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DBL Partners (DBL) was formed with a “Double Bottom Line” investment strategy to enable social, environmental, and economic improvement while also investing in companies that deliver top-tier venture capital returns. Since its inception, DBL has invested through an impact lens, in which social returns accrue without having to sacrifice financial returns. As DBL has been around and investing for two, going on three decades, it can act as a signal for the efficacy of this approach, new solutions, and market trends.
DBL invests in Series A and B startups in Climate, Information Technology, Sustainable Products and Services, Healthcare, and work-related themes. The Fund is open to investing in startups with market risk, regulatory risk, and team building risk, as they can support startups with each of these aspects.
- Stage: Series A – Series B
- Check Size: $5-15M
- Geography: Global, with US focus
- Lead/Follow: Prefer to Lead
About the Fund
Why was the fund created?
DBL was started internally at JP Morgan when the Bay Area Council asked for a fund that would invest in great companies that were in or nearby low-income neighborhoods, so that the benefits of the entrepreneurial economy could be more broadly felt and experienced across the region. DBL finished raising its first fund of $75M in 2004, and has since continued to raise capital for new funds to invest in impact and ESG-related sectors.
What domains in climate tech does DBL have the greatest expertise in?
Through DBL’s experience investing over the last two decades, the team has accrued a broad range of knowledge across climate tech, broadly speaking. For instance, DBL helped define the EV industry with its investment in Tesla, as well as the circular economy with its investment in The RealReal. DBL is currently excited about:
- Monetizing conservation (forestry, oceans, and health impacts of climate consequences)
- Net zero agriculture
- Electrification of transportation/Mobility
- Future of Work
- Space/Earth/AI nexus
What type of portfolio support does DBL provide?
DBL gets involved in every startup it invests in, and usually sits on portfolio companies’ Boards of Directors. DBL helps startups with:
- Recruiting talent
- Business strategy
- Fundraising support
- Impact metrics
- Working with policymakers and advocacy/community groups
What is DBL’s investment process and timeline?
DBL’s investment process is traditional and can take as little as a few weeks, or as much as a couple of months to get to a term sheet. The way the team screens companies, however, is a little bit different.
DBL pays attention to the management team. The two questions the team asks here are:
- Is the team trying to change the world?
- Is the team trying to build a great company, and what evidence is there to support a successful outcome?
Additionally, DBL will look at impact by asking:
- How does this solution move the needle relative to the overarching problem?
- Which needle does this solution move? Are there any unintended consequences?
- Can we quantify the impact this company will make?
- How does this solution compare to other potential solutions?
What would make DBL consider deviating from your typical criteria?
DBL is flexible and can deviate from its criteria. While the team’s sweet spot is investing in Series A or B startups, it will invest earlier based on opportunity and impact, and invest later, based on portfolio construction.
About The Author
Co-Founder @ The Impact
Daniel currently works at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a Product Manager. Outside of his day job, he is a Principal at C3, Tech Scout at For ClimateTech, and Venture Scout at Prithvi. He also works with various climate incubators/accelerators (Cleantech Open, Techstars, and Joules Accelerator) and runs The Impact and Innovate Climate – both are newsletters covering startups in the climate space.