Green Stories: Haakon Brunell (Katapult)

From Consultant to CEO – For nearly a decade, Haakon Brunell was a consultant at the international management consulting firm McKinsey. But just a little over two years ago he made the bold move to start leading the world’s first global for-profit accelerator, Katapult. His shift to impact-investing was in large part due to the growing climate crisis we face coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit.

I was an Associate Partner in McKinsey and stood at a crossroads. I could advance further up the consultant ladder, move to a big corporate job, or I had this option to start for myself together with a few likeminded co-founders. I chose the last one as it allowed me to follow my passion for building something that has a positive impact on our planet. It felt a bit little like that “now or never” moment.” – Haakon Brunell

Katapult works with startups that use exponential technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain to solve environmental and societal problems. The companies chosen for the program receive US$ 150 000 investment, in exchange for eight percent equity.

“There is a lot of talent out there, with a growing young global population. And the majority the young professional workforce today want to work for a purpose and tackle the big challenges facing our planet. However, they often lack the proper infrastructure and support to scale their businesses properly. That’s where we come in”. – Haakon Brunell

CEO to EGC Ambassador

Oslo being named European Green Capital for 2019 ties in well with Brunell’s vision to fund startups who have aligned themselves with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Perhaps one of the most well-known startups combating climate change, CHOOOSE, was a part of Katapult’s first cohort. With CHOOOSE, customers can buy back carbon credits then produce energy with clean and renewable sources.

We have just the last 20 months had 57 impact-driven companies in Oslo from 29 countries. All these have been using Oslo as a test-bed or interact with local organisations, individuals and ecosystem to enhance their environmentally or socially beneficial products or services. Oslo is already a green capital of the world for startups – and it’s great to now being also recognized as EGC.

Personally, Brunell also contributes to making Oslo a greener city. He often bikes as a means of transportation, that is if he is not driving his favorite Tesla Roadster, and tries to keep his diet healthy- not just for himself but for the planet. Becoming an EGC Ambassador was not only an honor, but a means for him to continue to “check in” on personal goals to help Oslo meet its climate budget in 2020. Moreover, his entire career is rooted in spreading awareness.

The Right People

Ultimately, impact investing is wholly based on people. People who have the belief that they can change the world, with the imagination to dream up innovative solutions, and the tenacity to work on the world’s most challenging problems. There is no lack of potential with Brunell steering the wheel.

“We believe the timing is perfect for focused, value-driven investments. The beauty of investing globally scalable technologies and products is that they have a real potential to change the world. Time is long overdue to stop wasting our efforts on short-term gains – and to rather invest in building the world we want to live in.”- Haakon Brunell

At Katapult, Brunell holds his team, investors, and portfolios accountable. Together, they push to create a body of work that satisfies both the head and the heart. As an impact investor, Brunell knows that accountability is not only for the decisions and investments made today, but also for their broader impact across generations. It is a demanding path to choose, full of failures and successes, setbacks and breakthroughs. And yet, when all is said and done, he wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Posted on: April 4. 2019
European Green Capital 2019