$120M for Diverse Founders | $250M to Reduce Food Waste | Pluralistic Ignorance

Plus, only 3% of VCs are Black, $20M for aquaculture fintech, 4-page primer on energy storage markets, "energy flows where attention goes,” and $17M for agtech carbon offsets

Funding for diverse climate tech founders.

Before we dig in, high fives to Heather Clancy from Greenbiz for writing this important piece and pulling in so much relevant research.

The key development?

  • Energy Impact Partners — the $2 billion investment fund with backers such as Duke Energy, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and Microsoft — recently launched Elevate Future Fund, targeting a $120M fund with half of it raised so far, “which aims to create a more diverse founder community and inclusive venture capital ecosystem within the broader energy transition.”

Why does this matter?

  • Only 3% of venture capital investors are Black. 

  • Black female founders raise only about 0.4% of all venture capital.

  • According to ProjectDiane, Black and LatinX founders who raised over $1M last year grew by 2x and 3x, respectively, when compared to 2018.

Why is this not enough?

  • Over $17B was raised for climate tech VC last year, so $120M is awesome, but just the beginning.

Food and agtech deals are bountiful.

First, a shout out to AgFunder News for their sweet coverage of agtech and foodtech financings.

Apeel raises $250m Series E to expand supply networks, fund tech acquisitions

  • Total funding — $635 million and a company valuation of $2 billion.

  • Their core tech — “Plant-based ‘peel’ that can be applied to the surface of fresh produce to maintain its freshness for longer. The company says the tech combines materials ‘already found in the skins, peels, and seeds of all fruits and vegetables.’”

  • Investors — Singapore-based innovators Temasek, GIC, and K3 Ventures; South Korea’s Mirae Asset; US firms Andreessen Horowitz, Disruptive, Sweetwater Private Equity, Tao Capital Partners, Tenere Capital, and Viking Global Investors; and individual investors such as Almanac Insights founder David Barber, Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and rock star Katy Perry.

Putting the ‘fin’ in fintech, XpertSea changes course following $20m Series B raise

  • Problem they’re solving — “Most aquaculture producers have to wait between 30 and 90 days before they can receive payment for their harvest”…leaving them “without the working capital to restart their ponds, buy inputs, or pay staff.”

  • Their evolution — From data analytics provider to savvy finance partner

  • Investors — QED Investors, Atlantico, Investissement Québec, Obvious Ventures, Aqua-Spark, Future Shape, Real Ventures, and edō Capital.

Cargill, Microsoft join $17m raise for carbon verification platform Regrow

  • Their solution — The “first and only” monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) tool that “allows stakeholders across the emerging ag carbon credits industry to create, and cash in on, carbon strategies..by enabling transparent reporting, historical analysis, and forward-looking projections of carbon sequestration and emissions reductions.”

  • Investors — Cargill, Ajax Strategies, Tenacious Ventures, Microsoft venture unit M12, AirTree Ventures, the Jeremy & Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust‘s Neglected Climate Opportunities fund, and Main Sequence.

Energy storage market: 4-page primer

If you’re confused about what’s in store for energy storage, join the club.

To help clarify and inspire more folks — ah, if only you could have seen the wind blowing dramatically in our hair while we researched to the tune of angels singing — my colleagues at Duke and I put together a condensed PDF to distill the varied market opportunities and notable players.

Markets to Watch: Energy Storage (go ahead, click here)

Here are a few snippets to get you started:

  • In the last decade, costs for Li-ion battery packs have
    declined by more than 89% since 2010. (Bloomberg NEF)

  • The energy storage market, including power and mobility
    uses, is expected to see $620 billion in overall investment
    by 2050. (Lux Research)

  • It remains unclear whether corporate leaders (e.g., Panasonic, LG Chem) or well-funded startups (e.g., Tesla, Form Energy) will realize the most opportunity in the $111 billion global stationary power market by 2035. (Lux Research)

Shout out to fellow authors: Nick Valby, MEM/MBA ’23, EDGE Fellow; Katie Kross, MBA, Managing Director, Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE), Duke University.

And special thanks to Tripp Hyde and Will Fadrhonc (Hyde Engineering Services), Dr. Ron DiFelice (Energy Intelligence Partners), and Max Tuttman (ARPA-E) for their input on drafts.

Another barrier to fixing climate change? Pluralistic ignorance.

You might not see that one show up on your SAT tests, but it’s important nonetheless.

If refers to the “inaccurate perceptions of others' opinions” or “erroneously inference that people feel differently from their peers.”

Importantly, it’s been shown that those of who understand the threat of climate change sometimes self-silence to avoid discussing it outside of our safe tree-hugging, climate tech-investing bubble because we think others don’t “believe” in climate change, which would, therefore, lead to awkward or tense social scenarios.

[Quick diversion: If you want to watch hilarious and uncomfortable social scenarios, check out SNL’s skit on what Covid reintegration will eventually feel like. Dark humor, but maybe we need some of that to balance out the doom scrolling.]

If you want to geek out on the science, here’s a recent Journal of Environmental Psychology article on the phenomenon.

In conclusion, don’t assume that you’re just full of hot air when talking (again) about climate change. Open thy mouth. Change the world.

That’s all, folks.

Make it a great week, because it’s usually a choice.

— Chris

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P.S. Are you crying over spilled milk?

“Energy flows where attention goes.”

  • Tony Robbins — The king of executive coaching, who went from homeless to now owning parts of 70 privately held businesses with combined sales exceeding $6 billion annually, and donating 100 million meals per year because he knows that 1 in 9 households in the United States is still food insecure (and we’re the richest country in the world?)

Per his quote, instead of focusing on what we don’t want, or what we didn’t like in the past, a more productive (and fun) target of our attention could be what we do want, where we are, and where we’re going.

  • Instead of, “I am so frustrated by X.” It could be, “I’m so excited about Y that lives on the other side of X.”

I’m as guilty as the next, but as you know: We write, teach, and manage in order to help others, but also to remind ourselves what we should be doing (better).

Dr. Chris Wedding
Founder and Chief Catalyst, Entrepreneurs for Impact
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