Climate media is pique-ing
By Nick Van Osdol
I usually reserve a roundup of climate tech fundraising announcements for the weekend.
Today’s can’t wait, though.
Why? Because it’s an announcement from one of my favorite climate tech media outlets – Pique Action.
Pique Action (team pictured above) is a climate solutions media company that brands itself as “the opposite of doom scrolling.” Today, they announced a $1M pre-seed fundraise, led by Amasia, to create their short-form video content and develop originals for streaming services.
My favorite existing micro docs and content of theirs include:
- Nitricity: Decarbonizing Fertilizer
- Remora: Carbon Capture on Trucks
- Dandelion Energy: Tapping into Geothermal (we also partnered with them here to add a written Keep Cool deep dive to the mix).
One of the things that stands out most about Pique in my mind is their ethos of optimism and orientation toward action, which are core pillars I try to espouse here at Keep Cool, too.
Over the weekend, I had the chance to pose some questions to Pique’s CEO, Kip Pastor. Plus I got to catch dinner with their VP of Business Development, Tyler Steinhardt, in LA last night. Below are some key takeaways from my convos on what Pique has learned in climate media and where they’re headed.
What will the capital be used for? What was the fundraising process like?
We’re using the capital to develop content, increase production, grow the team, and scale our impact.
Fundraising for an early stage media company can be challenging. The secret for us was to find and connect with the right people who understand the opportunity and the potential for scalable impact. That’s not a throw away answer, it’s really the truth. Our cap table is made up of people and teams who believe in our mission, the opportunity, and believe that we can build a meaningful company (meaningful in purpose, impact, and returns).
Everyone wants to know – how did you meet the right investors? Warm intros can help, but don’t let that stop you. If that becomes an obstacle or slows your outreach too much, find another way. Half of our largest investors came from cold emailing.
What’s been the most encouraging trend or moment since starting Pique?
Our slogan – “the opposite of doomscrolling” – really resonates with people. We all know the doom and gloom of social media and news, in particular as it relates to climate. People are sick and tired of seeing the same visual imagery around climate – polar bears floating out to sea, fires, flooding, and droughts. We’re showing human ingenuity, and the engagement we’ve been getting validates the theory that people want to see solutions.
We love TikTok. The platform is helping build a new way of telling stories. It’s also been an effective way to reach new audiences who aren’t as tapped into these types of climate solutions. On TikTok, the ‘For You Page’ helps get our content into new feeds instead of just bouncing around the same echo chamber. The creativity on that platform and the engagement are inspiring, aspirational, and have a profound reach.
What’s been the biggest hurdle you had to clear?
One current hurdle is finding the right partners to expand our commercial production business.
Our team has led productions for major brands such as Nike, Red Bull and Activision, and we’re keen to bring that big-budget storytelling experience to climate. We’re not interested in greenwashing, but we are interested in telling stories with brands, which are truly committed to building a more sustainable world.
Honestly, the other largest hurdle is that of any start up. We’re a small and scrappy group. I’m consistently blown away by what a small team of passionate people can create. I love my team, and I know that together we can hurdle any hurdle.
What’s the most powerful impact lever Pique has found so far?
Our startup series called NextNow profiles the founders and company builders working on mindblowing solutions to climate change. Our films have helped those companies raise money, close customers, and recruit. Just the other week a CEO told us that a qualified candidate said part of the reason they became interested in the job was because of the film. Not only does that feel good, but ultimately, that can help move the needle on impacting climate change.
Zooming out, what’re your thoughts on the climate media landscape? First inning? Bottom of the second?
Climate media has been around for a little while, but solutions oriented climate content is in its infancy. Using your analogy, like many things in the fight against climate change, content is just getting called to bat. The movement to work in climate, build more resiliency in our lives, and the push to adopt rigorous standards and policies are only just beginning. Film is a powerful tool in moving people to action – two good examples are how Inconvenient Truth sparked a generation of awareness and Food Inc vaulted the conversation around food to a national level.
The landscape can’t just be the legacy media companies. We need more content from a diverse range of voices that can appeal to broader segments of society, touch on different issues and solutions, and bring everyone together. This is an existential problem, and we need to collectively do everything we can. Content can provide inspiration, focus, and direction. The more the better!
Where will Pique be in 2030?
Storytelling is at the heart of this company and of our team. By 2030, we will be producing television series, feature length documentaries, climate fiction movies, but still cranking out TikToks and bringing people together to effect change with stories.
Who do you want to hear from? Potential hires? Founders with stories to tell?
We want to hear from anyone and everyone! We want to hear from people who connect with our content. We want to know what else they want to see, learn about, connect with, and what actions they want to take. We also love connecting with founders. Let us help to share your story.
Lastly, we’re growing a team of curious, solution-oriented people, and if that’s you, and you want to help us build the trusted resource for everything climate, we want to hear from you.
You may wonder why I took ~5 minutes to focus on climate media instead of climate ‘technology’ today. I’m biased, but narratives and stories are a critical lever to drive change. People don’t allocate capital or their own time in a vacuum – social, written, or visual media is the ‘water in which we swim.’ Which is to say, they color everything we do. Capital, whether financial or human, doesn’t move at scale until something like the climate tech movement we’re seeing now becomes part of the common consciousness. Pique Action (and Keep Cool) are trying to lead that charge.