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BFF Newsletter #3 - March 2020

Get the latest insights from the sustainable energy transition space
Brought to you by Contrarian Ventures

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Dear Friends, Colleagues and Partners,

The world is currently in a very different place compared to what it was when we have launched this newsletter in February. We believe that it will, unfortunately, get much worse before it gets any better so we have to be prepared.

During these turbulent times, we remain very focused, optimistic and open for business. Whilst we are dedicating most of our time to support our 14 portfolio companies, we are also very keen to learn about new investment opportunities that come our way so please ping us a message if you want to talk.

The world still needs technology to enable cleaner energy adoption faster so our mission does not change. We are here to ensure that the world moves towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, even when the going gets tough, as it is today.

Contrarian Ventures Team

 Global Energy Storage Map - Top 100

We are living at an age when managing one’s impact on the environment is not an option anymore. The transition to sustainable business models and lifestyles is very evident, and most countries and corporations are behind the change, be it driven by values or regulation.

We see the huge importance of alternative energy storage to decarbonise the grid, stabilize distributed energy resources, power long haul trucks or your electric scooter. Managed in the right way, it will lead to a cleaner environment and improved quality of life for the majority of the population.

How energy is captured and stored to be used at times when it is most optimal for balancing demand and supply, is at the centre of that transformation. The traditional energy storage medium – fossil fuels – are being pushed out as the main means to store energy by multiple forces (lower cost, positive impact on climate change, efficiency and others).

Venture capital firms poured nearly $2 billion into battery storage companies in 2019, doubling the amount over the year before. We, of course, have to highlight the behemoth funding of Northvolt ($1 billion), or Sila Nanotechnologies ($215 million) and Energy Vault ($110 million), which greatly skew the numbers to mega-rounds.

And to add, while lithium-ion batteries are currently in the spotlight of energy storage technology, accounting for 80% of energy storage VC funding last year, we wanted to highlight the universe of the many technologies enabling a clean and sustainable energy storage revolution. Whether fuel cells powered by hydrogen, air and liquid stored underground, or ice, we present you the 100 startups leading the energy storage change.

On one side, energy storage investment continues to grow exponentially as many utilities and other power generators shift toward renewables, and as more renewable energy is connected to the grid, big batteries are needed to kick in to stabilise the grid when power demand falls short during a low wind day at a sea populated with offshore turbines. At this scale, lithium-ion today is expensive.

And on the other side, corporates and investors respond to the explosive growth of electric vehicles (driving the lithium-ion battery glut), tackling the carbon impact in the transportation sector. The main objectives of the companies working on technologies in this space are safety (no fire) and efficiency (reliable range).

Let us know if you have companies or segments we should add and track!

 Energy Tech Summit - New Date! 

The health, safety, and well-being of our community members and their families is our top priority, so with heavy hearts we have made the decision to postpone the Energy Tech Summit to June 9-10, 2020. 
Besides the change of the event date, everything else about the summit will remain the same, including the location and the program. Moreover, our team will continue to make exciting speaker additions in the months ahead.
Also, we have thoughtfully decided to extend the NEC application period by 6 weeks up until 30th of April. We have received over 160 applications to date. Please help us to spread the word and reach out to your peer entrepreneurs and colleagues by encouraging them to apply to NEC.
Despite this unfortunate turn of events, our focus remains on growing and uniting the energy tech and e-mobility community in Europe. The already confirmed 80 speakers and 9 sponsors encourage us to believe that we are in for something truly life and history changing.

HurryIconEight Steps to Avoid the Death Spiral

A Resource Guide for Founders During this Uncertain Time (courtesy of our colleagues at Drive Capital)

⚔️                       ⚔️                      ⚔️                     ⚔️                       ⚔️                     ⚔️           

1. Over Communicate with Your Teams: During tough times, people look to leaders for guidance. You should be sending daily company-wide emails that update your teams and provide an overall sense of direction.
2. Set Your Teams up to be Successful: Make sure everyone working from home has the resources to do their job well.
3.Stress Test Your Company: If you were planning to raise money in the next 18 months you need to assume this is off the table. Slash your revenues, keep OpEx constant and recalculate your cash runway.
4. Pull Down All Available Debt Now: Cash is of the essence now, and it will likely be more difficult to come by as the situation evolves.
5. “Run to the Roar”: Proactively talk to your key stakeholders (customers, investors, lendors etc).
6. Share the Bad News: Assume the worst and execute the strategy against that worst case scenario.
7. Pause all Hiring: Burn rate is important. Creating a sense of normalcy for existing employees who are working hard is also crucial.
8. Do Not Hesitate: Hard decisions are painful but they have to be made. Be a war time CEO. 

SunIconContrarian Ventures Reading List

Image result for sequoia cap logo
Coronavirus: The Black Swan of 2020

☠️  R.I.P. good times. Version 2 - twelve years later. By Sequoia Capital.

Funding in the Time of Coronavirus

🦠 Informative presentation by Mark Suster from Upfront Ventures.

Series A Guide

💸  A comprehensive Series A guide to start-ups by the Silicon Valley's Y Combinator.

Hurry-IconBig Moves in the Market

Waymo rakes in $2.25 billion in self-driving unit’s first external fundraising

🚙 Investors include Silver Lake, Mubadala, CPP Investment Board, Andreesen Horowitz and others.

Air-Taxi Start-Up, Velocopter, Raises $94m and Enlists ex-Daimler CEO 
🚁 Mitsui Sumitomo, Deutsche Bahn and others joining Intel Capital as investors.


Flying taxi start-up Lilium raises $240m from existing investors led by Tencent

🚁  Other investors include Atomico, LGT, Freigeist and others.

teaIconLet's Meet! Virtually this time!

Given the absence of any conferences in March or April (at least!) that we will be attending due to the ongoing global pandemic crisis, we are more than keen to meet the fellow investors or promising start-ups virtually. Please ping us a message if you would like to chat! 

Also, seems like a number of folks are looking to move their conferences to a virtual world over the upcoming months. We will be participating and will share details with you once it is confirmed.

Stay tuned.

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