Acceleration Program Details

How do you choose which companies to accept into the acceleration program?

The team does a first screening using our requirements and selection criteria. We quickly advise the projects that are not a good fit, are incomplete and the ones that are too mature (e.g. the company should be looking at VCs or angels) or too far away from a concrete product. We pay particular attention to the team because having the right people is just as important as a great idea. The process is completed by an independent selection committee composed of experts from the industry.

Why should we apply to you instead of another accelerator?

You should apply to all the accelerators you can! We all have our own strengths based on our own business ecosystem and our own experience, so perhaps we see something that the other guys don’t, or vice versa, or since we are not that many that focus on cleantech, we may just happen to have the perfect resources for your specific situation. 

What kind of startups do you accept for the acceleration program?

In our mind a start-up is what it says: you don’t need to have been in business for a long time before applying and we don’t expect you to have raised capital or to generate any revenue yet. We target start-ups in the cleantech space that have a revolutionary idea with the potential to change the world, and have achieved at least proof of concept validation, that are scalable and that offer significant advantages over current processes and competition.

Is my company too early or late stage to apply?

There is no simple answer to this one. We’re looking for people that have at least incorporated a company and built a minimal team around the founder (could be co-founders of course). Projects must also have at least good proof of concept. Companies that are already selling products and generating revenues above $100,000 may also consider approaching financial angels or seed venture capital funds. You should see us more as a training camp than an investor. That said, the application process is light and there is no harm in submitting an application if you feel there is a potential fit and do let us know how our program can benefit you.

Can I apply if I’m not from Canada?

Of course! That is part of the plan. Teams from all over the world can apply. We can help you with the incorporation or your company and with setting up as well.

What do you provide?

In addition to financing of up to $75,000, we provide a personalized and specialized training program to help you refine and fill in the blanks in your business plan, from identifying unserved needs and freedom to operate IP territories to market assessment, protecting your IP and structuring your company. We provide access to mentors, industry experts, potential customers, partners, suppliers and investors. But we do all of this keeping in mind that you are in charge. So you’ll spend most of your time developing your product and business strategy and filling the blanks in your business plan (e.g. preparing yourselves for the questions we know by experience the investors have in store for you).

Do the teams need to be there for the entire time?

Not necessarily. You are expected to be in Montreal two days per week for the duration of the program. However, we will adjust ourselves to your team and will accept your “virtual” presence if needed. 

How does funding work?

Please refer to the financing section for details regarding the up to $75,000 convertible note.

What if we need more money?

We do not exclude you from fundraising prior to Green Light Event if you need to. The accelerator can facilitate intros to other sources of financing prior to the Green Light Event for these needs. Most companies prefer to really focus on filling in the blanks in their business plan and developing their product within their time, and then use the Promo Day to focus on fundraising and business development.

Are the terms negotiable?

No, not really. All teams come in on the same general terms. This is the only way we can streamline the process and help you get through the financing without entering into complex and onerous negotiations. Our philosophy is quite simple: don’t lose time chasing the money, take it and start running.

Application

When is the deadline to apply?

Applications for the Autumn 2016 Cohort were accepted until July 5th, 2016.

Applications for the Spring 2017 Cohort are accepted as of today! But please note that the selection will only be done at the end of the year 2016. 

Why do you insist on teams?

No one is good at all things. Typical founders have a technical background. Building a company is also about marketing and selling, hiring, accounting and budgeting, understanding legal stuff and regulations, etc. A team will have, or will develop through the program, skills in more areas than if you’re just alone. Plus, the program is tough, really tough! You’ll set the milestones, but you will have to deliver on them. You’ll need your team members to pick you up when you get down (and you’re the one who’s going to help them through when they get down).

Why does a business plan have to be done internally?

A business plan is about building a system around an idea. It has to start from your guts and go through your mind. This is not something you can buy from a consultant. You’ll probably change directions many times before being sure you have found the right product to build on your technology, at the right cost, aiming at a significant enough market, with the best business model and go to market strategy. You and your team will have to adapt yourself at warp speed while you’re here. You’ll need instantaneous help when you’ll face a wall. We and your peers will be there.

Why must we be working on our startup full-time?

We’ve built start-ups ourselves. What we’ve tried to put in the Ecofuel program is just enough training in areas where typically most young entrepreneurs fail. It will open your eyes, not necessarily in all of them, but surely in enough of them to make yourself question your plan, find out things you need to learn or where you need external help. Four months is a very short timeframe to realize your milestones, while going through a busy program schedule: we’ll keep you busy with training and networking workshops, entrepreneurs’ chats, meetings with your mentors and we’re sure you’ll want at the same time to keep developing your technology. You’ll need every spare minute available.

Will I be notified if I am moving forward in the process after submitting my application?

You will receive notice one week before the next interview date if you have advanced to the next round. Promising applications will be invited back for an in-person pitch in front of our screening committee. We will notify you within a few days after the pitch if you are extended a spot in the accelerator, and the terms. 

What if I have more questions I need answered before I apply?

Let us know what they are — they are welcomed. Email Richard (rcloutier@ecofuelaccelerate.com) or Catherine (csaine@ecofuelaccelerate.com). 

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