Cleantech Companies Turn To Community To Fuel Investments (And It’s Working)

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Everyone wants to live in a more energy-efficient world. People are constantly trying to find ways to help make our world more “clean,” yet oftentimes don’t know where to start – and Wefunder can be a place to start.

According to a new report by the International Energy Agency, global energy investment is set to increase by 8% this year to reach 2.4 trillion dollars, with the anticipated rise coming mainly in clean energy. This is an encouraging step in the right direction. But with the extreme weather impacts of a warming world being felt more acutely every year, there is so much more work to be done.

Given the growing commitment of citizens around the world to “be the change they want to see in the world,” more and more cleantech startups are turning to their communities to raise capital, to complement investments from more institutional and conventional investors.

Enter a new cleantech trend – the Community Round. Created by Wefunder (the largest Regulation Crowdfunding platform in the United States), a Community Round allows startups to raise capital from their customers, fans and supporters, alongside angel investors and VCs. As well as representing a source of capital, the idea is to recruit an army of champions, and passionate advocates for the company and cause. 

Getting our country closer to our net zero pledges requires a team effort. For those of us who want to play our part, putting our money where our mouths are by investing in companies endeavoring to build a cleaner, more sustainable world makes all the sense in the world. And of course, while startup investing is always highly risky, if we’re investing in great companies that are building the future, we can hope for a financial return as well.

The five companies listed below are currently raising capital on Wefunder. Their founders were excited to let their audience invest – as a way of both delighting their customers and building a stronger community. It’s not surprising that founders actively working towards building a more sustainable future are often more committed to inviting their supporters to share in that future. 

In fact, the largest fundraising campaign on Wefunder right now is for a cleantech company called Next Bolt, building a safer, more affordable battery for every home. Next Bolt is the first home energy battery that will be sold for $100 a month – less than what the average US household pays for electricity.  They have had advisors from key government institutions like a Chief Scientist at the DOE’s Argonne labs and Chief Engineer at NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory). The company has raised more than $4.5M, proving that there is a strong appetite for investing in these types of companies and the impact they will have on the future of our world. 

Image courtesy Next Bolt

Alongside Next Bolt, there are several other cleantech companies that have chosen to share their company’s success with their customers and fans, inviting them along for the ride – and people are flocking to support them. 

bluShift Aerospace is on a mission to create an Earth-friendly space launch service that shows the world that it’s possible to carry small payloads to space for research and commercial customers without adding more carbon to the atmosphere or polluting the environment. bluShift has designed a modular rocket engine, powered by its proprietary, nontoxic, carbon-neutral biofuel, and is currently working toward a small rocket that can lift 100-kilogram payloads to orbit. This new launch system will dramatically reduce the environmental impact and wait times for small satellite launch customers versus the large, polluting rockets used today. This Earth-friendly space launch services company has raised more than $1M in their Community Round alone. 

Image courtesy bluShift Aerospace

Neighborhood Sun is a Maryland-based business making the benefits of solar accessible to all, not just the select few who can afford rooftop solar panels. Residents and businesses can subscribe to a share of the clean energy generated by a local community solar farm at a discounted rate, allowing anyone who pays an electricity bill to save on energy costs while supporting renewables– regardless of income level, homeownership status, or location. The company is a Certified B Corporation and national leader in expanding solar access to underserved communities to address energy equity. Its proprietary SunEngine™ advanced software platform offers a flexible, secure and fully transparent platform for solar developers or asset owners, plus a simplified enrollment experience for customers. The community solar company grew its kilowatts under management by 550% in 2021 and has raised nearly $2 million since launching its first community round. 

Image courtesy Neighborhood Sun

One company that is harnessing the potential of renewables and leading the shift to decentralized power is Joule Case. Joule Case provides power where you need it, when you need it, with flexible, patented battery systems that easily scale for a variety of power applications. The company was started in a Boise, Idaho, garage by James Wagoner and Alex Livingston, fueled by their shared passion to enable clean and renewable energy to reach more people. With over $1.8m in sales to date and 400% year-over-year sales growth, they have spent years developing a unique stackable, portable, scalable, easy-to-use battery system that powers live events, food trucks and several other large applications across the United States.

The flexibility and adaptability of Joule Case systems can be combined together to make larger battery systems with minimal engineering and installation time. The company has raised more than $1.48M so far and is nominated for CleanTech Deal of the Year at the 2022 Equity Crowdfunding Awards.

Image courtesy Joule Case

Livsn Designs combines technical features and durable construction with modern styling to create lasting clothing that facilitates a life of adventure. Livsn is an outdoor apparel company that believes clothing should perform well, look good, be ethically made, be environmentally friendly – and it should last. The company’s name is inspired by Livsnjutare in Swedish which means, “One who loves life deeply; an enjoyer of life.” The company harnessed a stronghold in the outdoor market with their lineup of versatile, durable, and stylish outdoor pants, and now plans to expand further into additional outdoor apparel categories. In addition to their rigorous design and sustainability standards, Livsn offers a robust warranty and repair program that keeps their clothing in the life cycle as long as possible. Livsn has raised more $420,000 so far and counting.

Image courtesy Livsn

For any cleantech company looking for more ways to find support, all they need to do is look to their community and the possibilities become endless. For those who are interested in investing in cleantech companies sharing their success with others, check out more on Wefunder here. Cleantech companies interested in tapping their customers and fans and starting a Community Round can check out more here

**Joule Case is “testing the waters” to gauge investor interest in an offering under Regulation Crowdfunding. No money or other consideration is being solicited. If sent, it will not be accepted. No offer to buy securities will be accepted. No part of the purchase price will be received until a Form C is filed. Any indication of interest involves no obligation or commitment of any kind.


This article is supported by Wefunder.

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