Elemental Excelerator is on a mission to redesign the systems at the root of climate change. In 2009, we launched a new non-profit model for funding climate-tech deployment. Stay in touch to be notified of future funding opportunities.
Applications for Cohort 11 closed on April 8th, 2022
At Elemental, we fund climate tech companies at the intersection of climate change and social equity. We support entrepreneurs as they tackle system-wide challenges and, as our portfolio has grown, so has the scale of their impact. We fill two key gaps for companies: capital for first-of-their-kind projects with the potential to change the world and investment into companies growth strategies as they’re about to hit key inflection points.
of funding and coaching help companies strengthen their core growth strategies: market intelligence, sales & growth, operational scale-up, equity & access, messaging, fundraising, and policy
of funding to help buy down the risk of deploying a commercial project alongside customers and community partners
Built on the belief that it takes more than funding for companies to succeed, we surround them with holistic support across equity and access, fundraising, policy, corporate partnerships, community engagement, and a network of other CEOs and innovators. Elemental portfolio companies receive up to $600,000 of in-kind support.
Access to a network of 1,000+ corporates and investors
Elemental portfolio companies have raised billions of dollars of follow-on funding to date. Our Navigator members – including NextEra Energy, Amazon, and Ford – look to our team for investment and project dealflow.
“We initially joined Elemental…before we had any product-market fit before we had any substantial customers. They worked with us to develop the product, to introduce us to the right stakeholders, to help us define what we needed to build and for whom, and the value that it could really provide.” Jonny Simkin, CEO, Swiftly (Cohort 7)
Tools to build and maintain diversity, equity, and inclusion
The strongest companies are the most equitable. We want to work with companies that are open to examining their internal and external work to strengthen and incorporate equity.
Active community of CEOs and leaders from 130+ companies
Our goal is to develop leadership teams who know each other; are highly collaborative; and are succeeding faster, together. This is one of the reasons we invest in cohorts of companies and organize cohort and full-portfolio convenings. We host a CEO & Leadership Summit for the full portfolio once a year and virtual convenings throughout the year to workshop shared challenges, stay connected, and share partner and talent networks.
“Ah, the people are amazing. It almost intimidates you to silence how talented and passionate and committed and brilliant the solutions are.” Donnel Baird, CEO, BlocPower (Cohort 7)
“The only reason Freewire is what it is today is because of the help that we were provided by the entire community around Elemental.” Arcady Sosinov, CEO, FreeWire Technologies (Cohort 3)
Policy support and guidance
The Policy Lab team and fellows help Elemental companies leverage policy for growth. We do this by: 1) Uplifting policy insights and solutions from Elemental portfolio company experiences; 2) Sourcing resources and partners for companies; and 3) Supporting policy progress and innovation through the work of our Policy Fellows and Policy Lab thought leadership.
Access to Elemental follow-on funding & resources
Portfolio companies are eligible for approximately $500,000 worth of non-dilutive, project funding and coaching resources each year.
“By far and away, Elemental has been one of the most incredible sources of customer and partner intros….Also, the Global Partner Prize changed the whole trajectory of the company in terms of the development of the Global Data Asset Collaborative™ (GDAC).” Colin Gounden, CEO, VIA (Cohort 6)
Executive coaches for founders of traditionally excluded backgrounds
BIPOC and women entrepreneurs remain underrepresented and under-resourced, particularly in the venture space, so we subsidize coaching for BIPOC and women executives in our portfolio.
“One of the things we severely underestimated was the media and publicity aspect of [working with Elemental]. We had founder stories, press releases, and case studies. A lot of these smaller companies might not have a person working on marketing.” Ameen Razavi, Director of Innovation, Microvi (Cohort 7)
Discounts on products and tech subscriptions, and communications and PR support
Elemental companies received discounts to software platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, and Carta.
We invest across 6 interconnected systems
Renewable energy costs have fallen 90% in recent years. Solar, wind, and geothermal are now cheaper than fossil fuels for most global power generation. We need to invest in the next level of energy innovations that advance grid resilience, democratize energy, and enable the electrification of transportation, industry, and infrastructure.
We invest in entrepreneurs who advance clean energy and social equity.
With the transportation sector accounting for 16% of global emissions, we need to reinvent how people and goods move across neighborhoods and around the world. Entrepreneurs are building companies that revolutionize shared mobility, enable the mass adoption of electric vehicles and fleets, slash emissions from freight and aviation, and deliver new revenue streams to cities and towns.
We invest in entrepreneurs who accelerate the transition to clean and equitable mobility systems.
A quarter of humanity is facing a water crisis of some kind — from dwindling water
availability and increased flooding to sanitation challenges and emerging contaminants that endanger human health. The United Nations says that “water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change.
We invest in technologies and entrepreneurs who help us become better stewards of our water resources and oceans.
Agricultural production accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and food waste is another key contributor. But just as food production and consumption are key drivers of climate change, creating a regenerative food system can help us sequester carbon in soil and create healthier waterways, oceans, and ecosystems.
We invest in solutions that make our agricultural systems more sustainable and increase access to food, tools, land, and resources for farmers, fisherpeople, and local communities
Nature based solutions are essential to addressing climate change and maintaining critical forests, oceans, soil, mangroves, and other ecosystems. As we lose these ecosystems to global warming and land use changes, stored carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, and we become more exposed to climate-induced disasters, particularly in frontline island communities like Hawai’i.
We invest in nature-based solutions that help avoid additional GHG emissions, increase carbon removal, and enhance resilience to natural hazards.
We need to abandon the linear, extractive model of how we use resources and adopt the circular economy model to reconceptualize how we use resources. This covers everything from carbon capture and utilization to innovative reuse models and tackles the 45% of emissions that come from how we make and use things like cement, plastics, steel, aluminum, and food.
We invest in entrepreneurs who are turning our economy from linear to circular.
What we’re looking to fund for Cohort 11
To date, we’ve invested in more than 130 companies and 100 projects. In our 11th cohort, where can we make the most impact both now and in the years to come?
Climate resilience, zero carbon, and the built environment
We have identified three themes to help guide our cohort selection this year across our six sectors. Based on our unique expertise, we are especially keen to support solutions in these areas. These themes are not definitive — when we invest, we look for transformative teams and technologies, areas ripe for innovation, and where we can make the most impact.
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 2 full-time employees
- Have an operating prototype
Companies get the most out of Elemental if they are:
- Seed – Series C+ stage and have demonstrated product-market fit and customer traction
- Looking to do something transformational for their business, such as expand their product, customer base, equity outcomes, and/or geographic reach
- Building solutions that create good quality, local jobs for people who live in frontline communities and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
- Engaged CEOs and executive teams who want 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
- Startups without a prototype
- Companies with fewer than two full-time team members
Applications open for Elemental's 11th cohort
Which Track is Right for You? Elemental Live
March 9 | 10 - 11 a.m. PT | virtual
Danya (Managing Director, Portfolio) and Benny (Dealflow Manager) will help you determine which track is right for your stage of growth.Register
The Importance of Storytelling Elemental Live
March 17 | 11 - 12p.m. PT | virtual
Portfolio CEO, Whit Fulton, will share about his experience as the winner of the Film Studio Prize, an opportunity for portfolio companies to harness the power of storytelling to change hearts and minds.Register
What Investors Aren't Telling You Elemental Live
March 24 | 11 - 12 p.m. PT | virtual
Join us as Elemental's Investor-in-Residence, TD Lowe, shares her strategies for startups navigating valuation, fundraising, controlling dilution and more from the eyes of an investor.Register
What It Means To Be An Elemental Portfolio Company Elemental Live
March 30 | 12 - 1 p.m. PT | virtual
Portfolio leaders, Becs Percasky of Better Packaging Co. and Su Sanni of Dollaride, will join us to share their experience as an Elemental portfolio company and how they've leveraged our resources to scale their businesses.Register
April 8 | 5 p.m. PT
Acceptance and onboarding
Elemental's newest portfolio companies will be selected, notified, and onboarded.
Kickoff Week and CEO & Leadership Summit
Cohort 11 portfolio companies kick off their Elemental experience with a week together as a cohort. The week ends with CEO & Leadership Summit with the entire Elemental portfolio.
Have more questions? Download the Cohort 11 Applicant Packet to learn more about the program.
How do we define frontline communities?
Our definition of “frontline communities” comes from the Climate Justice Working Group. Frontline Communities are 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.”
We look to support projects, technologies, and business models that incorporate local partnerships to deliver mutual benefits and create new access to opportunity in frontline communities.
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 – Is the leadership team comprised of individuals that can contribute value to the company through expertise or unique lived experiences? Has the team been designed with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in mind?
- Program fit – Will our engagement together be transformational for the business andis the track is aligned with the company’s strategy?
Can I apply to both tracks? Can I switch which track I'm applying to in the application process?
Yes — During Round 1 of the application process we ask you to indicate which track(s) you are interested in, but it is non-binding. During Round 2 of the application process we like to see that you have identified the best fitting track for your needs. At this stage, 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 their commitment to your project (such as LOI). In some cases, we may advise you on the best fitting track for your 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 a 50/50 split.
Where does Elemental's funding come from?
The Elemental program is funded by a mix of public and private partners. A large chunk of our project funding comes from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), which means that we must adhere to government contracting in order to fund your work with us. Companies will not directly interface with ONR. Other funding comes from private philanthropic funders and corporate partners.
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 three different instruments, depending on the track and funding source. We 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.
In some cases, we will use a convertible note. This flexibility allows later stage companies to choose the instrument which is right for you. If you’re interested in learning more about the commercial terms of our Convertible Note, we can share that information further into the application process.
We accept a donation through a standard 10-year warrant for 1-4% preferred stock. Although we provide you with grant funding, your donation of equity is not connected to the amount of funding we provide to you during the program. The strike price is determined by the price per share at the last round of financing and it is our general strategy to pursue a cashless exercise of the warrant following an acquisition or IPO, but we may exercise early in special circumstances.
How do we know if we're a good fit for Elemental?
At minimum, we require companies to:
- Be a startup addressing climate change and related issues
- Be a for-profit stand-alone venture
- Have at least 2 full-time employees
- Have an operating prototype
Other than that, we look for passionate, diverse teams who are committed to solving climate change, addressing social inequities, and playing an active role in our community of peer entrepreneurs.
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 Kickoff Week, CEO & Leadership Summit, and Interactive. All Cohort CEOs and at least one other full-time team member will be required to participate in all elements for the first year of the program. We ask that you 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.
Can we set up a call to discuss my application?
Due to the volume of questions and outreach we receive during this time, we aren’t able to connect directly with everyone. However, we encourage you to review our Applicant Packet and attend an upcoming Elemental Live session where we always leave time for Q&A. If you still have questions, we invite you to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will try to get back to you as soon as possible.