- By SeedInvest
- January 26, 2022
- 4 minute read
How the cleantech pioneer became the first public unicorn exit of an equity crowdfunded company in the U.S.
As the world population soars, the demand for fossil fuels is growing, continually adding to our global carbon crisis. Heliogen is working to solve the CO2 problem with a technology that aims to provide low-cost, carbon-free energy in the form of heat, power, or hydrogen fuel.
Of course, solving the global climate crisis is no small undertaking. Since it was founded in 2013, Heliogen (formerly Edisun Microgrids) has raised over $250 million from investors including Bill Gates, Edison International, Steve Case, and the SeedInvest community.
By the Numbers
Heliogen’s public listing marks a historic moment for retail investors, participating in a unicorn exit after getting in at the relative ground floor.
In 2017, Heliogen raised $1.6 million on SeedInvest at a $20 million pre-money valuation from nearly 1,000 investors on the platform.
Just four years later, the clean energy startup has gone on to become the first-ever billion-plus valued “unicorn” exit of an equity crowdfunded company in U.S. history. (1)
Why Heliogen Chose SeedInvest
Heliogen Founder and CEO Bill Gross is a prolific operator and investor and the founder of Idealab – one of the longest running tech incubators in the U.S. Idealab has participated in 150+ companies, with 40+ M&A exits and IPOs.
Gross didn’t lack access to traditional venture capital, but he knew how painful the fundraising process could be regardless of entrepreneurial experience and wanted to pioneer an alternative model. He became interested in equity crowdfunding as a means for customers to help shape the future of the solar industry.
With a roster of A-list investors already on board, it was essential to partner only with a trusted and professional platform to ensure continued buy-in and support from existing and future stakeholders. SeedInvest’s rigorous vetting process and due diligence (2) – among the most stringent in the space – helped lay the groundwork for that trust to develop and grow.
“SeedInvest made it possible to invest early in Heliogen, allowing investors to support our business and participate in the energy transition that is underway. These early investors were among the first to believe in our mission to replace fossil fuels with sunlight. We are grateful for their support and we look forward to delivering long-term shareholder value as we execute our growth strategy.” – Bill Gross
SeedInvest met the challenge, educating our community of accredited and retail investors to build interest and awareness about the cleantech opportunity. Through a series of online webinars and in-person events held across the country, investors were given direct access to the Heliogen team, and the company successfully raised over $1,600,000.
Ultimately, it was SeedInvest’s reputation as an innovator and highly selective investment platform that made it an attractive partner for Heliogen’s fundraise.
Leveraging the Power of Everyday Investors
A benefit of raising through SeedInvest is the power of our community, which includes over 600,000 retail and accredited investors ready to bring their own networks to the table. Adam Wasserzug was one such early stage investor in Heliogen:
"As a non-accredited investor who is passionate about all things cleantech, Heliogen’s round on SeedInvest was a rare opportunity for me to invest in a startup with a mission I believed in, at an early stage normally reserved for venture capital and private equity. I am thrilled to have played a role in supporting Heliogen's journey to becoming a public company, and am even more thrilled with the performance of my investment!" (3)
Most importantly, the historic exit made good on SeedInvest’s focus on providing quality investment opportunities to everyday investors and proving equity crowdfunding is a legitimate means to fund unicorn-potential companies historically reserved for traditional VCs. (4)
Heliogen went public via a deSPAC on December 30, 2021, merging with the women-led SPAC Athena Technology Acquisition Corp at a valuation of $2 billion. It was the first public unicorn exit for an equity crowdfunded company in U.S. history.
The merger netted $188 million in gross proceeds for the new combined entity, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol HLGN.
4. All securities-related activity is conducted by SI Securities, LLC dba SeedInvest, an affiliate of Circle Internet Financial, and a registered broker-dealer, and member FINRA/SIPC.
1. The material presented should not be viewed as a current or past recommendation or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and there can be no assurance that an investment strategy will be successful or that the historical performance of an investment, portfolio or asset class will have a direct correlation with its future performance.
2. SeedInvest's due diligence process is no guarantee of success or future results. All investors should carefully review each investment opportunity and cancel their subscription within the allotted time-frame if they do not feel comfortable making any specific investment based on their own DD. Learn more about due diligence on the SeedInvest Blog and our vetting process in our FAQs.
3. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The results achieved by one customer may not be representative of the experience of other customers and is no guarantee of success or future results.