Beyond the Cleantech Bubble: Village Capital Energy US 2018 Program
In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore came out of obscurity to share a message: the world is heating up. “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Academy Award and made climate change a household term.
But what happened next may have done more harm than good for the clean energy startup space.
In the months after the movie came out, a wave of concerned millionaires and billionaires responded to Vice President Gore’s challenge by pouring venture capital into clean energy startups. Their goal was to save the world—fast. But many of them were new to investing, and not familiar with or ready for the long, patient process of developing a clean energy company.
The cleantech fad turned into a bubble, and the bubble popped. The once-hot sector turned into a graveyard. From 2011 to 2016, US venture capital investment in cleantech declined from 650 deals a year to 450 deals a year and from 17% of total venture capital dollars to 7%.
Village Capital's Energy US 2018 Program
A decade later, the team at Village Capital is convinced that clean energy is back. Investors like Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Generate Capital are ready to devote the time and commitment that clean energy companies deserve.
In April Village Capital ran the final workshop for their latest energy program, Village Capital Energy US 2018, in collaboration with Autodesk Foundation, BNY Mellon and UBS. This year’s program was focused on the transportation-energy nexus—startups making it easier to move people and things.
They brought together eight early-stage transportation startups and connected them with investors and mentors for more than 30 hours of face-to-face meetings. At the end of the program, the affiliated fund VilCap Investments offered $75,000 to the two startups ranked “most ready for investment” by their peers: Colorado-based Vartega, a chemistry-based recycling process that recycles carbon fiber for use in lightweight airplane and automobile parts; and New York-based Go Kid, a ride-sharing service for schools, sports leagues and families.
Vartega's Success in the Program
"It was such an honor to work and learn alongside other amazing and inspiring entrepreneurs through the Village Capital Energy US 2018 Program. The caliber of companies selected by Village Capital was phenominal which made it an incredibly valuable experience for our team," said Vartega CEO Andrew Maxey. "We were able to share our experiences about how we're growing our company to make an impact while receiving guidance and counsel from our peers and mentors that are doing the same."
Vartega aims to be careful stewards of all of the resources they have at their disposal, not just carbon fiber. They plan to treat the investment from VilCap Investments in the same way and will be using the funding to increase their impact in the energy and transportation sector through greenhouse gas emissions reductions of cars and trucks.
In addition to VilCap Investments Vartega's other investors include Techstars, Rockies Venture Club, E8 Angels, Arizona Tech Investors, Desert Angels, and Frontier Angels. Vartega has also received non-dilutive funding support from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade through their Advances Industries Accelerator Programs.
To learn more about the Village Capital Energy US 2018 program and see the full list of startups, download the free 25-page report—Moving Electrons: Rethinking Transportation for a Cleaner World.