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Fundamental focus needed for climate tech startups, Elevate CEO says

MIchael Flaherty
Jul 18, 2022

The market drop and economic turmoil means startups need to get back to the basics, Anthony Oni told Alan at the Axios Insights virtual event held this week.

Why he matters: Oni is the managing partner and CEO of the Elevate Future Fund at Energy Impact Partners. The fund focuses on underrepresented founders.

What he's saying about the economic and market pressures:

  • "I think across the board, the fundamentals and the basics are more important than ever. And I think what you will see from investors is just really more intense and along the diligence process.
  • Investors want to have confidence in what they've funded. So when we have conversations with our founders and startups — you know, really scrutinizing revenue projections, cash burning, go-to-market — all these fundamentals are going to just bear more scrutiny now than ever."
  • Oni added that the new pressure facing the zero-carbon space is a good thing because it produces more accountability and more prudence from executives. "Just having a great idea isn’t gonna cut it in this market," he said.

On diversity: "I've been really focused on, you know, what we can do more to support historically black colleges and universities so that we are pumping out more talent — not just workforce talent, but more talent that recognizes the important role that diverse communities and people need to have in this clean tech and energy transition.

  • "I think we would want to see more incubators, accelerators and focus engagement around clean tech and clean energy on these campuses."

Regarding the recent EPA ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the EPA did not have the power to regulate emissions from existing power plants via generation shifting requirements:

  • "I think the [scope of] the recent ruling was pretty narrow. It's narrow as a whole. I think the momentum that we're seeing [across ESG] is going to continue. And quite frankly: Look, you know the issues around and challenges around climate change has not abated at all. And so this is certainly an important long game that we're in. So I think we're going to continue to see more and more of this focus on ESG."
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