If you ask me, climate tech investor Contrarian Ventures isn’t so contrarian anymore.
The five-year-old firm is targeting $100 million for its second seed-stage fund, and it’s doing so smack in the middle of a climate-tech dealmaking boom. So, if anything, it’s trendy.
But when the seed-stage VC — a backer of e-bike maker Zoomo and solar data firm PVcase — debuted with a $13.6 million fund in 2017, its focus was “obviously contrarian,” founding partner Rokas Peciulaitis told TechCrunch, as the “industries in vogue at the time were AI and Fintech.”
The launch also marked an unexpected pivot for Peciulaitis, who says he dove into the scene with “literally zero climate tech sector experience.” He’d recently left an inflation-trading job at Bank of America, where the work was “not fulfilling in the slightest,” Peciulaitis said in a nod to the bank’s reputation as a major funder of fossil fuels.
In 2017, Pitchbook recorded 578 climate tech deals globally, altogether worth $12.5 billion. The sector has since tripled in size, as climate change-driven extreme weather events occupy evermore space in our collective consciousness. To that point: Pitchbook tracked 1,130 climate tech deals globally in 2021, topping $44.8 billion in value. Climate tech is cool now, but Peciulaitis’ Lithuania-based venture firm is sticking with its name anyways.
Like any venture capital firm, Contrarian says that it stands out through its emphasis on “developing excellent relationships with founders.” Materially, the firm invests in tech that could help decarbonize transportation, industrial processes, energy and buildings.
Contrarian has completed 21 deals to date, and this year it expanded beyond Lithuania with new partners in Berlin and London. The firm backs emerging startups in Europe as well as Israel, but nowhere else in the Middle East. Currently, the firm does not invest in agriculture-related tech, though the category has a significant carbon footprint of its own.
In an email, Contrarian said it counts London-based tech VC Molten Ventures among its limited partners. The firm declined to share a full list of its LPs, but stated that none of them were fossil fuel companies.