William McDonough, winner of two U.S. Presidential awards for environmental sustainability, announced last week that he will partner with Cherokee to support environmental startups through the Cherokee-McDonough Challenge.
Based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the Challenge is designed to identify, fund and develop high impact environmental startups. Now accepting applications, the Challenge is sponsored by Cherokee, an investment fund manager and globally recognized leader in environmentally sustainable business practices. McDonough, co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance (2013), will partner with an advisory committee of experienced entrepreneurs and investors to counsel the Challenge entrepreneurs.
“The Cherokee-McDonough Challenge is important because it encourages and empowers solutions to the massive environmental challenges that face our world,” says McDonough. “As the keynote speaker at last year’s finale, I was inspired by the 2012 class. I look forward to being more involved this year and I hope our collective efforts increase the success rate and impact of these startups.”
Now entering its third year, the Challenge will again invest in three to five high impact environmental startups. Each venture will receive:
- $20,000 in seed funding
- free office space for three months in Raleigh, NC, (a focal point in the renowned Research Triangle)
- complimentary back office support from Cherokee Investment Services, including help with incorporation, accounting and IRS compliance
- hands-on mentoring from an advisory committee of experienced entrepreneurs and investors
- an opportunity to present to other investors and the public
Cherokee-McDonough Challenge portfolio companies should finish the summer with a working prototype, a refined and vetted environmental strategy, a professional web presence, knowledge of intellectual property strategy and tactics, investor-ready fundraising documents, a stronger network of investors and mentors, a polished pitch and a runway towards a Series A capital raise.
The Challenge’s Director JT Vaughn says, “It is a great honor to have William McDonough involved in our efforts. Entrepreneurs are forced to focus on blocking and tackling, so they have little time to think about how to optimally articulate their environmental vision, strategy and impact. I can think of no one better in this regard than William McDonough, and I am thrilled our entrepreneurs will benefit from his counsel.”
The Challenge is sponsored by Cherokee, an environmentally focused investment company. Cherokee has raised over $2 billion in private equity funds focused on brownfield remediation and, separately, founded a number of environmental businesses and invested in over 80 startups and venture funds in the past 28 years. Through the Challenge, Cherokee hopes to lend experience and expertise to other environmental entrepreneurs.