Investing in Continue AI: Why We Think Sustainability is Good for Business
Over the past few years, sustainability has become a critical imperative and an essential part of corporate strategy. Mounting evidence of climate change and a renewed focus on social justice has pushed governments, investors, and consumers to demand more from companies. This ‘more’ is all about developing corporate resiliency and it extends from the reduction of corporate carbon footprints to the promotion of diverse talent to all areas of companies, including their boardrooms.
Enterprises use ESG as their core management framework to develop resiliency and handle the very broad range of sustainability, considering many Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (Bloomberg forecasts that ESG products will reach $50 trillion in assets by 2025). This new reality results in vast data that must be sorted and analyzed. The volume of data overwhelms a company’s management and compromises its ability to make data-driven decisions to improve the corporate’s sustainability roadmap.
At the beginning of 2021, I started meeting more and more sustainability-focused startups. I met with many talented entrepreneurs who recognized this massive emerging market, who were driven by the challenge that ESG raised. It was clear to me that we are in the midst of a mass experimentation stage in sustainability, in which everyone is trying to develop levers and capabilities to achieve their sustainability goals, without knowing what actually works.
With a strong belief that technology can help organizations achieve their sustainability goals, make an impact and advance toward an equitable future, we at Grove Ventures felt it was high time to look at all of the sustainability ‘experiments’ across all industries and analyze them; And that we need to move from mass experimentation to data-driven decision-making, which will ultimately improve corporate financial returns and increase resiliency.
Inspired by this belief, we led this $5.7M seed investment round in Continue AI, with Maple Capital and with participation from Ride Ventures, Liquid2, and Kindergarten Ventures.
This is the story of how we met three exceptional entrepreneurs — Beeri Amiel, Alon Arad, and Yonatan Maor — and how together, we created the world’s first compass that leads organizations to a sustainable future.
The Deep Future of Sustainability: Shifting from Consultants to Artificial Intelligence
This huge market need became even more evident to me as I dug deep into the sustainability rabbit hole. After many conversations with the fund’s LPs and corporates within our network, I realized they use human consultants rather than technology to set their sustainability strategy and manage it.
With this opportunity in mind and a desire to match it to the right team, I first met with the Continue AI founders in 2021. At the time, they were working in the different field of organizational IT. I quickly realized that this is a team who has what it takes to use data to solve big problems. I wanted to invest in them. As we dived together into a lengthy ideation process for their new venture (there is nothing I love more than figuring out the best route with exceptional entrepreneurs), we understood the unique opportunity to create a company that will define a whole new SaaS category — sustainability for organizations.
As part of our process together, we looked at a lot of solutions out there in the market. We saw that many available solutions are trying to organize internal information (data and information gathered across departments from within the organization) rather than look at the plethora of external data that is becoming more and more available from competitors, investors, etc.
We saw startups that are only focused on reporting or performance monitoring, while others are only focused on one ESG topic (such as the reduction of emissions). This is, at large, a reflection of the collective action problem within the sustainability space. Corporations are not working together to mitigate the climate disaster, not necessarily because they do not want to, but because they simply cannot, as they do not have efficient data to do so.
Organizations were struggling to track, surface, and understand their business metrics when it came to sustainability because they needed access to near-real-time data, breaking down information silos and offering reporting and analysis on so many aspects of their operations. Because they did not have the right tech-based solutions, organizations mainly used human consultants.
We thought we needed to solve this problem differently. Similar to ‘The Database of Evil’ that was built by ActiveFence, another Grove Ventures portfolio company I proudly invested in to solve Trust & Safety issues online, we recognized the opportunity to create ‘The Database of Sustainability’. What users need, we thought, is a holistic SaaS solution that can analyze ALL available information, highlight gaps, and then give plans and recommendations based on historical data and other companies in each domain. A scalable and repeatable platform, that can extract information easily, and give data-driven insights for better decision-making. We need to allow organizations to simplify sustainability, save time and money, and set customized goals using the power of data and reach, better compliance. An AI-based platform that eliminates the dependency on human consultants.
A Technology that Steers the World in a Better Direction
As the vertical grows (both policies and green bonds have been widely embraced), so does opposition to it — but as the extraordinary interest in Continue AI’s solution grows, with multiple Fortune500 companies already on its client roster, it is clear here that corporate sustainability for better and more resilient businesses is here to stay.
We are extremely excited about Continue AI’s ability to push organizations towards a more sustainable future while also having a clear sight of their bottom lines. Sustainability should be made possible, we believe, for every organization on the planet.