LA Venture Podcast: Thin Line Capital's Founder on the Opportunity in Clean Tech

LA Venture Podcast: Thin Line Capital's Founder on the Opportunity in Clean Tech

On this week's episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, hear from serial entrepreneur Aaron Fyke, founder and managing partner of Thin Line Capital, a firm tackling the world's toughest problems in energy, water and food sustainability. We'll hear about the state of global warming, renewables and discuss the promise of clean tech investment. Frankly, Aaron truly makes me think we should devote all our energies to work on climate change — due to the exponential growth curve of the technology built to improve it.

For example, he said that 10 years ago, globally there were seven gigawatts of solar installed, and now there's well over 500. He said the same goes for wind at over 500 gigawatts, and that there's "a trillion watts of capacity installed in renewables. Renewables are now flat-out cheaper than traditional fossil generation."

He said you can buy a wind farm or a solar field for far cheaper than you could build a new coal plant, and that the "expectation is that electric vehicles will reach cost parity with internal combustion engines literally in the next three years."

To those that criticize renewable energy because the sun doesn't always shine and wind doesn't always blow, he says, we need storage, which these days is much more affordable than it once was. To those that worry about loss of jobs because coal facilities are no longer being built, he says, "One of the fastest growing positions is wind farm maintenance technician. And that's just going to be the growth jobs of the future."

We dug into the why behind the intensity of California fires, East Coast hurricanes and other disasters. And, while I was feeling pretty scared listening to Aaron explain the direness of the climate change situation, Aaron prefers to see the seriousness as inspiration for motivation. He says he focuses Fine Line Ventures on software companies or CapEx light hardware, like printed circuit board, assembly, some sensors and some analytics. He also looks closely at storage opportunities because he sees grid scale storage as the "next wave that's that's going to see huge growth."

Aaron Fyke is currently founder and managing partner of Thin Line Capital, bringing investment capital to bear on some of the world's toughest problems in energy, water and food sustainability. While CEO of Heliogen, he was committed to lowering the costs of solar thermal power. Prior to Heliogen, Aaron was the founder and CEO of Energy Cache, a low-cost, grid-scale energy storage technology company serving a multi-billion dollar energy market that was backed by Idealab, Bill Gates, NRG, and others. Aaron continued his work with gravity storage with Energy Vault, which received a significant investment from SoftBank. Previously he headed up the development of a $10M X PRIZE in Energy for the X PRIZE Foundation. Prior to that he was a Partner at Starfish Ventures, Australia's largest venture capital firm, where Aaron led the investment into the fund's biggest investment and exit.

dot.LA Sr. Podcast Producer & Editor Laurel Moglen contributed to this post.

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Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.