Early-stage Investment Models and Pitching to Investors

Cleantech Navigate Northeast’s fourth edition of our recent Investor and Corporate Partner Readiness Webinar Series, “Early-stage Investment Models and Pitching to Investors,” brought together seasoned panelists from the cleantech investment world to reveal the ins and outs of cleantech investing and what sets their model apart. Panelists Ben Sampson of GE Ventures, John Santoleri of StoneWork Capital and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Ryan Macpherson of PRIME Coalition, and Sasha Brown of Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) represented a mix of companies with various investment models and strategies, which they discussed with an eager group of early-stage cleantech startups participating in the webinar.

Sampson kicked off the discussion by detailing how GE Ventures, a GE independent business unit, focuses on Series B and C investment rounds primarily in North America. GE Ventures also uses external capital to invest in companies that offer market transformation products and services such as manufacturing technologies, Internet of things (IOT) applications, and those able to decarbonize assets. Upon exit, some of these companies spin back into GE business infrastructure with a variety of partnership agreements, according to Sampson.

On the other hand, PRIME Coalition, which empowers philanthropists who are usually first time investors in cleantech by providing a unique investment vehicle, focuses its investments on moonshot technologies that can drastically reduce CO2 emissions, according to Macpherson.  Traditional venture capital (VC) investment models tend to create debt structure at early stages, but PRIME deploys charitable capital investing in Series A investment rounds from $500,000 up to $3 million. PRIME’s target investments should fit three criteria: having a climate impact, having commercial attractiveness and charitable capital, and seeking to solve social issues.

According to Brown, EIF focuses on “incremental solutions that can make the difference on the environment." The  organization bets on a product that can have a long-term impact but incremental implementation. EIF invests at early stages in ventures with an existing commercial tractions that can provide either business model innovations or technologies ready to be marketed in a B2B scenario.

To wrap up the webinar, several startups pitched to the panel of cleantech investors. Investors were all ears for the latest and greatest from the following entrepreneurs:  

  • Empower Equity: a platform to remove, at scale, the upfront cost barrier to energy efficient upgrades at mid-sized commercial buildings while providing considerable savings to building owners / utility ratepayers.
  • Enviropower Technologies: producer of high-efficiency heating equipment that generates electricity while producing heat.
  • MeteoViva: a smart data solution that increases efficiency of HVAC equipment and lowers energy consumption by 40 percent in any type of building.
  • Thermolift: a cold-climate, natural gas air-conditioner and heat pump technology that combines heating, air-conditioning, and water heating into a single appliance.

To view recordings of all the webinars in the series, check out our playlist here.

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Francesco Ranieri and Riki Harris

Francesco is Regional Development Manager at Ecogy Energy.

Riki is a former Google employee seeking new opportunities in cleantech, social impact, and sustainability.