New Orleans Attorney and Startup Supporter Introduces Community to Cleantech Open Accelerator

The Cleantech Open is a national accelerator and networking program works with technology companies focused on sustainability, energy and the environment. The ultimate goal is to have a global startup network in which mentoring, raising capital and networking can cross continents.

CleantechOpenThe accelerator boasts a network of over 1,500 professional volunteers from eight regions throughout the United States.

Local attorney and managing member of Graffagnini + Associates, LLC, Mark Graffagnini, is also affiliated with the accelerator through his work as the regional director in the area. He learned about the program while working as an attorney in Palo Alto prior to moving to New Orleans.

The Cleantech Open is now one of the largest cleantech accelerators in the world.

A number of New Orleans companies have been involved with the accelerator as either mentors or participants. Graffagnini participated in the program in 2013 through his involvement with a cleantech company he had invested in called Aestus Power, LLC. “The cleantech community in NOLA is growing and this should help us become a bit more organized as a state participant in the national program.” The region is connected through weekly calls with key players in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma and collaborates on hosting events to highlight cleantech companies in the South Central region.

Companies that have an interest in solving a problem related to energy or the environment should apply to the Cleantech Open, Graffagnini told Silicon Bayou News.  The program focuses on eight categories, including energy generation, energy distribution and storage, energy efficiency, chemicals and advanced materials, information and communications technologies (ICT), green building, transportation, and agriculture, water and waste.

The accelerator is held each year in the heart of Silicon Valley and in New York for qualifying companies. Graffagnini said program participants have access to top minds in the startup and cleantech fields. “Last year, for example, we got to meet with Steve Blank (one of the 30 most influential people in tech), to learn directly from him about how to use the business model canvas in thinking about your business. We met with Guy Kawasaki, one of the earliest employees of Apple and its chief evangelist for years. We discussed the venture capital environment for cleantech companies with Andrew Chung, of Khosla Ventures.”

“Direct access to those types of minds is very difficult to come by,” Graffagnini continued, “and the experience was amazing!” Unfortunately, Graffagnini says, “New Orleans and Louisiana generally have been underrepresented in the program, so we are actively trying to raise awareness and boost applications.”

Through his firm, Graffagnini has committed to sponsoring a limited number of companies applying to the Cleantech Open before the application deadline on May 1, 2014. Contact G+A for more details at