Dear Friends of Greentown Labs,
You may have caught on the news that we were honored to have the Prince and Princess of Wales visit Greentown Labs earlier this month! It was such a testament to the ecosystem we’ve built together and quite the culmination of my time leading Greentown Labs for the past 10 years. Last week, I officially stepped down as CEO into a new role of “CEO Emeritus,” and am grateful to our CFO Kevin Taylor for stepping in to also serve as Interim CEO while our Board of Directors conducts a comprehensive national search for our next permanent CEO.
It’s hard to summarize a decade’s worth of hard work, growth, community, and climate impact into one email. It has been the thrill of a lifetime serving as Greentown’s CEO and I am so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together over the past decade.
We started so small as a group of very determined cleantech entrepreneurs squatting in an abandoned warehouse in South Boston. They were building their prototypes and working as a community—which we still cherish as a founding pillar of our organization to this day. I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize and appreciate those original founders who welcomed me into the earliest days of the community: Jason Hanna, Sam White, Sorin Grama, Adam Rein, Jeremy Pitts, and Jason Ethier. One of my fondest memories from my time at Greentown was working with these entrepreneurs in 2013 when we—along with then-Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick—announced our move from Boston to Somerville to our first purposely-built incubator. This was our first taste of construction projects, and we were able to complete the renovation and move on-time and on-budget in just seven weeks!
So much has happened since we took that leap of faith and moved to Somerville with amazing support from then-Mayor of Somerville Joe Curtatone. We have been successful over the years for many reasons, and that’s thanks in large part due to the many contributions the entire ecosystem has made to Greentown’s trajectory. Today, I’d like to celebrate a few of those groups:
First and foremost, Greentown wouldn’t be where it is today without our team members who pour their heart and soul into the work they do every day. From every intern to each C-level executive, their efforts have kept our mission of supporting our members as our top priority while also growing and evolving our offerings to support them in an ever-more-sophisticated way as our startups’ needs evolved. As the first official employee of Greentown, I sometimes pinch myself when I look around and see this amazing team that is now 50-people strong, working together to support our entrepreneurs, engage our partners, and foster an ever-growing community committed to climate action.
Secondly, our incubators—both in Boston and Houston—wouldn’t be the same without our incredible network of supportive partners, investors, and collaborators. Greentown’s partnership program was born and blossomed in true Greentown spirit: our founders recognized a need among the community, and they banded together to pursue a partner that could provide the resource they were looking for. Fast forward 10 years later, and our partner network now consists of more than 80 deeply engaged partners that provide expertise, tools, and resources, serve as first customers and pilot projects, and invest in our startups. Many of our partners have also served as Greentown Go partners—formerly known as Greentown Launch—which was built to accelerate partnerships to propel climatetech solutions to market while also helping our corporate partners address their innovation and sustainability goals. Over the past decade, we’ve consistently heard that access to capital is the number one challenge our entrepreneurs face, and we’re grateful to all the investors who have supported—and continue to support—our entrepreneurs.
And speaking of our entrepreneurs, perhaps my biggest thank you and appreciation goes to them. Greentown wouldn’t exist without our startups! It has been an honor to have more than 500 early-stage climatetech companies call Greentown home over the past 10 years, and a true pleasure to have the opportunity to support them. As a leader of an organization, it is so important to draw from many sources of inspiration, encouragement, and energy, and I can confidently say that our founders inspired me every day during my tenure as CEO! Their passion and commitment, grit and ingenuity kept me focused and pushing ahead on the most challenging of days. And I realize that I’m fortunate to have had far more positive, rewarding, and inspiring days than challenging ones while leading this phenomenal community and team. Some of my favorite days (and milestones) include:
2013 – Our quickly-growing community of 25 cleantech startups moved—overnight!—from Boston to Somerville with the enthusiastic support of Mayor Curtatone. Greentown became an anchor tenant of Somerville’s budding innovation corridor on the edge of Union Square.
2018 – When we opened our location at 444 Somerville Ave. in Somerville, Mass. with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, bringing our footprint to 100,000 sq. ft. of customized lab, office, and event space for startups, including a wet lab. We raised $15M in financing for this project, which took almost two years to complete.
2019 – Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey announced The Green New Deal at Greentown Labs!
2020 – In the depths of the pandemic, Greentown launched its first ever virtual Climatetech Summit showcasing our members and convening experts on topics ranging from environmental justice to climate policy.
2021 – We opened the doors to Greentown Houston with incredible support from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, 50+ inaugural members, and 30 founding partners following the completion of a $12M fundraising campaign. One week later, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm hosted a roundtable discussion on the energy transition on-site.
2022 – As mentioned in my opening, hosting the Royal Highnesses was certainly a monumental experience not only for our community, but for the sheer visibility the global media spotlight put on Greentown, our entrepreneurs, and the entire climate action ecosystem we’re so proud to be a part of!
When Greentown began in 2011, our community rose from the ashes of “cleantech 1.0” when capital and support for our sector was waning. Well folks, I’m so proud of the work we ALL did to change that story over the next 10 years—look at us now! There’s never been a better time to be in climate: the innovations, the capital, the public-private partnerships, the progress on policy, and so much more are only growing! The momentum is at our back, and we need everyone working to address the climate crisis.
As I hand the baton off to the next leader of Greentown Labs, I’m confident in our community’s ability to continue making an enormous impact deploying climatetech solutions and our team’s ability to continue growing Greentown to be an ever-more-impactful space for climatetech entrepreneurs and collaborators. The future is SO bright for Greentown, this ecosystem, and our planet. If you know anyone who might be interested in taking Greentown to its next stage of impact, please encourage them to contact our search committee at [email protected].
I promise I won’t be a stranger, and I hope you won’t be either! Please remain engaged in the Greentown community and find ways to connect with our entrepreneurs. This isn’t goodbye; it’s more of a see you soon! Hopefully at our EnergyBar in Somerville on Feb. 2, 2023 to celebrate a decade of impact together as a team, community, and ecosystem and cheers to all that the future holds for Greentown. For my friends in Houston who are helping herald the next chapter for Greentown Houston, stay tuned for a date for our celebratory Transition On Tap soon! See you there!
Onward and upward,
Emily Reichert, Ph.D.
CEO Emeritus, Greentown Labs