We live in a time when technology is advancing faster than most of us can keep up with the announcements. Many of these new devices and processes are focused on energy efficiency, alternative power sources, or helping large organizations solve vexing problems. If you’re a developer or inventor, and you’ve got a brilliant idea for new technology, there are hundreds of venture capital firms out there just waiting to hear your pitch. They all know the next big thing is just around the corner, and they want to enjoy a portion of the profit when it arrives.
But what about the companies that just want to help us live simpler, more sustainable lives? These “conscious companies” might not be interested in creating the next big consumer product. All they want to do is provide easy ways for individuals to reduce waste, get healthy, avoid mindless consumption, or shrink their environmental footprint. For these types of startups, finding funding can be difficult. Investors don’t necessarily see dollar signs when evaluating company potential. Since the idea of a conscious company is fairly new, mentoring and advice can be hard for new CEOs to come by. Tech incubators exist, but again, they’re focused on a very narrow genre of company. That’s a gap Michael “Luni” Libes aims to fill with his own new company, Fledge.
Representing a new twist on the successful tech incubator model, Fledge helps create and accelerate companies meeting the needs of the large and growing number of consumers who are: environmentally conscious, energy conscious, health conscious, conscious of sustainability, of community, and even simply conscious of consumption itself.
Just like a mama bird, Fledge shelters tiny companies in danger of being ignored by other incubators, or failing before they start from lack of know-how. Led by Libes, himself a career serial entrepreneur and founder of five different startups, teams of business mentors choose small cohorts of promising companies to incubate. Those chosen are treated to a small amount of funding, as well as entrepreneurial education and advice from mentors. At the end of a 8-12 week program, teams show off their companies at a “Demo Day.” For all this, the company will share a small percentage of equity, and repay the initial investment out of future revenues.
It’s an interesting idea and if the high quality of startup’s in Fledge’s first cohort are any indication, it’s one that could help bring more conscious companies to market in the coming years. Read on for a sampling of companies currently in the Fledge fold.