Earth Day started in the 1970s as a way to bring awareness to environmental science and conservation efforts. But as businesses and individuals search for more green alternatives, awareness is no longer enough, says Venkatesh Kini, co-founder at Ubuntoo.
“Too often, companies get credit for bold ambitions but don’t they don’t get the feet held to the fire for achieving those,” Venkatesh Kini, co-founder of Ubuntoo.
Ubuntoo is one of several Southeast tech startups helping companies achieve a more sustainable future. The AI-focused platform helps global clients find solutions for plastic waste, pollution, climate change, regenerative agriculture, sustainable fashion, and packaging problems they face.
28 tech startups in Atlanta alone are using Ubuntoo, alongside multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, and Cox Communications.
But it is Ubuntoo’s work with international corporations that highlights Atlanta’s potential as a central player in the SustainableTech movement. The team has expanded to include clients across Australia, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Another local organization helping change the narrative around sustainability is The Understory. The platform curates resources about sustainable business options and helps sustainable-foucused businesses prepare for fundraising and connect with investors.
Co-founder Jennifer Singh told Hypepotamus that Atlanta can play a unique role in the SustainabilityTech movement because of its existing infrastructure, natural resources, university talent, and large corporations.
For Singh, it is about moving beyond the “doom and gloom” narrative around climate change and helping companies take a “practical approach.”
She added that the “last decade was all about digital transformation. But the next decade will be all about sustainable transformation.”
Sustainable Transformation in the Southeast
Funding is starting to follow for startups looking to lead on sustainable transformation. Overall, ClimateTech startups alone raised well over $32 billion in VC funding in 2021.
Closer to home, Ubuntoo raised a $3.3 million seed round from international investors last summer and Atlanta-based cove.tool raised its $30 million Series B at the end of last year.
More recently, JTEC Energy announced it has raised $30 million funding with investors coming from the oil and gas sector. CEO Mike McQuary told Hypepotamus that after showcasing its working model a few months back, the team is set to double in size over the next year in order to turn waste heat directly into electricity. That could help transform how we think about empty wellbores that have been used for oil and gas extraction.
On the innovation side, accelerators like Birmingham’s Techstars EnergyTech accelerator, Charlotte’s Joules Accelerator, and Buford’s The Water Tower are all helping scale sustainability-focused ventures around the region.
Singh told Hypepotamus she is also seeing a growing interest in the overall sustainability movement from community members and stakeholders. There is a particular interest in “greening” up the tech industries — like FinTech and supply chain — where Atlanta has already created a strong community. That could help cement CleanTech as another important tech pillar for the local ecosystem moving forward.