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Funding and Support for Early-stage Companies; Interview with the Program Director of F3 Tech Accelerator

F3 Tech Accelerator

F3 Tech Accelerator connects industry to innovators through mentorship, professional services for early-stage companies and funding. Chris Hlubb, the program director of F3 Tech Accelerator shares more details with us in an exclusive interview with TechBullion.

Please tell us more about yourself.

Chris Hlubb. I was attracted to F3 when I returned home a few years ago with the intent to develop land-based aquaculture in Maryland. After many years of leading innovative food industry projects around the world, I saw the opportunity to connect science and business in the evolution of agriculture and aquaculture. Prior to returning back to Maryland, I had renewed my involvement in biotech by becoming a mentor for a new Johns Hopkins start-up program. The start-up program led to my recruitment by F3 Tech, as one of the few in the area with experience beyond biotech and the cyber sectors. 

What is F3 Tech Accelerator?

The F³ Tech Accelerator Program provides funding for early-stage companies to prepare them for potential investment from the coming F³ Tech Seed Fund, industry partners and investors. The program is focused on commercializing and accelerating revenue development for companies that are advancing innovations and new technologies within the agriculture, aquaculture, energy, supply chain, and environmental technology sectors.

What specific solutions does F3 Tech Accelerator provide for businesses?

a) Expedites commercialization

b) Accelerates manufacturing, customer acquisition and revenue development

c) Invests in innovations with grants, private funding and executive support during the program without taking any equity

d) Evaluates technologies for diversification in other sectors

e) Local support through economic development initiatives in rural regions with a focus on relocation, manufacturing site identification and collaboration with existing industry

f) Academic collaboration with local and state universities

What requirements must applicants meet to help validate their ideas and commercialize their startups at F3 Tech Accelerator?

Our process reviews each team’s experience in the defined sector, their investment to date, the status of their current efforts to generate interest, the positioning of the product in the marketplace and against a defined industry problem and their investability.

Could you share with us your most interesting investments so far, the industries you focus on and why?

The program grew from a local rural development initiative. The eastern shore of Maryland is an agricultural region with a history of aquaculture, chicken and commodity crops. The aim was to attract technical talent with solutions that were directly viable for or indirectly transferable to agriculture and aquaculture.  The industry focus mimics our local interests but also relates to growing sectors which will soon evolve our traditional businesses, and thus we wanted to advance that evolution. So far we far worked with teams that have developed solutions in alternative feed, crop fertility, recirculating aquaculture, and energy regeneration. 

Tell us about the F3 Tech Accelerator bootcamps, symposiums and challenge events, how does it work?

a) The bootcamp program is an evolution of our pre-accelerator program. The bootcamp program will now be a recurring online course which will be available privately to companies and through academic institutions to better prepare technically focused founders to organize their ideas and company development initiatives. It will provide industry expertise on company formation, legal matters, intellectual property, finance, sales and marketing support.

b) F3 tech hosts periodic symposiums, one-day events that bring together stakeholders in the agritech, aquatech, and envirotech sectors to encourage collaboration and partnerships between industry and innovators, as well as to help establish and highlight priority problems and solutions throughout the year.

How safe should a startup feel to get funding from F3 Tech Accelerator, what does your exit strategy look like?

If admitted to the program, companies receive an initial stipend and then are eligible for numerous other funding sources specific to the technical, marketing and customer support. Our goal is to use this program as a validator for future investment from our own seed fund.

This is your third annual F3 Tech Accelerator, tell us about the Sponsors, Partners,  the Team and your success stories so far at F3 Tech Accelerator?

We have a diversified portfolio that provides funding, mentorship, industry expertise and commercial validation services to aid companies.

Our team consists of numerous executives from the myriad of industries which we cover, from technology to sales to investing.

For our success stories, the overwhelming consensus from companies which have participated has been related to the invaluable industry connections and the hands-on, immersive experience of our executive team and mentors in the businesses. 

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