Social entrepreneurship thrives in the green industry, helping to solve our world’s greatest environmental problems by offering innovative solutions. Some companies “go green” either to reduce environmental harm, or to gain consumer support. These ten green startups didn’t wait to adopt green practices but instead built their businesses on a platform for a greater, greener world. (To understand ‘going green,’ read: What Does It Mean To Be Green?)

Green startups face additional challenges brought on by their inherent “triple bottom line.” However, these ventures typically have founders with the passion and drive to rise above challenges. They have shown that they can grow fast while helping protect the health of humanity and our earth. Not only are green startups catching the eye of venture capitalists — they're gaining new support from socially responsible investors, green investors, and popular crowdfunding platforms. (To learn more, see: Go Green With Socially Responsible Investing.)

From healthy fast food to organic lawn care and alternative energy, and global-scale companies to grassroots organizations, here’s a list of 10 of 2016’s fastest growing green startups.(For related reading, see: Easy Ways to Go Green and Stay Budget Friendly.)

1. Impossible Foods Inc.

“We use plans to make the best meats and cheeses you’ll ever eat,” boasts Impossible Foods Inc., a startup offering sustainable vegetarian produce to conscious consumers across the U.S. since 2011 out of Redwood City, CA. By a complex molecular process, Impossible Foods selects specific proteins and nutrients from green foods to create imitation foods such as the cheeseburger. Impossible Foods raised a whopping $108 million in a Series D funding round led by UBS in October of 2015. The total of $183 million raised by Impossible Foods comes from investors including Bills Gates, Horizon Ventures, Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Viking Global. 

2. Choose Energy

The Texas-based startup, Choose Energy, was founded in 2008 as a marketplace for clean technology and services. Choose Energy, launched with the vision of simplifying shopping for electricity and natural gas rates, plan terms and renewable energy options for the average consumer and small business. Choose Energy makes it easy for people to save money on energy costs by switching to a 100% green product such as wind power. In March of 2015, Choose Energy raised $14.2 million in a Series C funding round, having now raised a total of $25.7 million. (For related reading, see: How Going Green Can Cut Your Taxes.)

3. Holganix

Holganix, “Organic lawn care,” sells environmentally-friendly lawn care products that contain natural microorganisms. Their products reduce the use of fertilizers as much as 90%. Holganix's management team successfully grew two multi-million dollar lawn care companies in the past, now focusing on growing another with a “greater, greener goal.” Holganix pledged to eliminate 100,000,000 pounds of nitrates, 100,000,000 pounds of phosphates and 25,000,000 ounces of concentrated pesticides by Earth Day 2016. The green startup raised $300,000 in seed funding in 2015. 

4. Elevate Structure

Elevate Structure launched in 2012 by a team of residential engineers in Hawaii with a dream to develop profitable real estate by building eco-friendly structures. The portable spaces are elevated above ground and, therefore, utilize 6-20 times more usable space while minimizing the footprint on the ground. This also gives costumers flexibility to expand or relocate their green homes, which are constructed with a streamlined turn-key process that minimizes time and costs. Spaces around 250-square-feet will cost around $75,000 to $125,000. (For related reading, see: Should You Invest in a Green Home?)

5. Solarkiosk

Solarkiosk, a Berlin-based social enterprise has provided solar-powered autonomous business hubs to off-the-grid communities since 2011. By 2014, Solarkiosk established six subsidiaries in different countries across Africa and Asia. Rural communities now have access to sustainable energy, refrigeration, water purification, charging, communication, technology, information and business opportunities previously unheard of. This bottom of the pyramid approach enables and empowers local kiosk owners with green technology.

6. Freight Farms

Freight Farms, a Boston-based startup launched in 2010, develops shipping containers turned into self-contained farms. Freight Farms enables customers to grow fresh products using LEDSs and hydroponics in any environment, 365 days a year. Freight Farm’s Leafy Green Machine hydroponic shipping container has a manufacturer's suggest retail price (MSRP) of $82,000. The high-tech ConnectTM app allows for remote monitoring by controlling aspects of the farm such as humidity and temperature. Co-founders Jonathan Friedman and Brad MacNamara took off on Kickstarter in 2011, later generating $4.9 million in three subsequent funding rounds. (For more, read: The 10 Most Popular Crowdfunding Campaigns.)

7. WISErg

WISErg describes itself as a ‘hybrid technology company combining bio-, clean-, and high-tech systems to create a revolutionary solution for managing urban-generated organics.” The Harvester product is a machine that transforms food waste into high-quality fertilizer before it becomes waste. The food matter becomes a sort of high nutrient liquid that can be converted to organic lawn care product. Launched commercially in 2014, the company achieved early success. Harvesters are installed in stores and facilities including Whole Fools Market. WISErg has received $32.27 million in investments, including $13.37 million in the most recent venture round in October of 2015.

8. MowGreen.US

MowGreen.US, is a quiet, gas-free lawn care startup, launched out of Connecticut by a local team of advocates for alternative energy and environmental awareness. By replacing gas mowers with push mowers, such as the innovative proprietary “Reel2Reel” design, households can save the environment from 10,000 auto miles or more per year (the equivalent of one car on the road). The startup offers an array of products and services from lawn mowing to aeration, clean up and soil optimization, leading the movement for grassroots green-oriented businesses.

9. Arctic Sand

Arctic Sand launched out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011, with the goal to save the 80% of all energy that is lost in the form of heat worldwide. The power conversion technology startup offers products with proprietary technology developed and exclusively licensed from MIT. This technology, “Transformative Integrated Power Solutions,” significantly improves power conversion efficiency. Arctic Sand recently raised $19.35 million in Series B funding in November of 2015, reaching a total investment of $28.95 million in two funding rounds from four investors.

10. Skeleton Technologies  

Skeleton Technologies won the Ecosummit London Award for the best startup in 2015, as Europe’s biggest developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor cells. Customers include the European Space Agency, which uses the product to solve power delivery and energy storage issues by recapturing energy and providing peak and backup power. The startup has received $18.87 million in funding, including a recent $9.8 million investment in a Series B funding round in June of 2015 led by Harju Elekter Group.

The Bottom Line

Entrepreneurs in 2016 increasingly enter the green industry, which garners support from more conscious consumers and impacts investors by the day. These companies possess a fundamental triple bottom line, aiming to generate revenue and profits for shareholders, while also working to increase the social good and save our planet from dire environmental problems of the 21st century. From large multinational projects to local grassroots startups, these ten companies capitalize on the green revolution that has only just began. 

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