We back the doers who will define the next era of progress.


Across our successive investment sectors, Bleu Capital has always stayed anchored around one core idea:

The desire to help humankind achieve its best possible version

As an evergreen fund, we have the opportunity (and the obligation) to take a broader lense in our investment strategy. By necessity, we seek to grow assets over decades. And to do that, we have to look at major societal and technical shifts. We need to anticipate them, ahead enough to be able to meaningfully contribute to their installation, but close enough to the deployment phase to benefit from the widespread application of each new paradigm.

We’ve built and invested across two surges, and now is the time to evolve towards the third one. 

Round 1
Globalization & entrepreneurial journey

Our founder JP’s entrepreneurial journey spanned across one of the largest trends of the last decade: The globalization of trade and the consequent intermeshing of the world’s economies and cultures. At 26, 3 years after the events of Tian An Men Square, JP launched what would become the largest importer of Western food brands to China, with minimal capital operating experience in the country.

JP bootstrapped his way to $100s of millions in revenue. 20 years later, he exited to a publicly traded company. A vast oversimplification of the enormous difficulties encountered, source of many of our core operating principles. Bleu Capital traces its roots and carries the DNA of this entrepreneurial journey.

Round 2
Accelerating digital commerce

After his exit, JP moved to the US, bringing two of his lieutenants to the country to start redeploying his capital in new ventures. Vincent and Joseph seeked to capitalize on the continuation of the commerce globalization trend. They had seen in practice some of the new tools behind the next fundamental shift: The rapid acceleration of online commerce. Behind it, the emergence of a new technical stack to deploy commerce in the cloud. Vincent moved to SF, building a presence locally, while Jo took on the NYC market.

The fund deployed a first wave of capital into 10 seed companies and ultimately anchored a separate vehicle, Interlace Ventures, to pursue this strategy exclusively. In 2020, Vincent and Jo moved full-time to Interlace, and JP took the reins of the fund directly.

I joined the fund from Bleu’s portfolio company Ara Labs in 2020, where I led growth and got to know Jean Pierre, who was a board member for the company. From then onwards, Bleu Capital naturally evolved towards commerce enablement, through platforms (For Days, DataHawk), vertical SaaS (Malou, ContentSquare, Kiliba) and infrastructure (Skip, Mediarithmics, Standard AI), with the vision that retailers would increasingly integrate data into their processes to unleash the next wave of automation.

The next round
The climate challenge and opportunity

Approaching the next decade, shifts in consumer expectations, market maturation and saturation in software markets led us to look for the next major shift. Bleucap started investing in climate as a natural drift from our commerce strategy (For Days, Hubcycle). And in 2023, we decided to commit 100% of our attention to the climate vertical. Here's why.

Since the 70s, the progress we’ve enjoyed has been staggering. Global poverty rates have dropped from 60% to 15%. The world’s GDP grew from $3 trillion to $100 trillion in that timespan. Tailwinded by the reduction of global poverty and increased output of our production systems, humankind is bound to reach 10 billion people by 2050.

But the systems of production behind our economy largely rely on pollutive and extractive processes, putting us on course to alter what has been a relatively stable climate over the 10,000 years of human civilization.The rate of change is orders of magnitude above any in the last 65 million years. Temperature anomalies have become an uncomfortable norm in the last few summers: In September 2023, the ocean temperature anomaly value (+1.87°F) reached new all time records.

Creating a sustainable environment to allow humanity to continue to prosper is, undoubtedly, our era’s greatest challenge and opportunity.

The risk of stalling progress looms large due to finite resources, especially since the pace of progress has traditionally depended on the cost of energy, ease of access to raw materials and ability to efficiently convert these elements into outputs. If we don’t rewire the way we build things, some of the key gains in global well-being could be reversed. A staggering data point confirms this: According to EDGAR data, material productivity (defined as GDP $$ for each kg of material used) has been the slowest grower amongst labor productivity, energy and GHG productivity in recent decades.

The stakes are high: the status-quo in business operations, marked by disrupted supply chains and fluctuating commodity prices in the last 2 years, is becoming increasingly unsustainable, impacting company bottom lines.

Alongside historical macro trends, the phenomena of urbanization and population increase are fundamentally altering our resource consumption patterns, edging us closer to the brink of scarcity. Newly breached technological frontiers, such as generative AI, will create unprecedented strains on our underinvested electricity grid.

The timing is now to alter our trajectory: A recent data point suggests that 4.8 billion people could be facing water scarcity by 2050. Earth overshoot day, which marks the date we have used more than our planet can produce in a year, is now falling on August 2nd. Ecological limits will soon become central to political and consumer-decision making. 

The opportunity, and where it lies
Merging financial returns with climate

This context sets the stage for the next innovation cycle, one that seeks to create abundant, renewable resources, thereby unleashing human progress and removing any barriers on the near horizon. The essence of our next investment thesis revolves around identifying and nurturing businesses that enable this paradigm shift, particularly those that drive 'green premiums' into negative territory.

The opportunity is incredibly large too. In its 2024 call for startups, Y Combinator highlighted that the opportunity in climate could be worth $3-$10 trillion in EBITDA. Some have begun to call the climate transition the 6th industrial wave.

In a capitalist framework, the winning solutions are those that combine low cost with high scalability, and durability, as these characteristics are essential for impactful, large-scale economic advancement. We believe that it is the only way to drive positive impact at scale. The most efficient methods of production will be the ones adopted. Relying solely on wishful thinking of large-scale social change and hopes of government interventionism is not a viable option, both from an asset allocation standpoint, and from a climate standpoint. But connecting businesses with the cost of externalities will shift some of the investment decisions made. 

The ventures we back will have to converge these criteria to deliver on our overarching goal of creating abundant resources at scale. And in a venture capital framework, high ROICs and operating margins are the required financial outputs to achieve venture returns. To do that, we have to focus on the harder problems. Companies solving those will be able to build stronger competitive advantages, eventually being able to expand and capture their entire value-chains to build the leaders of tomorrow’s economy.

Another climate investor once shared in conversation that he would only invest in businesses that “a climate skeptic would love to buy from”. This is the exact essence of how we think scale can be achieved. These clients will strictly care about return on invested capital, time to profitability, and gross margins when making investment decisions. None of the companies that will achieve durable emission improvements over the status quo will manage to do it with green premiums. Therefore, better unit economics are mandatory.

We take another firm stance on the source of change to drive climate change improvements: Many, in Europe notably, have suggested that the change needs to come from consumers restricting some of their consumption patterns, slowing down on plane flights, eating locally and avoiding car travel. While we think that this bridge will surely bring us closer to the right path from a short term view, it indirectly suggests that restraining recently gained progress is the way forward. At Bleu, we believe the systems of production (industry, agriculture…) and their inputs (energy, materials) have the largest share of responsibility and potential impact to power that transition. This industrial shift will only happen if the medium to long-term economic benefits outweigh the required upfront capital expenditures.

Making hardware great again
Hardware is an inherent part of our thesis

Hardware is back in fashion. Climate targets won’t be achieved with carbon accounting software or ESG data software alone. Most in the venture space would agree. But few have become comfortable enough with the elephant in the room, hardware-first businesses. We wrote a longer form essay on the topic to explain why we think that any climate investing strategy should be largely made of hardware businesses.

Announcing thesis 3.0
Shifting our systems of production
Our Vision
At Bleu Capital, we seek to fund the companies unlocking sustainable progress at scale.

We will focus on the systems of production and distribution behind our economy to achieve that goal.

We believe that the systems of production behind our society will need to shift to adapt to the urgency of our climate crisis, and that these systems have the largest potential impact. “Progress” means a paradigm shift, implying technology going much further than the current status quo to drive true change without compromising on recently secured gains.

“Sustainable” captures the idea of creating an economy that can have a net neutral or positive impact on its resources while scaling and growing.

None of this is net new for Bleu. Traces of that thesis can already be found in our more recent investments, including Hubcycle (food waste to value), Nova Carbon (composite recycling), Tekyn (on-demand production), La Vie (alt-foods), and For Days (enabling layer for circular fashion). And we’ve already invested alongside some of the largest US and European investment funds in climate tech (Collab, Congruent, Closed Loop, Daphni, Citizen, Otium, Founders Fund, EIF…).

Our initial focus will be placed on a subset of themes behind our thesis. These are areas where the combination of our operating experiences and networks will provide the most value to founders in the short and medium term, while promising large market shifts within the next decade. We plan to invest into new materials and chemicals, energy inputs, manufacturing and waste-to-value, food systems and land use, as well as the mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its consequences. These shifts are tailwind by a mix of incentives and sticks, from the reshoring of these systems of production in the west to recent shipping lane distributions.

The case for now
Catalysts we are tracking

Significant shifts in industry cycles require distinct driving forces to succeed and act as disruptors, emphasizing the importance of a well-timed "why now". Julien’s experience at Ara Labs exemplifies this. The company ventured into the in-car economy a decade prematurely, anticipating a future where autonomous vehicles would create new in-car ecosystems centered around essential human activities. Going back to innovation cycle theory, we look for markets where the capital to sustain technologies through the early innings of their development exists, in order to help them reach the deployment phase.

The late 2000s clean tech boom and bust served to establish the basis for the current cycle. These pioneers were not wrong in saying that “going green could be the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century” (A quote from KPCB’s John Doerr), they were just a decade early. But the billions invested served to attract the talent base and financing solutions, and financed the infrastructure that we are now able to leverage for the next generation.  

We see several catalysts simultaneously converting to unleash the renewal of our systems of production. These are not just acceleration coefficients for existing companies that enjoy benefits from scale, information, or distribution. They promise to deliver true disruption, giving new entrants a strong advantage relative to incumbents that suffer from a powerful innovator’s dilemma. Especially in hardware companies, which have traditionally been slower to embrace shifts.

Our Vision
Key drivers of our thesis include:
  • The imperative of net-zero laws and the incentives created by government tax credits and carbon accounting, including the Inflation Reduction Act’s $1.7 trillion for climate initiatives in the US. These are more efficiently connecting companies to their climate related externalities through a mix of incentives and penalties.
  • The evolving preferences of consumers towards more sustainable choices, a true North for the broader economy, driving corporate commitments, especially in the consumer sector. As of 2023, 60% of the global assets have net zero targets, 40% of the materials sector, and 50% of the utilities sector.
  • The rise of climate unicorns, attracting talents and creating blueprints for large wealth creation.
  • In parallel, the emergence of a new generation of engineers, trained at the likes of SpaceX, Tesla, and Apple, who understand how to develop hardware cost efficiently and rapidly. Hardware startups are becoming “sexy” again in the silicon valley.
  • A US infrastructure system living on borrowed time: In private water utilities alone, the EPA says that the US will face $470Bn in costs over the next 20 years to upgrade its water infrastructure alone.
  • The emergence and standardization of a new system of records, penalties and incentives, around co2 emissions, progressively having a bottom line impact on corporations (EU-UTS requirements in Europe, for instance).
  • An increase in funding mechanisms and non-dilutive financing, notably at the state level, to address the front-loaded technical risk of hardware.
  • A rising willingness to embrace private sector innovation from public entities.

Behind these macro-trends. several enabling technologies will allow us to unlock progress as scale: 

  • Advances in computing power and storage, enhancing the ability to process and analyze vast datasets for deeper insights and improved forecasting.
  • The proliferation of physical world sensors and satellite imagery, significantly improving our ability to monitor environmental changes with greater precision and frequency. With that, the reduction of the cost per kg sent to space, enabling a new generation of satellites.
  • Innovations in CRISPR and synthetic biotechnology, enabling customization of materials and inputs for specific needs, as well as biomining and bio manufacturing.
  • The integration of IoT and cheap high-speed internet, fundamentally altering the landscape of industrial production and broader connectivity to bring intelligence to the edge.
  • Developments in advanced manufacturing, spatial computing, robotics, and 3D printing, which are liberating the workforce from repetitive manual tasks.
  • The emergence of more economical battery and motor technologies, pivotal in the shift to sustainable energy sources.
  • The utilization of generative AI and machine learning, empowering computers to synthesize and correlate vast amounts of information

Now is the time to build in those verticals and unlock the vast potential promised by the emergence of these technologies. We’re very excited to meet any founder looking for an active, high-conviction fund to unlock the next era of sustainable progress at scale.

Authored by Julien Lepleux

April 2024

Use this form to describe your project
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.