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Climate tech investment theses
It’s been a surreal week. The coronavirus is a global pandemic. The stock market fell dramatically. It feels strange to be talking about investing when people’s lives are being upended. I invite you to join me in the new practice of social distancing and WFH if possible.
For startups, it’s a black swan event. For climate tech startups, I expect the fundraising environment to be especially rough since it’s an emerging space and VCs are still learning.
But as Paul Graham said in 2008, “a recession may not be such a bad time to start a startup.”
To help climate tech founders identify potential capital sources, I’m sharing a list of climate-focused investors and their focus areas or investment theses. This may also be helpful to investors who are still working on their own theses, like yours truly.
Ranked generally by initial check size, low to high:
Climate angels: Stefano Bernardi (ex-Aragon), Jason Jacobs (MCJ), April Underwood (ex-Slack), Erika Reinhardt (ex-Stripe), Peter Light (ex-Google X), Michael Perry (Shopify), and Nan Ransohoff (Nuro), Alisyn Malek (ex-May Mobility).
Techstars Sustainability: In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Hannah works with startups protecting land and water, designing sustainable food, addressing climate, and creating greener cities. Applications are open. They also host a free online workshop called A Taste of Techstars.
Better Ventures: Jessica and Lyndsey invest in pre-seed and seed capital efficient startups in sustainable economy, including food and ag, synthetic biology, closed loop production & consumption, and clean energy & electric mobility.
I’ve also spoken with generalist VCs who are investing in climate but haven’t published anything yet: Mike and Shawn at Floodgate, Semil at Haystack, Caroline and Bryan at Sequoia, Jyri at Yes, Ian at Cantos, Gaurav at Afore, Jake and Howie at AlphaBridge, Satya at Homebrew, Rick at Equal, Raanan at Resolute, and Josh at Freestyle… to name a few!
If you’re looking for connections to these folks, depending on the context, I might be able to help out.
Interview with Maria Fujihara of SINAI Technologies
You might have seen companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Intuit, and Shopify make public carbon pledges. Hundreds of companies have made these pledges or must meet local carbon regulations, but there’s no easy way to manage that.
SINAI helps corporations understand their carbon emissions and determine the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. Maria shared these tips for corporations:
Corporations first need to understand their emissions across sites, which SINAI helps with.
Next, they must determine ways to reduce the emissions from the production of their goods or services (aka Scope 1 emissions). This requires understanding each potential action’s impact then making decisions.
After exhausting step 2, they can consider buying carbon offsets. However buying offsets isn’t ideal because it’s effectively paying for bad carbon behavior.
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