Gridless, a Kenyan bitcoin mining company helping to bring new energy generation to rural communities in Kenya, has announced a $2 million seed investment round led by bitcoin venture-capital firm Stillmark and payments company Block, a firm that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey leads with participation from angel investor Factor(e).
Gridless was founded by Erik Hersman, Phillip Walton, Janet Maingi and is seeking to usher new energy generation to African rural communities. Gridless designs, builds and operates bitcoin mining sites alongside small-scale renewable energy producers in rural Africa where excess energy is unused and also serves as the anchor tenant, financing the construction and managing the operation of data centres in rural communities where traditional industrial or commercial customers are not available.
In its first year, Gridless has contracted five project pilots in rural Kenya with HydroBox, an African hydroelectric energy company, three of which are currently operational. The company plans to expand to other geographies in East Africa and this investment will support its further expansion of bitcoin mines across African markets.
“Africa needs affordable electricity,” said Erik Hersman , CEO of Gridless. “Our work in supporting renewable energy mini-grid developers fills a gap, helping developers expand faster, be more sustainable, and serve thousands of households. This investment, and the high calibre of partners that are coming alongside us, means that we can accelerate our rollout knowing that we have both the capital and strategic support required.”
“Stillmark is focused on investing in companies that are helping to advance the Bitcoin ecosystem in ways that offer sustainable value and solutions to many,” says Alyse Killeen, Managing Partner at Stillmark. “Gridless does this by bringing a socially and environmentally conscious approach to bitcoin mining, one that provides tangible benefits by way of access to electricity for communities in rural parts of East Africa. The Gridless leadership team is comprised of veteran entrepreneurs in the technology space with substantial roots in the region. They are well-respected amongst their colleagues and peers, and we are excited about the opportunity to further support their efforts.”
“Block is keenly focused on helping to accelerate global renewable hash rate. Gridless represents a close strategic alignment with our vision of ensuring the bitcoin network increasingly leverages clean energy, in combination with bitcoin computational centres around the world,” said Thomas Templeton, Lead for bitcoin mining and wallet at Block. “This work can support positive community externalities while also helping to secure the distributed infrastructure behind bitcoin’s monetary ecosystem.”