IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Energize Ventures

IVCA Feature: New Member Profile of Energize Ventures

June 12, 2019

More new members are joining the Illinois Venture Capital Association, which welcomes Venture Capital, Private Equity and support industries. New member opportunities include the perks of IVCA networking, lobbying support and participation in new ideas for the Venture Capital and Private Equity industries. The latest new member is Energize Ventures, who are partnering with entrepreneurs to digitize energy and industry.

The following is a Q&A profile with Energize Ventures, which explores the firm’s background and their expectations for interacting with the IVCA.

New Member: Energize Ventures

Representative: Amy Francetic, Managing Director

IVCA:What is a brief history and background of the Energize Ventures?

Energize Ventures: Energize Ventures is a new woman-led fund in Chicago that completed its final close in the fall of 2018 with $165 million. The fund has a diverse group of investors including Invenergy, Schneider Electric, GE, Caterpillar, utilities and other institutional investors. Energize invests in companies that provide digital solutions that drive affordability, reliability and security for energy and industry. We believe these companies play a central role in the revitalization of older industries, with energy as a main focus, and have made investments spanning cyber security, mobility, data analytics, operational efficiency, and distributed energy.

The portfolio contains nine companies: AquilonSparkCognitionNozomi NetworksVolta ChargingDroneDeployAurora SolarJupiter IntelligenceZededa, and Sitetracker.

IVCA:Why did the firm decide to join the Illinois Venture Capital Association?

Energize Ventures: As a new fund, Energize is looking to build relationships within the Venture community and to identify opportunities to engage in public policy initiatives to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing our industry. The Illinois Venture Capital Association has a great reputation for results in these areas, and we love that Maura has been successfully leading the organization for over a decade.

IVCA:You invest in digital solutions for energy and industry in several categories. What categories are those solutions most viable for the enterprises they are designed for?

Energize Ventures: The energy and industrial sectors have been slowly adapting digital technologies and speed is picking up given recent advances in artificial intelligence and data analytics. Old line industries are seeking operational competitive edges and have been adopting software that can help predict failures in equipment, cyber security solutions for operational equipment (OT), and systems for managing distributed assets, especially in remote environments. Reducing cost of operations and driving better efficiency and production in equipment are key considerations for energy and industrial enterprises.

IVCA:You invest in A, B and C stages, but prefer to lead those rounds. How did this strategy develop and where has it succeeded most?

Energize Ventures: When we were creating our fund strategy we saw a need for capital in this ‘early-growth’ stage. There are a number of funding sources for both early, like incubators, angels and government, plus later stage, such as Venture and Private Equity. But we thought there was a gap in the series B/C stage. 

Additionally, we think that we can bring the most value to companies at these stages. We have the opportunity to engage our LPs in pilot tests and customer engagements with our portfolio companies, and the companies need to have a certain level of commercial maturity in order to be ready for our LP base. Most of our portfolio companies have a pilot or contract with at least one of our investors.

IVCA: As you are innovating with a women-led firm, what is the philosophy of your culture at Energize?

Energize Ventures: We have a few credos that guide our hiring and our culture. First, ‘diversity drives alpha.’ We think one of our strengths is the diversity in gender and ethnicity of our team. Next, ‘speeding tickets, not parking tickets.’ Speed and agility are competitive advantages of the firm.

Also, as Louis Pasteur once said, ‘Fortune favors the prepared mind.’ We do a lot of research to develop out investment themes so that when we find the right deal we can move decisively. Lastly, turning to Franz Kafka, ‘The meaning of life is that it stops.’ Let’s make the short time we have on this earth worthwhile and do our part to leave it in better shape than when we found it.

IVCA:What does Energize Ventures hope to achieve in their interaction with the VC/PC community within the IVCA?

Energize Ventures: As a new fund, we hope to build relationships with peers in the region from whom we can learn and source deals. We also understand the responsibility of being a good corporate citizen and aim to do our part to help advocate for policies that can benefit the broader investment industry and innovation ecosystem.

For more information on Energize Ventures, go to Energize.vc