Cleantech's New Angel Matt Lecar


The CalCEF Angel fund is officially announcing that it has brought on a new fund manager: Matt Lecar, an 18-year veteran of venture capital and energy investing. Lecar, who previously held positions at utility PG&E, EDF Group and consulted for Trinity Ventures, actually joined the CalCEF Angel fund in March, but has already helped the fund work on its first deal into an undisclosed “lighting controls company.”

The CalCEF Angel fund was formed with some of the money of the original non-profit CalCEF fund, which was established in 2004 with $30 million from a PG&E bankruptcy case. That original fund was mainly investing in later stage companies, and was being managed by 3 traditional venture capital firms. General Partner Susan Preston explained to Sustainable Industries that the CalCEF Angel fund was created because the original fund wasn’t “targeting the area the utilities commission was interested in, which was moving technology from the lab to the early stages of commercialization.”

But the CalCEF Angel Fund, which is managed Preston and now Matt Lecar, is very much a for-profit fund, which has so far raised $7 million of a planned $20 million total fund. The fund plans to invest in very early stage companies with $300,000 to $500,000 per deal, and the ability to add on low-digit millions, and some total 15-odd deals.

Lecar joined the fund because he says he wanted to invest in early stage companies because “we need fundamentally new technology,” not just an acceleration of the current technology that we already have (that was also the topic of the Economist’s Energy Debate). Lecar says that he is looking at deals that are not too capital intensive (like large renewable energy plants that need to be built out), but that are developing intellectual property from biofuels to energy efficiency.

Lecar says the seed stage is a little different from the more traditional venture investing, partly because there’s more mentoring and prep work involved. But that’s the way he likes it and he contends: if we can take a young pitcher and teach him to throw a curve ball, that works for me.

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