Kentaro Kawamori and Jason Offerman, the co-founders of new startup Persefoni, which aims to make carbon reporting easier for large corporations, know a few things about carbon emissions.
The two men met at Chesapeake Energy Corp., an Oklahoma City-based energy company focused on oil and gas extraction that ranks as one of the biggest polluters in the world.
Kawamori, whose colorful career includes no more than two-year stints at companies including Accenture, Insight, SoftwareONE and Major League Gaming before ascending to the chief digital officer role at Chesapeake Energy, met Offerman at the energy company just as the company was helping the U.S. assume a dominant position in the oil and gas energy world.
Offerman, a longtime employee of the energy company, had spent 30 years in operations and enterprise resource planning before finding himself working under Kawamori. Together, the two men left to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and linked up with a family office called Rice Investment Group, in late 2019.
Their timing proved to be fortuitous, as Chesapeake Energy was forced to declare bankruptcy less than a year later. But even as Chesapeake was hitting hard times, Offerman and Kawamori were ramping up their work on Persofoni, which was officially incorporated in January.
The company provides businesses with the equivalent of enterprise resource planning software to set up the scope of their carbon reporting based on established guidelines and provide a window into a company’s emissions profile.
While many companies have tried to pitch similar products in the past, they were working to overcome institutional inertia that had many companies convinced they could ignore their environmental impact. In the current business climate, that attitude is no longer acceptable to some of the major investors that companies rely on for liquidity in stock markets.
“Institutional investors are getting aggressive on requiring companies to disclose their sustainability metrics,” said Kawamori, who serves as Persefoni’s chief executive.
It’s not only institutional investors that are getting more stringent with their reporting requirements around sustainability. Kawamori expects that the European Union will pass tough regulations similar to the privacy requirements under GDPR to mandate clear reporting around emissions.
Investors backing the company include the Rice Investment Group, which led the round, with participation from Carnrite Ventures and some undisclosed angel investors. Daniel Rice, a co-founder and partner at Rice Investment Group, and a former oil and gas executive at Rice Energy, has joined the company’s board of directors.
While Persefoni uses standardized reporting metrics, the company’s software only enables reporting based on the criteria that companies establish for their metrics. These self-reporting mechanisms could obscure more than they reveal if company’s aren’t transparent about how they decide to measure their emissions profiles and what data they’re actually including in those measurements.
“Ultimately, Persefoni wants to make measuring and tracking every organization’s carbon footprint as ubiquitous as managing their financial performance,” Kawamori said in a statement. “Financial ERP systems did that for financial data decades ago and the same need to manage carbon inventories and transactions has emerged for organizations.”