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The outlook from Greentown Labs' new CEO

illustration of Kevin Knobloch of Greentown Labs surrounded by squares and pictures of trees

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios; Photo: Courtesy of Greentown Labs

Raising money is one thing. Managing a company is something else entirely, Greentown Labs' new CEO tells Axios.

Why he matters: Greentown is arguably the most prominent accelerator in climate tech. Last week, it tapped former Department of Energy chief of staff Kevin Knobloch to succeed longtime CEO Emily Reichert.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

What are your goals for the role?

"The board was very clear with me: They would welcome a refresh of the overall strategy. That includes looking at our effectiveness."


"Greentown tracks jobs created, economic value, survivability. One of the more interesting ones to measure is greenhouse gas reduction.

Also, can we accelerate the timetable in which a startup goes from pre-seed and seed financing to Series A, B, IPO, strategic partnership, deployment?

And the workforce question — there's a lot of competition, especially for project managers and engineers. I'm a big believer that a diverse workforce is an effective workforce."

Greentown Labs faced scrutiny this year for accepting funds from fossil fuel companies. What's your stance on this?

"We have some work to do in terms of thinking through what kind of metrics we might design to assess whether a partnership makes sense. This can be true of fossil companies, this can be true of major donors.

Greentown has already demonstrated that it's open and even eager to work with climate-responsible companies in that space. I think we need a more concrete and transparent way of assessing when we're going to partner with companies."

What's ahead in the next few months?

"There are too many mission-driven companies that don't achieve their mission because they don't ensure their top leadership has strong management ability. We need to strengthen those muscles with an eye toward improving the success rate of the companies."

One tip for investors or founders?

"Find the companies that have that potent mix of smart, needed technology and really skilled management. When I say management, I mean soup to nuts: financial management, management of people, management of projects."

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