Dear Startup Investor,
When BlackRock CEO Larry Fink writes his annual letter, the investment world takes note.
There’s a reason why the company’s most recent quarterly financial statement showed more than $10 trillion in assets managed by the firm. With a finger on the financial pulse of the world, it is noteworthy whenever Fink and his team invest heavily in a certain sector.
Therefore, it is beyond noteworthy when he declares that the next 1,000 unicorn startups will come from sustainable companies focused on clean energy and carbon reduction, which is precisely what he said in his most recent letter.
It is no secret that global warming has become one of, if not the most, important topic in our global discourse. With the looming threat of carbon in the atmosphere raising the earth’s temperatures beyond habitable levels, the amount of money being poured into carbon reduction and alternative energy is no accident.
“Engineers and scientists are working around the clock on how to decarbonize cement, steel, and plastics; shipping, trucking, and aviation; agriculture, energy, and construction,” Fink said. “I believe the decarbonizing of the global economy is going to create the greatest investment opportunity of our lifetime.”
As we’ve seen firsthand with the ascent of such companies as Tesla and the elevation of its founder Elon Musk into the seat of richest man in the world, companies that displace carbon-focused business models are rewarded handsomely.
We have seen incumbent automakers follow suit, attempting to introduce electric models and alter their fleets to reflect this change. As Fink put it, “The question is, will you lead, or will you be led?”
The reliance on fossil fuels has left the world in a precarious position, but it will also open the door to many new companies carving out a significant seat at the table moving forward and helping steer global economies into the future. That opportunity is the reason that BlackRock has invested more than $4 trillion into sustainable startups, as these are the companies that will rewire our societal habits.
Of course, with opportunity comes those who look to seize it. In the startup landscape – and particularly the crowdfunding landscape – there is a wealth of investment opportunities from companies looking to introducing sustainable solutions and reverse the carbon-rich path we’ve tread thus far.
For example, on the topic of clean energy solutions, the two most popular alternatives to coal and other fossil-fuel driven methods have been solar and wind energy. However, the cost of solar and the scale of wind have prohibited the widespread adoption of these techniques.
The general image of a wind turbine is that of a windmill-like structure located atop hills in rural areas, oft visible from interstate highways and gracing grass-covered, hilly landscapes. Sirocco Energy is looking to alter that way of thinking, and its patent-protected technology enables wind turbines to enter urban environments, a possibility previously undiscovered.
It’s no secret that the densely populated urban environments are among the most environmentally harmful. In fact, 80% of global emissions come from cities.
With its modern application, these turbines can be grown or shrunk to power a wide range of necessitates. Whether you’re looking to power an electric-vehicle charging station, a multi-story commercial real estate building or thousand-residence condominium, these wind turbines are designed to generate power in urban environments and reduce the collective carbon footprint.
In a similar mode, the application of solar panels has escaped urban environments, and the presence of solar farms is an impossibility in the urban environments where free space is not an option.
That’s why SolarGaps, a company that has adapted window blinds into a method to deploy solar panels, appears to be such an innovative twist. Imagine if every window in an urban environment was transformed into a way to store and save energy. That’s the vision of this startup.
However, it is not enough to simply slow the carbon emissions of society. There is serious work needed to capture the excessive amounts of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere if we are to dial back the threats of global warming.
When it comes to carbon reduction, there is no hiding from the world’s natural solutions: trees. Trees gobble up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen, naturally cleaning our atmosphere. That’s why Terraformation has made its mission a mass effort of reforestation, looking to reduce the carbon in our atmosphere as organically as possible.
With its solar-powered desalination abilities – including the world’s largest solar-powered, off-grid desalination system – this startup has opened doors to purify and restore degraded and deserted regions of land and turn them fertile.
Yet, it’s no secret that growing trees isn’t an overnight process. That’s why Rizome, another startup with its sights set on carbon reduction, has proposed an alternative solution.
As it turns out, bamboo is technically considered a grass, not a tree. This means that it grows back 15X faster, and it can be harvested without uprooting. Not only that, it captures carbon at a 10X more effective rate than trees.
Better yet, Rizome has proven that bamboo can be repurposed into a form of green lumber that will help supplant worldwide deforestation efforts, more than 50% of which goes on to produce lumber for construction. With the current rate of 15 billion trees cut down annually, there is a pressing need for alternative solutions. The bamboo the startup harvests is also more durable than wood, giving it another edge in that regard.
This is only a small sampling of the startups looking to reverse the earth’s environmental course.
Whether you agree with the scientific or political discussion in play, surely you can get behind the financial side of the discussion.
“We focus on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists and fiduciaries to our clients,” Fink said. “We need transformative discoveries on a level with the electric light bulb, and we need to foster investment in them so that they are scalable and affordable.”
The Research Team