Boulder-based Black Bear Energy raises $2.5M Series A funding round

BOULDER — Black Bear Energy Inc., announced on Monday that the 15-month-old Boulder company has raised a $2.5 million Series A round of funding to scale its model of helping large businesses and commercial real-estate owners integrate renewable energy into their buildings.

Local venture-capital firm Boulder Ventures led the round, with participation also coming from Black Bear seed investor Rocky Mountain Institute.

Drew Torbin
Drew Torbin
Kim Saylors-Laster
Kim Saylors-Laster

Black Bear CEO Drew Torbin said in an interview Monday that the company has already added two employees in the wake of the new funding round and is hiring for a third — a junior-level analyst — that will bring the firm’s employee count to eight. Black Bear’s employees are split between Boulder and Arkansas, where executive vice president Kim Saylors-Lastor is based.

Founded by Torbin in April of last year, Black Bear works as a buyer’s agent for large property owners, helping them identify energy-efficiency options that exist in their building portfolios and then seek out bids, execute contracts and oversee construction of the projects.

It’s the type of work that Torbin and Saylors-Laster did for Prologis and Walmart, respectively, in building the two largest on-site corporate solar programs in the United States. But Torbin said it’s also work that most companies don’t have the expertise to engage in, even though they know there is untapped potential in their portfolios.

The bulk of Black Bear’s work is in facilitating solar projects, but the company also does work in energy storage, fuel cells and lighting.

“We realized pretty quickly that the market had a latent demand for our services, and we’ve been working pretty quickly to work with these large customers ever since,” Torbin said.

Torbin declined to disclose revenue, but the company says it is already serving clients that represent more than 1 billion square feet of property.

“We’ve got a big pipeline, big and growing,” Torbin said.

Started last year with a $500,000 seed funding from Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room, Black Bear will use the new funding not only to add employees but also to continue the buildout of a software platform that will make the company more efficient in the services it provides.

“All of our best companies spring from the authentic experiences of our serial entrepreneurs,” Kyle Lefkoff, founder and general partner at Boulder Ventures, said in a news release. “Drew and Kim are the most experienced people in this market, and the overwhelming response of their customers to Black Bear Energy validates their unique approach.”

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