Meet Orelle Khalili, Guest Speaker for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Event - Israeli Chapter
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
By Katy Diamond, Marketing Associate at Tech It Forward
We had the immense pleasure of interviewing Orelle Khalili, Deal Flow Manager at Climatech focused VC, Capital Nature, and one of our brilliant guest panelists for the Cartier Women’s Initiative - Israel Chapter Event. Orelle sat down to talk to us about the development and funding of Climatech and the importance of supporting women-run startups in this space.
It’s great to meet you, Orelle. Can you introduce yourself please?
Hi! Firstly, it’s an honor to be able to partake in this Initiative, as it speaks to my values, as well as Capital Nature’s vision.
About myself- I was born and raised in New York City and immigrated to Israel approximately 10 years ago. I completed my B.A. in Finance at Reichman University, and my Master’s in Economics and Management at the University of Lucerne.
Today, I’m the Deal Flow Manager at Capital Nature, one of Israel's leading climate-focused Venture Capital firms. My passion for the environment, and background in finance makes my position in sustainable investing the ultimate hybrid, which I find extremely fulfilling.
Can you tell us more about your background in sustainability and finance, and the significance of the relationship between the two in today’s context?
I was exposed to the world of sustainability when I started working as a Financial Analyst at LR Group, an Israeli company that creates sustainable projects in developing countries. I was very inspired by the impact-driven initiatives, and immediately saw myself continuing my career within the sector.
I then shifted my focus from project development to consulting, and I joined KPMG as a Sustainability Consultant. Within my role, I consulted Israeli and foreign corporations, helping them implement sustainable practices, as well as address their ESG (Environmental, Social Governance) requirements. Rather than creating new projects from the bottom up, this role allowed me to work with existing influential companies from the top-down.
Today, my current role at Capital Nature is the very embodiment of the cross between sustainability and finance. Actively pivoting capital towards impactful technologies is extremely important for achieving Net Zero in time. For me, it’s humbling to have such an impact and drive capital to areas that are addressing the most pressing issue of our generation.
What does your role of Deal Flow Manager at Capital Nature entail?
I focus on sourcing, screening and managing potential investments throughout the pipeline. My responsibility is ultimately to detect and on-board the ventures with the greatest impact potential- for both the planet and the fund. I also conduct thorough research and analysis regarding potential investments and deals, track global developments within the industry, and focus on strategic network engagement.
Could you tell us more about what Capital Nature is and what the company aims to achieve?
Capital Nature is a Tel Aviv-based VC that has been leading local Climatech investment sector for over a decade. We focus on early stage (seed to Round A), Israeli-related, companies whose technologies aim to solve the global climate challenges, and meet the UN SDG goals. Our team and shareholders include professionals in the fields of finance, science, engineering, industry, and law.
As originally CN was founded as an incubator by the Israeli Innovation Authority, we’ve been investing in Climatech long before its recent spike. We pride ourselves on our ability to detect and nurture impactful companies to fruition through on-going financial and strategic support.
This year, we invested in our first female-led startup (Algaeing), which is revolutionizing the textile industry via circularity. We are committed to continuing to support female founders within the Climatech industry, and see this as the dawn of a new chapter.
How do Climatech technologies work and what are the most pressing issues that they hope to resolve?
The diverse scope of technology with the potential to address the climate crisis is extremely vast, whether in terms of sector, stage or solution. I believe this is a testament to how holistic of a transformation is required in our contemporary lifestyles in order to address this issue properly.
The four sectors which we are focused on at the moment include: Energy, Mobility, Circular Economy and Construction Tech. The main theme being decarbonization and emission reduction.
There are many other fascinating sectors that are transforming other areas of our lives, such as Foodtech, AgTech, Water, etc.
What is it about Israeli innovation that stands out to you in the development of Climatech technologies?
Over the last several decades, our “little” country has led the world in tech innovation in unimaginable ways. The Israeli start-up ecosystem is so developed and mature, that it makes for the utmost organic playground for both first-time and experienced founders to innovate, connect and create.
There is so much Israeli technology which when pivoted, can suddenly make for the ideal Climatech technology. This is especially true for defense and dual-use technologies, which hold immense potential outside their usual realm. It’s been very humbling to meet such creative founders, and hearing about the different ways that they are innovating.
With the right application of ingenuity being developed in this country as we speak, we are on the way to delivering game-changing Climatech solutions.
In what ways do you predict Climatech technologies to evolve in the next decade?
I see this sector as the next chapter of financial decision making, because ultimately our existence depends on it. This is especially true given the recent increase in regulation. Hopefully, capital will continue to shift towards funding the entrepreneurs that are dedicating their time and effort to addressing this issue.
Technology-wise, I think that climate change will encourage founders to get more creative about carbon sequestration methods, as well as address the growing, looming threats of natural disasters. Lastly, circularity and novel materials are critical, specifically those that will reduce our reliance on critical minerals/rare materials.
Could you tell us more about the female contribution to the impact ecosystem in Israel?
Women in Israel continue to break the glass ceiling, on a pretty impressive global scale. They are actively leading and founding companies, investing, creating collaborating and mentoring. Also, there are numerous active communities for women in tech, VC, entrepreneurship, etc. Personally, I believe that one of our many assets as women is our intuition. This gift is needless to say especially useful in business, investing and entrepreneurship. Our ability to assess situations in our own unique way is a major contribution for any team, but particularly so in settings that are male dominated. Also, it’s particularly moving to witness veteran women guiding newer female entrants into the ecosystem, having previously navigated the waters back when women were not as empowered. Having a mentor that you can both confide in and relate to is a major asset. By us women supporting one another, we inherently create a more assertive and active generation of women founders and investors.
Why do you think it is important for women-run and women-led businesses to get involved in programs like the Cartier Women’s Initiative?
Today, running a female-led, impact-focused venture is inherently twice as niche and therefore twice as powerful. Overlapping these two facets creates an incredibly unique space for change and inspiration, which is what the Initiative is bringing attention to.
On behalf of Capital Nature, I am proud to say that we are partaking in the Cartier Women’s Initiative and that I’m participating on this panel alongside strong, accomplished women. This fantastic initiative, along with the amazing people that stand behind it, provides a unique platform for women to be recognized for their achievements, as well as encourages female impact innovation. Importantly, it also allows young women and girls to be inspired by the women-impact entrepreneurs of today.
What is your advice to women impact entrepreneurs applying for the 23rd edition of the Cartier Women’s Initiative?
My personal message to the women applying is that that their work and determination is commendable. Continue exceling in your individual fields and shifting the balance towards a more female venture space. Finally, go after what you want to achieve and don’t take no for an answer.
Thank you very much for your time, Orelle! We look forward to hearing you speak at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Event on June 8th.
Women-owned and run impact driven startups can apply for the Cartier Women’s Initiative here: https://www.cartierwomensinitiative.com/awards
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the application process.