SINAI Technologies has raised a seed round of $3.8 million in a sign that Silicon Valley VCs are becoming interested in ecological investments and also diversity in startups with female CEOs.
The San Francisco-based SINAI helps large companies decarbonize by offering a platform that tracks assets and energy use. The data is used by companies to reduce their carbon emissions, track their progress according to their decarbonization plans, and to comply with changes in local regulations.
"We are solving a big problem: clarity around how companies manage their carbon emissions, and then how to achieve their carbon emission targets with the most cost effective solutions," said Maria Fujihara, CEO and co-founder of SINAI. "A lot of companies are facing pressure from shareholders, customers, and from their local communities to reduce carbon emissions."
Fujihara has spent more than 14 years working in the sustainability industry and also comes from a family of environmentalists as forest engineers. She moved from Brazil in 2017 to co-found SINAI with Alain Rodriguez, CTO. He was one of the first engineers at Uber.
SINAI is a recent graduate of the Silicon Valley based Y Combinator program, which teaches startups basic principles of building a successful business over a three-month period. It also invests $125,000 in exchange for some equity in a pre-seed round.
"This is the first time that Y Combinator did everything online but it worked well and we learned a lot," said Fujihara. "Raising money was also all done online, with no meetings face-to-face."
She added that being a female CEO came with some additional challenges. Silicon Valley VCs are notorious for ignoring female-led startups.
Afore Capital led this round and specializes in pre-seed and seed funding. It raised a second fund in 2019. Additional investors included Abstract Ventures, Coelius Capital and the founders of Eventbrite and PlanGrid.
SINAI has landed some large customers including Siemens Brasil, a subsidiary of Siemens, based in Germany, which has made a big commitment to move towards carbon-neutral operations. Other customers are ArcelorMittal Brasil, a subsidiary of a steel and mining giant.
Fujihara is heartened to have client companies in industries that are notorious for their high energy usage, such as the steel industry.
The SINAI cloud platform offers real-time reporting capabilities by interfacing with networks of monitors, and keeps track of changes in regulations, new best practices and the best mitigation processes. It also brings in AI to learn from users and industries on the most effective ways to decarbonize their companies.