Today's VC Industry Trends looks into funding for U.S.-based startups working with natural resources.
All figures are based on Crunchbase data and all graphs are my own.
Normally, when I look at companies dealing with the environment, I tend to focus on clean- or green tech startups. Of course, there are many outfits in this sector that do not have an explicitly environmentally-friendly mission that are getting investments from venture capitalists. However, the interest in these companies has been falling for some time now, as evidenced by the graph directly below. From a height of almost 120 rounds per quarter in 2014, companies working in the natural resources space only pull in 40 rounds per quarter. Despite the bump in the aggregate average round in mid-2020, which was ubiquitous across all verticals, it appears that the average rounds for these companies are set to continue falling in the coming months.
Venture capital investors in this area have long focused on fairly large rounds, which tend to not identify their stage. Series A funding has been petering out for the last two years, while Series B saw its first significant uptick in Q4'20. Seed funding has also dwindled to almost nothing, while dollars from stages C-E have become ever rarer.
Yet venture capital was never the main funding player for companies focusing on gas, oil, and mining operations. While debt is a relatively consistent part of the picture, the contours of its spikes in recent quarters indicate that debt rounds tend to be larger affairs from isolated companies. Post-IPO funding is also more present here compared with, say, software startups. Though it has begun producing smaller dollar-flows, private equity funding — characterized by single, massive rounds — is quite popular and makes up a larger portion of funding than any other type.
Despite bringing in relatively few dollars, venture capital produces the largest number of rounds. The majority of these are broken down into seed rounds (which have become less frequent) and rounds with an unknown stage (which have remained more stable).
In addition to falling in number, seed rounds have actually become smaller in recent months (note that almost every other sector shows the opposite trajectory). While the average series A round has, with some exceptions, stayed in the $10M area, series B rounds have become substantially larger. This began in mid-2019 and has seen the average series B round begin hovering around the $20M mark.
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Today's Funding 💸
- Soci (San Diego, Calif.), localized marketing platform: $80M D led by JMI Equity, participation from Ankona Capital, Doug Winter, et al.
- Aerobotics (South Africa), farm management platform: $17M B led by Naspers Foundry, participation from Cathay AfricInvest Innovation, FMO, Entrepreneurial Development Bank, Platform Investment Partners.
- Bear Flag Robotics (Newark, Calif.), autonomous farm tractors: $7.9M led by True Ventures, participation from Graphene Ventures, AgFunder, D20, Green Cow VC.
- Plexium (San Diego, Calif.), protein degrading therapeutics: $35M led by Lux Capital, Pivotal BioVentures, participation from The Column Group, DCVC Bio, et al.
- Pneumagen (St. Andrews, Scotland), prevention and treatment from respiratory infections: $3.6M (£2.5M) from undisclosed sources.
- GlassesUSA (U.S.), online eyewear retailer: $45M from Tene Investment Fund.
- Curtsy (San Francisco, Calif.), mobile-based platform for women to sell clothing, shoes, and accessories: $11M A led by Index Ventures.
- Valtix (San Francisco, Calif.), cloud-native network security: $12.5M from Cisco Investments, Northgate Capital, The Syndicate Group.
- Softr (Berlin, Germany), relational databases building and interrogating platform: $2.2M Seed led by Atlantic Labs, participation from Philipp Moehring, et al.
- Avesha (Burlington, Md.), applications disaggregation platform from cloud to the edge: $6M Seed led by Taiwania Capital.
- TripActions (Palo Alto, Calif.), travel and spend management platform: $155M E from Andreessen Horowitz, Addition Ventures, Elad Gil, Zeev Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greenoaks Capital.
- LEAP India (India), construction materials retailer: $25M (Rs180 crore) from Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure.
- Swapp (Tel Aviv, Israel), AI-based construction planning: $7M Seed led by Point72 Ventures, Entrée Capital.
- Creative Fabrica (Amsterdam, Netherlands), marketplace for digital files for various production uses: $7M led by Felix Capital, participation from FJ Labs, Peak Capital.
- CloudNatix (Irvine, Calif.), infrastructure for businesses with multiple cloud and on-premise operations: $4.5M Seed led by DNX Ventures, participation from Cota Capital, Incubate Fund, Vela Partners, 468 Capital.
- OBRIZUM (Cambridge, Mass.), B2B corporate learning and knowledge management platform: $2.5M from undisclosed sources.
- Eli (Montreal, Canada), hormone tracking platform for women's fertility and health decisions: $1.5M Seed led by Vectr Ventures, participation from 2048 Ventures, Real Ventures, Techstars, Panache Ventures, Ramen Ventures, MEDTEQ+, et al.
- Paystone (London, Canada), payments and integrated software platform: $69M from Canadian Business Growth Fund, National Bank of Canada.
- Brigit (New York, N.Y.), holistic financial health app: $35M A led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, participation from DCM, Nyca, Canaan, DN Capital, CRV, Core Innovation Capital, Shasta, Hummingbird, Abstract, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Secocha, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Flourish Ventures.
- Springbox AI (London, U.K.), financial forecasting application: $2M from undisclosed sources.
- VSPN (China), esports competition facilitator: $60M B+ from Prospect Avenue Capital, Guotai Junan International, Nan Fung Group.
- Turnip (Bengaluru, India), gaming live streaming and community platform: $1.63M Seed led by Elevation Capital, participation from Better Capital.
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