Then, as now, Ceezer was part of the new wave of tech-driven offsetting and/or removal platforms trying to bring transparency and cohesion to a sector that has been rocked by charges of “green-washing.”
Whatever it’s doing, its investors think it’s on to something, because it’s now raised a €10.3 million ($11.2 million) Series A funding round led by HV Capital, alongside existing investors Norrsken VC, Picus Capital, and Carbon Removal Partners.
The company plans to use the funds to launch in the U.S., hire, and grow its customer base, as well as introduce further carbon financing solutions for its corporate customers. As previously, Ceezer is offering what it describes as a simpler way for both buyers and sellers of carbon credits to make decisions, utilizing “over 3.5 million data points.” It now has clients such as Siemens and Zooplus.
Founder and CEO Magnus Drewelies told me over a call that “U.S. customers really like to work with a local contact, so a customer naturally prefers to do that in their own jurisdiction,” hence the geographical expansion.
He also thinks the voluntary carbon market (VCM) will increasingly play a bigger role in the U.S. because of “growing regulation and regulatory aspects.” He’s “seen quite a lot of progress at the U.S. state level” on regulations, so Ceezer plans to take advantage of that.
Drewelies thinks the market for VCM will rise because “a lot of our customers are really moving to multi-year portfolios. If you have an ambitious net-zero commitment, you need to start securing your supply for net zero now, because you don't want to be left standing, having made a public commitment to net zero, but then needing to pay a tremendous amount of money in the future, because there's no supply left.”
David Kuczek, general partner at HV Capital, commented in a statement that this “data-centric and holistic approach” sets the startup apart from others.
However, this is not the only approach to the global issue of carbon. Other startups are attacking the problem in a different manner.
Supercritical launched aiming at the technology sector, concentrating on new technologies for carbon removal.
Last year it raised a $13 million Series A funding round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. It aggregates business demand for cutting-edge carbon removal technologies, in a similar scenario to Tesla starting out with an electric sports car so that it could eventually launch a family saloon.
Then there is Patch in the U.S., which has raised $81.5 million, from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and others.
But more broadly, the carbon removals and offsetting market is still small, as carbon credits and removals are still a voluntary process. And there remain hurdles. Offsets have gone out of fashion because of scandals around greenwashing, but carbon removals are much more expensive to buy because the technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere are still so early.
That said, Marta Krupinska, co-founder of CUR8, thinks there will be an increasing uptake in demand in the next few years, driven by regulation and compliance. While that trend has not yet hit, "all the startups are positioning for regulation and compliance,” she says.
She thinks the game for startups in this space will be “land and expand.” “Land as many deals as you can, start building relationships, build your brand, and then survive until a point when the market expands and there is actually a lot of money to make,” she told me.
That suggests that there will also be consolidation, with some companies engaging in M&A.
Suffice it to say that the jury is still out on how this market will play out and whether the marketplace or pre-packaged carbon portfolios approach will pay back for tech investors in the long run.