Q&A With Blackhorn Venture’s Ray Levitt

mav post

Ray Levitt

Operating Partner

Blackhorn Ventures

Ahead of his panel "Financing Construction FinTech" in the afternoon of Day One of the upcoming Venture West Conference, we decided to hear from Ray Levitt, Operating Partner, Blackhorn Ventures, on why he feels this conversation is critically important to the industry. Below is the Q&A:

Why is this topic (Financing Fintech) an important conversation and who will the panel discussion help the most?

Our fund aims to invest in high potential startups that exploit digitization to drive massive resource efficiencies and contribute to the energy transition away from fossil fuels. However, many solutions that could contribute massively to decarbonization require huge amounts of capital – much more than typical venture firms can invest. We are finding companies to invest in that are using other sources of capital to leverage VC investment. This enables them to finance the implementation of projects incorporating their VC funded technologies that significantly decarbonize key industrial sectors.

Why are you passionate about this topic?

The construction and operation of buildings is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions I’ve any industrial sector, approaching 40% of all GHG emissions. I would like to leave the world a better place for my children and grandchildren through my work with Blackhorn Ventures, leading investments in companies that target the built environment sector to reduce these emissions.

What's one lesson you as an investor have learned from working with startups?

Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic by nature. This is good because startups involve tough times and founders have to be optimistic to keep plugging away. However, I often find that founders of companies are so concerned about dilution that they underestimate their capital needs, raise too little money early on, and end up having to scramble to raise money before they have adequately de-risked their technology or the market acceptance of it, leading to subsequent flat or down rounds that dilute them more than they would have been diluted had they raised more money initially.

Where do you get your inspiration from outside of work and everyday life?

I get inspiration from the exciting challenges that my children have taken on, and guidance from my marvelous wife of almost 50 years whose EQ is off the charts.  I swim for a combination of meditation and exercise and I love to hike in nature to be reminded of the extraordinary beauty and diversity of this precious planet that we live on.

Is there a particular topic relating to positive, technology-enabled change in the industry you think should receive more attention in the years to come?

I believe that emerging technologies for extended reality have the potential to rapidly upskill and mentor workers who previously worked in factories that have been offshored or automated, and thereby address critical labor shortages in our industry while reducing the income inequality that has driven a wedge between college educated workers and their peers wo did not get a college degree.