Climate Tech Finance
Climate Tech Finance is a first-of-its-kind partnership designed to accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that reduce greenhouse gases in the Bay Area. Established in 2018, Climate Tech Finance is a program of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District operating in partnership with the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank).
The Climate Tech Finance program has supported on $20.7M in loans for climate projects in the past year. The program established a roster of over a dozen climate-oriented banks and a growing pipeline of climate projects in need of near-term financing. Climate Tech Finance has also seen increasing inbound interest from borrowers and lenders, fueled by imminent regulatory changes and banks’ goalsetting around climate investments.
Viewers will get an inside look at how Climate Tech Finance evaluates and executes on opportunities. This is going to be a great session for founders working in climate tech and anyone interested in learning how to better equip climate startups with the capital they need.
About the Speakers
Sedale Turbovsky is the CEO and co-founder of OpenGrants, his fourth venture-backed startup and second in the public sector, which aims to transform the grant funding landscape by making it more accessible, equitable, and transparent. Sedale firmly believes that technology can be used as a powerful tool to democratize access to resources and opportunities, and is passionate about improving government and the citizen experience.
Prior to embarking on his entrepreneurial journey, Sedale worked as an issues management consultant supporting firms working with government and in heavily regulated environments. He has a long history of leading successful teams, raising capital, and building startups. Apart from his work at OpenGrants, Sedale is an investor and advisor to a handful of startups.
Tamara Kohne joined the Air District in 2019 to work on Climate Tech Finance program. Tamara drives the moving parts of the operation with the Climate Tech Finance team, clients and partners. She cultivates relationships with startups through the initial engagement, application process, project approval and lending. Tamara also leads the marketing efforts and catalyzes the pipeline growth. Previously, Tamara worked with the statewide toxics and criteria emissions inventory at the California Air Resources Board. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy from UC Berkeley.
Read the Transcription
Please note, this transcription is automatically generated and may contain some spelling and contextual errors.
Sedale Turbovsky: All right, everyone get started in just a minute here. This is the climate tech finance webinar by OpenGrants. And for those of you just joining welcome, we’ll get into some of the details and specifics in the moment as we get all spun up here. Welcome everyone. My name is Sedale Turbovsky. I am the CEO and co founder here at OpenGrants.
And this is the webinar about climate tech finance, which we’re super excited to have tomorrow here. And we are going to dive into this in just a minute, but. While folks come in and get all squared away in the webinar front, I just wanted to share a few housekeeping things for everyone’s convenience and comfort.
We do have the chat disabled, so please use the Q& A tool to to ask us any questions that we have. This webinar will be recorded, so if you have to leave early or simply are unable to attend We will be able, we will be recording this and posting it on YouTube as well as on our blog, so you can catch it there.
And as I mentioned my name is Sedale Turbovsky. I am the CEO and co founder here at OpenGrants. And OpenGrants is the easy way to win grant funding. So we are going to have a really cool fireside chat today with Tamara Kohne from Climate Tech Finance. And Tamara, I’m just going to go ahead and let you introduce yourself, a little bit about your background, and we’ll go from there.
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, thanks Adil. Thanks everyone. Thank you for joining. My name is Tamara Kohne. I am the lead on climate tech finance program within the Bay Area air quality management district mouth full of words. But those of you who are not familiar, the Bay Area air district is the local air district within in San Francisco Bay Area, overseeing nine counties and protecting the air for local residents.
And I joined the air district yeah. Five years, four years ago. Sorry. Time flies. And prior to joining the program, I worked at the state level at the California Air Resources Board on the emission inventory and toxic control. And before that, I had a Internship at the governor’s office of planning and research.
And my back, my educational background is environmental economics and policy from UC Berkeley. And originally I am from Belarus. So I came to California straight in 2011. So excited to be here. Thanks.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us. And yeah, we’re really excited to have the benefit of your experience and expertise today.
So I wanted to just start out with, climate tech finance, this really cool program from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. But, I didn’t know about climate tech finance really until I met you. Would love to hear just what is climate tech finance? What? Who are you?
Who are you?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, so the program is originated within the Bay Area district about 5 years ago. Really? The thought was going, how can it just to be more involved in the climate space? Considering we are so close to the Silicon Valley where all the innovation is happening. Okay. I felt like the Air District and government in general is the last to know about the cool, innovative tech that’s happening.
So we wanted to be engaged in this space and also help accelerate the development of those technologies so we can speed the adoption of those within our communities. And the Air District started looking for various Financial tools that could help companies and the one you’re very familiar is grant funding, but that requires a lot of admin, admin on our end and that just we already have enough of some of the grant programs.
So they wanted to explore some other tools and start Looking at various partners who we can engage for that, and we came across I Bank, which stands for California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank. They are part of the GOBIS in Sacramento, and they have a loan guarantee program for a number of decades already, helping small business get their loan with the support of long guarantee and we like that tool because we could rely on their financial diligence since none of us really are lenders.
None of us really have strong background in finance. And we decided to partner with them on climate tech finance program. So it is really a pro a program between the two entities the air district where we do the early outreach with climate startups. We do the technical diligence in short, verify that they did produce greenhouse gas emissions.
We assess social equity of this technology on local communities. And the I bank side really provides the. A loan guarantee tool which helps de risk the loan. For those who are not familiar, loan guarantee is like insurance on your loan. And the current terms that the iBank provides is 80 percent of the loan guarantee and up to 5 million.
So we could do as little as half a million, we could do a million. But in this case, only not only 800, 000 will be guaranteed. The loan itself could go up to 20 million, but in this case the loan guarantee is only 25 percent because it maximizes 5 million. I’m happy to elaborate more or if there is.
Sedale Turbovsky: No, that’s great. I really appreciate it. And so I want to like. I want to zoom in on a couple of concepts here. One is and I’m sure this will be a question. So I just want to ask you this program is out of the Bay Area air quality management district. For those of you who may not be aware.
The state has a variety of air quality management districts. And I just wondered, is this program climate tech finance available outside of your jurisdiction in terms of the air districts. Reach?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, good question. We started originally just focused on the nine counties And that is a bit challenging because again here travels climate is global issue We can’t just be like sorry you just outside the boundary but Luckily I think have received more funding from federal government last year, and they were we were able to expand the program statewide.
So we did outreach with other aid districts. Some of them were, and there was 35 districts within the state. Yeah, some of them. It’s about the same size as we are. We’re interested, but just didn’t have resources because our program is self funded. So it’s funded by our general fund within the district.
And we engaged with them on pipeline sharing, but referring deals if they hear of some, let’s say, years. So South coast here have some deals happening in LA region, but they didn’t quite have the capacity to expand into the level that we’ve already been. And I bank was comfortable with us operating statewide.
So we are supporting entrepreneurs throughout the whole state. As long as they have the proceeds of the loan will be spent within the state of California. They qualify for the program.
Sedale Turbovsky: Very cool. So statewide it’s available across the state. It’s a loan guarantee program, which I would love it if you could explain like the mechanics or like what maybe a use case of a loan guarantee, because I think it’s something that folks don’t.
Maybe run across, especially entrepreneurs and so would love if you could just give like loan guarantee 101, like what is this thing that you offer?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah. Yeah. So we don’t offer direct when people hear a loan, they’re like, Oh, you give loans. No, we don’t unfortunately give loans ourselves.
So it is an insurance. On that loan. So technically this tool is for lenders because they are the one who will be providing loans for a particular company. The way it works is the company still have to be in the right stage to receive to qualify for a loan. Ideally they need to show a clear, at least to show a clear path to profitability.
Banks love companies generating revenue already, so they could show how they will be paying off that loan. But when banks are not super confident on the financing and also technology side, that’s where this loan guarantee helps, because it de risks 80 percent of the loan, and our in house assessment de risks the technology, or they might not…
know how to fuel cell works and whether it’s going to scale or not. While we, with our technical expertise within the air district can verify that it is a viable technology. It’s already been deployed in a number of applications before. And we stand by it. Lenders feel a bit at ease lending in this case, but.
Yeah it’s really at the end of the day, if everything goes smooth, loan guarantee is just help unlock that first loan for the company. And then they build the good track records with the bank where they pay that loan on time and they could qualify for a second loan, maybe without a loan guarantee.
And we’ve seen that happen with some of the companies who’ve got the first loan guarantee from us.
Sedale Turbovsky: That’s awesome. So this is a program that effectively just makes you more fundable, right? As you’re going through that criteria with a, with whoever your lender is, having a, bringing a loan guarantee to the table makes the deal more attractive to that lender.
Tamara Kohne: In current economy, it is very appealing because then just to be on a hook for as little as possible.
Sedale Turbovsky: Yeah, it’s a great way to help mitigate uncertainty, which, is a big part of, just the reality of a lot of this this technology and so on. That’s awesome.
I love the, that this is available. It’s a really cool program. Do you think, Can you give some examples maybe of folks that you’ve helped secure loans and like what that process was like for them? And in general, I’d love to hear what’s the time frame look like when, when should an org reach out to y’all?
And how long does it take for them to, come away from that conversation with, Oh, now we have this loan guarantee that we can then add into this deal that we’re working on.
Tamara Kohne: Yeah. Now in terms of The successful pipeline we funded. 15 companies, a total of 37 million so far. Some of them were also loan renewals where they received the first loan.
They used it and then they recycled the loan guarantee for the second one. Technology wise it varies as long as they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and don’t rely on fossil fuel. That is something we will support. The, we have a huge pipe, but pretty big pipeline in energy space mobility we funded the micro grid providers at public facilities we funded the hydrogen ferry.
Funded ultracapacitor developer. We supported the EV charging software provider. So we really try to be as technology agnostic as possible in the whole climate tech definition and. The second part of the question was like the timeline. Yeah, that’s the timeline really varies depending on what stage of the company is.
We never really say no, we say maybe not yet. We’re happy to have a conversation with climate startups in, in various rounds. If they are just in the pre seed or seed rounds, we because we Believe we won’t go away for a while. We have enough funding to continue. Support them at space. And I love seeing companies that I talked to three years ago, and they were just building their first prototype.
And once we introduce them to lenders, the lender was not quite maybe excited because they wanted to see the technology operate. During for some time before the lender could really get behind it and now they circle back to us. They’ve completed their first prototype. It’s all went well and they received contracts to expand.
If the company know that they are ready for a loan and maybe started the discussion with lenders already and those discussions have been going well our approval process could be Done within a month. What we started doing recently, considering we have a lot of interest in just two staff we started pre approving companies early on, saying that they qualify for the loan, qualify for the program.
From what we’ve seen so far, they seem like a good candidate. And we sent them a letter that they could take to lenders. And once they got a bit more traction with Inlander community, that’s when they can come back to us and say, Hey, this bank is underwriting me on these terms. And we will do the full assessment that I mentioned earlier, which includes the greenhouse gas analysis, primarily scope one and social equity analysis of the deployments.
All in all, it’s like in general right now to get a loan, it’s probably about six months because you, we recommend me go like talking to as many lenders as possible, trying to get the terms you want, but it’s also not as straightforward at this time right now.
Sedale Turbovsky: Yeah, no, that’s really good to know. And so it sounds like the pre approval process could be as quick as a month.
That initial engagement and then, obviously the full approval is really contingent on the timeline of the financial institution that you’re getting your loan from what are there any so in, in venture capital, when you’re looking at VCs they’re often making decision based on scarce resources, right?
So they have, they’re deploying X amount of money from their fund. And so they’re prioritizing certain projects over others. As you look at approving deals and loan guarantees, are you pursuing a similar process? So how are you evaluating opportunities? Are you saying no to certain loan guarantees based on based on certain factors that are outside of just fundability from a lender perspective.
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, I think we’re in a really lucky position because we. Work for government. So we like the core mission of the program is to help entrepreneurs and we don’t disqualify anyone based on, let’s say, the number of greenhouse gas reduction. So we don’t prioritize oh, they work in cement.
Therefore, they will reduce more. Let’s let’s push them further. Then someone who is maybe installing heat pumps in residential homes. We try to help everyone and we prioritize, based on whoever is further in the lending discussion. If the lender says okay to the heat pump installer, for example we will be working, we will be approving that first.
But… In general, we try to be like whoever submitted the application first make sure no one’s lagged behind. And I guess something that would not qualify is we try to look, as I mentioned, on the, what is the effects of This technology on the local communities, and if if certain product is really just out of the scope for most of your population, and maybe not necessarily that needed per se and I don’t want to say there is a bad technology.
There’s But it’s just technology is just pure for the rich people. We might ask how would general public have access for that. And if there was a not clear way this is only going to be used on the private golf somewhere. Out there, we might not approve that just because it doesn’t fit our social equity lens.
But yeah, as long as the technology don’t rely on fossil fuel and not like outrageously expensive, primarily for luxury then they qualify
Sedale Turbovsky: for the program. Awesome. Very cool. Is there, where’s a good place for, entrepreneurs? Is there a way for them to start to assess and analyze that kind of equity lens?
Because, the rest of that, that’ll make sense. I think one of the things that a lot of founders don’t run into a lot. In terms of capital raising in particular is like the the equity aspect of it. And that’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of good equity focused funds out there, but it’s just not something that often comes up as often as you might hope.
Where can folks go to learn? I think the rest of it is pretty self explanatory and straightforward, like greenhouse gas reductions and having an actual technology and being in the position to get a loan. But the last bit where can folks go to learn about how to think about that?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, and I think we still learning ourselves too. We haven’t developed, we want to develop a tool that could be public, but so far we haven’t gotten there. What we do with every application is we ask for zip zip codes of the deployments and then we run it against the Justice40 community calling the virus clean and we run it against CRA, which is Community Reinvestment Act, which our vendors use and Get graded by the regulator when they check them, whether they’ve been doing the providing the loans to the communities that needed the most.
So we assess each zip code against and there is no right or wrong answer right now. And I don’t think we’re really going to get that straight that we’ll be like, oh, you don’t fit because. It really depends on the business. If you B2B, we can’t really dictate who you’re going to sell and who your customer should be.
So I think it is just, maybe I say common sense. Maybe it is not common sense for everyone, but just trying to have communities in mind. Would your neighbor ever be able to benefit from it? Like with your kids in 20 years. I think that this was a, like a good technology and something that improved their lives.
And I just, and yes, there is some businesses that it applies and they add, that’s the core of their business and some where it’s not directly apply, but I think just having right now we ask questions in our social equity review, but there is again, no right or wrong answer. Some are better than others, but we don’t have a grading system where we say, oh, you received zero on your social equity.
Yeah, I know some other programs, government programs, a bit more straightforward that way, but that is part of the funding requirement where we don’t have that.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. No, I appreciate that. I think there’s some, there’s a couple of questions. I just want to remind those who are listening in, please do feel free to drop your questions in the Q and a, we’ll tackle some of those really in the next.
Next few minutes here. So do feel free to shoot any questions our way. I want to talk a little bit, we’ve covered what y’all do and what the product is and who it’s for a little bit of the evaluation criteria. What’s the best way for folks to. Start to engage with your program.
Should they be reaching out to you? Should they go to the website and fill out a form? How do you, how do y’all work with and manage that relationship with folks who are looking for the loan guarantees?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, I think the easiest way is go on our website and we have a get a quote link. You won’t get an exact quote.
We won’t give you an interest rate because it’s not up to us, unfortunately, but we will get an email instantly and then. We will follow up within a few days to schedule an intro call. People can reach out on LinkedIn. They can send us emails. Some come from iBanks network, but I think through our website is the most straightforward.
And then we have an intake call. And if company, most of the time companies that already submitted quote in the climate space. I don’t think anyone’s trying to convince us or try to fit in. But, yeah, there is some, as I mentioned, requirement being in California, some companies outside and.
We’re looking for working capital and that working capital needs to just be for California deployments. So sometimes some companies might not qualify for that or at least currently they might have it in the business in the future. But yeah, through the website is the easiest and we should be talking soon.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. I love it. And we’ll definitely get all that contact info out in the follow up on this webinar. One of the other questions I have for you is, and I’m not sure if you can share these or not, but do you have any case studies of like some favorite companies that you funded or just You can share generally like where it’s worked out really well to help streamline or get companies access to their loans
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, I mean we the first project was a hydrogen ferry and that project received the grant funding from CARB and Air District Administrative, and they also got a loan without a loan guarantee for the full cost. It will be operating very soon in the Bay Area. It’s already in San Francisco right now, so that’s been a long time coming, but we are excited.
It’s also, I’m realizing it’s an… It’s not news for many that it’s so much harder to scale hard tech compared to soft and they just have a special place in my heart because we need deploy. Software is great. They could solve and optimize a lot of things, but we need a hard technology to have a chance in the climate space and climate crisis.
The other one I mentioned is a microgrid provider Gridscape, they are based in Fremont, California, and a number of the deployments have been at their fire stations they also a good example because they received not a max loan, but they were able to renew it and Now they are having the relationship with the bank without us.
And that’s what we want to see and hear. Yeah, and then a lot of companies that we funded supported with our loan guarantee have applied to recycle the loan, to use it again. And that’s been more recently, maybe a few years ago, they could have. gone without a loan guarantee, but now lenders would prefer to do risk as much as possible and We are available. So why not use us again?
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. No that’s incredible. And it is we talk a lot at OpenGrants about the capital stack and how important it is to for savvy founders to leverage all of, all of the available ecosystem to do smart things with the money. And so it is this is a very purpose.
focused instrument that you have and it is very I’d say specific. But also, I, it sounds like incredibly useful and it is great to hear. I think, I’ve been in that position before as a founder of Hey, I’d love to get have a relationship with this bank and get a loan and they’re like no you’re an early stage company.
You have almost no revenue history. Like we don’t know what’s going on and so this is a powerful tool to de risk and move that conversation forward. So really incredible stuff that y’all are
Tamara Kohne: Work with smaller banks, work with your community bank, work with your local credit union, because they are in your own backyard, they are more likely to support you and take a risk, and especially with long guarantee where some larger banks are waiting for.
a large return from you before they can consider giving you a loan. So that’s what, that’s where we’ve seen like the most success with lenders because they have a cluster of some lenders who provide repeated loans for companies and they are small to medium sized banks.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. No, that’s great advice.
And I think before we get into the Q and a, which we will do should in, a couple minutes here. My last question for you really is on that front of there’s a lot of there’s a lot of. Things happening in the fundraising space right now. And yeah, just wanted to get your thoughts.
Any other advice you have for folks on, who, what kind of lenders they should look for? I’m not sure if there’s specific names that you really like, or that you’re, allowed to say out there given your position, but yeah other thoughts on that front of just, what.
What have you seen in terms of trends of who likes this stuff?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah. And that’s where we rely a lot on our finance leads. So they help us match companies. So when I mentioned that companies submit the preliminary financial assessment for, to us I don’t really look at it. It’s our finance leads will look and assess and be like, okay, given what.
You provide, this is the reasonable ask, because again, everyone who applied when I received the quotes, they won 5 million. Everyone won the max. And when we get to the detail, we’re like Do you, yeah, I bet 5 million would be nice, but what do you really need operationally? Is a million the more reasonable ask that the lender is more likely to land on it.
And our finance leads also pitch various companies to their network of lenders when they talk with them weekly because some work more in. Like ad space for example, farmers and merchants, they but they also have been involved in like EV space and EV charging. I think it varies and we try not to, we had a webinar with lenders and then our, the two lenders that attended were just got lots of calls and they set it in mind, but we try to Be more mindful with introductions.
We prefer to talk with funders and CFOs before they talk to vendors so we can make sure that everyone have the right intent and we use everyone’s time appropriately. Yeah, and I think like piece of advice, provide every, everything you have in your financial track records, like not trying to hide anything, even if you have losses, like that’s.
That’s what startups have, like that’s the definition of startup. I asked the lender, like, how do you define startups? And he said, those that not generating revenue. Oh, okay. So just be and be honest because it’s a lot of. Human relationship, like when you’re trying to portray your business not necessarily be super pessimistic.
Oh, I’ve been losing in the last 3 years, but be like, yeah, the economy in the last 3 years hasn’t been the best. Therefore, we haven’t been, but show the clear path to profitability. Like, how can you. Gain from it. Like, how can you show that you are prof like profitable? What are you trying to do? Who are your contracts with?
Have you, I always, and I think you’ve also been saying this work with the local governments, reach out to them let them know that this technology exists and it could help them implement this rule. And they might have. Some funding that could help you be more appealing on a paper for lenders.
Yeah, there is no like magic wand that could just make it all happen. I wish it was, but it’s a hard, it’s hard work. And I think some don’t realize how hard it is to get a loan. But once you get, you are on a completely different trajectory.
Sedale Turbovsky: Yeah, no, I think that’s great advice. And honestly, that’s, we try to communicate that around grants as well as it just is a lot of relationship building here in the space.
And I think sometimes that’s hard for, we’ve become very accustomed to DoorDash and this consumer experience where it’s click buttons, get the thing you want and that’s just, it is simply not the the reality of fundraising in any sense, like venture debt loan guarantees, any of that let’s get into some of the some of the questions here for, from the folks who are on the line listening there’s I’ll answer that one but, I’ll so just to like pile on to this, are there financial institutions that you think are easiest to work with for startup companies?
Sounds like you have some analysts who help make those matchmaking, but maybe you could double click on that process because I think it might be helpful for companies to understand should they go out and do their own diligence? Is that something that y’all can help them with if they come to get a loan guarantee?
Can you match them to certain? Institutions. Would love to get into that a bit.
Tamara Kohne: Yeah. I recommend to do both, be your, you have to be your own advocate. We try to do our best. Our finance leads we have two of them and they try to help as many as possible. And. I would say it’s good to have a preliminary financial system because both of them have been bankers before.
So they will look at the numbers as a bank and in some instances, they provided some feedback like it would be good if This number got here, then you, it always would be good, but then if some companies have some runaway before they actually could apply, would receive the loan, they have some time.
So I, that’s why I say we talk with everyone, maybe someone in precede stages a bit too early because they don’t quite have all the track records to assess on, but. Even for them, it’s helpful to understand, Oh, what do I need in order to get a loan? Because it’s quite different than getting VC money, right?
So you need to be in that mentality that in three to five year, I’m looking for a loan. Therefore that I am preparing my financial documents in that manner. So it’s looks more appealing. And but months that assess, once we have a discussion with our finance lead and we provide the letter.
We’ve seen both. We’ve seen some being pretty active sharing the letter saying, Hey, look, especially right now I’m approved for this government program up to 80 percent of the loan guarantee. And banks we just had a call this morning with a pretty large bank interested in one of the clients brought them.
The letter. So we like both, we recommend do your own diligence and do your own networking and outreach. And we, and I bank always happy to talk more on the, with lender, like what does it really means for them? Because at the end of the day, if the company defaults. Company default.
It’s the bank who will be liable for this. Because the iBank will provide the loan guarantee. But, yeah, sorry, I’m mumbling a bit.
Sedale Turbovsky: No, it’s all good. I think, so it sounds like, there’s there’s support from your side. People should definitely be their own advocates. It also, one of the things that I picked out of what you were saying Is just that there’s banks that and lenders who might not be so familiar with this and they might need some more support But overall I think you had mentioned earlier also working with community banks and other groups that might be a little more flexible and I can i’ll double down on that note.
It was just that When you’re building these personal relationships, it really can be pretty effective to, to work with folks who have some additional investment in the community where you’re working. So yeah, no that’s great advice. Yeah, I think this whole space, people always want like these kind of easier answers.
And unfortunately, often the real answer here is this is really hard and just be prepared to have lots of conversations. Fundraising is just not fun. More of a technology focused question. What TRL level, what technology readiness level does the technology need to be before they engage with you?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, so technology needs to be positive demonstration space. And This is for us to be able to assess the that indeed it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, like we’ve seen it. And again, we don’t, we could go and see it, but there is no need nowadays. It’s zoom and everything, but it’s also for the bank to be able to learn.
They want to know that this it’s not like Thank you. You had maybe built one prototype, but now, and it’s been successful, you operated for a number of months or years, and now you’re ready to scale. You have contracts in place for, let’s say, this hundred units, and ideally, if there is prepayment on those contracts it’s even better.
But yeah, that’s pretty much. Answer the question like it needs to be. We need to see you pause the demo.
Sedale Turbovsky: Yeah, beautiful. Great question here because I think and this dovetails nicely with what you’re just talking about. So being driving America is a nonprofit that advocates and educates on clean transportation and transportation efficiency.
One of their initiatives is conducting funded measured idle free campaigns at schools, including in the Bay Area. This is not a tech solution, but a behavioral one. But with climate tech funding, Would you all fund those kinds of campaigns with the loan guarantee program?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, we can support non profits and that is based on iBanks.
So we still follow iBanks requirements for the loan guarantee. So it needs to be a small business it can be a non profit. In terms of greenhouse gas reductions, we look at both direct and indirect. Like EV charger by itself don’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions. It’s those EVs that charge and drive.
So yeah, I would say we open for discussion and yeah, all this especially as I mentioned on the social equity, this has a clear… Impact for our communities. So even though I didn’t say we have a hobby, we don’t skate, we don’t score anyone, but we can justify as long as greenhouse gas indirectly get reduced and it helps local communities.
I would say it fits. Awesome.
Sedale Turbovsky: Great.
Tamara Kohne: And I also know I, I really don’t understand why people idle like personnel. I always want because I know we, it district does have think people call a complaint line. It’s someone’s. Not turning off their vehicle, outside of your house or something. But it’s something I don’t ever understand.
Sedale Turbovsky: It’s wild. Another great question here. Do the loan guarantees go toward project development only or can it go for other uses, like a particular phrase of r and d, which will lead to financing?
Tamara Kohne: Would it be an R& D, would it be the loan for R& D? Is that kind of the question,
Sedale Turbovsky: I’m not sure. And, if you’re the individual who posted this, yes. This individual says yes, it would be for R& D.
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, so I would say that would… depends on the lender. I don’t, I haven’t really seen a loan given on R& D unless, let’s say, you have already a line of products that are generating revenue and you are Getting the working capital that you could deploy for R and D for, let’s say, third line of a project of a product, then it could qualify, I would say, but if it’s just the first R and D of that, I don’t think it would, I don’t think the lenders would get behind because, as I said, they need to see the project operating and, That’s for sure.
Yeah, and also we try to make sure that the company that we support can scale relatively soon. So we see there this technology being deployed sooner than later, because there is a lot of great technology that’s Still 20, 30 years down the road and we haven’t supported those not because the timeline is so long, but it’s just hard to find a lender and they still in the early stages.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. Very cool. And feel free folks to throw any other questions our way. One of the questions I had for you, you had mentioned earlier that there was a, an org that had used the loan guarantee program alongside a grant. Do you see companies using this as a means of securing loans as part of, matching funds for grant programs?
Does that come up ever? I’m just curious myself about, the different ways you see this implemented. We’ve talked a lot about just kinda like product and deployment but would love to get your thoughts on, the, what the rest of the capital stack is looking like for a lot of these projects.
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, we always encourage looking for grant funding. I think I even use your platform for a few, just even I write recommendation. I’m like, consider this grants because they would Help either bring their cost of the product down the road, because that’s a few times have come up in our approval, and it’s pretty pricey at the current stage, but we.
Yeah, we encourage, but I haven’t I think that is the only company that like clearly they got a grant, they got a loan, they build the product. Most of the time we’ve seen us, they’ve got grants and now they’re looking for loans. And there’s IRA right now, there is a lot more funding, so we encourage everyone.
To keep an eye to try to apply and then the more money you have for the more likely alone, you’re going to get a loan and just using every possible, especially sometimes we recommended companies, they need to raise a few, like another round, but that’s just primarily when they are.
In the pre seed stage, like we haven’t, it’s really very hard to almost impossible to get a loan.
Sedale Turbovsky: Yeah, awesome. No this is great context. So I think one of the things that is really compelling about what y’all are doing is the unlocking that, that loan product for startups, but I’d love to hear, And I’m curious myself once again, does this dovetail with does this program dovetail with other like AQMD programs?
I know that you all have your own grant programs. You have other initiatives that you’re working on. Do folks are they using this to build larger relationships with the AQMD and are there opportunities to partner with the larger org here and continue to do work and deploy solutions?
Tamara Kohne: Yeah, this is my dream come true if we could make that happen where most of the time, the timelines don’t quite align when a company applying for a grant, or the grant funding is restricted in a particular way. But it is possible. I’m always happy to introduce the companies across the air district to whatever groups are working on.
We, we hope to, or like the air district itself is a over 400 people engineers Metrologist inspectors all across the board. We try to be as connected as possible, but sometimes in our daily lives, we just focus on our project that they work on. We and I like. I really see the goal of this program is just also show the air district what technology is currently available and ready to be supported and deployed.
I don’t know, unfortunately, that’s the switch maritime, the hydrogen ferry is the only success that we’ve had so far with matching funds, even within the air district, but, yeah, that’s like my advice is always reach out to your local governments. I believe you said it, like when you apply for grant funding, talk to those grant writers, introduce your solution.
Same here, if you know that you’re, solution will help particular rule implementation, reach out to those because you could find yes, government employees, not the most maybe transparent in terms of who works on what program, but it’s Possible to find and it’s all public records from the board meetings and stuff.
Finding who is working it and working on it and sharing your solution, I think is all this helpful because also like it’s helpful both ways. You could also receive the feedback like, Oh, this is how this doesn’t apply. Let’s say, and then you could maybe tweak something. So
Sedale Turbovsky: awesome. No, that’s great advice.
And yeah, we, I say this all the time please reach out, connect with folks because they’re always looking for solutions and building those relationships will be really important and useful for you. There’s a, another quick question here. Does the address strict also fund projects for zero waste?
Tamara Kohne: I will need to check on those. Not that I think, but there might be some, and that’s also the thing sometimes, I’m not saying we’re the last one to find, but the, in terms of climate tech finance, I don’t, it could qualify if that Zero waste, it will need to know what kind of zero waste project it is.
If it’s eliminating it, going to a landfill, therefore, meaning less greenhouse gas emissions that could qualify. And we try to be as broad as possible. We just funded a company that provides resurfacing of the roads instead of ripping off the old asphalt and repaving the whole asphalt.
They seal the cracks. And prolong the life by seven years. And when I talked to the company, they’re like, we are not climate tech. We are not startup. And I’m like, you don’t have to be a startup. And they were like are we in climate tech? And then they’re like, yeah, they were just greenhouse gas emissions.
So I think it’s also like a buzzword where a lot of organizations in companies who might not think they are in this space actually are doing meaningful work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So even that, Zero waste project could qualify for climate tech finance potentially, but I will need to check if there is any on the within other divisions, the district.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. Thank you so much. And we can send that out in the follow up. We are drawing to a close here. If you do have any last questions, feel free to throw them in the Q and a, but I just wanted to say, thank you for joining us today on the webinar and talking about this really cool loan guarantee program and climate finance.
And, yeah, I just, I think, as we close, always give this opportunity and I forgot to tell you about it, but any what if. If no one takes anything else away from today what’s your call to action for folks who are listening in and might be interested in this in this space?
Tamara Kohne: I would say trust your governor I guess work with your local government, have some trust in them and spend some time to educate them. And. It should if government continue doing their own thing and companies continue doing their own thing, we, I don’t think we’re ever going to get. To solving climate change, so we need to all work together and keeping communities in mind is key if the government only tries to this current Justice40 initiative only tries to address, and I’ve heard about Justice40, it’s not just Justice40, it’s Justice40 and above, that’s the goal is to get 100% Thank you.
Yeah, I would encourage, I know everyone very busy and have limited time to do a lot of things I get it, but setting some time aside and building those human relationship is important. Because it’s gonna pay at the end.
Sedale Turbovsky: Awesome. No I a hundred percent agree. It’s one of the reasons we built OpenGrants in the first place is we said, look, this is one way that people can partner and work with the government.
And it really can be a very powerful relationship that can accomplish a lot. And government has these deep pockets. They have dilutive funding, they have debt, they have all this capital, all these resources. They have all. expertise, all this stuff. And it’s been sometimes a little fraught trying to make it happen.
But once you figure out, the realities of what’s going on and break through, it’s it is really powerful and a really cool opportunity and something that, really savvy businesses are taking advantage of. And we’re hoping to see a lot more of that. So really appreciate that call to action.
Appreciate all of y’all who have jumped on the webinar and came out. Appreciate that. And we will be sending a follow up with contact information and other calls to action. We’ll let you get back a few minutes of your day. And thank you tomorrow for jumping on and joining us today.
And we will be in touch. Yeah, sounds great.
Tamara Kohne: Thank you, everyone. Thanks, y’all.