Picking early stage climate winners: The view from SOSV’s HAX, Fifty Years and MCJ Collective

Much of the VC industry is in retreat this year, but early-stage climate tech investors are charging ahead. In fact, seed deals in climate tech doubled year over year in the first half of 2022. Picking winners at this early stage is notoriously difficult and risky, however. So how do early-stage VCs identify, vet, and de-risk these capital-intensive ventures? What common challenges do founders face at this stage, and how can they be overcome? The SOSV Climate Tech Summit (Oct. 25-26 / free & virtual / register now) is gathering  a panel of early-stage climate tech VCs to tackle these questions. 

SOSV’s very own Duncan Turner, General Partner and Managing Director of HAX, will draw from his experience working with over 200 “hard tech” startups. They include VoltStorage, a pioneer in stationary flow batteries for renewable energy,  Neptune Robotics, which makes robots that clean giant ship hulls, and XFuel, which makes carbon neutral fuels out of biomass.

Cody Simms, Partner at MCJ Collective and co-host of its famed podcast, My Climate Journey, will share how his team uses AngelList’s rolling-fund structure to invest in climate tech with a community of 2,400+ MJC members. Their portfolio includes Arcadia, a unicorn data platform that optimizes clean energy use, and Twelve, which transforms CO2 into chemicals, materials and fuels for everyday goods.    

Fifty Years founding partner Ela Madej will make the case for clean innovations that the greediest capitalist would buy (aka, the Mr. Burns Test). Inspired by Winston Churchill’s 1931 essay, “Fifty Years Hence,” the firm has backed unicorns including  Upside Foods, a lab-based meat startup and alumni of SOSV’s IndieBio program, and Solugen, which decarbonizes chemical production using synthetic biology. 

The moderator of this panel discussion is David Rowan, angel investor, founding UK editor-in-chief of Wired, and founder of the Voyagers.io climate tech and health tech community and fund. 

Are early-stage VCs actually finding the startups that can prevent a climate change catastrophe? What can we all do to build this early-stage ecosystem and entice founders into the formidable climate-tech journey?

Register today for the SOSV Climate Tech Summit to find out

Learn more about the Summit.

The Speakers


Duncan Turner photo

Duncan Turner

Duncan Turner is General Partner at SOSV and Managing Director of HAX, the world’s first and largest VC backed program for Hard Tech, which is based in Newark and Shenzhen. He is currently resident in Newark, NJ. Prior to joining HAX, Turner led design and consumer engagement strategy projects for Fortune 500 companies at global design and innovation firm IDEO.


Cody Simms photo

Cody Simms

Cody Simms is a Partner at MCJ Collective where he is co-host of the My Climate Journey podcast and climate tech startup investor. He is also co-founder of Climate Changemakers, a 501(c)(4) climate-focused political action non-profit. Cody was previously Senior Vice President of Climate & Sustainability at Techstars. He is co-author of the Amazon-bestselling book: Levers: The Framework for Building Repeatability into Your Business (leversbook.com).


Ela Madej photo

Ela Madej

Ela Madej is a serial tech entrepreneur and a Y Combinator alum (YC S12). She started her first company, Applicake, at the age of 21 in 2006 and later co-founded Base CRM (acquired by Zendesk) and organized large events for software developers in Europe. In 2015, together with a fellow YC alum, Seth Bannon, she co-founded Fifty Years, moved to San Francisco, and hasn’t looked back since!


David Rowan photo

David Rowan

David Rowan was founding Editor-in-Chief of WIRED magazine’s UK edition before becoming a prolific angel investor and author. He runs a not-for-profit community called VOYAGERS, which connects mission-driven founders through meetups, weekend adventures and online networking. VOYAGERS has strong climate-tech and health-tech communities, and David is currently running a community-based investment fund built on the climate-tech community.