The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Tim Wolters of CrowdSolve
Tim Wolters is co-founder and CEO of CrowdSolve, a global platform at the intersection of climate, sustainability, tech, and social impact.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. The Fund is a founder collective and early stage firm, by founders for founders.
Tim Wolters was driving his 12-year-old son to middle school and listening to an NPR episode on climate change when his son turned to him and said, “Dad, I don’t think I will live to be as old as you are today because of climate change.” This was four years ago, and it caused a visceral reaction in Tim and he knew climate change was his next undertaking. He and co-founders Ronald Hans and Leah Bowes created CrowdSolve, the global platform where climate tech innovators accelerate their business and their impact.
Tim is a serial entrepreneur, having started 3 SaaS companies in the last 20 years and holds two patents in artificial intelligence. CrowdSolve comes on the heels of Tim and some fellow entrepreneurs starting a non-profit called 1000 Gretas, a community supported impact organization formed as a response to the collective call out by the youth of the world: "There is no Planet B for us!” 1000 Gretas provides grants and mentoring to early stage climate tech companies. Tim asked climate incubators to share information about 1000 Gretas with those who weren't accepted into a cohort and Tim realized early that they were receiving so many referrals that it wasn’t scalable and they needed a better solution. CrowdSolve was built as a platform that allows everyone who has a climate idea to jump in and formulate their idea and get mentors and a curriculum at any stage of building a business.
CrowdSolve is currently crowdfunding and you can invest before it goes public on October 12th. Find out more here!
What is CrowdSolve’s “Northstar”?
We want to give everyone who has a climate tech idea the opportunity to make an impact. We help them realize their dream and move that forward, and then funnel them into the incubators, VCs and angel funding when they are ready.
How does CrowdSolve help climate tech companies?
We help identify where a company is positioned on their path to getting successfully off the ground and we point them to resources that can help them on their journey. This process ends up creating all of the assets a company needs to apply for the various incubators out there so that it becomes very easy, as opposed to the onerous last minute process it is today. We also analyze acceptance data to figure out what gives each company the best shot of getting into each different incubator. All along the way we connect them with mentors, experts, and access to grants.
Why is CrowdSolve going to win?
One is that we are a vertically focused network, so we're building an ecosystem around this moonshot problem of climate change. Two, we are uniquely positioned to be that early funnel for all these climate ideas. By building a rich ecosystem, it creates a network effect to lift all of these companies up and help create impact. There are so many great people and ideas, but they aren’t quite ready to get into an incubator. Ultimately, everybody wants to solve for climate change. CrowdSolve is a natural solution for all of those people that don't have a place right now. Those who join our platform bring their drive and dedication to realize their dreams of climate change impact.
You've been a founder for over two decades, how do you maintain a work-life balance?
I don't know that I always have, but what I found with the way I live my life is that the two things are quite integrated. Work and life weave in and out of each other instead of having this wall as a boundary between the two. I make tradeoffs and the people around me appreciate my integrated lifestyle. I had a great executive coach at one point and she talked a lot about agreements. Instead of having expectations, which are often unspoken with the people around you, make agreements because it lowers that friction that can arise as a result of not being on the same page. To maintain my own mental balance, I meditate every single day to keep myself present and I write the occasional poem.
Any favorite podcasts/books?
I like the Tim Ferris Show podcast because of the variety of guests. It’s about figuring out how to be the most effective and optimizing your bandwidth for the goals that you want to go after. In terms of books, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is sort of the Bible and before that Steve Blank's book, Four Steps to the Epiphany. I like reading a lot of things outside business as well, as that gives me headspace for creative insights into how to solve a problem because you can't be heads down and crashing on a particular topic all the time. I try to make space for creativity to think about things because oftentimes that's when you come up with “the big idea."
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