ZERO #16 (climate finance + startups)

If climate and fintech had a baby. 12 recent climate VC and SPAC financings. 2 climate CEO interviews (agtech, real estate). “We’ve run the numbers. Shit's not great." Your pious Prius.

More cash for climate: Recent capital raises.

Congrats to these innovators for bringing in more dry powder in the last few weeks.

Venture capital:

  • Highland Electric Transportation — Electric school buses - $253M - Duncan McIntyre

  • esVolta — Utility-scale energy storage systems - $140M - Randolph Mann

  • FreeWire Technologies — EV charging - $92M - Arcady Sosinov

  • Eavor — Deep earth geothermal energy - $40M - John Redfern

  • Phospholutions — Sustainable fertilizers - $11.8M - Hunter Swisher

  • Manifest Climate — Climate change disclosure, scenario planning, benchmarking - $6.5M - Laura Zizzo

  • Ecentiv Energy — Energy customer engagement - $6M - Stephen Moritz

  • Cadenza Innovation — Safer lithium ion batteries - $3.4M - Christina Onnerud


  • Faraday Future — EV manufacturer - Property Solutions Acquisition Corp. (SPAC) - Merger valuation of $2.6B

  • EVgo — Public fast-charging stations for EVs - Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition Corp. (SPAC) - Merger valuation of $2.1B

  • Proterra — Electric busses - ArcLight Clean Transition Corp. (SPAC) - Merger valuation of $1.6B

  • Sunlight Financial — Residential solar financing platform - Spartan Acquisition Corp. (SPAC) - Merger valuation of $1.3B

For about a million other recent sustainable tech and infrastructure deals, check out the robust summary from Nomura Greentech here.

If “climate” and “fintech” had a baby...

To make this consummation more tangible, New Energy Nexus recently released a report: “Climate Fintech: Mapping an Emerging Ecosystem of Climate Capital Catalysts.”

Here are some teasers.

  • 75% of climate fintech companies are early stage with less than $10M in corporate capital raised, so we’re in still getting popcorn in the first inning.

  • Sectors covered include payments (consumer behavior), banking (retail and commercial), lending (debt financing), investing (equity), trading (carbon and energy), risk analysis (research), insurtech (and related financial products), and regtech (reporting and accounting).

  • The most advanced sectors include investing (most capital raised) and risk analysis (most M&A).

  • Short cases covered include innovators such as ecountabl, Ant Forest, Powerhive, Mosaic, OpenInvest, Swell Investing, Carbon Delta, Juniper Intel, Climate Seed, Dipole Tech, The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance (The Lab), Lemonada, and

  • Europe leads the world in climate fintech innovation, but the US and China can still catch up via strong entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial cultures, respectively.

“Because we’ve run the numbers, and shit’s not great.”

These wise words come from the ever entertaining Chis Sacca of Lowercase Capital, a successful tech VC firm that invested early at Uber, Twitter, and the like.

But he’s super relevant to climate tech because he’s started a new fund with his own capital, which he summarized as follows, to invest in for profit solutions to climate change:

“Lowercarbon Capital backs kickass companies that make real money slashing CO2 emissions, sucking carbon out of the sky, and buying us time to unf**k the planet.”

So refreshing.

And especially when you see him in his favorite fancy cowboy shirts, you’ll understand why he’s the kind of dude I’d like to invite to my next beer + campfire hangout.

In his story of “why” — Act II: Lowercarbon Capital — he drops some more sound bites worth hearing:

  • “The bottom line is the planet is becoming unlivable. If you’re the quantitative type, well, we drew some samples, crunched a few numbers and, according to our exact scientific calculations: A lot of shit will be pretty fucked up.”

  • “Our startups straddle a delicate line between, “Whaaa? That’s absolutely bananas!” to, “No way. Are you f’ing kidding me?!” You know, chill stuff like confining plasma that’s hotter than the sun or growing full-on real meat steaks in a vat. Maybe using microbes to make hundreds of millions of dollars of industrial chemicals is your thing, or you’re into kelp-growing robots in the high seas. I’m kinda partial to ocean-wave-powered, Bitcoin-mining, hydrogen generators, but I’m an old-school sentimental kind of guy.”

  • “Markets already understand that it’s too damn expensive to keep powering our economy by digging up and burning old dinosaur bones. In most places today, solar and wind are cheaper and scale faster. What you might not know yet is that technologies that grow chemicals in bioreactors or boost crop yields are already outperforming 100-year-old industrial processes that are dirty and dangerous. We see this happening in protein, transportation, chemicals, building materials, and even mining too. This radical shift isn’t just because of some warm and fuzzies. These are real businesses, with insane growth, and some posting nine-figure revenue run rates.”

Two climate CEO interviews:

These conversations from my series, the TORCH, via Entrepreneurs for Impact.

If you’re looking for a real conversation — including actionable recommendations, anecdotes on how they overcame challenges, book suggestions, quotes that keep them focused, personal journeys to where they are today, and a few laughs — check ‘em out.

#1 = AI for reducing food waste.

Interview — Miku Jha, CEO of AgShift

  • AgShift uses AI, Internet of Things, computer vision, and machine learning to reduce food waste and increase farmer profits through greater quality control for almonds, strawberries, and more.

  • Miku is a serial tech entrepreneur, with farming roots in India, and a burning desire to end food insecurity.

#2 = $100M+ of green affordable housing.

Interview — Jackie Dadakis, CEO of Green Coast Enterprises

  • Green Coast Enterprises is a mixed use, mixed income green real estate developer and energy consultancy helping schools and utilities save money through smarter power consumption.

  • Jackie is an MIT-trained real estate innovator who cut her teeth rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina and managing a $20M+ budget at the ripe ole’ age of 23.

Supercritical CO2 => Zero emissions power.

Shout out to one of the bad*ss members in our climate CEO roundtable program, Phil Brennan, CEO of Echogen Power Systems. Toiling away in Ohio, this quiet little startup has raised $90M+ and teamed up with Siemens Energy to commission the world's first supercritical CO2 power plant, which will use CO2 in a closed loop to convert waste heat from a gas turbine into emissions-free power, supporting 10,000 homes when complete next year. With the 26% Investment Tax Credit from the US federal government now applying to waste heat, there are high hopes for more such projects, as well as an extension of their core technology to long duration storage. More here.

No, seriously, my green smoothie is healthier.

If you’ve ever felt a little competition to see who is more environmentally friendly, who emits more “pious from their Prius,” whose granola is the crunchiest, then join the 4.3 million other viewers and check out this 2:54 minute skit from Studio C.

What’s next?

I see every share, connection, sign up, and email. :)

Most importantly, keep on fightin’ the good fight.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

– Chinese Proverb



P.S. — At Entrepreneurs for Impact, we run an ongoing Climate CEO Roundtable. If you’re looking to get accountability, inspiration, and honest input from 15 high performing peers that are also on a for-profit, for-impact, climate mission, then check us out here.

P.S.S. — Here’s where the name “ZERO” comes from.

Dr. Chris Wedding
Founder and Chief Catalyst, Entrepreneurs for Impact
Private Roundtables, Investor Intelligence, and Executive Coaching for Climate CEOs