Ask an Angel: Dan Madhavan, Ecotone Ventures - LaunchVic

Ask an Angel: Dan Madhavan, Ecotone Ventures


26 Jul 2023 by Holly Clark

Working in the ClimateTech space?

Ecotone Ventures is an angel network connecting the growing number of climate-conscious investors to early-stage ventures with the solutions.

We spoke to investment principal Dan Madhavan about using capital to move the needle toward a more equitable, sustainable and prosperous future, and the qualities he’s looking for in a founder right now.

Why is it so important to have a dedicated angel group for climate startups? 

We launched the climate angel network because we wanted to create a space where investors could engage to learn about climate solutions and become more active angel investors.   

There is such an urgency to back innovative climate solutions, and many investors don’t know where to start.  We felt it was important to give investors the opportunity to invest in climate ventures where they have proximity to the founders/companies but also don’t have to make large bets (given the risk profile and illiquidity of venture investing).   

So we set up Ecotone Ventures, with help from the incredible folks at LaunchVic, to encourage more capital to flow into early stage climate ventures in a more accessible manner.  It’s also helpful for founders to know they are getting aligned investors who understand their sector and are passionate about the solutions they’re building. 

What advice would you give to startups looking to secure funding in today’s market?  

Start raising earlyDon’t wait until you’re nearly out of runwayIn the current market environment, raises are taking much longer than expectedIf you think you can raise in 3 months, budget for at least 6-9 monthsIf possible, try to develop relationships with prospective investors before you need to ask them for moneyHaving a warm group of investors who have been following your business over time gives you a great place to start the capital raising conversation. 

What qualities do you look for in a founder before investing? 

I look for founders who can balance seemingly contradictory behaviours like ambition and humility, conviction and coachability, deep-domain expertise and a growth mindset, dogged determination and pragmatic realismI also look for founders who hustle, who keep kicking goals in short amounts of time and keep iterating until they get things rightAnd last, but certainly not least, I look for founders who are authentically passionate about the problem they’re trying to solve.   

What are some of the most exciting trends or technologies you see emerging in ClimateTech right now?  

We’re seeing some exciting tech in the demand-response space, which we believe will play a critical role in helping grids decarboniseWe’re also diving deep at the moment into emerging battery technologies and other energy storage solutions, sustainable mobility, closed-loop packaging/materials solutions and innovative waste solutions. We’re also excited about the ways in which technologies like AI and spacetech can be applied to drive climate outcomes. 

Since 2016, LaunchVic has supported nine new angel groups which have unlocked over $22 million for Victorian early-stage founders. If you’re a founder looking to raise this year, we encourage you to take a look at the full list.