Home improvement giant invests in energy retrofit startup
Photo: aka Kath via FlickrI usually don’t write about companies’ funding announcements, unless the amount of money raised is particularly eye-popping. But when Recurve announced Wednesday that it had scored $8 million in its latest round of fund-raising, what caught my attention was who decided to invest in the San Francisco energy retrofit startup.
Along with the venture capital firms re-upping their investments — RockPort Capital Partners and Shasta Ventures — was a new investor, Lowe’s.
That the home improvement giant — $47 billion in sales, 1,700 stores — would invest in a relatively small “green energy remodeling” outfit is a sign that it sees potential in energy efficiency, at least enough to dip its corporate toe in the market.
The investment comes as companies like Recurve push Congress to pass legislation that would establish a $6 billion energy retrofit program called Home Star.
“Lowe’s 60-year history in the home improvement industry will be valuable in shaping Recurve’s growth,” said Pratap Mukherjee, Recurve’s chief executive.
Formerly called Sustainable Spaces, Recurve takes a Silicon Valley approach to energy retrofits. While the startup performs energy audits and dispatches crews to upgrade homes’ systems, it has also has developed software (PDF) to automate the whole retrofit process for other green building companies in an industry dominated by mom-and-pop shops.
The software, delivered over the Internet, lets retrofitters enter data on a home’s energy profile in a laptop or handheld device during an audit, run electricity consumption simulations, calculate estimates and equipment needed for a retrofit, and generate reports for customers on the spot.
Contractors, of course, then can head down to their neighborhood Lowe’s to buy ducts, insulation, and other materials needed for a retrofit job. Which, in the end, may be one return on Lowe’s investment in Recurve.