Sustainable Spark Capital invests in breakthrough sustainable energy. In our view the clean energy revolution has parallels to the smartphone revolution. Decentralized, cheap technology appears (seemingly out of nowhere), and goes on to spawn new derivative industries.
Emerging technologies face a barrier; they are founded on highly technical research that is inaccessible to investors. We can knock down the barriers between investors and enterprising scientists to jump start this industry. Success to us means steering a collective shift towards sustainable energy.
Why now? We are at the inflection point where breakthrough sustainable energy is both cost-competitive and cleaner versus conventional oil/gas and conventional alternatives such as solar and wind.
Why us? One of our Founders worked in a startup that disrupted the printed film industry, causing a world transition to new technology. All of our team has startup and entrepreneurial roots. We have science advisors who have published papers in new energy areas. As a team we have demonstrated sound judgement and achieved success in deep-tech innovation over decades. Utilizing our experience and network, we can build-out a totally clean energy industry.
We know that people, product, partners and profit is what grows business – not invention alone. Nonetheless, breakthrough energy will be driven by creative and inventive new science. We vet real technology and understand scientific research that few VCs even know exists. We have secured one of the only independent energy device testing labs in North America as a partner. We’re also working with a European Foundation that incubates energy startups.That creates a deal pipeline that is hard to replicate.
We partner with startups to increase their chance of success with scientific, business, and product design skills. We help LPs with our due-diligence function to become insiders in a clean energy industry.
It’s time for change. The European Investment bank has halted all fossil fuel lending after 2021. Blackrock, a $7 trillion asset manager, is putting the environment at the core of its strategy. Investors are acting without insight that breakthrough sustainable energy is coming online. We empower energy transition.
What are we looking for? A Co-Founder. A steady hand and a VC partner with a track record. We are interested in greatness, and that means what we are doing is not friction-free. Your desire to connect with the truth and incite change must override your desire for ease.
LPs say they love our thesis and technical experience. We think we need more VC and deal making experience. You, therefore, have an impressive track record and can signal stability and trust. Cleantech was washed out over the last decade with few winners. You don’t need to come from Cleantech. We would prefer someone who’s been operational in a VC at a senior level. You should be able to put skin in the game.
- Personality: Outgoing and curious-minded to engage the inventors who tend to be highly technical. Communicating with ethos and logos at a strategic level is critical. Self-awareness.
- Technical: Many technologies (running on the benchtop and proven) require electrical engineering and physics understanding. A sound understanding of physics or engineering fundamentals is useful. Some tech is based on new theoretical ideas. Things we read about and think about: new chemical pathways; new low energy nuclear pathways, electrodynamics and electromagnetics fundamentals, thermodynamics of open systems. We have to know a lot to ask the right questions of our science advisors. We are constantly learning and feeling like we don’t know anything. And as we look at the data, we realize even top tier academics are in the same boat. A technical Masters or Ph.D. could be useful, but above all you have to be interested in the shop-talk. In the shop-talk is where you learn about how the founders think and speak and if you know how to read that, it’s an open-book.
- Detail Oriented: We are all big picture thinkers. But we understand the need for process too. We seek someone who will help create a detail oriented culture. That means things like writing things down systematically, or always closing communication loops, or spending a few minutes teaching. We are intelligent about the need for workflow systems and tech stacks in operating a VC – so we have a good head start. Your management experience and leadership would be valuable.
- Nurturing: Energy innovation is a greenfield area – and the engineers who work in this area are comparatively green about business. We’ll need to guide them to what is realistic – in terms of valuation, in terms of how a company should setup, in terms of building a business.
- Intuitive: We are all analytical. Our differentiator is our strong intuition and judgement. We see things beyond the numbers. As much as we see breakthrough science, every new advance in science won’t lead to a marketable and useful product – we can spot the difference when many inventors often can’t. One of our Founders is a deep-tech strategic design-leader and his thesis is that VC at its best can intervene and help steer business model innovation. It is helpful if you share some of these qualities, or balance them well.
- Persistence. We hear trite aphorisms like “it’s early” or “it takes longer than you think to adopt new technologies” or “VCs need quick exits not in 20 years!” We hear this reflexively from some VCs minutes into a conversation. Their statements are mostly true, but no longer apply since some of these technologies were developed over decades. You have to be persistent and go deep to see differently. Hint: Breakthrough energy powerplants are being built in the northeastern US, and in Europe breakthrough energy devices are moving to manufacturing.
*Open to location in New York City, or San Francisco.
How to Apply
If interested please send your resume and pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org