November 09, 2022
🐪 We made it to Wednesday, and we're halfway through election week.
🐦 Situational awareness: Elon Musk has sold at least $3.95 billion worth of Tesla shares since completing his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, according to new filings with the SEC. Axios' Rebecca Falconer and Hope King have the details.
🗓️ Reminder to join Megan tomorrow for a conversation on emerging markets' investment trends with Global Ventures Managing Partner Noor Sweid. RSVP here.
1 big thing: Coating home windows with space gel
AeroShield raised $4 million in seed funding for its technology that takes spacecraft insulation and puts it on your home's windows, the company tells Alan exclusively.
Why it matters: Windows leak huge amounts of heat and cooling. AeroShield says its transparent coating can slash those losses by as much as 65%.
Details: AeroShield Materials, based in the Boston area at Greentown Labs, closed the seed round last month, with MassVentures, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and Good Ventures participating.
- In June, the company received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
Context: Heat gain and cooling loss through windows can drive 30% of a homeowner's heating and electric bill.
- Window manufacturers decades ago developed so-called "low-emissivity" or "low-e" glass. The greatest innovation since then: slapping on another layer of glass.
- These "triple-pane" windows are expensive — and account for less than 5% of the U.S. market.
How it works: Silica aerogel was developed in the 1930s, but became commonly used to insulate spacecraft. The material diffuses light similarly to Earth's atmosphere and gives off a similar blue hue.
- AeroShield's team figured out how to make the material clear.
The intrigue: You may have heard of "dynamic glazing" — material that automatically tints in reaction to sunlight.
- Dynamic glazing and aerogel each sit on a different layer of glass. The two materials can potentially be paired for maximum insulation.
What they're saying: "There’s pretty strong evidence that we’ll be able to do this for less than a triple-pane," co-founder and vice president Aaron Baskerville-Bridges tells Alan.
- "The payback, even without the incentives, is five years or less. That’s our target."
What's next: AeroShield is testing its product with manufacturers. It plans to have pilot installations next year, including with one of the national labs.
- The company aims to bring a consumer product to market in 2024. It's starting with the residential sector, where windows tend to be smaller.
👀 What we're watching: AeroShield has aspirations beyond windows, including grocery store freezer aisles, oven doors, car windows and even capturing sun-generated heat for industrial processes.
- "We put a sheet of painted black metal on the roof at MIT, and put the aerogel on top of it, in winter in Boston," Baskerville-Bridges says. "It got up to 400-something degrees."
One fun thing: AeroShield might be one of the only companies that could prove its product during Zoom meetings. While pitching investors on Zoom, they'd say with a flourish: "We have a super-clear aerogel — and if you don’t believe me, we've been presenting through an aerogel this whole time."