Director of Engineering, Amazon Web Services, Amazon
It’s a challenging time to be a startup, and not just because you have to pitch your business over Zoom. Venture-capital deals are expected to fall by as much as 30% this year, according to a report by PitchBook and NCVA.
But those same concerns aren’t warranted in the climate-tech sector, says Emily Reichert, the CEO of Greentown Labs, the largest clean-tech incubator in North America.
Amid the pandemic, several new funds have been announced, such as Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and corporations are doubling down on funding commitments.
The coronavirus is making people realize “how unprepared we're going to be for the rapidness of climate change if we don’t act sooner,” Reichert adds.
That doesn’t make her work any easier. She’s spent the past few months figuring out how to take her incubator’s offerings online — from pitch practice to expert panels — while keeping members of the 70 or so startups at Greentown safe.
Meanwhile, Reichert is finalizing Greentown’s expansion to Houston, the heart of the oil-and-gas industry, where a second location of the incubator is expected to open in the spring of 2021.
“The general feeling is that Houston's economy is not going to be dependent on oil and gas for more than like 10 years — maybe 20 years at the most,” she says. “They need a whole new set of industries, and that’s why the Houston area is so excited about doing something with climate tech.”