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SET Ventures raises €60M SET Fund II from EIF, Sitra, Shell, Essent, Delta and Korys

Fundraising is tough, time- and travel-intensive and needs a fair amount of salesmanship – not only for startups but also for VCs. Fund managers have to convince fund investors that they can make money for their Limited Partners (LPs). First, General Partners (GPs) need to build a strong portfolio by wisely investing into the best startups they can find. Then they need to create a lot of value post-investment by quickly growing their portfolio companies with the ultimate goal of realising successful exits, i.e. trade sales (the rule) or IPOs (the exception). GPs Rene Savelsberg and Wouter Jonk are Amsterdam-based smart energy VCs who raised their first SET Fund I in 2007 after having learned the trade as Corporate VCs at Philips. Up to now, they have 3 good exits under their belt: Epyon to ABB in 2011, AlertMe to British Gas in 2015 and Sefaira to Trimble on 8 February 2016. Good exits are a key requirement for raising a second fund as LPs look for track record in terms of proven capability to generate returns. Yesterday, SET Ventures announced the first closing of SET Fund II at €60M and plans to add a few more LPs until March 2016.

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Fast-growing solar e-commerce startup Greenergetic attracts investment from RWE

Ecosummit TV: Selling PV systems online is a great business idea for a smart green startup. You can grow at Internet speed and drive the Energiewende by spreading renewable energy. If you want to build your startup in a capital efficient way with a small burn rate, it is also a good idea to minimise your customer acquisition costs by adopting a B2B business model and working with distribution partners. This is exactly what CEO Florian Meyer-Delpho and his co-founders did in 2012 when they launched Greenergetic as a white label portal for utilities to sell PV systems to their customers. At ECO15 Berlin in May, Florian pitched Greenergetic to increase investor demand for their €2M financing round (see Ecosummit TV video below). On 15 December 2015, RWE Vertrieb, the German sales company of RWE with 4 million customers and €12B revenues, announced their minority investment in Greenergetic. While the terms of the deal are undisclosed, we assume that Florian managed to raise a bit more than he was looking for given that Greenergetic expected €5M revenues in 2015.

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Petr Mikovec pitches corporate VC Inven Capital

Ecosummit TV: Petr Mikovec pitches Inven Capital at ECO15 London. Prague-based Inven Capital is the new corporate VC of CEZ Group, the largest and most profitable utility in Eastern and South Eastern Europe. Equipped with a €180M fund, Inven Capital invests preferably in late stage startups with a proven business model, experienced founders and sustainable revenues. In 2015, they invested in Sonnen (the startup formerly known as Sonnenbatterie) and Sunfire – both Ecosummit Berlin Award 2015 winners. It looks like Inven Capital likes smart green startups made in Germany and Ecosummit. The Inven team is super cool and we strongly recommend to all ambitious smart energy startups in Europe to get in touch with Petr, Petra, Ivo and Kristyna.

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Christian Reitberger and Jan Michael Hess chat about smart green angel investing

Ecosummit TV: We need more smart green angels in Europe. At the same time, angels should get better at co-investing in smart green startups and creating value during the holding period. With this motivation Christian Reitberger and Jan Michael Hess chat about the art of smart green angel investing at ECO15 Berlin. Christian is a VC and angel at the same time. This double role is possible as Wellington Partners stopped doing new investments in resource efficiency and, as a result, there is no conflict of interest. While many angels stay in the background, Christian gets a lot of dealflow because there is a general shortage of early stage investors and many people just know him. During the last years, he made 12 angel investments including 1 exit and 1 write-off. His active portfolio contains Romo Wind and Electrochaea.

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Skeleton Technologies, Solarkiosk and Grundgrün win ECO15 London Award

Ecosummit London 2015 was our third conference at the Crystal and it turned out to be our best conference so far in the smart green capital. 160 happy and relaxed participants came together on 6-7 October 2015 to enjoy 46 startup pitches from all over Europe and celebrate smart green innovation. Our panel about fostering the cooperation between impact investors and VCs to tap into new sources of capital for smart green startups received a lot of applause – as did the panels about early stage, late stage and corporate venturing. To further grow next year we are moving Ecosummit London 2016 to CodeNode in the heart of Tech City and concentrate the action on 11 October 2016. Moreover, we announced Ecosummit Berlin 2016 on 26-27 April 2016 at the Radialsystem and Ecosummit Amsterdam 2016 on 7 July 2016 at Rockstart. During our high-speed ECO15 London Award ceremony on 6 October 2015 we announced the 3 winners Skeleton Technologies, Solarkiosk and Grundgrün.

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Andreas Spiess pitches Solarkiosk at ECO15 Berlin

Ecosummit TV: Andreas Spiess pitches Solarkiosk at ECO15 Berlin. The Berlin-based smart green startup operates Solarkiosks designed by Graft in emerging markets and targets people living in offgrid communities at the Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP). By the end of 2015, 200 Solarkiosks will be online in 7 countries in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria). Founded in 2011, Solarkiosk has got over 60 employees, raised more than €10M and will be fundraising in 2016 looking for the best impact investors and VCs that believe in the tremendous business opportunities in emerging markets. Solarkiosk’s ultimate goal are 300.000 Solarkiosks in Africa, Asia and South America. Solarkiosk is one of the most exciting startups in Europe and a superb impact investment opportunity.

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Sonnenbatterie, Sunfire, Thermondo, Agrilution, Ubitricity and Bettervest win the Ecosummit Award at ECO15 Berlin

Ecosummit Berlin 2015 was our best event so far – in terms of product quality, customer feedback and revenues. 250 super happy participants came to the Radialsystem on 19-20 May 2015 and were blown away by our unique mix of smart green people, superb conference location, fresh air on the Spree terrace, long networking breaks, tasty food, delicious wine, onsite parties with funky DJs and live act as well as a packed agenda that we ran through on time – for the first time since 2010. The secret of time keeping is collective discipline fostered by a speaker clock that is also visible to the moderator and skipping questions from the audience. During our award ceremony on 19 May 2015, we announced the 6 smart green startups winning the Ecosummit Award 2015.

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Frédéric Mazzella pitches BlaBlaCar

Ecosummit TV: Co-Founder and CEO Frédéric Mazzella pitches BlaBlaCar at ECO14 London and explains in every detail how they disrupt mobility and build a fast-growing global startup. If you want to grow fast, you have to postpone profit and invest everything in managing growth with a flexible strategy how to enter new markets. Sharing corporate values with existing and new employees is a key success factor. Founded in France in 2004, BlaBlaCar reached 1 million members in 2011 and 10 million members in September 2014. In July 2014, Index Ventures and Accel Partners co-lead the Series C and injected $100M. In April 2015, BlaBlaCar acquired Carpooling.com, their strongest competitor in Germany. Frédéric believes that long distance ride sharing is very different from city-focused Uber as the average trip matched by BlaBlaCar is 300 km. However, this competitive situation may change in the future and that’s why BlaBlaCar keeps on accelerating. This is a must-see video for every smart green startup and their investors.

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Taavi Madiberk pitches Skeleton Technologies at ECO14 London

Ecosummit TV: At ECO14 London, Taavi Madiberk gives an update on Skeleton Technologies from Estonia and teases investors to join their Series B which is still open as of today. Since Taavi’s first pitch at ECO12 Berlin, Skeleton made a lot of progress and raised €11.6M in equity and grants. The main investor so far is UP Invest from Estonia. Skeleton makes ultracapacitors that are special purpose batteries with very high power density and 1 million cycles but lower energy density compared to lithium-ion batteries. A typical application is the start-stop function of a car. Now Skeleton has got over 30 employees and plans to open the first large-scale factory in Bautzen, Germany, with the help of Germany Trade & Invest. We think that Skeleton is one of the most promising smart green startups in Europe and are happy that Taavi will pitch again at ECO15 Berlin.

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Johan Reynaert presents the European Investment Fund and shares their LP lessons learned

Ecosummit TV: Johan Reynaert presents the European Investment Fund (EIF) and shares their LP lessons learned at ECO14 London. EIF is the biggest fund investor in Europe and a major LP in 16 sustainability VC funds such as Munich Venture Partners, Environmental Technologies Fund, Demeter, Capricorn, VNT Management, Aster Capital, Emertec, WHEB and Icos Capital. According to Johan, sustainability as an asset subclass within venture capital is maturing. GPs and LPs have learned from the past and nowadays focus on capital efficiency, value creation and cooperation with corporates in their startup portfolio. A new trend – that we just discussed with Johan’s colleague Patric Gresko at the Cleantech Forum in Florence – is the interaction of impact investors and smart green VCs. The deep integration of impact investing into the investment strategy and portfolio management enables VCs and startups to tap into a lot of new capital from family offices and other impact investors.

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Henrik Olsen chats with Jan Michael Hess about being a smart green VC

Ecosummit TV: “We like to get to know the people behind the business,” explains Henrik Olsen, Partner at Environmental Technologies Fund (ETF), when it comes to building a strong relationship before the investment. Sometimes, relationship building can take a couple of years. In fact, it took 4.5 years in the case of E-Leather from the first meeting until the investment. This may well be a slow investment record but what counts in the end is the fund performance as a result of backing the right startups. E-Leather reprocesses waste leather while making it lighter and stronger to save weight and fuel, e.g. in planes.

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Thermondo raises €6M Series B from Rocket Internet, Holtzbrinck Ventures, E.ON, IBB and Grey Corp

“We only raise as much capital as we need to reach the next company growth and valuation milestone,” says Thermondo‘s CEO Philipp Pausder. In fact, that’s a pretty smart fundraising strategy that ensures the founders do not sell off their company too quickly before substantial value has been created with the help of the current financing round. Today, the Berlin-based late stage startup announced their €6M Series B that they collected from Rocket Internet, Holtzbrinck Ventures, E.ON, IBB and Grey Corp. Thermondo sells heating systems online and dispatches internal teams from 12 cities to every corner in Germany to install the units at the customers’ premises. Learning from Solarcity, Thermondo decided a while ago to vertically integrate the installation process in order to manage it digitally and minimise process costs.

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Christoph Ostermann pitches Sonnenbatterie at ECO14 London

Ecosummit TV: Christoph Ostermann pitches Sonnenbatterie at ECO14 London. Since then a lot has happened to the famous solar storage startup from Bavaria. Just 2 days ago, Sonnenbatterie was chosen in New York as New Energy Pioneer 2015 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In December 2014, Sonnenbatterie raised €7.5M Series B from Munich Venture Partners, SET Ventures and Ecapital, bringing up the total capital raised to €10.5M. With 2014 revenues of €15M, Sonnenbatterie turns out to be very capital efficient. Moreover, a new management team was hired including COO Oliver Koch (Paramount Solar, acquired by Solarcity), CTO Hermann Schweizer and US Country Manager Boris von Bormann, a very smart and well connected German living on the West Coast for 25 years. In fact, Sonnenbatterie USA will officially launch at Intersolar San Francisco on 14-16 July 2015 and currently works on adapting their battery system to the local market and finding strong production and distribution partners. Christoph plans the Series C in 2016 and wants to bring in American co-investors while keeping the HQ in Germany for the foreseeable future.

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Smart green accelerator panel featuring Startupbootcamp, Climate-KIC, Rockstart and Swedish Energy Agency

Ecosummit TV: Accelerating smart green startups should be the key motivation for everybody working with startups on a day-to-day basis, not only accelerators, but also angels, VCs, corporates and service providers. At ECO14 Berlin, we discuss the art of faster startup development with Alex Farcet (Startupbootcamp), Franka Birke (Climate-KIC), Yme Bosma (Rockstart) and Bigge Lidgren (ex-Swedish Energy Agency, now Cleantech Invest). A typical accelerator programme lasts 90 to 180 days with intensive mentoring on product development, customer development, fundraising and team building. Private accelerators like Startupbootcamp and Rockstart follow the business model of investing €20K for 8% of equity at a rather low valuation. Then they work hard to create value, increase the startup’s valuation and attract follow-on investments. Public accelerators like Climate-KIC and Swedish Energy Agency usually do not take equity and rather provide grants and soft loans. A key challenge for all accelerators is to attract coachable founders that are, at the same time, very talented and skilled at building successful startups. Only then do the accelerators get returns on their investments.

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Pedro Miranda talks about the smart green city strategy of Siemens

Ecosummit TV: At ECO14 London, our second conference at the LEED Platinum-certified Crystal, our host Pedro Miranda presents the smart green city strategy of Siemens and its key drivers. Electrification, automation and digital transformation have got a huge impact on the business of the German corporate and its customers. In fact, the digital and physical world are merging to continuously create better and more resource efficient solutions taking advantage of the latest smart technologies. Many companies are working hard to be part of the Internet of Things. According to Pedro, digital growth is exponential and the amount of data generated by humans and machines doubles every 2 years. In smart green cities, smart buildings are connected to the smart grid while the energy and data flow bi-directionally from the producer to the consumer and back to the producer. At the Crystal, Pedro and his team know everything that’s going on thanks to the omniscient building management system they put in place.

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