[00:00] Traveling the world as an early career executive
[08:04] Explaining the niche of Greentown Labs in Houston
[14:22] Investing in diverse women-led businesses with Portfolia
[22:55] Seeing the investment potential for climate tech in Texas
[30:38] Presenting university students with a unique startup opportunity
How did Greentown Labs choose the location for their Houston incubator?
As the biggest climate tech incubator in North America, Greentown Labs needed a location in Houston that suited their unique prototype space. Converting a Fiesta supermarket into an incubator, Greentown found a building that met their specific requirements. Offering a loading dock, industrial features, lots of parking, and convenient access to public transportation, the current Greentown building has exactly what they need with room to grow.
“The building characteristics at the location were important; it’s well connected to the roads in the innovation districts, with good parking spaces. It’s easily accessible, close to downtown, to the rapid rail. Public transportation was key for us to make it an excellent location.”
If you're a startup and you want to join Greentown Labs, how does that work?
Unfortunately, not everyone that wants to get into Greentown Labs can actually become a part of it. The application numbers are high and the competition is fierce, with only ⅓ of applicants making it into the prototype space. To increase your startup’s chances of getting accepted, Juliana recommends focusing on 3 areas: technology with direct climate impacts, community fit for collaboration and mentorship within Greentown, and potential for financial success.
“We only accept 1/3 of the companies that apply, and we have three criteria. The first one is the climate fit, you need to demonstrate that your technology has climate impacts. The second is the community fit at Greentown, and the last criteria is the potential for success.”
Can you tell us more about your role as an advisory board member of Portfolia?
Alongside her work with Greentown Labs, Juliana lends her expertise as an advisory board member of Portfolia, a powerful community of women investors. Through Portfolia, Juliana gets to expand her work with important technology investment opportunities, exploring women-led projects and encouraging diverse hiring. Houston is already one of the most diverse cities in the world, and Juliana hopes that investing diversity will soon reflect that.
“It's not that people are actively preventing diversity from happening, but if you don't actively try to bring diversity, you tend to bring people who look like you, who are in your network. You end up having people who have the same thoughts, same looks, same likes in the room.”
Greentown started in Boston. Why was Houston the next place to expand to?
MIT in Boston played a massive role in the founding of Greentown Labs, but Juliana explains that a huge audience for climate tech exists in Houston as well. Houston is not just a successful gas and oil market, but is soon to become the hub for climate tech. Greentown hopes to expand the opportunities for support and success available to startups, which is also why they take zero equity from the applicants chosen for Greentown Labs.
“A lot of climate tech companies have their customers here. Even the Boston companies at Greentown, 2 of the initial founders moved to Houston to be closer to their customers, which created an ecosystem of climate tech entrepreneurs, who needed a convener.”