Kite is a pioneering venture studio and capital fund that specializes in building and investing in impact ventures within the natural resources sector. It was founded based on a deep understanding of the crucial role that metals, minerals and other natural resources play in the transition to a net-zero future and a belief that sustainability should be at the core of the industry’s progress, where long-term resource use is balanced with minimizing environmental impacts and incorporating social benefits.
Kite recognizes that achieving a net-zero future requires two major innovation strategies – one in increasing the role of circularity and recycling in the metals that are in circulation, and the other in the primary extraction that will be necessary to meet a significant portion of the increasing metal demand driven by clean energy transitions, limited recycling capabilities, supply constraints, and infrastructure requirements.
Their approach focuses on collaborative partnerships with industry players to identify opportunities for innovation and impact. Through its combined expertise, collaborative approach, and commitment to sustainability, Kite aims to make the natural resources sector greener, safer, and less wasteful, contributing to the achievement of long-term environmental and social goals.
Tell us about yourself?
I’ve been founding and building companies and businesses since the late 90s, cutting my teeth in software during the Dotcom boom/bust era. Prior to joining Kite as a Co-Founder, I was the Managing Director of entrepreneurship@UBC, the University of British Columbia’s incubation and acceleration hub for research and ideation. There, we would work with between 100 and 150 ventures each year, taking the most promising ones up to a Series A financing level. Over the past 10 years, these ventures have gone on to raise over $1.7B in capital, generate over $730M in revenue, and create over 1,800 new jobs.
Being part of these ventures’ journeys is about as inspiring as it gets. The founders are solving some of the most critical problems in our world today, from cancer treatments to carbon sequestration. After accomplishing our primary objectives during my time there, I did some soul searching and realized that my own next step was to double down on climate solutions, and I returned to industry to find an opportunity where I could lean in significantly and make a difference. Kite’s focus on the metals/materials role in the energy transition and the importance of building sustainability into the industry was the perfect fit and as they say, the rest is history.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I am a very driven person, and when I sink my teeth into something, it becomes such a passion that I forget to take a moment to live in the present. And that sounds trite because it’s such common advice. But it’s really true that the daily moments, the unique experiences of the ‘rest of life,’ are what drive the holistic perspective you need as a leader to solve the many challenges that arise on a daily basis.
What problem does your business solve?
In order to create and then live in a cleaner future, we need to move to a less resource-intensive energy system. We have the technology to create the infrastructure needed to lower carbon emissions and behave sustainably, but it requires us to build new infrastructure using materials (critical minerals, etc.) that aren’t already in circulation to be recycled.
This means that we will need to mine and refine the materials we need to build the machines of the future, including building the recycling capabilities to then re-utilize these new materials at the end of their life. The mining and materials industry is a necessary partner in this energy transition to provide those materials and is under tremendous pressure to rapidly transform the industry to operate sustainably.
Kite was created to build new companies that solve these sustainability problems in the natural resources industry. Our first fund is focused on mining and metals due to this critical, time-sensitive need to build the infrastructure for a planet-positive future.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
There are four original founders in Kite, with backgrounds in everything from innovation and venture capital to primary resources. Each of us has come to a point in our careers where we have realized that any skill that has been acquired over the past several decades needs to be applied to solving this mission-critical climate problem. As we worked through where we felt the biggest opportunity to make a significant impact would be, mining and materials were the clear priority, along with other technologically-laggard natural resources.
What is your magic sauce?
It is well known that three of the most common reasons that startups fail to succeed are:
- Lack of Financing,
- Lack of product-market fit
- Not having the right team to succeed
Kite addresses these issues by working with industry to define and sponsor problems to solve, providing our own capital to get companies to a stage of external investibility and surrounding nascent ventures with seasoned entrepreneurs and builders who roll up their sleeves to ensure success.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We are actively raising our $30M fund to build 10 successful companies focused on mining/materials and natural resources sustainability. After that, we plan to raise larger funds to support more innovation in broader areas.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I’m not sure I would frame it as a ‘biggest challenge’, but I have spent my life with a lot of energy in me and a need to be actively solving problems. But 20 years ago, I had another imperative: to raise a family and be home with them. This was really challenging to reconcile.
And so I made a lot of choices while my kids were little to find opportunities to fill that need with things like coaching and running a home business – keeping me mentally acute and earning money while also giving me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom until my kids were both in school. This was an immense challenge, as it required me to find ways to create boundaries around family and work time, be conscious of being present in both without sacrificing one over the other and also to really identify what was important to me in each role and work to preserve that.
I feel like I succeeded in navigating those days, but at the time it seemed like I was just making things work. In retrospect, I see what a challenge it really was and how resourceful I had to be to balance both these needs. The experience I gained during those years was probably some of the most valuable of my career in the end.
How can people get involved?
We would love to talk to mission-aligned investors who want to see sustainable solutions come to market, founders who are looking to build their next success with a climate solution focus, and with mining and materials companies who are seeking innovative ways to solve their biggest challenges. They can reach us here: www.kitecreator.com/contact.