Audette raises $1M in seed funding led by Active Impact Investments

Audette founder Christopher Naismith spent “a good chunk of a decade” trying to find his path. Today, he’s found it and $1M in seed funding.

Have you ever felt that despite your best intentions, things aren’t going the way you’d hoped? This is the exact situation that Christopher Naismith, the founder and CEO of cleantech company Audette—which today announced a $1 million seed round—was in.  

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“I grew up here on the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island. My first job out of engineering school was as a surveyor. I found myself in this beautiful, pristine British Columbian forest tying ribbons around trees. I came back a week later to find the whole forest clear cut in order to make way for the housing development that I had laid out the road for,” Naismith shared. 

This caused him to hit the reset button. “It was at that moment that I realized the decisions that I make as an engineer in this world have long-lasting, broad, outsized impacts. I dropped out from there. I spent a good chunk of a decade travelling around trying to find my path. I built water pipelines in Uganda, houses out of recycled material in Nevada then eventually ended up back in building science. I realized that commercial buildings represent more than ⅕ of all global carbon emissions. In order for the world to transition to carbon-neutral, that really has to be addressed in a significant way. We're sort of the genesis point for that,” he said.

Naismith, indeed, found his path in Audette. The Victoria-based company works with real estate corporations on their carbon output. Their platform joins data analytics with cleantech to monitor and analyze key building data to help its users develop, track and achieve their emission-reduction targets. Thinking back to the ⅕ emissions output, imagine if you had one friend in your group of five that was rude to the bartender every happy hour. You would want whoever cleaned up their act to be recognized, too. 

In terms of Audette’s financial recognition, the round was led by Active Impact Investments, with participation from Powerhouse Ventures, Panache Ventures and Turnham Green. The seed funding has already enabled Audette to add two new roles to its currently eight-person team. Three more jobs are anticipated to be created before the end of 2022. “Breathing space for our next round of growth,” as Naismith puts it. “Breathing space,” however, is ironic. Naismith’s ambition, and the space his company finds itself in, are astronomical. 

“I spent the better part of the past decade in boiler rooms and boardrooms of corporate real estate trying to help them envision their low carbon pathways. [Consulting] is a lucrative business but it is really slow. It kept pace with the pace of change. But over the last couple of years, what we really saw is the world strongly signalling its intent to move to carbon-neutral. Now, 82% of the global economy by GDP has a zero-carbon target by the middle of the century. So it's this astoundingly ambitious goal. It's the monetary equivalent of 10 moon landings a year from now until 2050,” he pointed out. 

With oxygen masks and space suits deployed, over the next 12 months, Audette plans to work with its early customers to scale operations across British Columbia, Ontario, New York and California. Audette also recently started in the first-ever Google Cloud Accelerator Canada Program and Google's United Nations Sustainable Development Goals advisory program. 

“When we came to market, it was like, ‘Well, screw this walking around buildings with clipboards and digital cameras thing.’ Let's take advantage of the rich data ecosystem that buildings generate. Let's use that to build a carbon-reduction plan for every building on the planet. We started in corporate real estate. They're the ones who are at the forefront. They're really in the crosshairs of the global government who is implementing all sorts of carbon regulations, carbon taxes and also supplying a ton of money to this end. But, it is really focused on transforming real estate and the folks who own the most real estate,” Naismith said. 

Audette started locally but has its eyes on the global real estate market. “We've really found that our sweet spot is working with large multi-billion dollar commercial asset portfolios and tapping into all of the data that they're generating in order to build these bottom-up robust investment and transition plans. We started that in British Columbia. That’s our home base. But, these portfolios span countries. So what we need to do, we realized very quickly, is to expand our technical and operational capacity to many geographies all at once. And that's really what this raise was about—being able to expand to the four corners of North America with this money.”

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