- Nacho Gimenez started working for BP as a mechanical engineer in 2001.
- He rose through the ranks to become the head of BP Ventures, the venture capital arm of the oil company.
- He said BP Ventures, which invests in climate technology, is “key” to helping BP get to net zero.
Nacho Gimenez, managing partner of BP’s venture capital arm, had never really considered himself a venture capitalist.
Gimenez, who rose through the ranks in various trading and shipping roles at BP, having started at the company in 2001 as a chemical engineer, said he ‘didn’t really know’ what was venture capital when the opportunity arose to move to BP Ventures.
“I didn’t know anything about seats or board positions. I didn’t know anything about how to bring the best governance or the best practices to companies. This was all for me to learn,” said he declared. “It was exciting.”
Gimenez quickly got to grips with the industry – now, five years later, he leads a global team of 14 at BP Ventures.
Corporate venture capital differs from traditional venture capital in that corporate venture capital organizations tend not to focus solely on achieving big returns, but seek to make strategic investments to achieve Specific objectives. BP said its goal was to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Gimenez said BP Ventures has “never been more critical” in helping the oil and gas giant achieve its net zero ambitions. He spends his day researching new renewable technologies and business models, examining what’s available and how BP can help customers get to net zero.
“For me, that’s where I can have the biggest impact,” he told Insider, noting the resources BP is able to put behind its investments.
Gimenez said he’s looking for climate tech startups that have traction, can scale, and have a good team that listens to customer feedback. “A bad team with great technology won’t go anywhere,” he added.
Recent investments include BTR Energy, a software company that says it is helping decarbonize the transportation sector in the United States; BluSmart, an electric vehicle transportation company; and Flylogix, which uses drones to detect methane.
Gimenez said he was most excited about tools that can help scale natural climate solutions, carbon markets and electric mobility, as well as those that help BP customers decarbonize.
“Be brave, courageous and don’t be afraid of the unknown”
Gimenez got his start at one of BP’s oil refineries in Spain after dropping out of a doctoral program. His job was to provide security at the factory where the fuels were produced.
He then joined the trading room in London, where he coordinated the purchase of crude oil. Gimenez spent two years running mathematical models looking at market conditions, what type of crude oil to buy, what products would come out of that crude oil, and how those products would be sold.
Gimenez also coordinated with the supply department, which would determine whether there would be a particularly busy holiday season or a cold winter.
Rising through the ranks internally, he spent the next 10 years analyzing long-term market trends to ensure BP had a sustainable business model. He noticed a shift in the market towards environmental sustainability.
“At the start of 2007, the market was very focused on heavy oils,” he said. “Slowly things started to move towards more lightweight products and gases that created fewer emissions.”
He said he was being asked more and more questions about renewable energy and solar power – and these questions coincided with him becoming a dad. “I started thinking that I wanted to give a deeper meaning to what I was doing,” Gimenez said.
He said his interest in innovation was spurred by a New Yorker cartoon that read, “Yes, the planet was destroyed. But for a beautiful moment, we created shareholder value.”
—Marc Benioff (@Benioff) December 28, 2014
Gimenez said while his transition to venture capital was in some way the result of being in the right place at the right time, he was always curious and open to new opportunities.
He said his advice for anyone looking to get into VC is to “be flexible.”
“Create a range of options that could be opportunities and explore why you’re thinking about them. How do they align with your values? There’s nothing worse than being in a role where your values don’t match. line up not. difficult.” Gimenez said. “Be brave, courageous and don’t be afraid of the unknown.”