Every SME owner, founder, and CEO is told the same thing when they’re looking for investment, namely that there isn’t a lot around.
– And the lasting effects of the global financial crisis and the conservative party’s tightening financial regulations are just some of the reasons why this is the case.
Such events have meant that it’s not as straightforward for budding SMEs, (who once relied on the banks) to secure the investment they need.
Whilst different forms of investment have grown in the place of more traditional platforms such as angel investors and alternative finance providers, there is one particular sector that’s in a pretty unique position when it comes to their chances of securing different forms of investment, and that’s ‘clean-tech’ companies.
But what ARE clean-tech companies, and why are they more likely to secure investment?
clean-tech companies 101
Well, for starters, they’re in the right place, at the right time.
‘Clean-tech’ companies can be loosely defined as businesses that offer products or services that seek to reduce waste and require as few non-renewable resources as possible to undertake operations.
In this (excuse the pun) ‘climate’, where addressing the need to combat the devasting effects of fossil fuel emissions is more pressing than ever, clean-tech companies have a unique opportunity to use their ethically minded missions as unique ‘USPs’ when seeking funding for their businesses.
I’m a clean-tech company, how do I secure investment?
Well, you have to start by putting yourself in the ‘right mindset’. Unless you’ve got yourself in the ‘clean-tech’ mindset, you’ll won’t attract the right form of investment for your business.
“Instead of banging your head against the brick wall of a bank that could be ‘nervous’ to lend to you, remember what your business is, and what unique and impactful service it offers, then your investment routes will become clearer.”
You’ve founded your business, you know how important strong and consistent branding is, and how it can contribute to the strengthening of your business.
It’s the same when looking for investors, remember that the ‘green’ product you’ve designed, or the service you offer is, by definition, innovative, as it’s trying to solve our carbon footprint problem in some way.
Therefore, try and be ‘innovative’ when looking for investment, and try accessing non-traditional forms of investment.
If your company is offering something that’s disrupting the status quo, why not look for investors or the kinds of investment platforms that are doing the same?
Crowdfunding is an excellent option for ‘clean-tech’ SMEs looking for funding.
Because a variety of crowdfunding platforms are available online, SMEs can create a bespoke profile that describes their company and it’s unique purpose.
Most importantly, SME owners can state, with passionate conviction, the reasons why investors should invest in their company.
“Online crowdfunding platforms can help SMEs connect directly with potential investors who are interested in the sustainable sector more broadly.”
Seeking investment online also means you can create your own rules. For example, you could create an enticing sales based incentive for people to invest in you as this company did below…
“B-Squares is a notable success story. The solar-powered electronics business attracted nearly six times the investment they were hoping for on Kickstarter, partly by distributing their innovative products to those who pledged funds.” – CleanTechnica
The idea being that your company is trying to change the world for the better, in some way. So, exploit this USP by crafting an engaging company crowdfunding profile that captures the imagination of investors who are passionate about saving the planet, just like you are.
Don’t know what these crowdfunding platforms look like? Then have a read of the article below…
Crowdfunding options3 businesses that smashed crowdfunding goals and what we can learn from them Read more
Go for ‘green’ business incubators
Incubators are shared (and often funded) workspaces that provide office space, and additional services (including mentoring and networking services) for businesses in order to help them upscale and accelerate.
Think of these ‘incubators’ as vegetable gardens. But these vegetable gardens have a whole team of gardeners on hand to ensure the vegetables have everything they need to grow.
Whilst there are many incubators around for startup businesses in the tech sector more broadly, incubator hubs with a purely green agenda are less prevalent, but they are still around:
In the UK, we have the Carbon Trust, a hub that provides “incubation” and “venture capital support” for early-stage companies with a low carbon agenda. Like other incubators, they want to help these associated businesses accelerate and grow, and they provide a supportive ecosystem to help them do it.
Or go for the ‘top prize’…
Because your business is one that drives positive societal and environmental impact, you’re also eligible to apply for ‘prizes’.
These ‘prizes’ can include gifts of money provided by certain organisations to help you fulfill your impactful mission.
As we’re coming to the end of the year, most of the deadlines for the relevant 2018 prizes have passed, however, do your research and keep in mind what prize monies could be available in 2019.
Prizes such as the Zayed Future Energy Prize offer big money (in this case a £4m lifeline ) to green-minded companies who want to innovate further, but because these types of funding organisations offer such business changing sums, you have to get in pretty early to be in with a chance of bagging the top prize, applications for the above prize have already closed for 2019.
Remember, applying for grants or ‘prizes’ for green innovation shouldn’t be some afterthought, but a decision that should involve at least a year of careful preparation. Unfortunately, there are no ‘quick-wins’ when it comes to seeking grants or prize money.
Clean-tech companies have an edge with investment
Your unique USP is in your founding mission, to make the world a better, healthier place.
At a time when solving our environmental crisis is becoming an increasingly urgent issue, the emotional engagement your clean-tech brand can create with potential investors and customers, – is priceless.
So, make use of it, and go get funded.
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