BC-based cleantech startup Moment Energy’s $3.5M seed round caps off a huge year for co-founder and COO Sumreen Rattan

We caught up with Rattan so she could walk us through her monster year.

BC-based cleantech startup Moment Energy has raised a $3.5 million seed round of funding. The startup, co-founded by four entrepreneurs who met as students at SFU, creates sustainable energy storage systems by repurposing retired electric vehicle batteries. Their solution has been installed in off-grid areas to reduce diesel consumption and transition to renewable energy. The investment round was led by Version One Ventures with major involvement from Fika Ventures, Garage Capital and MCJ Collective.

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For Moment co-founder and COO Sumreen Rattan, the raise is just one milestone in a monster year for both her and her company. 

After Moment raised a friends and family round in October 2020, the co-founders were readying for the next round. “We immediately started talking to investors for our seed raise. We started slowly building a relationship with different investors over the beginning of the year. It got more serious around the time of the Spring Competition. That win helped as well,” Rattan told me over Zoom, referring to the Impact Investor Challenge led by Spring Activator. Rattan and co. emerged victorious—and $100,000 richer—in the competition, buoying her and her company’s drive to secure a seed round.

“In the summer, we were continuing to talk to [investors]. We got Version One Ventures onboard. They were our lead investors. As soon as we got them in the game, tons of other investors were like, ‘Okay, we're in.’ You just really need that one strong investor and then, everyone else who you're talking to, knows the terms, as well. Once we agreed to what valuation and funding we wanted from them, it was pretty easy to just go to other investors and be like, ‘Hey, this is our term sheet. Are you interested?” Rattan said. 

As the summer wound to a close, she received a pair of personal recognitions. 

Upon the urging of a mentor, Rattan applied—and was accepted—into the RBC Women in Cleantech Accelerator. The year-long accelerator program—run by MaRS of whom Moment Energy is already under the tutelage of—selected 10 entrepreneurs. “They are really cool people. They’re really supportive,” Rattan said of her cohort. The Accelerator is also a tad more exclusive than another accolade Rattan would receive shortly after her selection. She was one of 20 emerging leaders selected on September 28 by Clean50, an award program and Summit recognizing cleantech innovators. 

Rattan’s company was again on the podium when the calendar ticked over to October, this time placing third at the New Ventures BC Competition

“[NVBC] is a pretty long process and they're very selective. I think, the first time we applied, we didn't make it past the first round. Every time we advanced one round [this year] we were like, ‘Wow, we're so many steps further than we were last time!’ So that's pretty incredible. I think the process is five months from start to finish,” she remarked.

“You submit the initial application, you go through a screening, you get paired with a few mentors, they help you develop your business plan—something that we had in place, but decided to write a completely new one for the purpose of NVBC. One of our mentors had actually led marketing at Microsoft for a few years and then was helping us over the summer. So, he led a lot of our business plan writing. As four engineers, that was quite helpful,” she continued. 

Spurred on by these professional and personal victories, Rattan and Moment Energy went on a hiring spree. Rattan described the growth as “pretty crazy, honestly. I was sifting through so many different resumes, setting up interviewing practices, figuring out what the salary was going to be, how much equity we're giving—we're really excited. We still have about five more positions that are out there. By the end of the year, our team's going to have grown significantly.”

With all those new hires—10 added to the quartet of co-founders—she needed a place to house them, spurring a commercial real estate odyssey that ended in an office in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam.

“We were on the search for a place for quite a few months. The market has been crazy, not just for homes but for commercial buildings. We'd go see one place and, the next thing you know, it's gone. We wanted to stay in the Lower Mainland because we four co-founders, we’re all from BC. We ended up settling on Port Coquitlam because there was a lot of availability and the place we went to we really liked. So, we just jumped on it and placed an offer. We ended up getting the place,” Rattan said.

“I was in charge of getting that done. It was really cool because it took so long to happen. We had to learn how to navigate and figure out what to say, what not to say—we even created a pitch deck for landlords. We wanted to educate them on, ‘Oh, these guys have only been around for a year and a half. Why should we take them?’ We could reply, ‘Here's our pitch deck. This is why we would be amazing tenants.’ I couldn't take another no,” she shared with a laugh. 

With the new facility secured, another personal accolade came Rattan’s way. She was recognized by Corporate Knights as one of Canada’s Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders of 2021 on November 9. “Creating a positive impact and a successful business can go hand in hand. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise,” Rattan told the publication.

“I definitely feel [entrepreneurship] is like a wave. There are times where I feel like I'm extremely productive, getting so much done and it feels amazing. Then, you'll have times where it’s not working out productivity-wise, you’re feeling really tired and getting towards the burnout part of the spectrum. I've been learning how to balance that and our team is pretty good about it. We do give ourselves most weekends. That's pretty normal at our company. We don't expect each other to be working long hours on the weekend, maybe just a few hours to touch base,” she told me, reflecting on her and her co-founders’ approach.

“I think the biggest challenge for me personally is just feeling like it's never enough, that I need to do more, that there's more to do. So, I have to catch myself at some point and be like, ‘Okay, you got a lot done. Look at your list.’ I started making sure that I have my task list. And I start ticking it off at the end of the day: ‘Okay, I actually did a lot today. I'm good.’ That's something I implemented recently,” Rattan continued.

Reading back these task lists would make for an impressive highlight reel, culminating in today’s raise. Future to-do’s include adding to their ever-growing team and some new partnerships, which Rattan teased would be coming in 2022. For now, time to rest. At least this weekend, anyway. 

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