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  • Writer's pictureDevika Kumar

Steep Slopes & Two Learnings: My First 30 Days at Keyframe


So you can start in four days and be in Vegas for a conference next week?


I watch the orange sunset sunrays bounce off the ebbing Aegean waves and type back:


Yes.


Time to leave island peace for city, well...energy (pun intended.) I trade flip flops for “smart commuter shoes,” ocean sounds for yellow cab honks, and souvlaki for bodega bagels… ready to get after it, NYC hustle style.


30 days down, and boy, has this learning curve been steep… like double black diamond with moguls steep. I attribute part of this to the fact that this is a career change; in my prior sales and tech roles, whether I cold called as an SDR at Salesforce or negotiated a complex renewal at a startup, I always had some playbook to follow. Here, leading Business Development at Keyframe, I get to create that myself – an ambitious endeavor at our dynamic and focused firm.


So far, the volume of organized events is astounding. Examples include:

  • Wandering the Venetian Las Vegas at RE+, the largest renewable energy conference of the year (Day 4)

  • Attending Blueprint, a real estate tech conference also in Vegas (Day 5)

  • Cohosting a morning run and evening happy hour during NYC Climate Week (Day 9)

  • Attending Climate Day at CRETECH in NYC (Day 14)

And the hour-by-hour is a complex time and efficiency demand response calculation:


9am – Attend a roundtable discussion on the interconnection queue

10am – Discuss coal plant conversion to biomass at an internal meeting

11am – Take a project finance course

1pm – Attend a Women in Energy investor lunch

2pm – Observe a board meeting for a portfolio company

3pm – Build a market map for the mobility segment

...and more


In building our BD playbook, I talk to hundreds of people per month to enrich our investment theses, form strategic relationships, and find the hardest to reach value opportunities for our portfolio.


The energy transition space (and my role within it) is constantly changing, and at times, I feel I am going to fly off the mountain. Thankfully, the gravity of our team keeps my skis firmly planted on the slope, so I’d like to share just two learnings that keep me grounded.


1. The Scientific Method is a Way of Life


We’ve all made eggs float and designed hundreds of paper airplanes to find the one that soars. At Keyframe, we embrace hypothesis testing, a central tenet of the scientific method, as a decision-making model every day.


Let’s take one of our portfolio companies, PassiveLogic, as an example.


Overview: PassiveLogic is a cloud-native autonomous buildings control company. They use physical-based digital twins to operate interconnected building systems efficiently – leading to substantial energy savings, OpEx reduction, and seamless technology integration.


Prior to investing, our team does research to develop hypotheses. See some examples for PassiveLogic below:



We develop hypotheses about industry, product, market, team, and investment and test them using due diligence. There is, of course, more nuance and specificity, but you get the idea.


It’s worth noting this process is a dynamic feedback loop. Through due diligence and working closely with our portfolio, we also find new evidence to help us refine and iterate our initial hypotheses.



2. Transparency is More Than a Buzzword

Radical honesty is a real thing, and it saves a ton of time. Whether we are pitching an idea internally, challenging an assumption on a board, or giving tough feedback after a screening call, we keep it real. It’s not easy, but it’s important.


Our team is adept at asking questions and giving constructive feedback in pursuit of the best outcome for all. We are, more importantly, aware of the bounds of and gaps in our knowledge as individuals. We often say things like:


  • “My understanding is..”

  • “I might be speaking out of scope here…”

  • “It appears to be… but let me know if I am missing something…”

  • “Sorry if I don’t have the right words for this, but if I could interrupt to make sure we’re aligned on...”


Because we constantly speak to folks who know more than us, we embrace radical honesty to ask meaningful questions. This requires extreme self-awareness and transparency in the truest sense of the word.


Transparency and the scientific method are deft arts that our team refines every day when we evaluate companies, explore new markets, develop theses, and conduct internal meetings. These soft skills are core to who we are and how we add value, and they have certainly helped me absorb information and onboard quickly here.


One more learning...


My first 30 days at Keyframe have been nothing short of The Streif or Al’s Run or Delirium Dive or [insert another challenging ski course here], where difficulty, adrenaline, and purpose intersect. And I don’t expect the learning curve in the next 30, 60, or 90 days to level out.


I realize that the learning curve is constantly steep for all of us at Keyframe, because we actively chase complex areas of change (read more in another KF blog). We research new segments like biomass, wind, fusion, electrification, and grid-edge technology to identify opportunity-rich areas for investment. We’re always on our toes, looking for ways to address the unique corporate capitalization needs of growing companies across the energy transition space.


To me, this is a thrilling adventure, one that beats sitting on a beach in Greece any day (well... maybe 9/10 days).


If you, too, are on a cool adventure in the energy transition world, feel free to find me at devika@keyframecapital.com.



P.S. If Keyframe sounds fun to you, you’re in luck, because we are hiring an investment associate!



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