26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Phil Graves, managing partner, Tin Shed Ventures

After launching originally as US-based clothing company Patagonia’s corporate impact venturing fund $20 Million & Change in 2013, Phil Graves was promoted to senior director of corporate development in 2016 and changed the fund’s name to Tin Shed Ventures.

Regarding the name change, Graves explained in 2017: “We have far surpassed the original $20m Patagonia committed to spending on investments in outside businesses and so we changed the name to reflect Patagonia’s roots and founder Yvon Chouinard’s early days working out of a tin shed, which he still works out of from time to time today.”

Tin Shed Ventures backs and partners startups that develop products or technologies that prevent the environmental crisis, investing around $500,000 per deal.

Rose Marcario, Patagonia’s chief executive and president, said last year: “Tin Shed Ventures gives Patagonia an edge in innovation and provides a new source of capital to startups that are in business to save our home planet.”

In mid-2018, Tin Shed Ventures added Liliana Bettolo to its team, who went on to win 2019’s GCV Rising Stars award. In addition, Alex Kremer, 2018’s GCV Rising Star, was promoted to director of corporate development.

The fund was GCV’s Launch of the Year when it started, and it continues to enjoy success. Graves said highlights from the past year include collaborations with portfolio companies: Recrafted collection with resale platform Trove and NetPlus hats with fishing gear recycling company Bureo.

Tin Shed Ventures also led an $8m series A round in January 2020 for Tyton BioSciences, the developer of an advanced fashion recycling system, investing alongside Marubeni America, a subsidiary of trading group Marubeni, Card Sound Capital and Alante Capital.

Graves told Euromoney in October 2019: “We are all in for regenerative organic agriculture. We have provided debt and equity financing to farmers and ranchers actively using – or transitioning to – regenerative organic practices with our food and fibre supply chains.”

Wild Idea Buffalo, a provider of grass-fed, naturally-raised buffalo in the US, was given as an example. He added: “Our capital enabled the company to take their regenerative practices to the next level, such as harvesting their bison on the prairie instead of trucking them to a slaughterhouse.”

By having an evergreen fund structure, Patagonia has no set hold period for portfolio companies, and, as a B Corporation – a company certified to be pursuing a mission involving standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency – it encourages entrepreneurs to use the corporate structure as a way of combining financial and environmental goals in their mandate.

Euromoney added that Patagonia is also keen on further developing the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC), an organic farming endorsement scheme it had launched with the Rodale Institute and Dr Bronner’s, a manufacturer of organic soaps and personal care products.

Graves was quoted as saying: “Governments and financial institutions cannot keep their heads in the sand by continuing to insure, subsidise and fund chemical farming operations that are harmful to human health and the environment.”

Graves concluded that Tin Shed Ventures would continue to explore avenues to employ Patagonia’s tax equity dollars to fund renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar power.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF