How to land yourself on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. ClimateLaunchpad 2016 finalist Chrysalix Technologies did it.
No less than thirteen of Climate-KIC’s entrepreneurs feature in Forbes 30-Under-30 Europe 2017. Only the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers find a spot on that list. ClimateLaunchpad 2016 finalist Chrysalix Technologies is one of them. We couldn’t be more proud. We called founder Florence Gschwend to congratulate her and to find out what else Chrysalix has been up to since our 2016 Grand Final.
Congratulations! You are on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Wow.
“Yes, that was a surprise, to say the least. I wasn’t expecting that. The celebratory event in London was a great experience, to meet other people who do cool things and have big ideas. I’m looking forward to attend the event in April where I’ll meet nominees from Africa and the Middle East.”
You went from having an idea to being a startup founder on the Forbes list. What stage were you in when you joined ClimateLaunchpad?
“The idea originally was to use this process that we’ve developed for extremely large bioethanol production. But anyone who’s tried to do this from so-called second-generation feedstocks has gone bankrupt very quickly. One and half years ago we decided to focus on waste wood because it’s economically more attractive. But we still weren’t quite sure if this was the way to go.”
How did participating in ClimateLaunchpad help you along with your company?
“ClimateLaunchpad helped us to concentrate our efforts on one thing, and to really communicate our value proposition clearly. In a way ClimateLaunchpad is very rigid, with specific formats and titles. We thought this would be annoying, but actually it forced us to articulate our idea in a better way. During ClimateLaunchpad we selected our beachhead market: the biomass market in the UK. That helped us to focus on which types of company we’re talking to, what we want to sell them and how this fits into the bigger picture. We found our first route to market. Finding this initial beachhead market was really valuable.”
After winning the English National Final, you won third place in the Grand Final. How have you been since then?
“We’ve been great. We actually just did our first scale up trials. We are engaging with more companies, having serious conversations about their interest in our process and what data they want to see. We work with a highly technical process, so it’s important to know exactly what we need to prove to show its viable to a company.
And then in March we are starting the Climate-KIC Accelerator in London. I’m trying to finish my PHD thesis now so that I can do the programme full-time. In the Climate-KIC Accelerator our first priority will be to finish our proof of concept which should make it easier to find investment and move on to the next stage of the Accelerator.”
What would you say to someone who considers joining ClimateLaunchpad?
“Just do it! Too many people are afraid of failure. But if you don’t fail you probably just haven’t tried hard enough. It’s a great experience, you will discover so much about yourself and meet great people. Starting a company is never easy, but with ClimateLaunchpad you meet so many people who are excited about what you do. That makes it a lot easier to go on.
For me, the experience of trying to start this company has been really great. It has shown me that I can do so much more than stand in a lab. It has given me more career prospects and made me discover skills that are not measured or rewarded in university. Having the chance to do something completely different was really exciting. It changed my future. I can’t imagine spending any more time in academia from now on.
I see so many academics who do brilliant research and they’re absolutely unable to communicate it or translate it to something that would actually benefit a wider public. There’s probably thousands of great ideas sitting in labs ready to go, yet people are unable to communicate that.”