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Exclusive: CrowdSolve raising for second-chance incubator

Illustration of a sprout with a life preserver thrown over it.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

CrowdSolve is raising $500,000 to give a second chance to climate startups that have been rejected by mainstream accelerator programs, CEO Tim Wolters tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The incubator's small investments can provide a lifeline to young startups that might otherwise go under.

How it works: CrowdSolve asks accelerators such as TechStars and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator to send it promising pre-seed startups that they've turned down.

  • If those startups can secure other investors, CrowdSolve affiliate will pitch in $25,000 in non-dilutive grant funding.

Yes, but: Founders don't need to have been rejected to join CrowdSolve. The Denver-based incubator offers a free automated curriculum and mentoring for new founders.

  • CrowdSolve makes money by selling paid subscriptions to live programming, in addition to its automated curriculum.
  • Graduates include Latimer Controls, a systems provider for remotely controlling solar panels, which was subsequently accepted to TechStars. It's now pursuing a pilot with a Hawaii utility.

The latest: CrowdSolve began fundraising in September and expects to close by the end of Q1. It previously raised $500,000 from traditional investors and a crowdfunding campaign.

  • There are about 200 climate startups moving through the incubator's programming, Wolters says.

Of note: Wolters himself went through TechStars with RoundPegg, an employee engagement service he sold in 2017.

What's next: CrowdSolve plans to raise a traditional accelerator fund in Q3, Wolters says. "We will roll existing investors in CrowdSolve into that fund, giving them two ways to gain a return on their investment."

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