Introducing our investment in Bedrock Materials – to produce a low-cost, easy-to-source alternative to lithium-ion batteries

As you may have read in our thesis update last week, we have been spending more and more time in the deep/hard tech space, making our first six investments since 2021. Today, we’re excited to share that we co-led the $9 million seed round of Bedrock Materials, a Chicago-based startup that manufactures the active materials for sodium-ion batteries. We co-led the round with our good friends at Trucks Venture Capital and Refactor Capital. 

Bedrock is helping to manufacture a sodium-ion battery, utilizing affordable, widely available materials. Modern lithium-ion batteries (which are in most of today’s all-electric and PHEV vehicles) rely on critical minerals like nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. These are rare elements and sourcing is weighed down by environmental and humanitarian concerns. By contrast, sodium-ion batteries rely largely on widely abundant elements – manganese, iron, sodium, and aluminum. 

Yes, there are trade-offs. Sodium is heavier and doesn’t hold as much charge. But, considering that sodium-ion batteries are 1000x easier to source than lithium-ion, it’s worth the difference. At present, sodium-ion batteries are a natural fit for market segments where cost, abundance, and safety are prioritized over premium performance. An initial target is to replace the lead-acid starter battery under the hood of every gas-powered car and truck with a sodium-ion battery. 

Why are we excited about this investment? It boils down to the cornerstones of our latest thesis update: why now and why not. Electrification is everywhere. In order to effectively replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, the world will need a lot of battery storage. With the skyrocketing demand for EV batteries alone, supply won’t be able to keep up without a new battery chemistry. 

Additionally, sodium-ion is not new chemistry – the technology has already attracted considerable attention from China and other countries, but it’s yet to reach scale and commercialization. In other words, this isn’t a science experiment. It’s all about execution. And we think this is a team that can bring the technology to scale. 

Bedrock was founded by Rafael Vila (CTO), a distinguished battery scientist from Stanford University, and Spencer Gore (CEO), a seasoned entrepreneur and engineer with experience at Tesla and Enovix. Gore previously founded an aerospace company which aimed to build the world’s highest endurance battery-electric aircraft leveraging lithium-ion structure technology. This team is as mission-driven as they come: they have seen first-hand and understand the problems related to the present-day battery supply and technology.  

If you’re interested in learning more about Bedrock and the potential of sodium-ion batteries to impact the future of transportation and energy storage, visit their website.  

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