HomeInterviewsVoyager Ventures, Interview With Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic

Voyager Ventures, Interview With Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic

Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic
Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic

On Feb. 7, 2024, Voyager Ventures, a San Francisco, CA-based venture capital firm investing in early-stage climate technology companies in North America and Europe, announced the close of Voyager Partners Select I, LP at $100m. in conjunction with the close, founders Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic participated in our Q&A.

Their background

Together, Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic bring a collective three decades of experience in climate to their work as investors. 

Sierra Peterson has been structuring markets, financial products and investments for climate stabilization since 2005 and brings expertise in energy, policy and financing. She has led investments in more than 25 early-stage climate tech companies since 2015. Previously, Sierra led corporate development teams at climate-focused financial technology companies responsible for $3B+ in solar and energy efficiency financing. Her experience in climate policy and market design includes the Obama White House Office of Energy and Climate Change and the International Energy Agency. 

Sarah Sclarsic has been building and investing in transformative technology companies since 2009 and brings expertise in mobility, biotech, food and materials production, and carbon removal. She co-founded car-sharing firm Getaround and served as the founding business director of Modern Meadow, the world’s first lab-grown leather and meat company. Sarah enrolled in the PhD program at MIT in 2018 to research bioengineering strategies for carbon removal, completing her Master’s thesis three months before launching Voyager.

VCWire: Can you introduce your firm?

Built on 32 years of climate technology expertise, Voyager Ventures invests in exceptional technology companies creating the foundations of a new, decarbonized economy. Voyager is led by experienced climate technology investors, founders, company-builders, and policymakers who know how to invest and build for scale. The firm brings its expertise, experience, and networks to accelerate the success of ambitious early-stage founding teams in North America and Europe. To date, Voyager has made 19 investments in software, hardware, and biotech companies decarbonizing the global economy and has set the goal of sequestering or averting the emissions of 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) over the tenure of each fund. The firm is based in San Francisco and New York and will open its London office in 2024.

VCWire: Which is your overall strategy?

Our strategy with Select Fund I and Fund I is to back climate tech startups accelerating global decarbonization, which we do by partnering with ambitious founders building the future of energy, transportation, materials, and carbon removal. Select I aims to support 15 companies across North America and Europe, writing average investments of $5 million to $8 million, and has made investments already into CarbonChain, Intensivate, and Remora.

VCWire: Beyond capital, how do you support startups?

Our investment team has built 6 climate tech companies as founders and early leaders. We know how to help founders build climate tech startups because we’ve done so ourselves, in transportation, alternative protein, renewable energy, materials and water, among other areas. We help founders plan for and tackle operational issues, from product strategy to how to build a world-class team to how to land your first customers. We are also experts on opportunities that are specific to climate tech companies, such as working with government decarbonization programs and funding in the US and EU – the Inflation Reduction Act alone is expected to result in $1 Trillion in investment for decarbonization. And because our investment team has worked on climate for over 40 years collectively, we bring a deep and helpful network of fellow founders, executives, venture funders, and other partners that we can always tap into to help accelerate the success of the startups we work with. 

VCWire: What do you like to see in founders?….And what don’t you like to see in them? I mean, is there something which impresses you at a first glance?

We look for founders with a clear vision for how to decarbonize an aspect of the economy, through delivering a product or service that is clearly better than what it replaces. We look for founders with a bias towards speed and action, who look to data to make their decisions and who are eager to talk to customers. We’re particularly impressed by founders whose ambitious vision is backed up by detailed plans and data: they’ve done the work to understand the problem they’re solving and the deeper you go, the more struck you are by the level of founder’s knowledge, transparency and thoughtfulness. 

VCWire: Please, tell us a bit more about the portfolio. You can list five startups their path have made you particularly proud of.

Our portfolio, which is currently made up of 19 startups, consists of companies and leaders that are creating the future of mobility, energy, materials, food, the built environment, analytics, industrial systems, and carbon removal. These include: Aepnus, Arbor, Andes, ANNEA, Anthro, Atlas Materials, CarbonChain, Channing St. Copper Co., ElectricFish, Ento Labs, InRange, Intensivate, Lydian Labs, Mitti Labs, Powerline, Remora, SnoFox and two that we have not yet announced. 

VCWire: Which sector/s would you bet 2 cents in the next five years?

If we had to point out one growing market distortion, we would say hydrogen: we have yet to see the strong incentives and investment activity in hydrogen production matched by equally strong demand for hydrogen as a feedstock or primary fuel.

Additionally, while founders are still eagerly using AI wherever they can, we foresee a shift in focus to specific AI applications to address climate change, rather than using it in a large language model capacity. We are actively investing in companies focused on applying AI to climate and energy systems, such as Ento Labs