ASPIRE FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


What type of startups within climatetech are eligible?
“Climatetech” is broadly defined, but generally should be based on substantial science and engineering innovations in energy, ag, or removing significant emissions from another industry.

If I’m still working to bring on a co-founder, am I eligible?
We look for startups that have formally started to build the team; this typically means that a person operating completely alone is not a good fit for the program. Even when someone is a solo founder, we usually find that there are strategic consultants involved in furthering the technology and/or business development. Most investors prefer to invest in a founding team as opposed to a solo individual, so this criterion is also in place to set the startup up for success in the program working with investors. Many skill sets are needed to execute in a startup (more than can be found in any one person), and it shows that the original founder(s) have been able to sell the vision to bring other founders/early employees on board and successfully manage and retain them.

How many hours of participation in the program are required?
About 6-7 hours per week. This includes 4 hours of cohort-based programming, 1 hour of office hours, and 1-2 hours of independent work. We believe that the more you put into the program, the more you’ll get out of it!

Who are the mentors-in-residence?

  • Andrea Course, Venture Principal, Shell Ventures
  • Deb Kemper, Managing Partner, Golden Seeds Ventures
  • Juliana Garaizar, Vice President of Innovation, Head of Houston Incubator, Greentown Labs
  • DC Palter, Angel Investor & Mentor Lead, Chemical Angel Network; Managing Director, CheMat Venture Partners; Executive Committee Member, Tech Coast Angels
  • Marcia Dawood, Venture Partner, Mindshift Capital; Board Member, Angel Capital Association; Managing Director, Golden Seeds
  • Brian Kerns, Angel investor and advisor, SWAN Impact Network

Do I have access to work materials?
Yes, all participants will have access to work materials.

Could you give me an overview of the topics we’ll cover?
Here’s a look at the topics we’ll cover during the program, which will help you prepare for investment:

  • Due diligence
    • investor discovery
    • good corporate housekeeping
    • deep dive into the due diligence process
  • Milestone planning
    • tech development milestones
    • corporate partnerships & strategic selling
    • IP strategy
  • Venture math
    • venture math & term sheet breakdown
    • financial projections
    • exits and valuations
  • Boards and next steps
    • company deep dives
    • building and managing a board
    • mock board meetings

We’ve raised a SAFE before. Are we still eligible?

Are there other program related costs for the startups in addition to the $350 registration fee?
YES, you are responsible for your own travel to Houston as well as accommodation costs while attending the in-person portion of the workshop.

What sort of preparation should I do if accepted?
We strongly recommend that you invest in your deal room—organizing your materials, corporate housekeeping, deck, and financials; and thinking through your fundraising ask and milestones.

What’s the profile of a startup that’s been accepted?
Strong candidates will have successfully validated product market-fit, tested initial business model hypotheses, and have made a full-time commitment to their startup.

I haven’t participated in past VentureWell E-Team programs / I am new to VentureWell. Can I still participate?
Yes! While many E-Teams do advance through our suite of programs to take part in ASPIRE, the program is open to startups that haven’t yet taken part in VentureWell programming.

What are the outcomes of the program of the startups?
About half of startups raise a round of equity financing within a year, while another 35% or so secure significant non-dilutive funding. The remainder don’t work out. Of the nearly 130 startups that have taken part in ASPIRE, 120 businesses have been catalyzed. These startups have raised close to $220M in follow-on funding since participating in the program.

I have questions about the program and our eligibility. Who should I contact?
Please reach out to Tricia Compas-Markman, Senior Program Officer, at We also encourage you to attend a free, informal info session on March 21 at 6PM ET. Register here!

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