On finding the next impact unicorn: some observations on dealflow from Katapult’s investment team

On finding the next impact unicorn

This year Katapult has analyzed over 1850 companies in searching for the latest batch of startups to invest in and take through our accelerator program. With a mandate to source the most impactful climate- and ocean-tech companies and just 1% of the total pipeline ultimately invested in, to define this process as rigorous would be an understatement.

In the last year Katapult has gained two accelerator-bred unicorns. As much as this is to the credit of Katapult’s innovative accelerator program (and not least the ingenuity of the teams and founders), the search for the most impactful startups begins with Katapult’s dealflow and underlying core mission. Katapult’s Founder, Tharald Nustad, says, “Katapult’s dealflow stems from the belief that companies who seek to solve the world’s greatest challenges, present the greatest investment opportunities. In mobilizing this belief from the very onset of our engagement with startups, we are able to simultaneously deliver on impact and investor returns.”

These are some of the key features our investment team attributes to creating an impact unicorn, dealflow pipeline.

Manual selection, AI augmentation 

Over the course of the dealflow process, Katapult ensures that every company screened has at least 2 investment analysts assess the credentials of each company. 

As a company progresses through the screening process, the prospective portfolio company is exposed to the wider investment team. While time-intensive, Katapult’s collaborative screening process is crucial in developing both a concrete understanding of a company’s potential for impact and attractiveness to investors. 

In harnessing the most impactful climate- and ocean-tech, the investment of time facilitates the smartest allocation of capital. 

Last year, Katapult embarked on an AI project to help broaden the scope of its startup screening process. At Katapult we view this innovation as key in enhancing current best practice. With the toolkit offered by AI, data-driven decision-making can be optimized by our investment analysts. 

Global talent sourcing global startups

Just as climate-change is a global problem, we believe the solution is global. It is for this reason we  make the most of using the full skillset of our  international  team to invest in global startups. 

Our current investment team draws from the rich experience of living and working in 5 continents. With this diversity comes a better understanding of lived experience, international business models and the ability for startups to scale into the global market. 

At the heart of Katapult’s decision to invest in a startup lies a belief in the core importance of traction and team. To understand language, culture and business practices gives us a strong edge in assessing these key qualities. 

Impact Network

Katapult was founded in 2017. Over a period of 5 years, we have not only grown as a VC but as a network of individuals who are brought together in a common belief that through mobilizing people, technology and capital, we are able to build a thriving world for all. 

With 145 portfolio companies (representing 35 countries), 200 mentors and over 400 investors attending our most recent investor day, this network is an immensely valuable asset in building a strong deal flow pipeline. 

Using their firsthand experience of business development and investing twinned with a desire to bring closer Katapult’s vision, our network acts as a collective listening post in being able to refer the most impactful and dynamic startups to our investment team. 

Katapult Investment Manager, Saurabh Kumar, says, “I believe that to make a global impact on climate change, we strongly need to collaborate by leveraging the strength of diverse thoughts and strong network along with unleashing the power of tech. We are bolstering our dealflow in Katapult by combining the power of diverse team, strong network, and Artificial Intelligence which is being already reflected in the quality of our pipeline.”

Katapult’s Investment Director, Jørn Haanæs, adds, “There’s no easy way to build a global high-quality dealflow. You have to put in the hard work, and you have to build smart systems that accelerate your process. But when you do , you unlock unparalleled advantages. We leverage AI augmented manual selection, a global talent pool and an unique impact network to accelerate and invest in the most talented and impactful startups. It is with great excitement (and a lot of humility) that we look forward to revealing our final selection for our climate and ocean accelerator program this fall.” 

We welcome investors to discuss investment opportunities, both fund investments as well as co-investment in a particular portfolio company. If you are interested to learn more, reach out to us here.

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