Hannah Whiteley

Taking a DeepDive: Meet the winners of this year’s Green Challenge

Every year, following the announcement of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge Awards—one of the world’s largest competitions in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship—Rockstart hosts a tailored program with the five finalists, coaching the startups to assess and overcome their biggest business and funding challenges in its very own startup home base.

Kicked off in September last year, Rockstart provides a tailormade remote mentorship program, with the intense DeepDive week in February to go out with a bang! For the closing of the DeepDive program, the five teams are now back in Amsterdam for one week full of masterclasses, workshops, events and peer-2-peer learning. This is the Green Challenge DeepDive week and it’s starting today!

The winners

Five awesome startups made it to the top of the Green Challenge Awards. This year’s Winner’ is EarthEnable, a Rwandan startup that was awarded a prize of  €500,000. The mission of the startup is to solve a major cause of disease, discomfort, and indignity: dirt floors in households in developing countries.

EarthEnable noticed a gap in the market, as at the moment, the only viable alternative on the market is cement, which is expensive and unsustainable. EarthEnable came up with an alternative solution, in the form of sustainable, clean, waterproof earthen flooring. Their flooring makes homes cleaner and healthier at a much lower price for the customer and the environment than cement.

Awarded with €200,000, the runner-up startup is Pond from Denmark. The founders of Pond saw the crucial importance of addressing waste around the world as a result of plastic production. The team took it back to basics, tackling the root of the problem, analyzing the statistics with an aim to provide long-term solutions. The startup uses innovative technology to create sustainable products, with a clear vision of revolutionizing the plastic industry.

And finally, the €100,000 prizes were awarded to the three remaining finalists. First was the Dutch green start-up Lightyear, introducing a solar-powered electric car that can be driven for months without charging. The startup provides vehicles that are no longer dependent on a special charging infrastructure to drive 100% electric. According to our experts, this is a real game-changer for zero-emission mobility as it enables people to drive electric anywhere in the world.

Second up is startup Glowee from France, described by CEO Sandra Rey as a biotech startup positioned at the crossroads of biomimicry and synthetic biology. Glowee uses bioluminescence to produce a clean source of light, providing the most sustainable solutions to some of the world’s largest challenges. The mission? Glowee aims to equip the urban landscape with bioreactors, creating a product perfect for long-term sustainable solutions, reducing light pollution and consequently its carbon footprint.

The Rwandan startup ARED, brings low-cost internet connection and energy services to millions across the African continent. This solution aims to help businesses grow, increase connectivity and strengthen communication channels. ARED has provided a solution delivering a virtually unlimited range of content and services through its network. By retaining and storing light energy, the concept will even be able to deliver on cloudy days.

The program

Not only is our new Rockstart HQ great for conferences, large events, workshops, ping pong tournaments, healthy living and positive vibes but it’s also where our annual Deep Dive Week is taking place! The Deep Dive program brings the five Green Challenge startup finalists together to help assess and overcome their biggest business and funding challenges through mentorship, coaching sessions, one to ones, digital marketing workshops, networking events,

The week is spread over several days, where everyone in the building is “hands-on” and dedicated to the growth and development of the finalist startups. Get ready for a week of re-energizing and growth, because, after the hard work, there’s more! The DeepDive allows the teams to really plunge into the deep end, as they are challenged through workshops, think tank labs and brainstorm sessions. From mentoring sessions to inspirational talks, sharing success stories, discussing lessons learned, and many more progressive features that are key to success, the Rockstart team has the startups covered. Together with the mentors, we are pushing each entrepreneur to their maximum ability allows each startup to go back to the drawing board and strengthen their foundations, enabling further development and attraction of investment.

This year, our business mentors are Dirk Sijmons, Ties Kroezen, Arnoud de Vroomen, Willem Bottger and Erik Hiep who all took on a startup each, ensuring the best quality mentoring sessions and a productive outcome for our startups. In addition, a funding mentor for all Green Challenge finalists assumed the responsibility of not just talking about money but also the importance of investing in a founder or CEO you believe in and can trust! This year our funding expert is Eduard Puig MacLean, who really impressed Martin Jensen, the CTO of Pond: “What really impressed me in talking to Eduard, is that he looked at the investment holistically. He is not only thinking about raising the money but what kind of business we are and want to be. And even more personally, what kind of persons we are”.

Our team mentor, Paul Musters focuses on the team values that should be prioritized. He emphasizes that the team has to come first, before the work, and before even the customers. At Rockstart we respect the importance of the team and the value of each person and it’s a company culture we hold close to our hearts and aspire for our startups to adopt. The Green Challenge can also bring in additional mentors for startups that need extra coaching and expertise. Our last mentor, Rijkman Groenink was added as an advisor for Lightyear, specifically for working on their funding strategy.

We host all sorts of inspiring events and the DeepDive is yet another great occasion to see how we work, where we work and what we do! The week is, therefore, a unique opportunity for the participating startups to find out if they wish to join our coworking community after the program. Over the days spent at Rockstart, the startups check out our working space and take away the first-hand experience of our positive entrepreneurial environment.

The atmosphere at Rockstart is created by a fusion of experienced, hard-working and open mentors, innovators and entrepreneurs. The CEO of EarthEnable, Gaya Datar describes the visit from one of our business mentors, Arnoud de Vroomen: “The observations from Arnoud were spot on. He gave me the feedback I needed to hear.”

If you’re curious to follow the progress and journey of these startups throughout the DeepDive week, stay tuned through our social media channels and email Kim if you feel that you need to attend our closing event on the 9th of February!

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