Pioneering foundations and impact investors back energy start-up, driven by social impact

ConnectDER, an early-stage company developing a meter collar that enables residential solar to connect to the grid cheaply, safely, and rapidly, has closed its $1.1M Series A round with support from a first-of-a-kind investment collaboration between Investors’ Circle (IC) and PRIME Coalition. Nine individual IC investors were
joined by three parties from the PRIME Coalition in the financing: the Ellis Family Fund at The Boston Foundation, the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, and the Autodesk Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

ConnectDER marks the third proof-of-concept investment for PRIME Coalition, a nonprofit that empowers philanthropists to place charitable capital into market-based solutions to climate change. After PRIME’s year-long diligence process selected ConnectDER as one of the most promising early-stage companies whose core business model reduces global greenhouse gas emissions, PRIME referred the company to Investors’ Circle, the world’s largest and most active early-stage impact investing network. Leveraging the due diligence conducted by PRIME’s industry experts, IC members were able to move quickly and
help top off the round.

Leigh Wood, a Philadelphia-based IC member, shared that she was compelled to participate because

“ConnectDER’s solution will not only help utilities support increasing solar adoption, but it will also save homeowners from having to pay unnecessary
installation costs or drill holes into their walls during the installation process.”

ConnectDER’s meter collar reduces upfront installation costs for rooftop solar and provides electric utilities with real-time management over distributed energy assets. In addition to promising meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reduction when deployed at scale, ConnectDER’s solution will reduce environmental damage due to fossil fuel extraction and combustion, decrease reliance on government subsidies that drive deployment of renewables, and enable the widespread deployment of highly-managed distributed energy assets to boost the resiliency of the grid.

“This is a first-of-a-kind grant for the Autodesk Foundation, where we believe in the power of design to address environmental, social, health, and education challenges. We were thrilled that a grant from our donor-advised fund to PRIME Coalition led to ConnectDER successfully completing its Series A round – and moving one step closer to widespread climate impact,” said Joe Speicher, Executive Director of the Autodesk Foundation. “Our aim is to support PRIME companies with philanthropic capital so that the solutions to climate change have a real chance to flourish.”

Whit Fulton, CEO of ConnectDER, commented that

“the combination of support from PRIME’s DAFs, foundations, and corporate donors and the impact-minded angel backers at Investors’ Circle is exciting. Together, these investors have provided the financial fuel that our company needs to thrive.”

“We’re delighted about the budding partnership between PRIME and IC. The marriage of charitable DAFs, foundations, and corporations alongside individual investors makes a lot of sense for early-stage energy companies like ConnectDER. We look forward to continuing to co-invest with IC’s large network of impact investors,” added Sarah Kearney, Executive Director of PRIME Coalition. Bonny Moellenbrock, Executive Director of Investors’ Circle, agrees.

“The IC network has invested in environmental solutions for the past 25 years, and we are pleased to invest alongside a partner like PRIME Coalition to address climate change together.”

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