HomeUSAClean Energy Ventures, Interview With Daniel Goldman, David Miller and Temple Fennell

Clean Energy Ventures, Interview With Daniel Goldman, David Miller and Temple Fennell

Clean Energy Ventures Managing Partners David Miller, Daniel Goldman, Temple Fennell
Clean Energy Ventures – Managing Partners David Miller, Daniel Goldman, Temple Fennell

Clean Energy Ventures, a Boston, MA-based global venture capital firm funding early-stage climate innovations, recently closed its second flagship fund, at $305m. In conjunction with it, Daniel Goldman, David Miller and Temple Fennell replied to our questions about their firm and their activity.

Hi guys, can you please tell us a bit more about you? What’s your background?

Clean Energy Ventures is comprised of a team of investors, scientists and entrepreneurs who have guided the next generation of climate tech companies spanning industrials, mobility, renewable energy, CCUS, energy storage, critical minerals, and more through seismic market shifts for more than nearly three decades.

CEV was founded in 2017 by Daniel Goldman, David Miller and Temple Fennell. 

  • Daniel Goldman: Co-founder and Managing Partner: Over the last three decades, Daniel has participated in more than $4 billion of energy infrastructure and venture finance transactions. Before founding CEV, he previously founded Clean Energy Venture Group (CEVG), one of the most active groups of early-stage clean energy investors, in 2005.
  • David Miller, Ph.D: Co-founder and Managing Partner: An engineer by training, David holds more than 25 years of technology startup management experience and seed stage investing experience. David is an expert in climate impact measurement and broader climate investing trends, working closely with the CRANE initiative, En-ROADS and Project Frame to help measure climate impact for investors, entrepreneurs, and more.  
  • Temple Fennell: Co-founder and Managing Partner: A serial entrepreneur, Templehas three decades of experience as an investor. A veteran of the impact investing movement, he co-founded and co-directs a Harvard/World Economic Forum program on impact investing for the next generation of climate investing.

Can you introduce your firm?

Clean Energy Ventures (CEV) funds early-stage and pre-growth stage hardware-oriented climate technologies. With a unique investment thesis, the CEV team positions quantitative climate impact alongside financial performance – which is why we require that each potential portfolio company must be capable of mitigating 2.5 gigatons of carbon emissions cumulatively between the initial investment and 2050. 

Which is your overall strategy?

Our primary aim is to bridge the funding gap for the most promising and most impactful early-stage companies. We’re on the lookout for hardware investments across mobility, renewable energy, energy storage, critical minerals, and more. CEV is primarily focused in pre-seed, seed and Series A rounds, though we’re excited to be expanding to ‘pre-growth’ or early-growth rounds now with the launch of our second fund. 

One of our unique criteria during the diligence process is that technologies must have the potential to mitigate 2.5 gigatons of emissions. That’s why we do the math and see how we estimate emissions reductions with our open access tool, the Simple Emissions Reduction Calculator (SERC).

Beyond capital, how do you support startups?

We’re proud that our guidance goes well beyond just the dollars; for our portfolio companies, we offer a range of support from dedicated leadership coaching to strategic marketing to engineering support and even IP development. CEV also typically supports its companies on the board.

It all comes back to having a deeply technical team – in fact more than 60% of our investment team has advanced degrees in science and engineering. That, combined with the endless support we have from our group of venture partners and angel investors with extensive industry executive experience (including having a Strategic Advisory Board led by former Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz), we’re consistently providing true hands-on support to our portfolio companies.

What can you tell us about your LP base? Are they helpful? How?

We have LP representation across all corners of the globe, which is a huge advantage. The LPs in our second fund include Carbon Equity, The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, Builders Vision, New Summit, and many more. 

Our LPs are incredibly supportive of what we do and because of them, our Fund II was 50% oversubscribed. After we began our fundraise, we hit our initial target in just 6 months due to the outsized interest from our amazing LPs. That’s why we had to increase the fund size to accommodate, which led to our $305M Fund II. 

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 are looking for founders with truly groundbreaking approaches to decarbonization that can tackle some of the biggest challenges we’re facing as a society. And equally as important, we want to make sure that what we’re offering – the level of hands-on support to help scale from lab to commercialization – is what a founder would want from their investor as well. 

Please, tell us a bit more about the portfolio. You can list five startups whose paths have made you particularly proud of.

Our portfolio companies are behind some of the most impactful and multifaceted solutions that will enable decarbonization at a massive and global scale. Our first flagship fund backed 20 game-changing companies that collectively have the potential to mitigate over 50 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions, including Nth Cycle, which has led the way in innovating critical metals refining. 

We are also proud to announce the first companies within our second fund, ordered by most recent: Aepnus Technology (Note to Ermanno: under embargo until June 13 at 7am ET), Evari, Nitrofix, OXCCU, and Noon Energy.  

With our second fund, nearly three times the size of our first fund, we expect to mitigate 75 gigatons of emissions by 2050 and will continue to scale the most impactful climate tech companies across North America, Europe and Israel. 

Which sector/s would you bet 2 cents on in the next five years?  Two areas we’re keeping an eye on to accelerate decarbonization at scale include electro-chemistry – where previously fossil-based chemicals and reactions can now be driven by electricity – as well as grid technologies, such as virtual power plants for distributed energy resources and grid enhancing technologies that solve transmission bottleneck issues.