Decarbon8 names the first three startups for its climate-focused philanthropic investment fund

A startup focused on electric vehicle charging is among those being funded by Decarbon8. (City of Seattle Photo)

Decarbon8-US, the recently launched, climate-focused philanthropic investment fund, has announced the first three startups that it will be supporting and putting forward for additional investments. The companies are developing technologies that aim to boost electric vehicle adoption, carbon capture and hydrogen fuel infrastructure.

Anyone can donate to the fund, and contributions are tax-deductible. The fund has raised $175,000 with the goal of $250,000.

On Sept. 10, the companies will make online presentations about their businesses and E8, a Seattle-based network of angel investors that created Decarbon8, will share information about the program. Those who are interested can register online.

The three startups were selected from a pool of 38 that applied for funding. The investment committee includes experienced investors and subject-matter experts from academia and the nonprofit sector.

“Decarbon8 offers anyone the opportunity to directly amplify the decarbonization innovations that we need to confront the generational crisis of climate change,” Molly Shor, a member of the investment committee, said in a prepared statement. “These first companies have proven technologies that are ready to go, and we are excited to give our community a chance to learn about them and participate in their growth.”

The three companies, as described by Decarbon8 or “D8,” are:

  • Xeal, Los Angeles-based advanced software platform for electric vehicle charger networks that is connecting multi-unit properties and workplace customers and their drivers, speeding electric vehicle adoption. Xeal received a $25,000 investment from D8, plus additional $360,000 in what’s called a syndicated investment that was coordinated by an E8 board member.
  • Earthly Labs, an Austin-based company that gives small craft breweries and other industrial facilities a chance to capture, recycle and resell carbon dioxide emissions. Earthly Labs is capitalizing on a beverage-grade CO2 shortage and building momentum for circular economies and sustainability. D8 is investing a minimum of $50,000.
  • Steelhead Composites, a Golden, Colo.-based startup providing specialized vessels for storing hydrogen that can be found in automobiles, maritime ships, stationary and backup power, and in space (think SpaceX). D8 is investing a minimum of $40,000.

The effort has already received grants from Silicon Valley Community Foundation, ImpactAssets and the Stolte Family Foundation, as well as individual donations.

Entrepreneurs in climate-tech can face unique challenges. It can cost more to build innovative hardware than it does to develop software, and the prototype process can take longer, particularly if it involves biological or chemical processes. The customers might include governments and heavily regulated markets, both of which are slower moving. The startups may present a greater risk to investors — though the payoffs are significant for technologies that pan out.

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