Cleantech Startups And The Role of Design

Let’s face it, most consumers are pretty picky. If a new product doesn’t offer a good user experience, or at the very least, come from a company that puts a little umph behind its branding, the majority of folks are likely to to discount it altogether and move onto to something they perceive as better.

New products and companies coming out of the Cleantech sector are no exception. But for a cleantech startup company, coming up with the capital and resources to not only have an edgy logo and company branding strategy, let alone a great user experience and innovative products, can be tough.

Via Greenstart

That’s why Greenstart, a startup accelerator based in San Francisco that funds and mentors cleantech companies focused on information technology, has just launched its new in-house design practice. The in-house team will provide product, service and brand design for startups that are selected for its accelerator programs.

“Design incorporates all the touch points of how it relates to the user,” Greenstart Managing Partner Mitch Lowe said. “But as a young company you are under resourced.”

And that is precisely where David Merkoski comes in. Formerly an executive creative director at frog design, whose clients include Italian Vogue, Nokia, GE and Lufthansa, Merkoski just joined Greenstart and will work one-on-one with the startups to help them with all all-encompassing word: design.

“Sense of design is becoming a strong braid in the sense of what a company becomes,” Merkoski said. “ Giving them a seat at the table to think through their product and service expressions is a really important differentiator.”

Is also something Lowe said was needed for the four startup companies participating in Greenstart’s first accelerator.

“In the first program we did mentoring and we brought in concrete examples of good design and the companies said we got it, but where do we get it,” Lowe said. “As a young company with limited capital, they weren’t getting their calls returned (from design companies).”

Greenstart Investor Day

image via Greenstart

Lowe said one of the fundamental reasons he, Dave Graham and Dillion McDonald founded Greenstart was to make an impact and reduce reliance on “dirty” fossil fuels, but also to help young startups get their business right the first time and not have to deal with so many failures.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.