CleanTechies Podcast
#151 Winning Grants & Non-Dilutive Capital, The Palo Alto Effect, Expanding Your TAM, & More w/ Helena Merk (Streamline Climate)

#151 Winning Grants & Non-Dilutive Capital, The Palo Alto Effect, Expanding Your TAM, & More w/ Helena Merk (Streamline Climate)


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🌎 Welcome back to the CleanTechies PodLetter, founder edition.

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Today, we are talking with Helena Merk from Streamline

Unlike the grant landscape, today’s conversation is very clearly packed with value - in particular…

  • How Streamline saves months of time to pick and apply for grants 💸

  • What is “The Palo Alto Effect” 🤔

  • How they are scaling their product outside of climate tech and expanding their market size 📈

There were a number of really impactful moments while recording this episode with Helena, so I hope you enjoy!

Ask yourself this: is the content we put out valuable enough to you that you’d be willing to buy us a latte 🍵 once a month?

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The Guest: Helena Merk

We are calling it now: Helena/Streamline’s product is going to be one of the most important tools of the next 3-5 years to quicken the pace of deployment of capital.

Helena is gaining a name for herself in the climate landscape tackling a massive unlock of value for the startups and scaleups applying for the flood of recent government grants. Without a tool like this, much of the grants and philanthropic capital will never get deployed.

Ever since she was a child, Helena has been involved in tech. She built her first app in grade school. At the start of her career, she got involved in veterinarian work until eventually she realized, influenced by her upbringing in Silicon Valley, that her impact, fixing one elephant foot at a time, could not be scaled.

After graduating from Duke and having completed several tech internships, she ended up going into software engineering at Smartcar. Unable to “escape” the influences of her upbringing, she ended up getting into YC with her startup Glimpse, a video conferencing tool that was later acquired by Twine.

Wanting more impact and now with an exit under her belt, she set out to tackle climate change. After meeting her co-founder, Douglas Qian, they would first start Spirals and later on pivot to Streamline Climate.

The Company: Streamline Climate

Grant Writing & Application, Software, Generative AI

One-liner: Streamline Climate simplifies and accelerates the grant application process for clean tech companies, using software and AI automation.

Context: Currently there are billions of dollars of non-dilutive grant funding available (in the US alone) to help fund the companies fighting climate change. However, accessing this money is like pulling teeth… generally unpleasant. Applying for these grants can take months and a small mistake can render your application pointless.

What: Using AI and Software, Streamline Climate is helping grant teams/individuals identify which grants to apply for, and then supporting them to win those grants. From assisting to writing the grants to ensuring all the boxes are checked ✅.

Traction: They have been working with a handful of customers for the past ~year. If you’re wondering how popular it is… they had a LOT of people on the waitlist.

Future: Assuming their tech is accurate and without halucinations, it’s reasonable to assume Streamline Climate is set up for a strong run as the timing could not be better. So many companies in the climate fight are feeling the pain of going through the grant writing process that they are most certainly looking for reliable software to help.

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📝 Show Notes:


  • 1:30 Introduction and Overview

  • 1:55 Streamline's Mission and Services

  • 3:03 Crash Course on Grants

  • 5:57 Streamlining the Grant Process

  • 11:28 Customer Types

  • 12:37 Choosing the Right Grants

  • 14:12 Streamline's Business Model

  • 14:38 Finding the MVP and Paying Customers

  • 16:26 Lessons from Building Spirals

  • 17:55 Training the AI Model

  • 19:55 Addressable Markets Beyond Grants

  • 25:33 Finding a Co-Founder

  • 26:51 Go-to-Market Strategies

  • 42:25 Fundraising Journey

  • 41:27 VC Funding and Grant Writing

  • 44:40 Inbound Processes and VC Decision-making

  • 45:30 Exciting Announcement!


Leave a comment with what you learned in today’s episode! 💭

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CleanTechies Podcast
CleanTechies is a Podcast and Newsletter where Somil & Silas interview the leading ClimateTech Founders and Investors to share their advice and journeys with other Founders and Investors to help others succeed.