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Active Impact Investments announces $7.5 million in seed funding to three startups — one of which is Vancouver-based and under the radar

The VC firm is waiting to share full details, but we’ve got a solid guess of which Vancouver startup it could be

Active Impact Investments, the Vancouver-based climate-tech VC firm and Certified B Corp, announced $7.5 million in seed funding toward three startups out of its third $120 million fund — one of which is Vancouver-based and keeping a low profile.

The companies include Lumo, a California-based smart irrigation tech company that helps growers conserve resources, and ThinkLabs AI, a New York-based development and deployment company using AI to optimize electrical grid operations. Both are founded by Canadian CEOs with previous successful exits.

The third startup is Vancouver-based but its name has yet to be disclosed as it’s still in “stealth” mode. However, Mike Winterfield, founder and managing partner at Active Impact, shared a few hints.

The company is run by a “successful past founder and team that sold their prior company to Google.” It also offers a solution that Winterfield believes many homeowners in B.C. and North America will be keen to use “from an energy and cost-saving perspective.” More details are expected to be announced soon. 

The potential third startup

The Vancouver Tech Journal has a hunch that the company is among the two added to Active Impact’s website under its “Fund III” section: Jetson, a Vancouver-based climate-tech product manufacturer.

Active Impact wrote that Jetson offers “a vertically integrated electric heat pump implementation service that removes the existing barriers of choosing cleaner home heating.”

The VC firm added that Jetson handles everything from “custom hardware and in-house installation to ongoing operations and maintenance support” and that they help homeowners “transition away from dirty boilers — avoiding the direct emissions from burning fossil fuels while reducing overall home energy usage by three to five times.”

Active Impact highlighted they’re excited about Jetson because of how the company “removes pain points to incentivize mass adoption of electric heat pumps.”

“Home heating accounts for ~10% of global GHG emissions and up to 40% of a home’s energy use — which is still primarily fuelled by dirty sources in North America. Electric heat pumps are well established but haven’t been widely adopted due to transaction friction, high upfront costs and post-installation performance issues. 

“[Jetson’s] custom hardware means lower equipment costs, which, paired with government incentives, can significantly reduce upfront capital requirements. Their software monitoring platform provides insights to optimize heat pump performance and harmonize energy consumption with grid needs in the long run, saving homeowners money and aiding in the transition to our net-zero future,” explained Active Impact in its description of the company.

Founded by an entrepreneur with a track record

Jetson was founded by Stephen Lake, a mechatronic engineer who co-founded North, a Kitchener-Waterloo startup focused on human-computer interfaces, wearable devices, and smart glasses.

In 2013, North launched its first product: Myo Armband, a bracelet with muscle sensors. Fifty-thousand units were shipped through its website and at Best Buy stores. In 2018, North also launched Focals, the first everyday prescription smart glasses. It was sold in limited quantities in Toronto and New York stores and through a North American pop-up retail tour.

Lake grew North to 450 employees and raised over USD $180 million from investors — including Y Combinator and Amazon — before being acquired by Google for an undisclosed amount in 2020. According to Lake, North became “the core of Google's augmented reality efforts.” 

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