Accelerator intended to advance businesses with green products
SAN RAFAEL – Dominican University of California is launching a green business accelerator that will support entrepreneurs developing ventures that offer environmental benefits.
The “Venture Greenhouse” is intended to serve as a kind of incubator for business students and as a resource for social and environmental entrepreneurs who want to start green businesses in Marin County.
“The Venture Greenhouse will enable a network of enterprises, professionals and partners to contribute to vibrant and sustainable economic development for Marin County and the North Bay,” said John Stayton, director of the project. Mr. Stayton was Dominican University’s GreenMBA Program Director for eight years. He is also a sustainable enterprise consultant and a doctoral candidate at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
Located in a commercial zone in San Rafael, the 5,000-square-foot site eventually will house up to 12 companies at a time, with the goal of graduating companies within one year.
Currently there are three test clients. The greenhouse is looking for four more and will be opening on June 1, at 30 Castro Ave. in San Rafael.
There will be desk space in the open floor-plan office with Internet access and shared facilities including a private office, conference room, larger meeting room, and office equipment. GreenMBA faculty and community professionals will provide coaching and there will be access to professional services, project support from MBA students, collaborative opportunities with fellow clients and other enterprises and access to possible funding sources.
“The Venture Greenhouse is one of a kind,” said Mr. Stayton. “We are a non-profit, early stage accelerator. We will help people develop their great ideas and launch their businesses. Most business incubators serve businesses that have already launched. These incubators help companies move from one phase of business to another phase, but we help the company get off the ground.”
Client companies pay a monthly fee of $50 per person to help pay for utilities. These companies can have a maximum of three people with offices in the facility. While some clients may continue to hold other jobs, the idea is that their priority should be the creation of new employment for themselves and others with the launch of their enterprises. Selection criteria for interested entrepreneurs will include companies focused on environmental and social impact and financial viability.
The first three test clients were brought on in February. The problems current and prospective client companies are working on include reducing carbon emissions through efficient LED lighting and maintaining solar power plants, and reducing plastic waste while protecting children’s health through ecologically and socially conscientious lunch ware.
In addition to Mr. Stayton, the leadership team includes Paul Bozzo and Stuart Corvin.
Mr. Bozzo has more than 20 years experience in entrepreneurial strategy, angel/venture capital financing, SBA lending and business planning. Mr. Corvin was owner and CEO of Cal Steam Supply from 1990-2007, during which time he expanded the business from a single location in San Francisco to 14 locations and 400 employees.
For information, visit www.venturegreenhouse.org.
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