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Climate tech comes to YC's Demo Day

Megan Hernbroth
Mar 31, 2022
Illustration of the Y Combinator logo with leaves on top, forming a tree.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Y Combinator's Demo Day on Tuesday and Wednesday featured 31 startups focused explicitly on addressing climate change in some way.

Why it matters: Y Combinator is one of the most respected startup accelerators in Silicon Valley, having produced companies like Airbnb and Coinbase, and this year's climate cohort was its biggest and best funded to date.

By the numbers: YC funded all 31 startups to the tune of $500,000, an increase from previous cohorts that received $125,000 for completing the program.

  • The funding increase was announced in January. It includes the existing $125,000 for 7% of the company that was standard at YC, plus an additional $375,000 in an uncapped SAFE note with a "most favored nation" clause that ensures YC will get a favorable return regardless of when it coverts the debt.
  • It's the most climate-specific investments YC has made in a single cohort, a YC representative confirmed to Axios. It has funded 91 climate startups to date.

Zoom in: The companies funded covered a range of increasingly popular areas within climate technology. A representative sample follows, in alphabetical order:

  • Alga Biosciences is a San Francisco ag-tech startup that makes engineered cattle feed that makes cows burp less methane.
  • Pelm is a San Francisco payments startup that wants to integrate utilities à la Plaid. It claims to have signed five utilities covering roughly 16% of the U.S. population.
  • Phoenix Hydrogen is a California- and Arizona-based commodities investment software company that focuses on the hydrogen market.
  • Plover Parametrics is a San Francisco and Washington, D.C.-based data analytics startup that sells to insurance companies to bolster coverage of weather or natural disaster events. It claims to have signed letters of intent with three insurers.
  • Posh is a Bay Area battery recycling startup that wants reuse rare materials from EV batteries. It claims it has signed $4.7 million in letters of intent in the last six weeks.
  • SixWheel is a San Francisco trucking startup from a former Cruise engineer that claims to be able to retrofit diesel trucks with hardware that converts them to hybrid electric.
  • Unravel Carbon is a Singapore-based enterprise software company for tracking and reporting emissions.

The bottom line: Silicon Valley sees climate tech as a growing investment opportunity after years of avoiding the market due to previously unsuccessful bets.

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