Frequently Asked Questions

What is Third Derivative?

As a vertically integrated engine for climate innovation, we are unique combination of accelerator + venture funding + strategic partner network that offers seamless support for startups to succeed. In other words, we strongly believe that our whole is far greater than the sum of our component parts.

What does the program do for me?
  • Investment: You have the option to take a $100k investment. Through our network of deeply engaged startup investors, you are also first in line for $100M+ follow-on funding as you progress through the program.
  • Partners: Our corporate partners are all investors in the program, and play a significant role in helping us select our focus areas and companies. We facilitate interactions with these corporate partners to help you close deals with them. Whether as customers, partners, investors, or acquirors, they want to work with YOU! 
  • Network: Access to RMI’s 250+ energy professionals’ expertise and network. RMI works across power, transport, buildings and industrial sectors on 6 continents and has deep connections to all parts of the energy value chain including government, corporates and NGOs.
  • Training: The program is designed to help you both work on, and work in your business. 
  • Deal facilitation. 
  • Social Proof: Getting chosen to be in the program means that you have been vetted and selected from a large field of companies. Investors, customers and companies often take acceptance into accelerators as a vote of confidence for your business. 
  • Community: Connections to a community of support, including the program itself, mentors, Rocky Mountain Institute, and New Energy Nexus.
What sectors, technologies, and businesses are we looking for?

We're looking for clean solutions in the realms of:

  • Electricity production, transmission/distribution, and storage
  • Transportation
  • Buildings and built environment
  • Industry (including heating, cooling, materials, biofuels, data centers, recycling, plastics, etc.)
  • Food and agriculture
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage
  • Climate and world-positive software, hardware, and hard-tech
  • Business model and finance innovation around any of the above

We also encourage you to apply even if you don’t fit neatly into one of the above boxes. Solving energy and climate requires many fresh and out-of-the-box approaches; tell us about your venture through the short application and we promise to provide rapid feedback on fit with our program.

What are the minimum requirements?
  • Business structure: You are a for-profit, registered company (in any geography; this is a global program)
  • Staff: You have at least two full-time employees 
  • Technology: The basic science behind your business should be resolved, so you should be able to have at least a lab test, or more. This is about TRL level 3–4. 
  • Geography: We enthusiastically accept startups from any country in the world.
Who are your investors and corporate partners so far?

Confirmed corporate partners (to date) include:

  • AT&T
  • BHP
  • BP
  • Envision
  • FedEx
  • Microsoft
  • Shell
  • Wells Fargo

Supporting investors (to date) span four continents and include:

  • Chrysalix Ventures
  • CRCM Ventures
  • Emerald Technology Ventures
  • FACTOR[e] Ventures
  • Imperative Ventures
  • Skyview Ventures
  • Tsing Capital
  • Volo Earth

Investors also include an SPV of high-net-worth individuals. Note that we’re in the process of confirming even more global partners, and we’ll keep this FAQ response updated as soon as we can!

Who should apply?

If you are a for-profit startup, committed to building a better energy future by working in the areas listed below, and you think that working with industry experts, advisors, corporations, and investors could expedite and scale your venture, then read on and think about applying.

What if I think I’m too late/early/not a perfect fit? Or, what if I apply and don’t get in?

Third Derivative (D3) is dedicated to the advancement of the broad fields of climate and world-positive technology. So, if you are working in the field, want to know more, or want to advise, we encourage you to join the New Energy Network, our open Slack community, which incorporates hundreds of people like you—learning, sharing, and striving for solutions and change from all over the world.

Is there any exclusivity associated with the program?

No! We have specifically crafted a program that has NO exclusivity, either to the program or the partners. So, yes, you can do both D3 and another program, and you can also work with other funds, corporates, or customers as you see fit. We want to help you and keep your options open as much as possible.

What are the details about the convertible note?

There is an optional $100K convertible note. Download a detailed PDF for more info. Participation in D3 does not require that you accept it. The convertible note has no valuation cap, and will be disbursed in two installments: one at the beginning of the program and one around the second summit.

What am I expected to do?

If accepted into D3, you are expected to:

  • Be a productive member of the community at large.
  • Review your business model in detail with D3’s team and interested investors.
  • Prepare for and attend your monthly meeting with your sector lead (approx. 2 hours).
  • Prepare for and attend your monthly meeting with your sector cohort (other startups at your stage of development or technology/market segment, approx. 2 hours).
  • Prepare for and attend all three virtual summits during the course of the program (approx. 20 hours, every six months).
  • Prepare for and attend all three virtual Summits during the course of the 16-month program. Note: two company representatives are required to attend each Summit.
  • Optional interaction with potential investors and corporate partners.
  • Share your startup’s amazing progress at a capstone Deal Day.
  • Work on your business (as much time as you can afford).

If accepted into D3, you are NOT expected to:

  • Move anywhere. The program is entirely virtual. 
  • Accept the $100K convertible note if you don’t want it.
How will my application be judged?

Roughly, these are the categories:

  • Innovation and value proposition: Is it clearly superior to alternatives? Is the value proposition compelling to customers? Can it work?
  • Business strategy: Are there viable plans to develop, produce, market and sell the product?
  • Team: Is there a creditable team that can execute?
  • Investability: Is the market large enough? Is the competitive advantage defensible? Can it have a timely exit?

These are considered equally alongside program fit, impact, and risk. Our corporate partners and investors also weigh in, and our decisions are based on our collective assessment of program fit and how much we can add to your success.

How will my confidential information be protected?

Although Third Derivative will treat all application data as confidential information, we will share such data with our investor and corporate partners. The purpose of sharing information with our partners is to accelerate potential access to investment and deployment opportunities for your venture. In your application, please do not disclose any proprietary information that you consider to be your “secret sauce,” but be as clear as possible about your competitive advantage and differentiation.

Do you take startups from around the world?

Yes! This is explicitly a global program, and we very much want companies from everywhere.

What if my team doesn’t speak English?

The program is only taught in English, so proficiency is required. We plan to add other languages in subsequent years.

What is the timeline for the program and application?
  • Round I apps open May 19th. 
  • Round I apps close July 15th. 
  • Round II app invites and feedback to Round I apps not selected to move forward will be provided mid-August.
  • Final cohort selection will be announced in the fall.
  • Summit #1 will likely be during early December. 
  • Summit #2 will likely be mid-April 2021.


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