The winner of this year’s accelerator program Green Tech Challenge was found at the final last Thursday. Green Tech Challenge has become a tribute to green startups and the three founders receive support from some of the largest consultant firms around the globe. They want to be a part of a greener future as well.
Imagine a future where man and machine would work together to create value for a common and greater good. A future where the water you use for showering does not become wastewater, where coffee grounds will be a resource and where the food industry will save 90% of the energy used today in a pasteurization by a process using UV light.
This is no utopian fantasy but a reality if four of the companies participating in the Danish version of Green Tech Challenge will be successful in commercializing their ideas.
The startup Lyras won the first prize for their pasteurization technology, that shall make energy savings and high-quality product by changing the old-fashioned heating process from 1864.
During the two-weeks of the program, the participants had a closer and redefined look at their business models and the opportunity to go into depth with their stakeholders and competitors, IP rights and go-to-market strategies.
With the ambition to turn the green business into good business, Green Tech Challenge presents the startups to their professional and prominent partners like PwC, HORTEN, Accenture and Innovation Center Denmark.
We met the partners at the grand finale.
Create structure from the beginning
Being a startup there are many overlaps between tax, legal and accounting challenges. To create better solutions for companies by helping them make important considerations during the start-up phase the auditing giant PwC cooperates with the HORTEN Law Firm during Green Tech Challenge.
“We have had some great discussions with the startups concerning issues like how do you control your IP rights, do you control who owns the shares and what and who are threats? Are you aware of the tax consequences? In this way, in cooperation with the auditor and lawyer, we can help them get the basics right from the very beginning,” Niels Henrik B. Mikkelsen, Partner at PwC says.
“It may, for example, be a startup wanting to enter the US market and considering the possibility of a US investor. Then we can advise them about the tax and legal consequences of setting up an American holding company. We can help to decide whether IP rights should be moved from Denmark to the United States and what the general pitfalls can be.”
“The questions we ask the startups are easier to deal with in the early stages before revenue has grown and when the owners of the company are also the founders.”
Attorney Jonas Amtoft Gramstrup from the law firm HORTEN also emphasizes the benefit of dealing with the structure of the company thoroughly during the early phase.
“In the M&A department, we often find that a lot of basic and costly adjustments are to be made to ensure that a company has the right structure for a sale. It is therefore crucial that entrepreneurs think about how the company is structured and secured in relation to when the company is to be sold at a later date,” says Jonas Amtoft Gramstrup, who is daily in HORTEN’s Corporate / M & A department, working with corporate structure as well as buying and selling of companies.
Matching startups with other clients
Jakob Geitner-Andersen from Accenture has advised many startups and smaller companies. During Green Tech Challenge he himself advised two startups where he had deep insights into the core of the startups. He met the companies both before and during the accelerator and probably also meet them again after the program has ended.
“At Accenture, we have done this many times all over the globe. Vi have helped a great number of companies getting established and coping with many different challenges. We use our experience and diverse toolbox to help the startups seize the opportunities that they might not be aware of or cope with possible threats that they have not identified yet,” Jakob Geitner-Andersen says.
Mr. Geitner-Andersen also sees a great opportunity for the participants by being exposed to the consultancy’s large network.
“We can also help match startups with our large network of clients and customers or NGOs that we collaborate with and have done for many years. Therefore, we can save each startup for serious marketing costs.”
To Accenture, the collaboration with the startup companies is an integrated part of their strategy to make a social and economic impact on a global scale.
“Accenture runs a programme named Skills to Succeed. The ambition is to create jobs and to help unemployed people into employment. By 2020 we aim to have helped more than three million people either by coaching, developing their competencies or helping them establish a company and create jobs. From 2011 to 2013 we have already helped 1.2 million people into employment.”
Bring your exit strategy when entering a new market
Innovation Center Denmark was involved in the international segment of the process and therefore also they were also represented at the grand finale. During the program, the participating startups were given the opportunity to receive advice from the center directors who had flown to Copenhagen from their respective locations in Silicon Valley, New Delhi, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Seoul, Sao Paolo, and Munich.
Tom Sebastian, Deputy Director of Innovation Center in India, was very impressed with the startups and, not least, the great efforts made by Green Tech Challenge’s founders.
“All the startups in this year’s batch are relevant to other markets than the Danish. I have also requested that I will be able to follow more of them after the end of the process. When looking at the startups that participate in the program, I simply do not think that the team behind Green Tech Challenge could have done a better job,” Tom Sebastian says.
Focusing on market potential and expansion opportunities, Tom Sebastian advised startups that were matched with the Indian Innovation Center. One advice did stand out and was given to all the startups.
“The Indian market is relevant to several of the participating startups. Maybe not within the next six months, but I will not be surprised if a couple of them move to India within a year. When they do it is important that they have a clear idea of an exit strategy. They must know how they want to sell, to whom and when. There was not a single one of the startups that had considered this. It will certainly not happen tomorrow, but there are some important considerations to do when embarking on a new market.”