Sarah Applebaum

Sarah Applebaum

Associate, Pangaea Ventures Ltd. Sarah is an environmental scientist and MBA who has been active in sustainability efforts for York and Dalhousie universities, as well as the City of Toronto's Environment Office.View Sarah Applebaum's profile on LinkedIn

Sparking Innovation

Posted by on in Venture Capital

There are few career paths I can think of that are more challenging than trying to launch a new venture whose success is centered around the development and subsequent roll-out of a new technology. We have countless success stories to point to, and entrepreneurs who are revered, almost worshipped, … but what is often left out is truly how long it took, and how much money (including academic research dollars, grants, and private capital) was required to get there.

We generate a tremendous amount of data from an exponentially growing number of connected devices. The entire internet (and all the data we host on the cloud) is forecast to reach 16,000 exabytes by 2017 (an exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes). That’s a lot of warehouses & data storage centers [whether all of it should be stored is the topic of a very different post…and yes I DO need ALL of those puppy videos, thank you for asking!].

Biology: The New Building Blocks

Posted by on in Sustainability

I think it’s safe to say the cat is out of the bag when it comes to Synthetic biology. In case you missed it, a synbio start-up company called Zymergen, commercializing a biology-driven materials discovery platform, raised a whopping $44M in its series A mid-June 2015. While this is a big A round by any standards, it’s even more significant when looking back at the performance of venture-backed industrial biotech and biofuel companies over the last decade (reminder - it’s not a pretty picture).

The Only Woman In The Room

Posted by on in Venture Capital

When Fortune magazine released an update to their 2014 study on women in venture capital last month concluding that (big surprise) not much has changed, I was asked to write a follow up to a blog I wrote 2 years ago titled “women: a start-up’s secret weapon”. You can access this posting here – but the key takeaway is that studies have shown when you add a woman (or a few of them) to your team, the intelligence of the group rises. Shocking right?

Since the initial 2014 study – women are still grossly underrepresented in venture capital (if you can even call 4% at the senior levels representation), not to mention in STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) companies across the board. 

An article published recently on by Martin Zwilling highlights his recommendations for “10 calculated risks that lead to startup success”. This article, like so many others, provides some great insights for wannabe or existing founders and entrepreneurs. However, what if you’re in a business that is more capital intensive, has longer iteration cycles or addresses more complicated problems. Say, involving materials or chemistry development?

A penny saved is a penny earned. An old idiom still frequently uttered today. And its core value extends well beyond basic finance to energy. While "a watt saved is a watt earned" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, the implications are much the same.

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post about the advantages of including women in your team. If you're interested in reading about how your team WILL BE smarter, I encourage you to check it out here: Women: A Start-up’s Secret Weapon.

An opinion piece I read in a national newspaper this morning has prompted me to pen a quick follow up. Not to discuss how we can make our teams smarter, but how we can encourage more women to engage with technology and take a real leadership role in engaging with 'change the world' opportunities. Tenaciousness, take-charge attitudes, and leadership skills (also sometimes known as bossiness) are all qualities men and women alike must develop if they desire to be successful entrepreneurs (I'll expand on this shortly).

Please complete the following statement with the most correct answer:

As ____________ as Sugar?

(a) Sweet
(b) Conductive
(c) Energy Dense
(d) All of the above

I don't know about you, but when I think of sugar (particularly at this time of year) it can be bittersweet – especially when I'm trying to zip up those skinny jeans. After a holiday season of indulgence – and a box of Valentines Day chocolates within arms reach it's hard to think of sugar as relating to anything other than confections (or correlated with gym memberships).

Electronics are complicated products. When you stop to really think about it and itemize the components of your flat screen TV, tablet, and even LED light bulb, there is much more than circuitry, wiring, and glass contained inside. There is, in fact, a significant opportunity for materials innovation as manufacturers seek to provide products that are lighter, faster, and more energy efficient. My colleague Andrew has previously blogged about LED lighting innovation in relation to increasing energy efficiency, and here I will focus on transparent conductive electrodes (TCEs), which are used in touch panels, flat displays, photovoltaics, lighting, and more.

Water – it is touched by technology in so many ways from pond (or aquifer, lake, ocean etc.) to tap and back again. Continued innovation helps us to remediate our waste; clean up accidents/spills more effectively, reduce the energy footprint of water treatment and provide distributed water in regions where infrastructure is lacking.

Demand for clean fresh water continues to grow and is estimated to increase by more than 40% by 2030. Any industry with such spectacular growth and opportunity for technology innovation demands a closer look – and at Pangaea Ventures, we have been looking closely for a number of years and made our first water investment in 2003. Also, the fact that water is essentially a perfect good and is a necessity for life doesn't hurt either.