We’ve Got 20 Million Reasons to Push Harder

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We’ve Got 20 Million Reasons to Push Harder

June 03, 2019 · Bryce Smith

When I hike a long trail, I’m sometimes quite certain I’ve reached the top, only to discover that there’s (at least) one more big hill to climb. When I turn around, I’m astonished at how far I’ve come – the cars in the parking lot are nothing but small specks in the distance. If I face forward, though, I’m equally surprised at how many steps remain between the summit and me. It takes a renewed sense of determination, and a handful or two of trail mix, to keep going.

This concept, that most worthwhile journeys are often longer and more arduous than they at first appear, applies to professional life, too. LevelTen Energy just raised another round of funding, this time in excess of $20 million. Though I’m pleased about the round, as a three-time entrepreneur I’m keenly aware that raising money isn’t the destination, just an important milestone along the way. Like a hiker reaching for trail mix, companies need fuel to reach the peak.

Looking back at the past two years, I’m tremendously proud (and somewhat amazed) at how far LevelTen has come. We built a platform that dramatically improves the renewable energy procurement process, making it easier, faster, and less expensive for corporations of all sizes to access power purchase agreements (PPAs). We launched the LevelTen Marketplace, the foundation of our platform, and within a year facilitated the procurement of more than $1 billion dollars of renewable energy. But, we didn’t stop there. We also built our RFP Automation Tool and Dynamic Matching Engine, software products that vastly improve the process of finding, evaluating, and procuring renewable energy contracts, so our clients can execute PPAs with an optimal blend of value and risk. We reimagined the PPA process, creating standard processes and contracting best practices to reduce friction every step of the way. We also established relationships with amazing channel partners, bringing more buyers to the marketplace. As our platform grew, our team grew, necessitating a move to our beautiful new office in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.

The cars in the proverbial parking lot appear tiny, indeed.

But, looking ahead, I see more hills. Fortunately, we have fuel in the tank to power our journey. In our quest to remove all the barriers that prevent widespread renewable energy procurement, we’ll bring our renewable energy platform to Europe. We’ll open our platform to more channel partners and service providers, facilitating easier and better procurement for buyers of all types. And, as usual, we’ve got a few surprises up our sleeves!

With increasing urgency, customers, investors, and employees are calling on businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the science becomes more alarming, and more certain, stakeholders demand that sustainability become a C-suite priority. Fortunately, corporations are responding and, in fact, leading where government won’t. Still, the vast majority of business are standing on the sidelines. At LevelTen, we intend to remove all the barriers that stand in their way. I have no doubt that 100% renewable procurement will soon be the norm, dramatically increasing the amount of new renewable energy project development around the world. It’s a big hill to climb, but we must get there, quickly.

I’d like to thank our newest investors, Constellation Technology Ventures, Equinor Energy Ventures and Total Ventures, for believing in the LevelTen vision. Paul Hawken, in his now-classic book, “The Ecology of Commerce,” posits that, ironically, business is the world’s only institution powerful enough to tackle the ecological crises that it helped create. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I’m quite certain we need the support and leadership of the energy majors to turn the tide. To our returning investors, including Avista Development, Element 8 Fund, Founders’ Co-op, Prelude Ventures, Techstars Ventures and Wireframe Ventures, thanks for your continued support.

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the entire LevelTen team, from the industry vets executing deals, to the analysts and engineers who bring much-needed technological savvy to a traditional energy industry, to the support staff who make it all possible. We’ll take a moment to celebrate and enjoy the view, only to turn around and start climbing once again.

Author
Bryce Smith
Bryce Smith is the founder and CEO of LevelTen Energy. Prior to LevelTen, Smith co-founded OneEnergy Renewables, a national developer of utility-scale solar projects.