Venture Capital & Green Ventures : Developing an Understanding of the Investment Decision
Abstract: There has been a continuous interest in academia with regard to the venture capital (VC) as themain flourishing aid to new business. Nowadays, academia and the public consider it ‘hot‘ to argue and invest in business that define their activities with sustainable goals, and callthemselves ‘green’, ‘clean’ or ‘eco’. Furthermore, circles of discussions about sustainability, triple bottom line, green, clean, eco, and other terms related with positive impact towards society environment alongside financial returns have created uncertainty with respect to what defines an entity as green and how this can be used as a competitive advantage in the attractiveness of the business in the very first steps of its existence. However, green startups are considered a strong tool for the emergence of the environmentally friendly solutions needed in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible climate change. Furthermore, venture capitalists (VCs) are a key provider of financial capital for emerging firms. Therefore, given the complex nature of the VC investment decision, it is paramount to understand the VCs perspective on what are the factors andcharacteristics that attract and repel investors toward green startups. By undertaking this investigation, we seek to create an understanding of the evaluation criteria, as well as, characteristics and challenges related to VC investments in green startups. Therefore, contributing to the fields of environmental entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance, by identifying what VCs take in consideration when evaluating green startups. To develop this understanding of the VCs perspective on green startups we first developed an in-depth literature review of the extant research, then we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with practitioners from the mainstream and the greenVC industry operating in Sweden. Furthermore, we implemented an interpretative approach which enabled us to analyze the individual perspectives of VC depending on the context in which they operate. This study provided interesting results that complement the existing literature and provide useful insights on the current state of green VC. Combining the findings of our study with the theories discussed in our comprehensive literature review on green entrepreneurs, green startups and venture capital, we provide an understanding of the evaluation criteria and investment thesis relevant to green startups as well as, insight on characteristics, challenges and opportunities related to investments in green startups. Therefore, this study generates new knowledge in this scarcely studied area of research and provide interesting insights for future research. To the end of this continuum, both actors involved - VCs and green entrepreneurs - will benefit from the findings which provide: green entrepreneurs with the tools to develop green startups with more potential to attract investors; and VCs with an understanding of the nature, challenges and opportunities of green startups´ investments.
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