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Startup Resources: BlueSwell, Incubator for Ocean-Focused Startups

BlueSwell is based in Boston and focuses on connecting startup founders, ocean experts and the venture community. They specifically focus on supporting startups that have created a scalable solution to enhance ocean health, improve sustainability within the ocean industry and provide global resilience.

Who Should Join BlueSwell?

BlueSwell supports entrepreneurs that have bright ideas for ocean sustainability, within five verticals that they tend to look at: sustainable food, low carbon ocean transportation, renewable energy in the ocean, coastal resilience, and reducing marine debris and pollution.

In terms of stage, they are looking for startups that are pre-revenue or early revenue, have a great product-market fit and widest range or latest stage would be up to 1 million in equity investments. The majority of their teams are led by first-time founders, many coming out of academia or the labs themselves and taking that technology out to commercialization.

What Resources Does the BlueSwell Incubator Provide?

The specialized community they built is arguably most important. They are ocean-first, so unlike other venture firms or climate tech spaces, they are solely focused on bluetech problems, solutions, and markets.

Their 5 month program (led in partnership with the New England Aquarium) provides a holistic set of business support services, such as feedback, advising, introductions specific to their market, along with access to designers, lawyers, accountants and consultants tuned to this early stage of startups. BlueSwell's cohorts also receive coworking space in Kendall Square with an ask to join our team’s office hours once a month.

And last but not least the startups receive a $50,000 stipend to subsidize the cost to bring an MVP to market, early payments during the program and any associated transportation.

How Can You Join the BlueSwell Incubator?

BlueSwell opens applications each spring through their website. The questions take about 30 minutes and cover the team, the innovation, market opportunity, and impact within that market.

They provide templates to applicants for pitch decks as well if they have yet to get started- those have been very well received. Once that first application is in, BlueSwell's team elects semifinalists to pitch to the steering committee, conduct reference checks, and they then make a decision on the final cohort in the summer.

What events can you attend?

SeaAhead hosts plenty of events year-round! We host a “free swim” to meet the community when founders are selected. There is also a mentor mixer for those that are selected to pair with someone who would serve as a productive advisor, and various other showcase events across New England during the program. Finally, each cohort culminates with a live Demo Day at the New England Aquarium (NEAq) in February.

The SeaAhead team also hosts various other ocean startup events. Examples include Angel Investing 101 for those interested in getting into the space, and reverse pitch nights specific to certain industries where established corporations will describe industry trends and brainstorm solutions / paths forward with members of the cohorts and other startups in our network.

Who leads BlueSwell?

The BlueSwell program is led by Katherine Woolford who has a background in ecology and varying areas of climate change, including renewable energy access, sustainable fishing, regenerative agriculture, air quality, and food waste. Please feel free to reach out at any time! SeaAhead’s co-founder and Executive Director Alissa Peterson and NEAq’s Vice President and Chief Scientist of the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life John Mandelman are our co-directors.

"The whole team is really jazzed about the community we are building here at BlueSwell. We started virtually, but last year we were able to come together as a community and have grown from there. The energy is fantastic and builds a better relationship with each sequential cohort and group companies that have graduated through the program. Alums come back and share advice with our current founders, and we continue to support them beyond the 5 months of the cohort program. Building the companies and solving problems together gives rise to a great community support system." - Katherine Woolford

Learn More About BlueSwell

Learn more about BlueSwell by visiting their website. And feel free to give them a follow on

Do you know another resource in the New England startup community we should highlight? Drop us a line here and let us know!

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