Create a More Sustainable Future: The 2019 class of Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy

Today ten companies from around the US and Mexico are joining us in Denver, Colorado for an intensive three-months where they will accelerate their companies, and their impact, to create a more sustainable future for us all. Rooted in hope, urgency, and action, these venture scale companies are enabling a world where people and nature can thrive together.

Inspired by the success of last year’s inaugural program, our companies continue to be aligned with The Nature Conservancy’s core focus of tackling climate change, providing food and water sustainably, building healthy cities, and protecting our land and water. In The Science of Sustainability TNC describes ways to balance economic growth with resource conservation over the next 30 years, and these ten companies are the embodiment of those strategies.

Over the next 13 weeks we will surround these entrepreneurs with mentors, coaches, and investors from the Techstars network along with conservation scientists and subject matter experts from The Nature Conservancy. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support of our Denver and Boulder Startup Communities. The crescendo of our program, Demo Day, will take place on October 30th in downtown Denver.

Hannah, August and I are honored and excited to introduce the 2019 class of the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with the Nature Conservancy:


Cities and counties spend billions annually trying to comply with Clean Water Act, while the quality of urban waterways continue to decline. 2NDNATURE has embedded our proven science into the first enterprise cloud stormwater management and compliance platform.

AQUAOSO Technologies, PBC

AQUAOSO is building a water resilient future through advanced water risk analytics. They help financial institutions, insurers, investors, corporations and policy makers identify, understand, monitor and mitigate water risk through their software platform.


Bext360 provides comprehensive and measurable accountability for critical supply chains like coffee, seafood, timber, minerals, cotton and palm oil. The SaaS platform provides a traceable fingerprint from producer to consumer using blockchain and quantifiable sustainability measurements.


The health and quality of freshwater basins, rivers, estuaries and coastal areas are under increased pressure due to human activity and climate change. Gybe uses satellite imagery and proprietary ground-based hardware to transform the management, conservation, and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.



Mammoth Water

Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of water consumption worldwide, and yet it’s among the least digitized sectors of the global economy, which limits growers, regulators, and conservation groups. With their software, TAPP H2O, agricultural producers can easily track and trade water allocations, submit regulatory compliance documentation, and quantify conservation practices.


The biggest pollutant of fresh water worldwide is agriculture. microTERRA uses advanced biotechnology and IoT to convert the excess nutrients in agricultural runoff into a high-quality protein that can feed livestock.


Over 300 million tons of carbon is lost annually as waste from food, forestry, and agriculture. mobius is converting this waste into value using green chemistry and biology, creating biodegradable plastics and platform chemicals for applications in agriculture and beyond.


Nori is a marketplace for reversing climate change. They enable companies to pay for removing CO2 from the atmosphere through more sustainable farming practices that improve  soil conditions and ensure we can still grow food in 50 years. Nori makes it possible to fix the food system and pull CO2 out of the air.

Propagate Ventures

Propagate Ventures is an agroforestry investment platform focused on bridging the capital and operational needs to integrate tree crops into farmland. Their agroforestry analytics and project development tools support farmers in the design, implementation, and management of tree-crop systems to increase farm profitability and ecological capacity.

Regen Network

Regen Network is a digital platform that connects farmers, brands, and institutions to make regenerative ecological agreements based on verifiable data so that we can rapidly accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture and conservation, and reverse global climate change.


Disrupting Environmental Destruction

Source: Ben Duke

“Disruption” is a word that gets tossed around business a lot these days. But what if we could disrupt not just the way we do business, but the fate of our species and our planet?

The World In 2050

What will the world look like in 2050?

On our current path, coastal cities will flood, billions will live with terrible air pollution, and more and more lands and water will lose the ability to produce food for our global population, which will reach nearly 10 billion—so many of them will go hungry and thirsty, all while the natural world diminishes.

In October 2018, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) published a study that outlined two scenarios of what the future might hold. One shows the state of humanity and the natural world if we continue with “business as usual,” and the other offers a more positive future for both us and the environment if we switch gears and move towards a more sustainable path.

We all know that if we want a better future, we—as in, humanity—need to change. But how? Well-meaning acts like switching out incandescent light bulbs and carrying reusable grocery bags just aren’t going to be enough. While acts like these are important and necessary, we need more changes and at a larger scale. And the next 10 years will be crucial if we are to find our way to a sustainable future.

Can we change our course so that we move towards the sustainable path? And how do we get there?

Huge Advances in Technology

“We need a technology revolution to help us get on that path to a sustainable 2050,” says August Ritter, Program Director for The Sustainability Accelerator, a partnership between Techstars and The Nature Conservancy. “We asked ourselves: What can TNC do to help advance technology and disruption in conservation?”

Their answer: an accelerator focused on supporting entrepreneurs trying to address global issues, like climate change or sustainably providing food and water to our planet’s growing population.

Startups move fast, an important consideration given how much change needs to happen in the next 10 years if we are to switch course. They also come at problems from a new angle, and bring new technologies to bear on these difficult and far-reaching dilemmas.

All conservation and sustainability efforts are great, but using new technologies and ways of doing business that are already transforming the global economy are necessary to transform the global environment and take sustainability to scale. It is time to reconsider “business as usual.”  

Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

“We need to inspire the next generation of technologists and entrepreneurs,” August said. He ticked off a series of goals for The Sustainability Accelerator: success stories to show that this path forward is possible; demonstrating to investors that they can earn a tangible ROI by investing in early stage companies with a focus on sustainability; integrating technology and learning from the startup community about how they solve problems—fast.

The inaugural 2018 accelerator was a huge success, and TNC is running pilots with six startups that came through the program. TNC has high hopes for the next class as well.

August loves a quote from Jeff Hammerbacher, an early Facebook employee and founder of Cloudera: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”

August offers an alternate path for today’s keenest problem solvers: “We need to be inspiring entrepreneurs to solve problems that matter. We need the best minds of this generation working  to transform the world by 2050 into a place where both people and nature can thrive.”

Want to disrupt environmental catastrophe? August outlined the big questions he thinks startups can help answer in his piece, “An Invitation to Solve for a More Sustainable Future.”

Calling Passionate Entrepreneurs Who Want To Save The Planet: Applications Are Open For The Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the privilege to get to know hundreds of companies as a mentor, advisor, and investor. As I reflect on those companies, one pattern stands out. The successful entrepreneurs I know have integrated the passionate pursuit of a larger purpose into their business.

I experienced the power of purpose firsthand during my ten years at Rally Software as an executive from first revenue through our successful IPO. From the outside, it looked like we were creating the agile category. Inside, our larger purpose was based on the belief that empowered people who actually want to come to work are essential for solving today’s big, complex problems like climate change.

A similar larger purpose—the belief that entrepreneurs create a better future—drew me to Techstars four years ago. As a Managing Director for Techstars Boulder in 2015 and 2016, I saw the passion larger purpose creates inside companies, and how that energy fuels success.

Two years ago Amy Batchelor and Brad Feld held an event at their home where I again experienced the power of having larger purpose when I heard Mark Tercek, the CEO of The Nature Conservancy, speak. I was impressed to hear how The Nature Conservancy was leveraging finance, policy, and technology to create a world where people and nature thrive together. It was inspiring to see what can be accomplished when strong leadership, the best scientists and dedicated supporters are driven by such a powerful purpose.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m putting my investor hat back on and joining the team at the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy as Managing Director. I’m excited to continue the great work Jenna Walker started, and join Hannah Davis and August Ritter in helping entrepreneurs with businesses that can make a material contribution to building a world where people and nature can thrive together.

Applications are currently open through April 7th for the second year of the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. We are seeking for-profit entrepreneurs with commercially viable technologies who are passionately pursuing solutions to challenges like these:

  • Make the case for natural climate solutions;
  • Inspire climate action;
  • Conserve working forests;
  • Advance nature-based solutions to lessen the impacts of climate change;
  • Rethink agricultural practices;
  • Improve Fishery Health;
  • Improve the sustainability of aquaculture;
  • Protect water at its source;
  • Better facilitate water market transactions;
  • Integrate nature into urban growth planning;
  • Increase climate change resilience;
  • Decrease the footprint of human settlements;
  • Build a model of sustainable energy development;
  • Inform smart infrastructure decision-making;
  • Expand community-led conservation;
  • Better protect our land, water, and oceans;
  • Catalyze transformational change to achieve a world where people and nature thrive.

One of the driving forces in my life is best described in Steve Faber’s motto: “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.” If this resonates with you, I look forward to getting to know more about you and your company.

How Might We Solve for a More Sustainable Future? An Invitation to Apply to the 2019 Class of Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy

We have our work cut out for us to create a world that can not only sustain a growing population but allow communities and natural ecosystems to thrive for decades to come. Luckily, if there is one group of people who aren’t afraid of hard work, it’s entrepreneurs. We are now calling all entrepreneurs solving for a more sustainable future to join the second annual Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy which will run July 29th through October 29th 2019 in Denver Colorado.

2018 had a lot of urgent reports about the state of the environment, but it was also a year filled with hope and action. The Nature Conservancy published a report outlining how a sustainable future is possible and a path to get there. Techstars launched Techstars Sustainability, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Together, these seemingly different organizations, along with the support of many many others, accelerated ten incredible companies working to solve for a more sustainable future.

The Class of 2018 represented an incredible amount of diversity.  In an effort to learn rapidly, we selected a class that was diverse across investment themes, commercial readiness, previous funds raised, depth of team startup experience and direct alignment with TNC’s core work. In the Class of 2018, 6 of 10 companies had active pilots with or facilitated by TNC by the end of the three-month program.

Companies selected represented the following investment themes: Sustainable Fisheries / Oceans (2), Water Conservation / Water Data Science (2), Environmental Monitoring and Water Conservation (2), Built Environment (1), Waste and Core Utility Conservation (1), Clean Energy Technology (1), and Land Conservation (1).

This year we have focused again on investing in companies that can make a material contribution to building a world where people and nature thrive.  By solving the top threats to nature, we can also improve the lives of millions of people.

Rather than look for specific solutions, we framed some of the top challenges we’re facing when it comes to conservation and asked: “How Might We…?”. If you know a company working on a solution to one or more of the big questions below, we’d love to speak with them.

The Nature Conservancy understands that “achieving a sustainable future will be dependent on our ability to secure both thriving human communities and abundant and healthy natural ecosystems.” Now is the time –  apply here, or request office hours to get one-on-one time with Program Staff.

Learn More:

  • 2/26 at 11am MT: Ask Me Anything with Brian McPeek (TNC President) and Brad Feld (Managing Partner Foundry Group)
  • 3/26 at 11am MT: Ask Me Anything with the Program Team (Techstars and TNC)
  • Sign up for our newsletter

Below outlines our investment themes for the Class of 2019. We recognize that it will take diverse ideas to solve the world’s biggest problems, and we encourage entrepreneurs from groups underrepresented in technology to apply.


Climate Change Mitigation

  • How might we Make the Case for Natural Climate Solutions,*  Inspire Climate Action, Conserve Working Forests?
  • Technology to support Carbon Sequestration, Carbon Measurement and Market Validation, Precision Forestry, Sustainable Timber, Reforestation

Climate Change Adaptation

  • How might we Advance Nature-Based Solutions** to lessen the impacts of climate change?
  • Technology to support Innovative Insurance and other Financial Models, Remote Sensing, and Spatial Planning


Sustainable Agriculture

  • How might we Rethink Agricultural Practices?
  • With technology that improves Soil Health and Nutrients, Builds Zero Deforestation Supply Chains, Sustainable Yield Increases, Precision Irrigation and Fertilization, Nutrient Runoff Monitoring, Sustainable Grazing, Carbon Capture, Microclimate Sensing

Sustainable Fisheries

  • How might we Improve Fishery Health?
  • With technology such as Catch Monitoring, Bycatch Exclusion, Supply Chain Transparency, Vessel Tracking, Automated Stock Assessment
  • How might we  Improve the Sustainability  of Aquaculture?
  • With technology such as Monitoring Systems, Ecologically Restorative Business Models, Siting Technologies, Feed Innovations, Offshore/Open-Ocean Systems

Water Funds and Markets

  • How might we Protect Water at its Source, Better Facilitate Water Market Transactions?
  • Technology to support Watershed-Scale Sensing, Flow Measurement, Sensor Connectivity, Usage Mapping Technology, Aggregating Water Data, and Groundwater Recharge


Greenprinting, Green Infrastructure and Stormwater

  • How might we Integrate Nature into Urban Growth Planning, Increase Climate Change Resilience, and Decrease the Footprint of Human Settlements?
  • With technology that Advances Green Infrastructure, Urban Growth Planning, and Addresses Urban Challenges to habitat loss and human health including stormwater, air pollution and heat islands.


Energy and Infrastructure

  • How might we Build a Model of Sustainable Energy Development and Inform Smart Infrastructure Decision-Making?
  • With technology that improves Energy Siting, Land-Use Planning and Development, Wind, Solar and Hydropower Planning, Mitigation Mapping

Indigenous Landscapes and Communities

  • How might we Expand Community-Led Conservation?
  • Technology that supports Community-Based Natural Resource Management, Multi-Stakeholder Engagement, Sustainable Economic Development for Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples

Land and Water Protection

  • How might we Better Protect our Land, Water and Oceans?
  • With technology that unlocks conservation investment in and improves governance of Land and Ocean Protection, Coastal Restoration, and Climate Adaptation.


How might we catalyze transformational change to achieve a world where people and nature thrive?

Measure what Matters

  • Big Data, AI, Machine Learning, Remote Sensing
  • Tools that increase our understanding of/ monitor/ improve – ecosystem services, pollution, and natural resource use

Build the Case for Nature

  • Tools that help influence policymakers and business leaders
  • Decision-Support Tools, Mapping, Visualization, Simulation, Stakeholder Mapping
  • Innovative finance and funding mechanisms

Connect Nature and People

  • Engage people and build learning networks

*Natural Climate Solutions include activities that both store carbon and reduce carbon emissions in the world’s forests, grasslands and wetlands.

**Nature-Based Solutions include: Wetland Conservation, Open Space Protection, Dam Removal, Groundwater Infiltration, Living Shorelines

Announcing the 2018 class of Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy

With ten companies arriving today in Denver, Colo. – we are thrilled to announce Techstars Class 145 – the inaugural class of Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Rooted in hope, urgency and action – we are honored to be supporting these companies that wake up everyday to solve for a future where both humans and nature thrive.

Representing a diverse set of industries and founders, these companies work across areas as broad as water, waste, renewable energy, fisheries and the built environment.

Over the next three months, companies will receive mentorship from world-class scientists and subject matter experts from The Nature Conservancy in addition to business and technology mentorship from the broader entrepreneurial community. The program caps off with Demo Day on October 17th in Denver.

We’d be remiss not to thank each of you that has played a part in building a strong foundation for this program. Together, we look forward to doing work that matters – for people and the planet.

Without further ado, please meet our 2018 class:


Aqulytics is a data collaboration platform for the sustainable management of water championing open and transparent data throughout the globe in order to combat the effects of pollution in freshwater resources.

Conserve With Us

Outdoor places are disappearing. Every 3 days, land roughly the size of Manhattan is lost to development.  Conserve With Us is an online conservation fundraising and engagement platform that mobilizes capital and communities to conserve the natural resources we all care about.


Presently 88% of global fisheries are not certified as sustainable.  FlyWire’s patented video technology solves the observer data deficiency problem – critical to transitioning the world’s commercial fisheries to certified sustainable.  

Lotic Labs

Environmental data science platform to drive financial stability in the water sector in the face of climate change and weather volatility.  The platform allows for rapid design and testing of financial contracts including weather risk transfer (insurance) and green bonds. Additional applications include conservation/impact assessment, water price optimization, and city-scale climate risk modeling.

Nikola Power

Clean technology solutions provider that improves renewable energy project economics through optimized decision making in project design, operations, and finance for energy storage applications.


Technology platform to deliver radically sustainable and healthy homes for everyone.  NODE’s platform will leverage standardized components designed for simplicity: allowing 4 people – without any special skills – to assemble an entire house in under a month, delivering the most sustainable homes at 50% of the cost and 25% of the time.  


Creating the world’s first smart urban watersheds by providing our customers, including municipalities and large facilities, the information they need to identify, track, predict, and prevent pollution & flooding in real time.


Kodo is a B2B SaaS that makes it easy, fun, and effective any size company to implement initiatives. Kodo helps companies build a purpose driven culture that counter-attacks the lack of employee retention and engagement in the modern workplace.

This Fish

Global provider of seafood traceability software that improves business efficiency and increases trust and transparency in seafood supply chains. Mission is to improve the social, environmental, and financial sustainability of seafood enterprises and fish harvesters by making seafood supply chains more transparent.

WatchTower Robotics

20% of clean water produced every day is lost due to leaks. Currently those leaks are often found too late, after they break and cause sinkholes on the streets. WatchTower Robotics patented technology exists to find leaks, save water and protect infrastructure.


Techstars Sustainability Accelerator: A Conversation with Brad Feld of Foundry Group & Brian McPeek of The Nature Conservancy

Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy Office Hours

Come speak with Jenna Walker of Techstars at this week’s office hours to discuss Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Together, they are focused on supporting companies that can rapidly scale to help sustainably provide food and water and address global issues like climate change. The accelerator launches this July in Denver, Colorado and selected companies will receive up to $120k in funding. From fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture to water data and markets, carbon sequestration, climate adaptation, clean technology and greenprinting cities!

Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy Office Hours

Come speak with Jenna Walker of Techstars at this week’s office hours to discuss the new Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Together, they are focused on supporting companies that can rapidly scale to help sustainably provide food and water and address global issues like climate change. The accelerator launches this July in Denver, Colorado and selected companies will receive up to $120k in funding. From fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture to water data and markets, carbon sequestration, climate adaptation, clean technology and greenprinting cities!

Global Applications for the Techstars Worldwide Network are Now Open!

There’s an often-repeated stat that 90 percent of startups fail. Not sure the source is, but no doubt that it scares entrepreneurs. At Techstars, we see the reverse in our accelerator portfolio – 90 percent of our startups are active or have successfully exited. Which statistic reflects your business? If you’re ready to succeed, take the next step and apply now to the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.

At Techstars, we are on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. Our mentorship-driven accelerator programs invest in founders to help them do more faster. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 1,274 companies grow and raise over $4.4 billion in funding, with a market cap of $11.4 billion. Now, we are excited to start the search for the next wave of companies to join our worldwide network!

We are reaching new regions and verticals around the world with our newest mentorship-driven accelerator programs. Applications are opening for five new programs:

Take the next step in your journey and apply to join the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.

This is more than a three month program, the Techstars worldwide network is for life. Listen to stories about our founders from Techstars alumni companies like SendGrid, ClassPass, and DigitalOcean.

Application deadline is April 8, 2018 for most programs. We will be announcing details for information sessions and online events where you can connect with Techstars founders and team, as well as mentors who have the experience and proven track record to help you succeed. Be on the lookout for more details soon!

When you apply, you can choose from any of the following locations and verticals:

For tips and resources on the application process, check out our Application Toolkit.

Accelerating Sustainability: Jenna Walker Joins Techstars Sustainability as Managing Director

As an entrepreneur for many years, I’ve had the good fortune of being on the entire path from googling how to be a CEO, to growing and leading that same powerful team to a successful exit. While the road has been ever winding, there has always been one constant: in the things I choose to show up and build – both head and heart must always be aligned. It’s what makes us powerful. It’s what keeps us showing up every single day to do the hard work of company building. And on those days where optimism wanes, that same strong belief can conquer fear.

So, when deciding what to build next – I set out on the same mission to align head and heart. I engaged with nonprofits, for-profits, foundations and founders on a path to understanding where there might be a fundamental need for creating impactful solutions for society through startups. And, together, we worked on some big questions. How might we reduce single-use plastics in consumer goods? How might we use technology to help reduce food insecurity? How might we build solutions to help identify and reduce exposure to toxic stress in children? How might we improve our health through connection to nature?

The questions were big and the impact on my heart was much bigger. I made the decision, whatever was next, it would help solve for a more sustainable future for people and planet.

That’s why, today, I’m so proud to announce that I’m joining the Techstars family as the managing director of our first-ever Techstars Sustainability Accelerator in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. This is going to be powerful and I can’t wait to support founders on their path to building a more sustainable future, where nature and people thrive together.   

This is a big call to action – and it has all of my attention and energy. And…if you are founder working in this space, this should have your full attention too.  

This accelerator represents a rare powerful three way partnership between Techstars, The Nature Conservancy and smart mission-aligned investors. (Read: lots of opportunity and deep robust global networks to drive your disruptive technology forward at scale.) And trust me, The Nature Conservancy is showing up in full force…you can learn more from their inspiring CEO Mark Tercek in this Forbes article.    

Driven by science-based optimism, The Nature Conservancy’s work spans 72 countries, 50 US states with over 400 scientists, 3600 conservationists, one million + dedicated members and decades of work collaborating with the private sector across thousands of companies.  Combine their commitment with the Techstars network of over 10,000 mentors, 1,200 portfolio companies across 16 countries and $11 billion market cap – together, we’ve got a network at the ready. From mentorship with leading TNC science experts and executives, to creating the possibilities for pilots and partnerships, to deep functional business expertise across the technology community – we know that getting the right people together at the same table is going to be powerful on your path.

So what kinds of companies are we looking for?

We are searching the globe to connect with you, the founders, building commercially viable technologies and business models that can help governments, companies and communities provide food and water sustainably and tackle climate change. You are a mission-driven, for-profit company that can provide solutions at scale.

You are asking yourselves questions such as, “How might we provide food and water sustainably in a future where there are 9 billion people on earth?” “How might we use technology to tackle climate change?” or “How might we build solutions to support a world where both nature and humans thrive?”

You work across areas as broad as agriculture and soil health to fisheries, forests, aquaculture, water data and markets, climate adaptation, carbon sequestration, green printing cities and beyond. Your applications of technology may be broad but you know exactly why your solution drives impact at the core of what you do.

If this sounds like you, applications are open now and we are excited to start a conversation with you! The program begins July 16th in Denver and I’m confident it’s going to be a powerful place to be.   

Together, we’ll strive to build significant value in your significant ideas. That’s my commitment to you, the founders, doing hard work that matters – for people and the planet.

Not a founder but want to help? Get involved by sharing this program with your networks or visit this page to sign up for ongoing updates.  Sign up for Office Hours with the Techstars Sustainability Accelerator team here