Dynamo Energy Hub is excited to present an interview with one of our Kilo Sponsors, bp Launchpad’s very own Miriam Eaves, who serves as the Head of Origination. In her role, Miriam is responsible for originating and investing in digital startups to join the Launchpad portfolio.
Ms. Eaves wrote in to Dynamo’s Membership Manager, Rachel McDevitt, discussing how Launchpad is investing and scaling a portfolio of digitally-led new energy businesses that will reimagine energy and enable bp to deliver clean, affordable and reliable energy to the world.
Rachel: Hi Miriam, thanks for finding the time in your busy schedule! Can you tell us about BP Launchpad and how you’re achieving your mission? What is the relationship between Launchpad and the rest of BP’s work?
Miriam: Launchpad is bp’s scale-up factory. We are on a mission to generate sustainable change by building and scaling a progressive portfolio of digitally led businesses that re-imagine energy for people and the planet.
bp has a track record of originating innovative concepts and managing billion-dollar businesses. However, the challenge is to take that spark of innovation and scale it into a full-blown business with the speed needed to achieve net zero. This is where Launchpad comes in.
“We use ‘the power of both’ to scale disruptive technology businesses at a rapid start-up pace, with the backing and resources of a global corporation with a hundred-year history.”
Rachel: What is your background and how did you get interested in this sector?
Miriam: I have always been passionate about clean energy as my mother was the first Environmentalist I knew. I studied Environmental Policy at college and was inspired by a fabulous professor, David Orr, a college professor who’s a well-known environmentalist and is active in many areas of environmental studies, including environmental education and ecological design. My first job out of college was in the Solar Division at the Department of Energy. After obtaining my MBA, I went to NYC and worked with technology-based start-ups as the Silicon Alley was growing into a world class tech center. While in NYC, I worked a UK Private Equity group spinning technology out of the UK government. One the partners in that fund went to BP Ventures where I worked as a Venture Partner out of NYC, sourcing deals and helping portfolio companies grow. Then BP recruited me to help build Launchpad in London, so I moved to the UK several years ago.
Rachel: Can you talk more about BP Launchpad’s model and how it’s unique or similar to an accelerator or incubator?
Miriam: Launchpad, which sits in BP’ Innovation area alongside BP Ventures, was established to take a start-up team and scale it into a full-blown business. We have been created as BP’s way to ‘cross the chasm’; a new model of corporate innovation. It has aspects of private equity, feels like a start-up, but is still connected to BP, focused on accessing the unique advantages that a corporate can bring, whilst maintaining its own unique identity. Launchpad provides startups with three key things:
- Growth Capital
- Connectivity into BP as key customer, creating a strategic linkage
- Business scaling capabilities building tools (tech dev help, talent & recruitment, finance, legal, sales development)
“Launchpad provides all the things that a start-up needs, freeing up the core team to focus on building and selling their product and solutions. This unique combination of support enables a start- up to grow at scale and speed, rapidly.”
Rachel: Launchpad has the ambitious goal of “building five billion dollars of enterprise value by 2025”, what is the status of this goal and how are you achieving this?
Miriam: We’re moving steadily towards that goal. We must be ambitious, it’s better to reach for the stars and get to the moon. Our portfolio did face some disruption, like the rest of the world during the pandemic, but a slower start doesn’t necessarily mean an untimely finish. Today we have seven companies in our portfolio. As we speak, the Origination Team, which I head up, is in conversations with several exciting start-ups who are eager to join Launchpad.
Rachel: What do you look for in prospective Founders or experts when adding to your network and what parts of the energy transition do they represent?
Miriam: Similar to VC investors, we look for passionate, determined Founders with deep expertise and networks in their domains. Most importantly, our Founders must see the awesome power that Launchpad and BP can bring to their scaling journey. Our investment focus is on digital start-ups, adjacent to BP’s core businesses, with commercial traction in the following areas:
- Industrial Analytics
- Smart Mobility
- Digital Energy
- Intelligent Commodities
Rachel: We’re excited to share one of your portfolio companies as a Dynamo Energy Hub member — Blueprint Power! Are you able to speak to how that acquisition came to be and what you are most excited about with this new Launchpad company?
Miriam: I actually met Blueprint Power in NYC at their first public presentation when they were in UrbanX and I was with BP Ventures. I was greatly impressed by Robyn Beavers, CEO & Founder and the story. We stayed in touch and when I joined Launchpad I reached out to Robyn as I felt they were a great fit for our portfolio. Happily, we made a deal and BPP joined the Launchpad family. BPP brings their expertise and product set to decarbonize buildings which combined with BP Global Trading capabilities can turn any building into a Virtual Power Plant.
Rachel: BP Launchpad hosts a blog, a podcast, and several events. What other strategies is BP Launchpad using for marketing and visibility and how does connecting with the energy industry through Dynamo help facilitate this?
Miriam: We have had campaigns showcasing the female and tech talent we have at Launchpad and our portfolio companies. The goal of these campaigns is two-fold: attract the right talent and show that there are people at different levels in different disciplines actively contributing to the energy transition.