Insights: Bay Bridge highlight the importance of sustainability and inclusivity across the investment process

Kim Kolt, General Partner, Bay Bridge Ventures

Kim Kolt is co-founder and General Partner at Bay Bridge Ventures, the first purpose-built, institutional ESG and Sustainability focused venture capital firm. Bay Bridge is committed to inclusivity  - starting from leadership and continuing through the underlying investments - in addition to responsible stewardship - active, high-engagement investing through multiple stages of development. 


What have you’ve learned about sustainability and how does that impact your work at Bay Bridge?

My focus on sustainability arose out of my interest in marine biology and oceanography, which stemmed from growing up in Hawaii. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a sense of reverence for all life and the systems in nature that support it. Like many native cultures, Hawaiians have a close connection with and appreciation for the environment.

It's difficult to scale nonprofits to effectuate change, but solutions that attract talent and create value can tackle issues more quickly than their nonprofit counterparts. If you can generate value from scaling sustainability solutions, and do so with recurring success, the economic proceeds can be put back into the same pool of capital to support a regenerative business model.  We believe, and have now proved, that returns and ESG become more correlated over time.


Can you talk about the overlap between inclusivity and sustainability when you’re deciding which investments to make?

Underserved communities are most often exposed to the toxicities and downstream effects of traditional energy and wasteful systems. Creating sustainable systems with renewable resources will directly lift these communities - cleaner water, less pollution, less waste, more available food, more resilience to climate change related issues, particularly around temperature, etc.

Bringing more inclusivity into sustainability gives us a better chance of comprehensively solving the most pressing problems because we have a diversity of perspectives and information, both of which give rise to more creative, effective solutions. We understand the benefits of building inclusive companies, so we drive a proactive approach from our portfolio companies incorporating diversity from leadership down and have reflected the same at Bay Bridge Ventures. 


What can you tell us about the ESG+ Methodology in Bay Bridge’s investment process? What qualities in companies / leaders make for a good investment?

The ESG+ Methodology is designed to meet the needs of the individual portfolio companies and then evolve alongside the company as they grow. Whereas most ESG frameworks are used as a simple screening tool, we think of ESG as a model for active management. Our process is uniquely architected to help companies stay true to their values and to fulfill their vision for the company. This inspired stewardship is what many CEOs are looking for but is sorely lacking today in the market.


What advice do you have for companies looking to incorporate sustainability into their metrics and reporting? Any things you’d tell them to avoid?

Companies need to make sure the scope for incorporating sustainable metrics is viable. For early-stage companies, for example, planning the KPIs and metrics desired to track may be the only feasible option given limited resources. Companies need to keep reading, learning, and asking about new tools, policies, and systems for incorporating sustainability since it changes so rapidly. There is no one-size-fits-all way to be sustainable, there will always be a need for customization specific to a business, industry, geography, size, etc.


What are the key factors for investors and companies focused on ESG/Sustainability to consider?

The current climate tech wave is different than previous efforts. During Cleantech 1.0, enterprise software investors recognized a rising consumer awareness around climate change and burgeoning interest in sustainable products. They saw large undisrupted markets and sought to apply the same playbook to this new space. The problem was that they didn’t understand the underlying physics of the technology, didn't prepare for the capital intensity of some of these product development cycles, and didn't recognize that the overall supply chain and servicing/maintenance systems weren’t robust enough at the time.

In contrast, we are now seeing foundational technologies from other industries that have matured to a point where new applications are getting unlocked regularly in climate tech. For example, AI control algorithms, energy storage, robotics & automation, 5G communication, advanced computation, and next generation sensor technology are all coming down in cost while enhancing performance, thus creating massive opportunities to disrupt old industries or create entirely new industries.

Many VCs recognize this renewed opportunity, but few are well prepared to take advantage of it. Our team is unique in that we have broad technical expertise, deep investment experience, and a track record of exits. Bay Bridge Ventures is purpose-built to solve some of the world's most challenging problems while driving top-tier returns for LPs.

For more information about Bay Bridge Ventures, visit