Happy International Women’s Day!
In honor of this year’s International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the phenomenal work and achievements of female founders leading the charge in accelerating a climate-positive future. Almost $6.4 billion in venture capital was raised by US firms started solely by women in 2021, an increase of 83% compared to the total raised in 2020. Despite the increase in funding, businesses with female founders suffered disproportionately and only received 2% of the dollars invested in VC-backed startups in the US for the entire year.
With the odds stacked against them in a historically male-dominated industry, these female founders are just a handful of entrepreneurs breaking through the gender barriers and driving positive change to impede the growing threat of climate change.
The Female Leaders Scaling Groundbreaking GreenTechs
Julia Collins, Founder & CEO at Planet FWD
Born and raised in San Francisco, Julia Collins is the brainpower behind the leading climate management platform for consumer companies. With the help of its proprietary software, it is making the creation of sustainable and carbon-neutral products easier and less expensive for the next generation of sustainable firms.
“With less than 7 years to reach global 2030 climate goals, now is the time for consumer brands to step forward and lead on climate. We are proud to support consumer companies in achieving their climate action goals and hasten the transition to a net zero future.”
Commenting on the stark funding statistics for female founders as just noise, Julia’s advice is to be fearless. “I almost try on a daily basis to completely forget the statistics. Because those statistics can paralyze you. And as a founder, you have to charge forward.” And charge forward she has, raising $10M in Series A in May 2022 to further advance Planet FWD’s technology.
Gaida Zirkelbach, Co-Founder and CEO at Sustainabase
Gaida Zirkelbach describes herself as an ‘ecopreneur’ on LinkedIn, a worthy description due to being the intellect of the growing GreenTech, Sustainabase. Its software platform enables businesses to manage and report on carbon emissions, waste, water and more to be able to thrive in the imminent low-carbon economy.
Gaida’s career started in law, being a partner at a large law firm focusing on tech and mergers and acquisitions. Deciding to apply her experience of advising high-growth companies in tech to sustainability, she saw an opportunity to add value to organisations decarbonizing. She commented, “Companies of all sizes are starting to really care about this issue. It’s really exciting to see.”
In the last year, Sustainabase has tripled in size and has a calibre of clients, including global players such as Nestle.
Neha Palmer, CEO and Co-Founder at TeraWatt Infrastructure
Neha Palmer made headlines last summer, leading EV Charging startup, TeraWatt Infrastructure, to one of the biggest funding rounds of 2022. The business, which raised more than $1 billion, is focused on facilitating fleet mobility by offering long-term and reliable solutions to finance, create, maintain, and manage electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Her prior victories at Google as Head of Energy Strategy made her a frontrunner to join TeraWatt Infrastructure as CEO and bring her deep expertise in building out rapidly growing fleets of large-scale, energy-intensive infrastructure from the data centre world to the evolving electric vehicle charging infrastructure market.
Predicting 2023 to be the year of EV Charging, we’re sure this isn’t the last we will be seeing of Neha.
Nona Yehia, Co-Founder and CEO of Vertical Harvest Farms
Nona Yehia has built the United States’ first vertical hydroponic greenhouse to address the long winters and short growing seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With a head of lettuce travelling an average of 2,000 miles to get there, Nona knew the answer was a vertical farm. After seven long years of researching, fundraising and persuading local politicians, Vertical Harvest finally opened in 2016.
Nona developed a three-story hydroponic greenhouse that employs individuals with developmental disabilities and produces local food for the community all year round out of her enthusiasm for eating fresh, local produce and her experiences growing up with a brother who has disabilities. The farm employs 17 people with disabilities and produces 100,000 pounds of food annually in a properly controlled environment without pesticides.
“In this next era of food and climate wellness, consumers are looking for brands and businesses that are not only informed but are also purpose-driven and have values that align with their own—and as a result, we have a real opportunity for food to be the medium for the change we want to see in the world”.
Maddie Hall, CEO & Founder at Living Carbon
Maddie Hall has built a company that is sequestering carbon like never before. Described as ‘something that has never been done before’, Living Carbon is modifying the genetics of trees to grow 50% faster and capture 27% more carbon to help in the fight against climate change. What makes this venture exciting (or risky) is that it won’t be known until the modified trees have spent years growing in the wild whether it can sustain both a profitable business and a net reduction in emissions.
But Maddie Hall believes it will. “Living Carbon is our answer to the question: Are we capable of storing carbon with the same ingenuity that allowed us to release it? In short, yes. We can enter a new ecological and economic age where we use the power of plants to capture and store more carbon.”
Having raised $21M in a Series A funding round in early 2023, plans are underway to plant 4 to 5 million trees by the middle of 2024. I guess we will watch this space…
Evette Ellis, Co-Founder and Chief Workforce Officer at ChargerHelp!
With the help of their EV Charging business, ChargerHelp!, Evette Ellis alongside Kameale C. Terry hopes to address the enormous software and data challenges that electrification faces. Since it is the first and only software to handle electric vehicle charging repairs, its capacity to operate at scale is crucial for enabling rapid expansion of EV Charging infrastructure while enhancing productivity, turnaround time, and network availability.
Evette is passionate about diversity and inclusion, and at ChargerHelp!, makes a concerted effort to hire a workforce that reflects that. Taking a workforce-development approach to finding employees, she is committed to ensuring her workers are treated fairly due to witnessing her father being treated poorly at work for decades. She won an official designation from the U.S. Department of Labor for “electric vehicle supply equipment technician” to legitimize the career path and help ChargerHelp! source talent from federally-funded workforce development centres. “I’m ferocious when it comes to treating our technicians with dignity and respect and equity and paying them”.
Storm4 hopes you will join us in celebrating ALL the women inspiring us with their hard work, dedication and passion for a sustainable future. At Storm4, we are truly lucky to be surrounded by incredible females who inspire, push and influence an industry with such importance. This article is dedicated to Kayleigh Bottomley, CEO and Founder, Iona Stacy-Marks, Head of Storm4 APAC, Katie Nickless, Commercial Associate Director, Zoe Barnett, Associate Director of Performance, Ellie Meredith, People Operations Manager, Rebecca Blunn, People Operations Manager, Megan Tuite, Senior People Operations Associate, Rosie Moore, Marketing Manager, Fiona Ly, Senior Marketing Associate and Sarah Habets, Senior Marketing Associate.