Trying to invest in pre/seed climate tech is really hard

Types of Climate Startups

  • EV/batteries are probably the most popular right now, thanks to Tesla and the electrification of cars. I have no way to diligence these early on and generally, their valuations are very high, to begin with. And after the recent SPACification of so many that turned out to be duds, I feel it will only get harder moving forwards
  • Fake meat is a big consumer-focused that was really hot in 2019/2020. We know raising animals requires a huge amount of energy, water and C02 but are substitutes the answer? VCs have poured billions into these startups and we’re still not even sure… I saw a bunch early and their valuations were very high because of all the hype.
  • Carbon removal has been a big one for a while as we know CO2 etc in the atmosphere is bad no question. There are countless ways to do this (in my best Bubba Blue voice)… literally capture it and bury it, put it in cement, make alcohol and diamonds from it, algae blooms and bury it, capture cow farts etc. The biggest problem I have here though is their business model — they sell carbon offsets, which basically just allows any polluting company to purchase and continue polluting. It’s very short term and while you are somewhat “net” zero, the goal is to remove carbon, lower carbon in the atmosphere AND stop other companies from polluting. We invested in to better understand this problem and try to hit the mass consumer right at point of purchase.
  • Vertical farming sounds really cool but there is a big difference between stacking hydroponics and actually developing real technological efficiencies. Yes, it uses less water, nutrients, and energy but lots of the green aspects of it are because it’s located closer to cities so there is less transportation needed, less gas used, and possibly less wasted produce as well. It’s also usually sold as a premium product too, so the higher price point doesn’t help mass adoption.
  • Analytics for buildings etc so you’re aware of what carbon footprint is. Knowing is definitely half the battle and guilt works pretty well, so if you can show people/corporations their emissions, then maybe they’ll change.
  • Ending single-use plastics will definitely help but no solution has come close to scaling. I often use the same water bottle in my fridge for water but then I order take out and feel ashamed every time. Met a company last year that tried to fix this that lasted only a few months. And how many reuseable bags do you have in every drawer of your house? They made it worse actually. Plastic straws lol… seeing a bunch of algae-based sustainable solutions but have no confidence in their longevity



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Trace Cohen

Trace Cohen


New York Venture Partners ( — pre-seed/seed in 40+ startups.