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Expert voices: Amy Duffour of Azolla Ventures

Photo illustration of Amy Duffour with Azolla Ventures' logo.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: courtesy of Azolla Ventures.

It's a rocky time in finance — and climate tech investment is no exception. That's why Amy Duffuor is urging both investors and founders to "have grace."

Why she matters: Duffuor is general partner at Azolla Ventures, an early-stage hardware-focused venture firm launched by nonprofit Prime Coalition.

  • Azolla and Prime this month announced a $239 million fund blending philanthropic capital and traditional investors.

This interview was lightly edited for length.

What's been the big news in climate tech this month?

  • Climate tech isn’t immune to the broader venture downturn. There has been a 40% drop in climate funding in H1 2023 compared to the prior year, according to Climate Tech VC, with growth rounds being especially challenging.
  • This deeply concerns me, because climate startups need cash given we are literally running out of time.

What would you add to the narrative?

  • While it’s true that early-stage rounds are still getting done (in comparison to growth) not all early-stage rounds are created equal.
  • There is healthy activity in pre-seed and seed rounds but there are a ton of companies struggling to raise Series A and B rounds. They also need support.

What's going undernoticed?

  • We need more venture debt options for climate tech founders to enable greater access to different types of climate financing.

Four fun things:

💼 First job: Cashier at a pastry shop.

👑 Proudest investment: I believe in an intersectional approach to the climate crisis and am proudest when I’ve led investments in companies that can address large-scale greenhouse gas reductions alongside social impact.

🤦 Facepalm investment: An investment that other investors thought was “hot” because of a certain well-regarded founder or well-regarded syndicate members who did absolutely no diligence. Call me old-fashioned, I like to make up my mind myself as an investor.

💡 In three-ish words, one change you would make to climate investing: Incorporate climate justice.

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