From the CEO

31 Aug 2017

It is happening

We stated in our last report that we would focus on exit preparations, continued acceleration of our companies (including internationalization), and communication. I will tell you how we have done just that and also comment on a few things that have happened in a very busy first half of 2017.

The revenue growth of our portfolio during H1 has been nothing short of stunning. The first time I reviewed the combined revenue of our portfolio the figure was less than 4MEUR (which was for the full year of 2014). I was happy with this at the time as it was up 82% from the year before and most of our companies were in really early stages. A lot has happened since...

The first half of 2017 shows combined revenues of 60 MEUR (unaudited). This is more than a four-folding of comparable revenues one year ago and it is almost twice as much as the full year of 2016. Another thing that has happened is that we have increased our ownership in several of our high performing holdings over the last years. Our average portfolio ownership is now approximately 16% (it was approximately 13% a year ago). Last half year we increased or defended our ownership in several of our current high-performers, namely Eagle Filters, Nuuka, ResQ Club, Sofi Filtration and Enersize.

Most of you noticed that Nocart signed a 200MUSD order for a combined solar-storage-diesel plant to Zambia during the first half of this year. The first invoicing of this order of course accounts for a majority of the revenue increase (unaudited) but it should be noted that several of our companies are growing revenues very well, mostly on international markets, as you will see in their performance overview later in this review.

You will notice that we have a new format for this report. We have decided to frame each of our companies in light of the industry that they are disrupting. This is a better way to communicate the markets our companies operate in and how they are changing over time, as well as a better way to show the positive environmental impact that they are each having. These are the ‘mega-industries’ our companies are disrupting this time around: real estate; renewable energy systems; fashion; restaurant industry; manufacturing; water use; and natural gas electricity.

Internationalization 

We have turned the US ‘Pop-Up’ into a permanent office after seeing clear results from this initiative. The US joint venture arranged for Nuuka; adding Gudrun Giddings to our board; and attracting several US investors into Cleantech Invest shows that this strategic move to place our Chairman Lassi Noponen on the ground in LA has really paid off. There is plenty more to come from California and we expect more of our companies to launch there in the coming year.

The Berlin pop-up was also a great experience and will be extended, with several of our companies now having German investors on board as a result of it. Additionally, we will be present full-time in Stockholm starting in September. It is not always easy to work together in such a geographically spread out organization but it really is providing excellent results that we would not have achieved otherwise. Having a team that knows each other so well makes it possible to work in such an effective way and this effort is also required in order to raise Cleantech Invest into global stage.

Acceleration and Exit Preparations  

We listed Enersize on Nasdaq First North Stockholm and raised 26MSEK to the company in the process. Enersize is our biggest holding, with an ownership of 37.7% after the listing, and we have spent a lot of resources growing it. The current CEO as well as Executive Chairman were brought in by us. We raised project financing to fund the initial cost of customer projects (Enersize sells their solution as revenue sharing so the upfront installation is typically paid by them) and we have brought in well connected investors and partners in China, Germany and Sweden to the company.

As you can imagine, a successful listing with a strong shareholder base was an important milestone. It was an extensive roadshow with a lot of communication around it and we could not be happier with how investors have taken to the company. Cutting carbon emissions in the manufacturing industry with a software-based approach is clearly appealing. Enersize’s team is performing extremely well and customers are responding. The company has closed six new installation contracts during 2017, two of them just after the listing, and the reference customers that have achieved verified savings now include some of the world’s largest and best managed factories.

We need to keep in mind that a lot of the current contracts are yet to be installed and payments do not kick in until after one year, so it will take a while before the big order intake shows in their results but make no mistake about it - Enersize is on its way taking a leadership position in energy efficiency in compressed air in the world’s manufacturing center. We are very confident in their future and will continue to build the company into the global leader in industrial compressed air energy savings.

Nuuka is also entering an exciting phase. We have stated intentions to list the company, and have accelerated market roll out with excellent results. The company has closed its first US order and signed a joint venture there. The software is now translated to Chinese and first reference installations in China are happening as you read this.  Nuuka is also looking to make further inroads in the Nordics as well as the Benelux .

We are carefully monitoring the market to make sure we do a successful listing and also that we have a clear value growth path for the company once it is listed. The latter is extremely important as Nuuka’s potential listing would most likely happen on Nasdaq First North and we would aim to accelerate growth and create value while being listed on the stock market. Stay tuned and we will keep you informed.

We see Swap.com as a strong IPO candidate with potential for exceptional value growth. The company has shown impressive growth for three consecutive years and is now the largest online consignment store in the US. The marketing department has been significantly strengthened and customer aquisition costs have been lowered drastically, making the path to profitability clear. Cleantech Invest has participated in an underwriting consortium to back Swap.com’s upcoming investment round, with a 1.5M€ underwriting commitment. Swap.com is working with Carnegie Investment Bank to execute a private placement.

We are also taking more active roles to accelerate Eagle Filters and ResQ Club, both companies where we have increased our ownership recently.

Communication 

The first half of 2017 saw the dawn of our first ever impact analysis of our work. I am proud as a peacock that we managed to get this communication milestone done, even if we limited it to carbon emissions and water savings, and did it initially for ourselves and six of our portfolio firms. It was an eye-opener even for us, as the impact was even bigger than we had previously thought. A lot of you have already used the calculator on our web to check the impact your own shareholding is having but if you haven’t go ahead and do so! http://www.cleantechinvest.com/impact-eng.

Our carbon impact for 2016 was minus 158 000 tons of CO2 equivalent, which corresponds to taking 107 000 cars in Finland off the road, or the per capita carbon emissions of 17 000 Swedish households.

The water impact resulted in 9,6 million m3 freshwater savings, which corresponds to the household water use of 164 000 Swedes or 3840 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

But why measure impact at all? Because we don’t see ourselves as successful if we do not have a positive environmental impact, and maximizing it is our purpose. So, to start understanding how we are performing in this regard is both useful and inspiring for us and hopefully also for you!

And why is communication so important?

Because under-achieving when it comes to communication is the most common bottle-neck for growth in most Nordic cleantech companies, including our own portfolio. The importance of packaging what you do in an engaging way, focusing on the right message for the audience and delivering it through the right channels, as well as nurturing your long-term business relations can not be overemphasized.

We do not claim to be experts in communicating and we certainly do not claim to do everything right in this field, but we do realize the importance of it and try to help our companies to the best of our abilities. This means adding our own communication resources to help our companies, spreading their messages through our own channels, building relations that can be of value for them, as well as helping them recruit the right talent when it comes to this area of expertise.

As an example, we just published our first environmental documentary, that looks at Enersize’s progress in China. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UCjK8lvIEc&app=desktop

Two disposals

Portfolio of companies provides stability but not every company in a portfolio becomes a success. Two disposals were made during the period. Both have been challenging growth journeys, to the extent that we had chosen a non-active role the last few years. The global collapse of the price of solar PV negatively affected the competitiveness of solar thermal. We have been selling our shares in Savo-Solar over a period of almost two years and have now sold the remaining few percentages. In One1, we sold all shares in one sale to the entrepreneurs in the company. The holding may still provide an additional income if the development of the company is positive but we will not value it in our balance sheet going forward.

These exits do free up some additional cash, but it is nothing to write home about. It does however free up some energy when you decide that a company is no longer your concern, and in the case of Savo-Solar it should be mentioned that this marks the end to write-downs in the value of this holding that has been burdening our result every report. The journeys of these companies do not end here and we wish them all the success in the world going forward. We also thank them for the learnings and are using what we learned in other growth journeys.

Record Number of Shareholders

We now have 5442 shareholders, which is by far more than we have ever had. We value each and every one of you and are very happy to see that many of you are very engaged in what we do. I answer a lot of questions from you and we even get a lot of inspiration and new ideas from many of you.

Thanks a lot, I can tell you that it is extremely motivating for all of us, so keep informed, keep the questions coming and engage with us on YouTube (where we run our own webshow ‘Cleantech and Coffee’, answering questions and bringing in partners and guests), Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud and anywhere else we are on the Internet! We will also be hosting an after work again soon with our companies present so keep an eye open also for that!