Sustainable Fund New Year 2018 Update

December marked the closing of our fourth investment, funding Good Clubs, who are revolutionising hyperlocal community purchasing. The company, which trades as Food Clubs, is run by  entrepreneur Ben Patten, co-founder of Farmdrop.  We joined impact VC Mustard Seed as co-investors into this round, and are looking forward to working closely with Food Clubs in the coming year.

To date, we have invested into promising technologies in renewables infrastructure & oil decommissioning services (Rovco), building intelligence & energy efficiency (Airex), circular agricultural technology (DryGro), and hyperlocal logistics (Food Clubs).

We believe these investments reflect our thesis well – each relies on changing resource economics to fuel increasing adoption. Their markets are expanding, increasingly receptive to advanced technology, and environmentally critical. And each company combines proprietary technology, genuine breakthrough potential, and an exemplary team.

PORTFOLIO INSIGHTS

Rovco, differentiated itself by having exciting technology serving a market with huge potential and a led by pedigree team. A 25-year subsea veteran as CEO, and a former European Space Agency AI developer as technical lead, headlines a superb team. The company performs subsea surveys with autonomous vehicles, carrying valuable IP wrapped around positioning and imaging – a difficult endeavour in subsea conditions. Its services aid offshore renewables and oil decommissioning operations, each multi billion pound industries, to reduce operating and decommissioning costs and hasten the uptake of renewables.

Airex falls at the intersection of a few converging market movements: expansion of the Internet of Things (IOT), emergence of modern smart buildings, intelligent/autonomous energy efficiency controls, and quickly cheapening sensors. The Airex team builds smart air vents – retrofitted simply and cheaply across a property – to optimise air flow for minimal heat loss and reducing damp, while improving internal air quality. Their system may immediately save users 15% on total energy use, presenting potential to become energy efficiency’s new low hanging fruit for 40% of UK homes – and next in line for mass market installation nationwide. The company continues to gather steam, recently winning Business Green’s annual award for Best Cleantech Startup.

DryGro, an agricultural tech startup initially developed at Oxford University, grapples with the increasing water resource demands of global agriculture. The company grows animal feed in arid climates, using 99% less water than conventional agriculture and circular reuse systems and techniques. The UK based company is presently trialing its technology in Kenya – with the majority of their team now on site – and offers real potential to reduce the mounting pressure on water tables across the developing world.

The Good Clubs (operating as Food Clubs) platform makes hyperlocal community purchasing and logistics easier for sustainable groceries. Its consumer attractiveness is undeniable: by directly connecting producers/wholesalers to local communities, it is possible to remove multiple layers of cost in the food supply chain, offering savings of up to 50% while improving transparency and quality. The company positions itself between two emergent trends of discounting and ethical purchasing, using platforms to reduce friction and fixed costs.  Founded by a repeat entrepreneur, with experience founding a high growth grocery-SAAS startup.