30 January 2022 |

DEAL SCOOP 🍦

By Nick Van Osdol

DEAL SCOOP 🍦

We’ve got a first for you today from Keep Cool, namely a scoop on a recent deal that (to our knowledge) hasn’t been covered in depth elsewhere. The deal? Earth Brands raised $1.7M in seed funding. 

Earth Brands is a sustainable products and bioplastics company that makes compostable cups as well as clothing, such as caps. You may remember having seen them featured in the ‘More Cool Stuff’ section of this newsletter. 

When I previously spoke with one of the co-founders, Michael Medvedev, he shared that the inspiration for their business stemmed from seeing the sheer scale of the plastic problem at Williams College, where he and his co-founder, Peter Frelinghuysen, met and founded Earth Brands. Having used my fair share of Red Solo cups when I was an undergrad at UCLA… it’s safe to say that resonated 🥤.

Here’s what Peter had to say with respect to their seed round: 

It’s been especially rewarding to see our cups and mission resonate with college students across the country, given that we started the company to give college kids a guilt-free way to use single-use cups at parties. We believe in the future of bioplastics and are excited to capitalize on our recent growth with this round of funding, which included an investment from Mark Cuban, our favorite Shark!

MY TAKE

There’s a lot of talk about consumers getting more climate conscious these days. Reducing the use of single use plastics in particular is an area that’s front of mind for a lot of people, especially on the heels of popular Netflix documentaries over the past years that have illuminated where so much of the plastic and packaging we use ends up (in the ocean) 🐟. Products like compostable cups should prove easily appreciable and come with a built-in marketing angle. 

The main follow-on questions for me would be pricing and production: To what extent can Earth Brands minimize any ‘green premium’ for their products and how scalable / sustainable is production end-to-end? Those are the types of questions we’ll explore with the team soon – stay tuned for more content.

DEAL HEAT 🔥

Here are financing rounds, deals, + new funds that caught our eyes this week 🙇. 

  1. 🌽 Plenty raised $400M in Series E funding, which will allow them to sell entire ‘farms’ powered by their indoor vertical farming technology directly to customers. This is the largest vertical farming investment round ever. One Madison Group and JS Capital led the round. Read more here.
  2. 🛴 Ola Electric raised $200M in private funding to bring their electric scooters to market. Tekne Private VenturesAlpine Opportunity Fund and Edelweiss participated. Read more here.
  3. 💦 H2Pro raised $75M in Series B funding for its novel tech that splits hydrogen from water via electricity (and ideally does so more efficiently than other hydrogen production methods). Investors included ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steel manufacturer, as well as TemasekHorizons Ventures and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Read more here.
  4. 🔋 Skeleton Technologies raised $42M in Series D funding to scale production of their ultracapacitors, which are fast-charging (think seconds) energy storage devices. Taavet Hinrikus of Taavet+Sten led the round. Read more here
  5. 👨‍💻 T-REX raised $40M in Series C funding for its SaaS product that facilitates investment in sustainable and decarbonization focused asset. Riverstone Holdings led the round. Read more here.
  6. 📊 Submer raised $33.5M for its patented immersion cooling technology, which helps reduce the energy demands of cooling data centers. Planet First Partners led the round. Read more here.
  7. 💱 ClimateTrade raised $7.8M in Seed funding blockchain based marketplace for carbon offsets. Read more here.
  8. 🔋 Addionics raised $27M in Series A funding for its battery technology that integrates ‘Smart 3D’ Electrodes. Deep Insight led the round. Read more here.
  9. 🌱🧱 Naava raised $7.8M in an undisclosed funding round for its ‘green wall’ business, which integrates plants into the built environment. Nidoco led the round. Read more here (after using Google translate from Finnish).
  10. 🐑 Black Sheep Foods raised $5.25M in seed funding to make plant-based lamb alternatives. Read more here
  11. 🔋 Green Li-ion raised $5.2M in Series A funding for its battery recycling business. Energy Revolution Ventures led the round. Read more here
  12. ☀️ Bodhi raised $4M in funding to expand its software platform for solar companies to communicate with homeowners more effectively. Clean Energy Ventures led the round. Read more here.
  13. 🧪 uFraction8 raised $2.5M in Seed funding to help companies optimize their bio-manufacturing processes. Thia Ventures led the round. Read more here.
  14. 🚗 Oben Electric raised an additional $1M in seeding funding for its EV platform (they raised $1.5M in December as well). We Founders Circle led the original round. Read more here.

ELSEWHERE IN CLIMATE TECH

🔌 Super (fast) charging: Porsche smashed a world record for shortest charge time required to drive their EV from LA to New York. The time? Less than two and a half hours. 

💸 The big picture: How much would it actually cost to get the world on track re: climate change? Perhaps less than you would think. In parallel, McKinsey also chimed in with a report of their own on the annual spend the world would need to get to net-zero. We’ll find time this week to dig in deeper. 

♟️ Geopolitics: While it pales in comparison to humanitarian concerns, the simmering Russian conflict in Europe will have massive implications for energy and natural gas, at a time when much of Europe is already facing higher prices. 

⛏️ Mining setbacks: Pushback against new rare earth mines is percolating across the globe. And a big reason for this pushback is environmental concerns. Last week we saw Serbia push back on a deal with Rio Tinto. Next up? There’s community and political resistance to a massive new mine in Peru now, too. There’s mixed climate tech impact here, as the electrification revolution will require a massive amount of these types of rare earths.

🌬️ Supply chain woes: We’ve all heard enough about the supply chain at this point… but tiring of the news cycle won’t make the problems go away. Next in line behind auto and chip manufacturers to warn of supply chain related business impact? Renewable energy companies, like wind turbine manufacturers

🔎 Far from air-tight: The EPA is ramping up scrutiny on polluters in ‘Cancer Alley’ in Louisiana and the South. 

🤔 Open questions: I enjoyed this 🧵 on the second order effects of carbon removal. Once tech to remove carbon at scale exists… where will all that carbon be stored? 

🤔 Open questions: Pursuant to the above, the debate re: whether direct-air-capture technologies are worth developing at all is heating up again. There are plenty of arguments against; one of the more compelling being that nature’s ‘technologies’ already work well. 

MORE COOL STUFF ✌️

🐕 Downward dog: Your dog is already the best. What if they could help drive down carbon emissions too? Total superhero status. Turns out… they can! Enter ChippinPet, a woman-owned, sustainable pet food company. They make dog food that’s good for your dog and the planet. Check them out here!*

🎶 What I’m listening to: The War on Drugs! Saw them live last night at MSG. Was a great show… and trekking through the massive blizzard outside to get there made it all the more rewarding 😂. 

📺 What I’m watching tonight: The new documentary / trilogy on Kanye on Netflix. Love him or hate him, some of his older albums are absolutely all time.