Optera, Interview With Co-Founder and CEO Tim Weiss

Optera, a Boulder, CO-based provider of an ESG and carbon management software platform, raised $12M in Series A funding. In conjunction with the announcement, Tim Weiss, CEO and co-founder, replied to our questions about the company, the product, the funding, and future plans.

Tim Weiss, CEO and co-founder, Optera
Tim Weiss, CEO and co-founder, Optera

FinSMEs: Hi, Tim, can you tell us a bit more about yourself? What’s your background?

I got my start in climate technology with an organization that set up distribution networks for small-scale renewable energy technology for people living without access to electricity. Living and working in Namibia for over a year, I helped the organization expand throughout Southern Africa. During this time, I gained a deep understanding of renewable energy and entrepreneurship.

After a brief stint as a teacher and earning my MBA, I met my co-founders. They had been running a boutique corporate sustainability consulting firm called Point380. Together, we recognized a big problem in the industry — companies needed a more scalable and repeatable way of quantifying their emissions and turning that data into action. So, we launched Optera, pivoting from consulting to software to make a tangible impact in the fight against climate change.

FinSMEs: Let’s speak about Optera. What is the market problem you want to solve? What is the real opportunity?

We need to collectively transition to a low-carbon economy to combat climate change. The corporate sector contributes a vast majority of global emissions, and eliminating these pollutants across operations, supply chains and products will be impossible without reliable and actionable data. Additionally, with the adoption of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and widely expected climate risk disclosure rules coming from the SEC this fall, companies’ ability to accurately account for, report on and reduce emissions is becoming imperative. Emissions include those generated by your own operations — Scope 1 emissions from the smokestacks and tailpipes you operate and Scope 2 emissions from the electricity you buy. These categories are relatively straightforward to account for.

What’s more challenging is your Scope 3 emissions – those from your value chain. While Optera offers emissions management across all scopes, we’re focused on innovating in the Scope 3 space because this is where the greatest corporate climate transition risks lie. But Scope 3 emissions are difficult to quantify. Companies will rarely have complete emissions figures from all external sources, as they stem from third-party sources like supplier processes, customer product use, and investment assets. Gathering that data and making sense of it is challenging, especially when managing manually on spreadsheets or one-off projects.

Companies need support in collecting and analyzing data for both reporting and strategic planning. Optera fulfills that need.

FinSMEs: What are the features differentiating the product from competitors?

The platform stands apart due to our deep focus on helping our customers understand Scope 3 impact. We not only account for the data, but we support direct collaboration with suppliers and portfolio companies to influence their actions, helping our clients achieve their Scope 3 targets. An equally important part of our approach is pairing software with consultative services, and our team has decades of experience in sustainability. We understand just how difficult it is to account for emissions across a complex value chain, and we help make it a reliable, insightful and timely process that gives leaders trusted insights on areas of greatest emission vulnerability. Armed with that information, they can start making positive changes within their operations and value chain.

FinSMEs: You just raised a new funding round. Please, tell us more about it.

We’ve just announced a $12 million Series A round led by Next Frontier Capital with participation from Blackhorn Ventures, Mucker Capital, Overture, SaaS Ventures, Engage VC, Massive VC, Valo Ventures, AngelList and Stout Street Capital. Our investors recognize the market opportunity in helping companies around the world calculate and manage their carbon emissions and build capacity among the entities that comprise their Scope 3 boundary. 

Carbon emissions management software is rapidly becoming a “must-have” for any company that wants to exist in a low-carbon future. Regulators, customers, shareholders, partners and even employees will all demand that a company make strides toward or reach net zero across their entire value chain.

This round of capital will enable Optera to grow our team to meet rising global demand and continue to innovate our products. 

FinSMEs: Can you share some numbers and achievements of the business?

Our platform tracks emissions associated with more than $180 billion in supply chain spend. Last year alone, we doubled the size of our team and quadrupled our customers, tracking more than 225 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent across 84,000 locations. This latest funding round will help us further accelerate that growth to drive a bigger reduction in corporate carbon emissions.

FinSMEs: What are your medium-term plans?

The Series A funding will allow us to accelerate our product innovation and grow the sales and marketing functions to reach a global scale. We’re at an inflection point. The need for carbon accounting solutions has never been greater. Pressure from regulators and stakeholders is increasing, and companies can’t make sound decisions about their emissions without accurate data. We’ll continue using our unique approach, combining technology and consultative expertise to help companies achieve their net-zero initiatives. This is how we can make the most impact in the fight against climate change.