I'll never forget the first time I saw Choose Energy listed as an exit example in a pitch deck. There are many surreal moments as an investor, and this was one of my first.
While that exit was successful, the road there was anything but easy. It took an amazing team effort to get it over the finish line. As a result, I'm very aware of the possibility I'll miss a great consumer energy company.
I'm sure many of you have similar experiences working in cleantech 1.0. But, we should remember that the same ideas often get tried multiple times before the eventual winner emerges.
Timing matters, and now looks increasingly like the right time. It's not just technology making it happen, but consumer sentiment and enterprise budgets are shifting too.
For the venture capital model, the truth remains the market wasn't mature enough even 5 years ago and for some innovations it will never make sense. Additionally, exit activity was sparse compared to the amount of investment activity that had happened from 2007-2012.
A real investment and startup ecosystem now exists. It's why we see so many generalist venture capital firms plant their flag in the ground much in the same way they've done in Fintech.
In the coming years, we'll see even more M&A than we are seeing now, incumbents buying startups, larger startups buying smaller startups, SPACs, and IPOs.
The rapid pace of innovation within energy makes it one of the most exciting sectors which is why it will continue to attract mainstream attention. These new entrants will have the double-edged sword of naivete it will burn them but undoubtedly help them too.
As experienced operators and investors within the energy transition, we'll have the inverse problem. We can't get bogged down by dogma.
Our role is to be curmudgeonly optimistic and to keep as much of a beginners' mind as appropriate. That will require us to always ask the question, "is it different this time?"