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Expert voices: EIP's Sameer Reddy talks transmission

Photo illustration of Sameer Reddy with a drone, power lines and geometric shapes.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: courtesy of Energy Impact Partners

Investor Sameer Reddy has been spending a lot of time thinking about the biggest constraint for a net-zero grid: transmission.

Why he matters: Over the past 15 years, Reddy has been investing in climate tech and industrial startups, currently as a managing partner for Energy Impact Partners (EIP).

  • This week, one of his latest investments, Infravision, which uses drones and software to upgrade power lines, announced a new $23 million Series A round led by EIP.
  • Reddy says, "If you look at the Inflation Reduction Act, transmission is the bridge to helping all of that come together."

This interview was lightly edited for clarity and length.

What was the biggest news in climate-tech investing this week?

  • "There was a lot of noise made around a very innocuous job posting that Microsoft listed. I think it was a principal engineer for nuclear small modular reactors.
  • "That's pretty big news for a bunch of reasons. We're seeing the sheer power requirements of generative AI through the roof right now.
  • "It's increasingly clear that the data center skill set is going to move from one that's historically been very much a real estate skill set, to one that's going to be much more of an electrical engineer or power engineering skill set.
  • "Increasingly, power is going to be the fundamental constraint, and many of the companies in those categories are going to have to integrate this type of power expertise into their core business models."

What's gone undernoticed in the climate-tech space?

  • "This is still very much an energy transition. For all of the excitement around new technologies, I think there probably needs to be more of an acknowledgment that it's gonna take time to get there.
  • "Existing technologies are going to have to serve as a bridge maybe longer than I think some folks expect.
  • "I think resiliency and reliability is going to be a really important trend, and it's one that probably does not get enough attention because it's something that we've taken for granted for the past 30, 40 years.
  • "Reliability is going to become a harder equation to solve for, and I think things like microgrids are going to play an increasingly important role."

Do you have one tip for climate-tech investors or founders?

  • "I think for founders, it's really important to know who your end customer is. Oftentimes, climate-tech founders are selling a technology or solution into a big incumbent, and just really understand the way that incumbents buy.
  • "From our experience, this is an inherently messy industry. It's an inherently complex industry. To make money in the space, you can't shy away from complexity and really challenging problems.
  • "Some of the biggest companies that come out of climate tech, I don't think they're gonna look like some of the biggest companies across generalist tech."

Four fun things:

💼 First job: "I was a telemarketer and I was really bad at it."

👑 Proudest investment: "A couple of investments that we've made where we came in at the Series A stage where it was a 10-person company, and we've scaled the company to north of a billion dollars.

  • "I think that's really hard to do and we certainly appreciate it. Those are the exceptions.
  • "I hope I can do that a few more times. That's kind of the dream in this job."

🤦‍♀️ Facepalm investment: "Getting a market right is surprisingly easy here, but getting the timing of the market right is the probably number one reason that businesses fail in climate.

  • "Directionally speaking, you could be right on that trend, but if you're three to five years off the adoption cycle, you're wrong on the investment. Being wrong on timing is probably worse than being wrong on the market.
  • "All of the failures that I have and certainly been a part of, they've all shared those [characteristics] and been wrong on timing."

💡 In three-ish words, one change you'd make to climate-tech investing: "Less polarity and more collaboration."

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