Backing Sustainable Startups is Good Business

Written by
Ross Andrewsarrow icon

Backing Sustainable Startups is Good Business

Written by
Ross Andrews

Ok, so in the last 12 months, we have seen wildfires burn in Australia and the Western U.S. Then freezing temperatures shut down the majority of Texas while at the same time it was warmer in Alaska. Hurricanes each year are growing in number and strength and natural disasters cost the U.S. $306 Billion in 2020. Just to put things in perspective, in the U.S. in 2020 as a country we invested only $600M in carbon offsets or 0.2% of the cost of those disasters. Our audience is mostly startup and venture people so we are going to discuss the implications of not becoming a more sustainability-focused investor and share a few amazing startups and their founders that we have met recently that are tackling climate change head-on and proving that you can build a healthy and scalable business while doing it.

First, all my VC friends, it’s time to go climate-conscious or risk becoming irrelevant over the next decade. I hate to sound harsh but the proof is in the data, PwC reported that over the last 3 years the number and dollar value of venture deals going into climate and sustainability-focused startups grew at 5 times the rate of the broader venture market. Simply put, not investing in sustainable startups is bad for business. And it's not just the “green tech” and science base startups that are tackling this problem. As you’ll see below, there are software, financial services, consumer goods, and proptech startups all serving these needs. And to be honest, the solutions we need are all around us, it’s not just one magic arrow that will save us. We need to weave sustainability into the fabric of everyday life. Let’s check out these amazing companies and the founders behind them.

Impact Snacks (Co-Founders, Corey NobileNick Oliveri)

I have had the pleasure of knowing the Impact Snacks team for about 6 months now and I have to say this is one mission-driven company. First things first the product is amazing, tastes good, is 100% plant-based, and reclaims 250% of its carbon footprint meaning that you are actually reclaiming not only the bars carbon when you order one, but you are also reclaiming some of your own. The bar is good, the wrapper is even cooler. Did you know that in the U.S. we dispose of 1 billion plastic wrappers every day just from snacking 🥴. 1 BILLION! Folks that isn’t good. Nick and Corey said to themselves, if we are going to make a more sustainable snack we need to go all the way, the wrapper can’t harm our planet. The team developed a soy-based bio-cellulose material that is used to wrap each bar meaning that the wrapper is 100% biodegradable and they even use a soy-based ink to print them so there are no harmful dyes or chemicals that go into nature upon decomposition. Folks, I have ordered these bars from their site (you should go and order some right now) and even the packing peanuts in the box were made from biodegradable potato starch!

The best part is these two aren’t stopping with snacking. They have a few other projects in the works all with the same focus on sustainability and the future is strong and much much more sustainable because these two are in it.

Emrgy (Founder, Emily Morris)

I had the pleasure of meeting Emily about two months ago now through a mutual friend. It’s amazing, the technology was right there in front of us, we just needed someone like Emily to put it together for us. Emrgy helps develop, deploy, and manage micro-hydro plants that leverage new turbine technology so that they can be deployed into managed waterways anywhere in the world to produce clean, reliable, and renewable energy. The limiting factor for hydroelectricity is that it traditionally has required large-scale construction of damns that utilize the drop of water to create massive amounts of pressure, Emrgy’s turbines can harness the kinetic energy, of flow, of water that is simply flowing through a channel. Also, unlike a damn which has to be built on-site and is a massive project to undertake, Emrgy’s turbines are assembled offsite and are simply delivered, lowered into place, and hooked up so they can begin to start distributing power.

Emily has done a wonderful job establishing manufacturing agreements with some of the largest manufacturers in the world to help meet the demand for the number of units they have received. They also have developed an exchange in which municipalities and businesses that aren’t near suitable waterways can work with other towns that are able to install Emrgy turbines and transfer the credit for the energy that is generated. Distributed power is the future of our energy world and Emrgy is already contributing to that future, we are excited to see what Emily and her team have in store for us moving forward.

Carbon Zero (Founder, Scott Hickle)

Swipe, swipe, swipe. We all do it every single day. The grocery store, lunch, coffee, gas, and on and on it goes. Did you know that 60% of all credit card rewards point go unused every single year? I didn’t but Scott told me that fact and I was blown away. So how can we repurpose credit cards and those rewards points to help reduce our carbon footprint? Carbon Zero is here to solve that. Carbon Zero is a consumer credit card that automatically turns your rewards points into carbon offsets to offset your everyday purchases. There is also ample opportunity for Carbon Zero to do affiliate partnerships with brands, encouraging consumers to shop more sustainably and reward businesses with additional offsets.

Carbon Zero has built partnerships with organizations that make sure that those offers go to great projects and even display in their mobile app so you can easily check-in and see where your offsets are going. We already have our name on the waitlist for a Carbon Zero card and you should get your name on there too!

SunHomes (Founder, Alan Knudson)

SunHomes is building the future infrastructure to power off-grid and grid-edge micro utilities in residential real estate. Alan and his team have worked to build prefabbed solar, geothermal, well water, sewage, and battery systems that can be easily installed on a plot and a developer can come in and build a home around it. Alan and his team come back at the end, hook up the rest of the systems, installs their operating system to help manage and control the systems, and boom, you have a renewable energy home that is completely off-grid and energy independent. Their OS also leverages AI and machine learning to increase the lifetime of your in-home systems by intelligently managing them.

Without having to pull from the grid into a building site, developers can rapidly increase their build times and reduce costs. For the homeowner, you get an energy-independent home that gives you visibility and control over your power consumption so you know you’ll always have the lights on. The good news is Alan and his team are already building! They have completed a handful of projects in 2020 and are quickly taking on new orders for development projects in 2021 and he is looking to continue to grow what already is a profitable business that has the potential for venture style scale given the demand for energy independence we are about to witness.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter