Ed Stevens – Co-Founder and Director of One Planet Capital, an EIS fund investing in businesses tackling climate change and the world’s biggest environmental problems.
Ed has founded and exited two media & technology businesses. He currently sits on the board and is a director of two media technology businesses and is an NED to a marketing services company. Ed is a passionate angel investor and has been investing in the green space for a number of years.
Tell us a bit about you and your journey into the world of Venture
I started angel investing following the sale of my second business. Initially it was in the space that I best understood and from which I came from, which was media and technology but latterly, and after reconnecting with old friend and co-founder of One Planet Capital (OPC), Matt Jellicoe, in the climate space which we are all deeply passionate about.
Tell us a bit about One Planet Capital
OPC is an EIS fund that exclusively invests into high growth early stage UK based businesses in the climate and environmental space. The types of business that we invest into are varied but they all share a common theme which is that they either are doing something that is combating climate change or fixing an environmental problem.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Without a shadow of a doubt meeting new entrepreneurs and learning about their businesses. Fascinating.
What do you look for in an entrepreneur?
The ability to adapt – you are a very lucky entrepreneur if things pan out exactly as the business plans say they will; more often than not a business will need to change or pivot.
What tech tools do you find particularly useful in your role ?
Hubspot is probably the tool we use the most. Looking forward to seeing the portal Swoop is developing for investors!
‘Greenwashing’ is something that is becoming more and more prevalent. How do you think VCs like One Planet support startups to increase the authentic incorporation of ESG factors?
Climate or environmental VCs have a duty of care to their investors to ensure that the companies they invest into deliver not just financially but also environmentally; after all there are many generalist funds out there that can deliver a good IRR but the reason investors are coming to funds like ours is because they care about their finances and the world we live in. In short VCs like OPC are policing the startup and holding them to account when they do not adhere to the environmental goals or KPIs set.
What Criteria do you prioritize when investing in a startup in the sustainability space?
UNSDGs / environmental impact, proven model, revenues, team, scalability, IP, market opportunity, valuation.
Can you share an example of a particularly successful sustainability investment you have made in the past, and what made it successful?
We invested in an early stage second hand clothing business based in the North of England. This business has experienced phenomenal growth in part due to the tenacity of the founding team and in part due to the macroeconomic climate (cost of living crisis).
How do you see the market evolving for these types of companies to evolve in the next 5-10 years?
Increasing government legislation to counteract the very real danger climate change presents, will result in sustained and targeted investment on an industrial scale into those businesses that are able to help.
How do you balance the financial returns of your investments with their environmental and social impact?
I think this used to be difficult with environmental investing being synonymous with altruism however these days the two are very much not mutually exclusive!
What advice do you have for individual investors who want to align their investments with their values and invest in sustainable companies?
Speak to us!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What spare time? I’ve 6 children and work!
8 chickens, 1 dog, 2 cats, 2 donkeys.
Any book or podcast recommendations?