After COP21 it all became clear, that accelerating towards a zero carbon economy is now a real urgency.  The Rockstart Smart Energy Accelerator gives startups the opportunity to reach to their full potential and to start making the world a greener place.

This program is focused on accelerating the development of startups active at the crossroad of the Internet and Energy. The 10 participating startups, announced in February, spent 180 days in an intensive startup accelerator program located in Amsterdam.

We had a discussion with the Program Leader, Freerk Bisschop, a seasoned venture developer in sustainable energy and clean tech and Pauline Massé, Program Associate about the whole process and some of the season’s experiences.

Freerk-Bisschop      startup-booths  

@Dieter Schalk


Please sum up in some words what Rockstart Smart Energy Program is about!
Rockstart Smart Energy is an accelerator program for startups at the intersection between IT and energy. The 180-day program is specifically designed to build, validate and develop the best international product and market fit for the startups. Smart Energy 2016 focussed on the “Internet of Energy Things” with 10 participating startups coming from 11 countries.

Who can apply to the program? Is there any restriction by stage, team size or location?
The program is open to all startups during their first 3 years, with teams of 2 to 5 founders. We welcome all startups from within the EU and beyond, as long as they can legally work in Amsterdam for the full duration of the program.

How does the selection process look like?
Selecting 10 startups out of more than 200 applications (a number that grows every year) is always challenging. All applications are carefully reviewed and rated according to the team, product, market potential, traction and stage of the startup. We also organise online interviews and events at Rockstart’s HQ to meet the founders and evaluate their potential.

What do you offer to those who got in the Program?

  • €20,000 cash investment plus in-kind office space.
  • Expert workshops and personal meetings with 77+ international mentor network whose expertise encompasses nearly all areas of the energy business – from corporate to startups, tech to financial, grid to light bulb.
  • Direct engagement with relevant suppliers, users, professionals and other stakeholders in energy.
  • Exclusive events organised for the startups to meet investors and potential partners.
  • Access to a community of entrepreneurs to share knowledge and ideas at Rockstart’s HQ in Amsterdam.

From these various opportunities what could be the most tempting to the applicants? Why do they apply?
To be part of the Rockstart ecosystem is to be constantly surrounded by brilliant and driven entrepreneurs, investors, partners and mentors. Startups who apply to our program know that this unique opportunity will help them grow and learn at an incredible rate, during the program, and after, thanks to our Alumni program. The access to a wide network of experts and professionals is the #1 reason why the startups apply to Rockstart accelerators. And they do love to live and work in Amsterdam, the European Capital of Innovation 2016-2017!

startups-on-stagePlease share some memorable startup stories that you had the opportunity to be part of!

  • The startups, coming from all over the world, with different backgrounds, ages, interests, cultures, etc. shared everything in the last 6 months; from office space, to apartments in Amsterdam! Many were flatmates for the duration of the program, which created strong friendships & collaboration between the 10 startups.
  • One startup team had to include an advisor to be allowed to the RS program. 3 months later they asked that advisor to please become their CEO.

What are your favourite moments of the Program and why?

The moments that startups identify & validate their product/market fit. Because from there on, it is just a matter of lining up execution power, with the help of our community of mentors, partners and investors.



Amsterdam based Rockstart ‘’The Global Startup Machine’, was founded in 2011 by Dutch serial entrepreneur Oscar Kneppers (formerly Emerce & Bright). The first Rockstart Accelerator program launched in 2012. Rockstart has accelerated 58 startups in 7 programs: 4 in the web & mobile domain, 2 focused on the smart energy industry and 1 currently underway in Digital Health. To date, over 70% of Rockstart alumni (including 3D Hubs and Peerby) have attracted over €24 million of funding from national and international angel and venture capital investors including Greylock Partners, Balderton Capital,XAnge Private Equity and Walvis Participaties.


Photo credits to Dieter Schalk.

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