment to the project. In some cases after application submission, we may advise switching to a better fitting track depending on the company stage and goals.
How many companies are selected each year?
Each year we select and fund 15–20 companies. We do not have a set target for the total number of companies in the Project Track or Strategy Track, but usually it is close to an even split.
How does Elemental define frontline communities?
We define frontline communities as groups that “experience continuing injustice — including people of color, immigrants, people with lower incomes, those in rural areas and indigenous people — [and] face a legacy of systemic, largely racialized, inequity that influences their living and working places, the quality of their air and water and their economic opportunities.” (Climate Justice Working Group)
For projects in the U.S., we encourage companies to reference multiple tools to compare indicators including the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, CEJST, and the EPA’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool, EJScreen. These tools are based on nationally consistent data and an approach that combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports that include burdens across climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water, wastewater and workforce development. These maps help compare selected census tract locations to the rest of the state, region or nation.
Elemental’s work has been motivated by our experiences in Hawaiʻi where proximity to resources and significant exposure to climate risks impact the island communities. These impacts are particularly acute for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations, whose communities are often not seen as priority areas for infrastructure investments. In Resolution 20-206, the city and county of Honolulu have defined frontline communities and committed to equity and justice to the realization of equitable outcomes. The Resilient Oahu program has identified the Social Vulnerability Index and ALICE Report findings as helpful tools to identify frontline communities and advance equity (more on each tool here).
One tool we use to identify the communities in California on the front lines of climate change is the CalEnviroScreen 4.0 (CES). CES is a mapping tool that, while not perfect, identifies “disadvantaged communities” with both pollution burden and vulnerability to the effects of pollution. Areas identified in yellow, orange and red by the October 2022 CalEnviroScreen map reflect high levels of pollution across multiple indicators (socioeconomic, environmental and health).
We expect companies working or looking to work in countries outside of the U.S. to adapt Elemental’s frameworks for approaching projects and research, explore and seek local feedback on the appropriate definitions and tools for the geography they aim to deploy in.
How does Elemental evaluate and select their portfolio companies?
We consider a number of factors when evaluating and selecting our cohort:
- Impact: Does the company and solution have a positive environmental, social and community impact?
- Solution & Technology: Does the solution solve a major problem in a unique way and is the technology differentiated from competitors?
- Business Model & Financials: Does the company have a compelling business model and healthy financials that can support the company in the near term?
- Team – Has the team been designed with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in mind? Can it contribute value to the company through expertise or unique lived experiences? Is the leadership team made up of traditionally excluded individuals?
- Program fit: Will our engagement together be transformational for the business and is the track aligned with the company’s strategy?
Is relocation and/or travel required to participate in the program?
Elemental funds companies from all over the world and relocation is not required to participate in our program.
We do come together in person throughout the year for our annual Program Elements, including Cohort Kickoff, CEO & Leadership Summit and Interactive. All Cohort CEOs and another C-suite member will be required to participate in all elements for the first year of the program. We ask that companies participate in one or two of the Elements in the following years to continue building relationships among companies and partners, share your learnings and seek new opportunities within our ecosystem.
What is the time commitment for each track?
For Strategy Track, the core program runs October 2023 – July 2024 and companies can anticipate 2–5 hours/week of workshops, 1:1 coaching, and applied strategy work for the CEO and one additional team member. For Project Track companies, the time commitment varies based on the status and management requirements of each project.
For both tracks, the company participates in regular (typically monthly) check-in calls with Elemental’s Director of Innovation to update our team on the engagement and identify any opportunities for support. Members of the leadership team are expected to join the events noted above, complete the Equity In curriculum (8–10 hours) and participate in the Community of Practice sessions (6 hours).