New beginnings: Reflections on the first year of Greencode
January 8, 2024 •Greencode
In this blog, Terhi Vapola will share with you her thoughts that reflect back to Greencode Ventures’ first year in business and our first investments.
Greencode Ventures, the first green transition fund in Finland, embarks on the journey to invest in digital startups that can drive an impact now!
As this is our first year of existence, I’d like to share our founder's story. Greencode Ventures was born out of discussions that Kaisa Hietala and I were having during my time at Helen Ventures. I adopted her as my informal mentor, as she was the most knowledgeable and influential person I had ever not only known but even heard of in the field of energy transition. She was just recently nominated to the board of Exxon Mobil as a result of a successful green transition campaign led by activist investors. She has been instrumental in shaping my thinking on what a green transition investment strategy should look like on a global level.
The alarming reality of the planetary boundaries has reinforced our investment strategy focusing on green transition should be ambitious (we want to drive big positive change), impactful (we want to drive positive results into the real world - not just an impact potential calculations in Excel), pragmatic (understanding that impact is best driven by tech companies who can supply concrete and value - adding solutions to the large players of high emission segments) and timely (we want to drive change that can be executed now - and not only in the far future). For us, this also meant being a SFDR Article 9 fund and a PRI signatory.
We knew very well that the year 2023 was likely to be one of the most difficult years to go fundraising for a new fund. However, we concluded that the planet - the climate change - does not wait. Further, there is always money for the very best projects. Hence, in order to succeed, we just need to set a very high bar for ourselves. Only the very best is good enough.
With this approach, we started forming our world class team. One of the first persons we contacted was Ines Bergmann-Nolting, Managing Partner of Future Energy Ventures. She shared our passion on the investment strategy and driving the transformation to the world. But before diving deeper into the market value pockets, deal flow and portfolio plan, we started the discussions by testing our own personality profiles, identifying the differences and similarities, and the possible gaps we as a team would have. Greencode Ventures is only as strong as we - the diversified team - are, and therefore we have to build it on a foundation of shared values and appreciation of differences among us: be it know-how, education, personality, nationality, gender or age. When we join forces, we are a much stronger team than an investment team that consists of copies of the same investor persona.
Thereafter, we started drafting the values we wish to see in our joint company. We concluded that at the core of our mission to accelerate the green transition, we uphold the values of curiosity, humanity, and strategic transformation. These values form the lenses through which we look at the world - and the possible investment targets.
It was very natural for us that we want to have a fund that has superior substance matter expertise in the business of green transition. Further, we wanted to drive thought leadership from three different perspectives. First, obviously we need strong investment experience in the field of green transition in order to have a credible track in our field. Second, as our sector is industrial heavy, we need industry transformation experience and networks in order to be able to provide concrete value-add and door opening for our portfolio companies. Third, we wanted to have founder experience in our field.
We were lucky to have Manuel Heckmann and Karin Henriksson to join forces with us. Manuel is an e-mobility founder and serial entrepreneur, and is one of the best networkers I have ever met in my entire life. Karin is B2B sustainability software founder and sustainability veteran having consulted, among others the United Nations, when the UN had set up the greenhouse gas protocol - when the rest of us mortals refer to the UN for guidance.
Curiosity, a core value for us, necessitates reliance on facts and research. Our ability to scrutinise numerous companies and conduct in-depth analyses across various sectors would have been impossible without the invaluable contributions of our analyst and trainee, Patrik Fjällberg and Oskari Ojavuo.
Moreover, we were honoured to have Sari Baldauf, the chairwoman of Nokia and Mika Anttonen, a visionary entrepreneur and investor striving to replace oil, to become the founding members of our advisory board.
Fundraising with a momentum and building an ecosystem of partners
During the spring 2023, we focused on fundraising, leading to the successful first close in June and the second close in November. Today we are a 50MEUR fund - the same size as Helen Ventures. Therefore, we already know that we are sufficiently capitalized to execute the investment strategy. We were extremely lucky to have BFVC as our anchor LP; they backed us up with the largest ticket they have ever given to any fund - really, ever. We are truly grateful for their trust and endorsement, as it truly kick-started our fundraising efforts.
Further, as a reward from all the hard work, our fund attracted a great mix of institutional LPs, ranging from two large Nordic banks, an insurance company and a pension fund, to family offices and the founders and business leaders with whom we have worked in the past.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to all our LPs for your invaluable support. Without you we would not be here today, and through your commitment and belief in our investment strategy, we managed to reach this significant milestone. Jointly we embark into the next stage of building value both financially and impact-wise to the planet.
Our fundraising continues in 2024 and we welcome further partners who believe in our mission to join our fund and contribute to accelerating green transition with solutions that can add value immediately and are possible to scale rapidly. Reach out to us for more details.
Founders that transform the world as we see it today
Immediately after our first close, we did our first investment in July. The first investment is in the cutting-edge marketplace for carbon removal, Supercritical, that helps companies execute their net zero goals. The investment was made together with Lightspeed Venture Partners, RTP, LocalGlobe, MMC and others. We were particularly impressed with the founders Michelle and Aaron, who have exceptionally strong VC-backed (Sequoia and Index Ventures) serial-entrepreneur experience with a successful exit already under their belt - and we shared their ambition to drive positive change into this planet.
Our second investment was in LiveEO, a company providing groundbreaking technology that combines satellite data and AI, helping companies to manage vegetation as well as curb land degradation as well as land and biodiversity loss. We knew the company already very well, and have high respect for its existing investors Matterwave, MMC, Earlybird-X, Segenia, HDI, Helen Ventures, Andy von Bechtolsheim and others. From our perspective, the founders Daniel and Sven are amongst the strongest we’ve ever seen, and we see a lot of potential in the satellite based AI for the earth observation opportunities. Therefore we were thrilled to reconnect with their journey.
Our third investment was closed just a few days before Christmas, marking the successful execution of our portfolio plan (we had planned to do three investments for 2023). This latest investment is in a very interesting Nordic company shaping the EV charging market with a dynamic load balancing solution. More news to come soon, so please stay tuned!
From baby VC to a toddler VC
We are eager to continue the journey in 2024 together with you and the ecosystem at large to make green business the new normal. As we are moving from baby VC to a toddler VC in 2024, we are confident that the investment opportunities presented by 2024 will allow for driving both high returns and positive impact.
In order to accelerate the green transition and leverage the great business opportunities presented by this trend, we invite you to join forces with us. Together, we can drive the change we wish to see in the world.
Are you a founder in a digital-first green transition startup in Europe? We’d love to hear from you! Please submit your deck to us for consideration at email@example.com!