How Katapult Ocean’s Accelerator Program Went 100% Digital  

The Client

Katapult Ocean is the world’s leading ocean impact accelerator. It invests in and supports startups that have a positive impact on our ocean. Since 2018, Katapult Ocean has made 32 investments in exciting ocean impact companies from all over the world (16 countries, 4 continents). The companies participate in a 3-month long accelerator program to support growth and impact. A global network of more than 100 mentors and partners support the companies together with a team based in Oslo, Norway. 

The Goal: Keep engagement levels high despite being stuck behind a screen

As one of the world’s leading ocean impact accelerators, Katapult Ocean has made a name for itself thanks to its intensive yet rewarding programming and excellent network of mentors, advisors and in-house fund. 

The struggle now was to translate that to a completely digital environment, while still delivering the same (and even more) value to its participants.

“Prior to the realization that we had to go digital, we had already concluded that we wanted to upend the original structure quite a bit. We already had a different pedagogical setup for the program, which helped us in transferring to a digital platform” said Ingrid Kylstad, COO of the Katapult Ocean program.

“We realized ourselves that it is going to be tough to sit through hours at a computer just listening to people. We knew it had to be interactive, so that became an important philosophy underpinning everything we did in terms of planning the program.” she added.

Incredible and highly engaged industry active mentors…

“We [ecoSPEARS] have been a part of many prestigious accelerators over the past 2+ years and Katapult Ocean’s is top notch! You take a very detailed program, coupled with some incredible and highly engaged industry active mentors, and a Fund that invested in the startups within the cohort to have skin-in-the-game and the product is an accelerator program that will serve as the North Star for others to follow.”

Sergie Albino

Founder & CEO, ecoSPEARS

Crafting an immersive accelerator experience, online

The Katapult Ocean Accelerator Program had a different focus theme for each of the three months it ran.

With Strategy Tools and Christian Rangen, they developed and ran a 4-week Investor Readiness segment as part of the full program. 

“We wanted to recreate some kind of the spontaneous interaction you get when you have people together in a room, and we thought the way to do it was to have more output-oriented sessions – a place where participants could share and reflect alongside mentors and lecturers,” said Ingrid.

This resulted in a blend of working through an e-learning platform, discussions and working on visual tools in interactive live digital workshops, as well as experiencing the Scale Up! Digital Simulation

Participants were expected to complete 12 projects, as well as show up to the live sessions, which made for an intense four weeks. 

“The Investor Readiness part of the program, for me, has been that one that brought incredible impact to us [ecoSPEARS] as founders. It’s a no-holds bar process of taking founders through the evolutions of their ventures from Inception to Impact and from Concepts to IPO. You learn to take BIG calculated risks with the “Just Do It” attitude to truly learn with real-life examples and results.”, said Sergie Albino, Founder of ecoSPEARS.

Steep learning curve…

“It’s been a steep learning curve, but very impactful. Chris has been great at leading us, challenging us even though it’s virtual which easily turns into a one-way channel. We’re finalizing our long-term fundraising strategy now using the models we learned during the program.”

Tom Johansson

Co-Founder , Hooked Foods

Experiential Learning through the
Scale Up! Digital Simulation

Kickstarting the entire Investor Readiness Program was the Scale Up! Simulation – 100% Digital. Christian Rangen and Rick Rasmussen from UC Berkeley facilitated the digital Scale Up! sessions, ensuring the teams stayed engaged and invested.

Between them, Rick and Chris has IPO’d four companies, raised 100’s of millions in financing and helped scale, mentor or grow more than 100 companies across industries.

Combining the personal experiences with up-to-date case studies, visual entreprenurship canvases and a visual collaboration platform makes for a powerful combination to support and push the Katapult Ocean companies

“It was a sobering experience. I realized immediately that I had a lot to learn in these weeks. What was really well done were the elements of reality within the simulation. We see many of the scenarios we’ve experienced as a startup in the simulation, which introduces scenario thinking, which is very helpful. Stressful, but enlightening.” said co-founder of SolarDuck, Koen Burgers.

A Long-Term Funding Strategy

The Investor Readiness Program was designed not only to help the startups in the Katapult Ocean Accelerator understand investors better and make better decisions, but to equip them with the tools and knowhow they need to form a long-term funding strategy and roadmap. 

In the live digital workshops throughout the program, Christian Rangen coached the startup founders on different Startup Strategy Tools from the Scale-Up Map to the Investor Scorecard, all with the ultimate goal of arming them with the ammunition to secure more strategic investor funding moving forward.

“Being on the Katapult Ocean Investor Readiness Program gave us the tools that we needed to be prepared for our next funding round. We’ve learned a much better way of working with investors, using the tools from Strategy Tools,” said Paralenz co-founder Michael Trøst.

Understand the art of the deal…

“The Scale Up simulation showed us how to not only scale up our company value at each round of capital raise but also put light, for founders, the importance of value creation for investor partners. Scale Up allowed founders to better understand the Due Diligence side of the investor side of the venture to better understand the art of the deal.”

Sergie Albino

Founder & CEO, ecoSPEARS


The Investor Readiness Program received high scores from all its participants within the Katapult Ocean Accelerator program.

All the startups are now revamping and upgrading their investor strategy and many have adopted the tools and insights shared during the course of the program.

“I was highly skeptical of the three-hour live online sessions. I thought that would just be a drag and difficult to sit through. But the way it was structured, being output-oriented and having people solve tasks with guidance has made it an amazing program and has really contributed to our overarching philosophy and has fit perfectly with the rest of the program.” said Ingrid.

She also noted that the startups were more dedicated in a completely digital environment due to needing to commit less time in their calendars. Startups could also include more relevant team members in the program, due to it being digital.

“This entire experience has shown us that it can be done. It’s efficient, and cost-efficient. It also allows us access to better deal flow because we’re not limited to only companies that are able to relocate. That has a big impact and has actually made us more competitive in that sense.”

Growing the Global Community…

“Katapult Ocean is quickly becoming the North Star for the Ocean-Tech community. Not only are their programs advanced and effective, they’ve started to reach out to other Ocean Tech ecosystems to mentor and coach, to provide lessons learned, share best practices, and grow the global community as a whole. This type of cooperation is healthy for the industry and serves as an example for other cluster leaders to follow.”

Rick Rasmussen

Industry Fellow, Sutarja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, UC Berkeley College of Engineering

Three Tips for Accelerators Looking to Go Digital

by Ingrid Kylstad, COO of Katapult Ocean

If you want to run a digital accelerator program, you can’t do it lecture-based, it has to be output-based.

A good digital program is all about the structure and planning. Stick to the calendar. No shifting things around. Giving people predictability is really key.

Work with your speakers and lecturers to ensure they understand it’s output-oriented. You need to really have a plan on how you want to engage people and you’ll have to be more proactive.

Helped us tremendously…

“The Scale-Up Map is hanging on the wall in our office – what we originally had was an Excel file of close to 100 investors. But it was a long list. What the Scale Up Map helps is tie our business strategy and our financing strategy together. It gives us a visual overview of our overall strategy, which has helped us tremendously. It also helps bring to light areas we need to spend more energy on. It has accelerated our thinking in how we should develop the company in a structured manner.”

Koen Burgers

Co-Founder, SolarDuck

The Blue World Perspective 2020

As a part of Katapult Ocean’s investment process, they have screened more than
1400 ocean startups the past year and mapped the global landscape for impact driven ocean startups.

Every year, they share the findings in The Blue World Perspective. In the 2020 report, you’ll get the latest number of where blue solutions are built, what sectors the solutions represent and answers from Katapult Ocean’s ocean ecosystem survey of startups, investors and industry players.

Featured Startups

In the research and writing of this case study, we’ve interviewed 4 of the 10 startups which were part of this year’s Katapult Ocean Digital Accelerator cohort.

Michael Trøst, Co-Founder of Paralenz

Paralenz has developed the world’s first intelligent underwater camera, enabling anyone to capture and share their experiences effortlessly. It also allows users to seamlessly collect and distribute geo-referenced Ocean data to accelerate marine research. To expedite the collection of data and reach a broader audience, Paralenz is setting up rent-from-app camera kiosks at popular dive destinations, removing the users’ dependence on personal camera equipment.

Traction: Since 2017, Paralenz has sold over 10,000 cameras worldwide and established a highly dedicated following with an online community of more than 40,000.

Check out Paralenz.

Sergie Albino, CEO & Co-Founder of ecoSPEARS

At ecoSPEARS, we know that people worldwide are affected by toxic chemicals in their food and water. When these toxins are not removed from the environment, they can cause birth defects diseases, including cancer. ecoSPEARS has obtained the exclusive license to NASA-developed green remediation technologies to extract and destroy toxins from the environment. Through green cleanup solutions, people can live better & healthier lives when persistent and emerging contaminants are removed from the environment. We are on a mission to protect human health because everyone deserves access to clean water, clean food, and clean air.

Traction: In less than three years, we have raised a 2.3 million dollar Seed Round. We’ve obtained traction with names that matter in industries and sectors, including pulp and paper, chemical, manufacturing, utilities, ports, state, federal, and international agencies.

Check out ecoSPEARS.

Koen Burgers, CEO & Co-Founder of SolarDuck

SolarDuck has originated from the Dutch maritime industry, and believes that maritime solutions play a crucial role in solving a number of the global challenges. Providing nutrition, fresh water and living space, but it all starts with the ability to generate energy. Therefore SolarDuck aims to transform the world by giving societies access to affordable renewable electricity. They will do this by delivering turnkey offshore floating solar powerplants. SolarDuck developed a modular solution that can sustain the harsh offshore environment while providing competitively priced energy.

Traction: SolarDuck has secured the first LOI’s and is developing the markets in Europe, the Far East and Caribbean. SolarDuck partnered with well-known companies with vast international networks and excellent technological, ecological and financial capabilities. Amongst its accomplishments are EU Interreg MEA subsidy, Dutch MIT subsidy, winner of the Venture Cafe Tokyo Pitch Event, EU BlueInvest Start-up Support, participation in the Generation-E accelerator and of course the Katapult Ocean accelerator!

Check out SolarDuck.

Tom Johansson, Co-Founder, Sales & Strategy at Hooked

Hooked develops plant-based seafood for flexitarian consumers, where “Taste is king and nutrition is queen”. They currently have two products; Toona and Salmoon with 20% protein which are perfect to use in a wide variety of dishes like pasta, wraps, sandwiches, sushi, salads, tacos, pizza etc. The company will start serving its shredded Toona in Swedish foodservice and ready-2-eat meals in November and plan to launch its Salmoon in Q1 2021.

Traction: Hooked currently has 10 major customer chains that have approved the Toona and moved forward to negotiations with 4 LOIs signed and a projected €2.5M revenue forecast the first year.

Check out Hooked.

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