Apply To Startups Of The Month


20 September 2023·7 min read

Martyna Konys

Program Manager, Vestbee

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Forest Valley

Startup Accelerator Of The Month - Forest Valley

Forest Valley is dedicated to combating climate change by championing innovation in the production of goods and services. Their objective is to expedite this transformation by assisting companies and the public sector in their innovation endeavors, linking them with emerging climate solutions and technologies that align with their requirements.

Accelerator Strategy Overview

Geography: Europe
Preferred industries: Climate Tech Sectors (i.e. Built Environment, Carbon Technology, Energy and Grid, Food and Agriculture, Industry and Manufacturing, Intelligence and Adaptation
Company stage: Early stage to Series A
Product stage:  MVP/beta, ready product (mostly above IRL5, TRL5)
Product type: B2B Software / Hardware
Revenues: ideally > €0 

Program Details

Duration: 6 weeks
Participation fee: free of charge, success fee on investments and commercial contracts from connections created by our Program apply
Equity Investment: possibility of equity investment up to €80k from our internal investment vehicle
Grant: no
No. of batches per year (+ months when you collect applications): 4 batches/year, applications are always open
No. of startups in a cohort: 8-10

Q&A with (Giulia Marsaglia, Head of the Startup Programs at Forest Valley)

What are the 5 most important things you look for in a startup applying to your acceleration program?

In our program, we prioritize startups that have a demonstrated potential for significant environmental impact. They should possess a scalable commercial model and show a deep understanding of customer challenges and some traction. It's essential for teams to show determination and have a harmonious blend of technical expertise and business acumen.

What startups should take into account before applying to your acceleration program?

Before applying to our program, startups should evaluate their genuine climate impact potential, ensuring their solutions champion significant sustainability transformations. Team commitment is crucial; we seek groups ready to intensively refine their business in the short time frame of the Program to be ready for the international clients and investors we will bring them. We're not just seeking startups; we're seeking future climate tech trailblazers. If this resonates with your mission, let's join forces.

Can you share some of the red flags that can disqualify a startup from joining your accelerator?

Red flags include a lack of clarity in addressing tangible customer challenges. We value more startups having a linear path to reach their goals over ones overpromising on market potential with no idea of the effort required or a coherent commercial strategy.

What are the most valuable skills that selected startups can develop thanks to your program?

Although the value differs from startup to startup, in our program, the objective is to refine essential skills for the climate tech landscape. We discuss together with them business models and sales offerings, strategic considerations, product-market alignment, and go-to-market strategies enriched with advanced market research tools. We emphasize the art of fundraising, communicating sustainability-including feedback on graphic design- and backing this with dedicated sessions on effective pitch deck creation and public speaking. 

How does your accelerator support portfolio companies during and after the program?

During the program, we offer intensive training across a range of topics to cover the most relevant challenges of an early-stage startup; the expertise of the speakers and the very interactive nature of the workshops, are able to involve and address major founders' concerns, and have been highly appreciated by our startups so far. Our main objective is to create valuable connections for our startups during and after the program with a growing network of hundreds of international companies, investors, and mentors. We achieve that through accurate prospects definition with the founders, keeping track of the milestones, and continuous outreach nurturing their sales and investment funnel for months after the program ends.

What are the best-performing companies in your portfolio?

Some notable startups include: Space Sense AI platform making satellite data applications faster, easier and at scale; Aqua Alarm, SaaS for microbial water quality management in drinking water networks; Must Had, a digital platform matching companies' textile waste with circular solutions; Byewaste, a digital platform for door-to-door collection and upcycling of household waste; Reli, a smart management system to optimize and extend battery performance; Agrovisio, a satellite and drone-based fields monitoring platform.

What key lessons have you learned from projects that didn’t work out the way you expected?

One of the primary takeaways is the paramount importance of the problem a startup aims to solve. If a startup addresses a problem that is not acute or pressing, it typically experiences less traction and finally runs out of funds. We talk more and more with companies to understand their challenges and support startups to deeply understand the problem and communicate better their solution to the target audience. On the other hand, often companies and startups run at different speed, so we also have the role of educating companies to make them ready to collaborate with startups.

Why, in your opinion, accelerators are becoming more popular nowadays?

Accelerators are gaining traction in today's rapidly evolving world due to their pivotal role as facilitators. We are seeing more accelerators that are connected to funds or corporate challenges, and CVCs. This link is crucial to secure the right focus on real corporate problems and nurturing open innovation, but also ensures financial support to a model that is not really sustainable as a standalone. Similarly at Forest Valley, with the Sandbox acceleration program, we work closely with corporate sponsors and partners who have a crucial role in the selection and process.

What are the hottest markets you currently look at as an accelerator and where do you see the biggest hype?

Presently, we are closely monitoring sectors associated with the most significant carbon footprints: agritech and food, green energy infrastructure and storage. Climate tech is front and center, answering global climate calls with renewable solutions and green transit. On top of all, the buzz around AI’s industry-wide integration is deafening. However, amidst this innovation frenzy, accelerators must astutely differentiate timeless revolutions from passing fads.

Do you have any predictions about the key trends that will shape the European accelerator scene in the near future?

As we said, being an accelerator focusing on technological solutions to climate-related challenges, we believe those will definitely take center stage in the times to come.

The European scene is influenced by a myriad of factors including regulations and policies, global trends, and pressing challenges. Accelerators will likely focus on startups that can help companies comply with these increasingly strict regulations, especially in sectors like energy, manufacturing, transportation, and construction. Given the EU's ambitions to be climate-neutral by 2050, there will be a high demand for technologies that can help companies reduce their carbon footprints, including solutions for carbon capture, emissions reductions, renewable energy innovations, energy storage and smart grid technologies. As we have been exposed to vulnerabilities in global supply chains in the last years, new solutions fostering resilience will be also central. Accelerators will be at the forefront of supporting all these pivotal innovations accessing funds and opportunities.

 

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