Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Joshua Posamentier was recorded in April 2020.
Joshua Posamentier is Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Congruent Ventures, a firm focused on sustainability-oriented technology ventures.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by having you introduce the firm, Congruent Ventures, as well as a bit of your background. Let’s get you acquainted with our audience.
Joshua Posamentier: The firm is a relatively new firm. We started in 2016. We are on our second fund at this point. This is a $125 million fund. We are focused on early-stage companies in the sustainability and clean technology landscape.
This includes sectors from alternative energy, food & agriculture, urban and mobility, and sustainable consumption production. It’s a pretty broad spectrum. Within those, we will invest in anything from deep tech and hardware, to software.
Sramana Mitra: Our focus is in IT and IT-enabled services. If you could talk primarily about the intersection of your sustainability work and IT-related ventures, that would be terrific.
With that context, could you also elaborate a bit on what your definition of early stage is? Early stage has now fragmented quite a bit all the way from pre-seed, seed, post-seed, pre Series A, small Series A, large Series A. Where in that continuum do you like to play?
Joshua Posamentier: We play anywhere from the very first money in to early Series B using today’s definition. North of 80% of our deals have been first institutional checks. We’re happy to lead. We’re happy to follow. We have led about two-thirds of the deals we’ve done, but that’s not part of our core thesis.
Sramana Mitra: What is the first check size?
Joshua Posamentier: Historically, we’ve written checks as small as $150,000. Right now, we’re capping out at $4 million for the first check. It’s a very wide range.
Sramana Mitra: Geography? Do you invest all over the United States, all over the world, only in the Bay Area?
Joshua Posamentier: We have a North American focus. Just given the small size of the team and our involved approach, it tends to be easier to focus closer to home. But we do have some investments in Eastern Europe and are actively looking elsewhere as well.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s do a few case studies of the kinds of companies you have invested in. If you could highlight a bit when this company came to you, what did you see when they came to you that caught your attention and compelled you to write a check.
Joshua Posamentier: One is AMP Robotics. Despite the name, they don’t actually manufacture much in the way of robotics. They’re a machine learning and machine vision company that uses machine vision to control robots to sort recycling and extract more value from that.
Instead of people picking those, the CEO worked on aspects of this for his PhD thesis, and spun that into a company. We were the very first investors of that as he left CalTech. That was three years ago. Then Sequoia led their Series A last year.
Sramana Mitra: They’re selling to machine makers?
Joshua Posamentier: Their current customer base are operators. They sell their software along with packaged robotics as well. They partner with big robotics companies. They sell to the recycling facilities.