Where to Invest $1 Million Right Now

Six experts offer emerging investment areas that profit you—and the earth

Bloomberg
By Nancy Pfund - Founder and Managing Partner at DBL Partners
September 23, 2019

Invest­ing in funds that focus on green solu­tions or com­pa­nies already deliv­er­ing solu­tions can de-risk your port­fo­lio, build a cor­po­rate sec­tor that address­es the cli­mate cri­sis, and allow your assets to grow in har­mo­ny with the future.

High-net-worth investors can join angel net­works like Pow­er­house in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, Cyclotron Road at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley, or Prime Coali­tion, a group out of Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts, that works on ear­ly-stage invest­ing. Peo­ple like to use ven­ture funds like ours as a plat­form for co-invest­ing — they can see the com­pa­nies and then, if they want, invest direct­ly in future rounds. Expect­ed returns are the same as for oth­er types of ven­ture cap­i­tal invest­ments.

We use a ‘tri­fec­ta’ to ana­lyze which sec­tors to invest in to opti­mize for returns and sus­tain­abil­i­ty. First, we fol­low the car­bon. Next, we want to fix some­thing that’s bro­ken and real­ly move the nee­dle. Final­ly, if we look at a sec­tor and the icon­ic names are 100 years old or more, it’s time to invest.

This leads us to trans­porta­tion and ener­gy, which are no-brain­ers. It also leads us to less obvi­ous places, like food and agri­cul­ture. This sec­tor gen­er­ates some 30% of car­bon and about 4 out of 10 peo­ple on this plan­et work in it. We just did an invest­ment in Bell­wether Cof­fee, which has a more sus­tain­able method of roast­ing cof­fee, and Apeel Sci­ences, which uses a plant-based coat­ing to keep food fresh for longer. I also like the agri­cul­tur­al data and ana­lyt­ics plat­form com­pa­ny Farm­ers Busi­ness Net­work, now in its pre-IPO round.

The cir­cu­lar econ­o­my — which aims to min­i­mize waste and use of nat­ur­al resources — is anoth­er appeal­ing sec­tor. We just had an IPO with The Real­Re­al, which start­ed as aspi­ra­tional fash­ion but by the time it went pub­lic, the cir­cu­lar econ­o­my was a key theme for investors and cus­tomers. There’s a Los Ange­les com­pa­ny, For Days, where you can buy organ­ic cloth­ing and send items back any time to be recy­cled and swapped for new ones at a very low cost. A com­pa­ny called Yer­dle acts as the back office for com­pa­nies like Patag­o­nia and Eileen Fish­er for recy­cling and resale.

Anoth­er way to play: I have always been a fan of the cir­cu­lar econ­o­my and am always game for an antique show, an antique barn or an auc­tion. Old French and Eng­lish porce­lain, sil­ver, fur­ni­ture and such — things most mil­len­ni­als have lit­tle inter­est in — those are some of my favorites to col­lect. I also have a pret­ty good col­lec­tion of Oscar de la Renta appar­el, which I kept from my ear­li­est career days.

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