Natural disasters have a way to get people’s attention. Take, for example, the recent, catastrophic wildfire seasons in California, which broke records in terms of the number of acres burned, properties destroyed, and lives lost. That, coupled with the way they turned the sky an apocalyptic shade of orange, grabbed people by the lapels and wouldn’t let go.
This ordeal has prompted many people to look for solutions. Vibrant planet was born from the California wildfires. TechCrunch covered the business seed cycleand now the startup is back with new funding.
Vibrant Planet raised a $15 million Series A funding round led by the Ecosystem Integrity Fund, with participation from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, Citi Ventures, Day One Ventures, SIG Climate, Globivest, Coefficient LP and other investors. This is in addition to $17 million in pre-seed and seed funding announced by the company in June 2022, as well as some government grants, bringing the total raised to $34 million.
Last year, I found the idea of eco-friendly SaaS refreshing, although I wasn’t sure it would have the explosive growth potential that venture capitalists like to see. Call it skepticism out of familiarity: I trained as a landscape ecologist and spent five years studying California’s oak forests; before that I did a bit of fire modeling as part of a small research project. I’m still close enough to the subject to understand that environmental issues are often treated and funded more as footnotes than headnotes. Historically, it is not the most profitable sector.
But over the past five years, that has started to change. Disasters like the California wildfire season have forced a slow awakening on the world, and especially the United States. Call it ordeal by wildfire, hurricane, heat wave, drought or flood. Make your choice.
But are there enough people taking the climate threat seriously for a startup focused on wildfire management to succeed? As is the case with any Series A company, it’s probably too early to make firm predictions. Still, I’m cautiously optimistic, and it’s not because the company has a bigger bank account.