Smart green dealflow: Sunfire, Greenergetic, Sonnenbatterie, LEDeXCHANGE, Valopaa and Friedola Tech

6 smart green startups successfully raised new venture capital recently: Power to gas and fuel startup Sunfire (seven-figure, Germany), PV online retailer Greenergetic (undisclosed seed, Germany), residential storage provider Sonnenbatterie (undisclosed, Germany), retrofit LED provider LEDeXCHANGE (€500K seed, Germany), LED lighting company Valopaa (€2M, Finland) and recycled plastics manufacturer Friedola Tech (€31M, Germany). The active cleantech VCs include Bilfinger Venture Capital, eCapital, High-Tech Gründerfonds, VNT Management, Silver Lake Kraftwerk and Kleiner Perkins.

Smart Green Dealflow

Carl Berninghausen (photo below, ECO12 Berlin), CEO and Co-Founder of Sunfire, can smile again. After a long search for investors he raised a couple of million Euros from Bilfinger Venture Capital and KfW’s ERP-Startfonds. While the exact amount is undisclosed, Bilfinger’s typical ticket size is €1M to €2.5M and it was doubled by KfW joining as co-investor. Dresden-based Sunfire converts renewable energy to liquid fuels or gas and uses a modular in-house technology platform for this. According to Karl Ludwig Kley, CEO of Bilfinger Venture Capital, the construction and operation of Sunfire’s power conversion plants is exactly the strategic business motivation why Bilfinger invested in Sunfire.

ECO12 Carl Berninghausen Sunfire

When Florian Meyer-Delpho (photo below), CEO and Co-Founder of Greenergetic, pitched at ECO12 Düsseldorf, his deal with the lead-investor eCapital and the co-investor Howaldt Energies was already quite advanced. But it always takes more time until the term sheet is translated into the final contract, the money is in the bank and the press release is ready to be announced. Now Greenergetic gets ready to launch its online shop for PV systems in March. Florian also plans to distribute the shop as a whitelabel solution to utilities. Greenergetic’s customers will be able to configure their preferred PV system online, choose from available financing options and order online. After that the magic happens in the background and Greenergetic dispatches the best installation partner to set up the system. In the future, Greenergetic wants to sell other smart green home products, too, including smart meters or storage systems.

ECO12 Florian Meyer-Delpho Greenergetic

Christoph Ostermann (photo below), CEO and Co-Founder of Sonnenbatterie, also pitched at ECO12 Düsseldorf and now his company PROSOL Invest Deutschland is part of eCapital’s cleantech family, too. Contrary to Greenergetic, Sonnenbatterie is already post-revenue and looks back to having sold 1.000 solar batteries to happy customers that appreciate enhanced energy independence at home. On stage, Christoph showed off his iPad app that not only displays the energy level but also controls when and how the Sonnenbatterie operates. By the time the cost of batteries comes down, the market for residential energy storage will explode.

ECO12 Christoph Ostermann Sonnenbatterie

Judging from these 2 startup deals energy efficient LED lighting is still a hot segment for investors. Germany’s biggest seed investor, the High-Tech Gründerfonds, just invested half a million Euros in LEDeXCHANGE. The German startup claims that their LED luminaires produce light that is as “natural” as that of incandescent light bulbs. What they really mean is that they are using a couple of patented tricks that change the colour of the LEDs which often is too white and feels too artificial for the human eye. Exchanging energy wasting light bulbs for warmly glowing energy efficient LEDs is a huge market and LEDeXCHANGE seems to be positioned rather well to capture a big enough market share that pleases its investors. With a similar rationale the Finnish VC VNT Management injected €2M into Valopaa in Finland. Valopaa also develops and manufactures a wide range of LED lighting products. VNT Management is also actively investing into German cleantech startups and has got deep pockets again after raising €70M for its third cleantech fund which is about to close very soon.

ECO11 Joerg Sperling WHEB Partners

The last noteworthy deal featured in this smart green dealflow is actually a big one. Moreover, it is a well-deserved exit for the well-known German cleantech VC Joerg Sperling (photo above, ECO11 Berlin), Partner at WHEB Partners. In 2012, Joerg was working very hard to sell WHEB’s majority stake in Friedola Tech for €31M to Silver Lake Kraftwerk. Co-investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers increased its stake in this transaction while WHEB Partners remains minority shareholder. The German company manufactures lightweight recyclable and environmentally-friendly plastic solutions and sells them to car makers, logistics and packaging companies. KPCB’s partner looking after Friedola Tech is Michael Linse who spoke at Ecosummit Berlin in 2011 and 2012. I expect to see more American VCs investing in German cleantech startups in the coming years.

ECO12 Jan Michael Hess Christoph Ostermann

ECO12 Sunfire Networking


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