As we mentioned in our previous post about Neighborland, the mission of the Designer Fund continues to evolve as we invest in designers who build companies with positive social impact. And, as designers begin to answer questions that have stretch beyond the world of the screens and devices where we originally honed their skills, so startups are beginning to harness the same entrepreneurial spirit that has led to technological innovation toward creating companies that have the potential to solve wider societal problems. These are the companies that we find the most fascinating.
Solar Mosaic is one of those startups, and that’s why we’re excited to back Arthur Coulston and Rafael Smith along with the whole team who recently announced their $2.5 million Series A funding led by Spring Ventures.
Kickstarter for Solar
The basic idea behind Solar Mosaic is to enable individuals to invest in small-scale solar energy projects and other community assets, creating local jobs and enabling clean energy infrastructure while providing investors with a financial return. Picture the ability to invest in a neighbor (or neighborhood) going solar, or solar on a school, or lending to a small-business to go solar. Instead of just making these as donations, Solar Mosaic will enable people to make these peer-to-peer investments in their communities and around the world.
Even in these early stages, the company has already enabled $350,000 of funding for five rooftop solar power installations in both California and Arizona, creating 73Kw of clean energy and 2,700 hours for local workers.
But it runs even deeper than this. At the heart of Solar Mosaic’s business is a fascinating mechanism that allows individuals to fund projects that are both responsible and profitable. This in itself isn’t necessarily new – Kiva and, to a lesser extent, Kickstarter offer similar models – but we think that Solar Mosaic goes further by tying projects much more closely to local communities, creating a bond between investors and the people that the projects employ. This commitment of Solar Mosaic to connecting investors to strong and secure projects is illustrated by their recent hire of Greg Rosen as their Chief Investment Officer, who was previously VP of Solar Finance at Union Bank.
Even the Feds believe
Solar Mosaic’s approach has won its admirers, chief among them the United States Department of Energy, who have just awarded a $2 million grant to the company as part of the SunShot Initiative’s Solar Incubator Program to stimulate investment and ultimately decrease the cost of solar energy.
All of us are thrilled to be helping Solar Mosaic as they begin to change the way that energy is produced and community projects are funded, and can’t wait to see more crowd-funded clean energy in our neighborhoods.