August 17, 2021 - 8:40 am
20Fathoms and Boomerang Catapult announce graduation of Birch Infrastructure from Traverse City startup incubatorBy Keri Amlotte, Director of Marketing
After three years of continual growth, Birch Infrastructure (“Birch”) is graduating from the 20Fathoms startup incubator in Traverse City. It is the latest startup to see success in Traverse City’s growing tech and entrepreneurship scene.
Kenneth Davies, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Birch, credits Traverse City’s entrepreneurship industry leaders 20Fathoms and Boomerang Catapult in part for the company’s early success. “Both organizations were instrumental in launching Birch and getting us to this point,” said Ken.
Ken joined 20Fathoms in 2018 when he worked remotely for Microsoft as Director of Innovation, Energy Strategy & Research. However, months later, he was inspired to leave Microsoft and found Birch, teaming up with Portland-based Jim Howell, the company’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.
Birch develops data center industrial parks and the renewable energy infrastructure needed to power them. In 2019, they received their first outside investment from Casey Cowell, Founder and Principal of Traverse City investment firm Boomerang Catapult. This allowed Ken and Jim to hire their first team members including Camden Brown, Director of Commercial Strategy, a Traverse City native who returned to the area from Chicago to join Birch.
“Early investment in Birch was a no-brainer,” says Cowell. “Ken had the industry knowledge to identify a need and an opportunity. With an office in Traverse City, Birch fit Boomerang’s mission to support local endeavors developing high-value, exportable products and a talented workforce. We’re thrilled to see how quickly Ken and his Birch team have taken off.”
By early 2020 Birch had signed over 800MW of energy contracts, representing nearly $1 billion in booked revenue. Additionally, partnerships in 2020 and 2021 with Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners and The Carlyle Group, respectfully, are now allowing Birch to build out capabilities and projects to serve its growing rank of data center customers. Birch is headquartered in Portland, but the strategy and innovation teams are located in the Traverse City office.
Spurred by the need for expanded office space in Traverse City to accommodate their growing team, Birch is graduating from 20Fathoms this summer – the fourth scalable tech startup to graduate from the incubator since its founding in 2018. Previous graduates are Atlas Space Operations, HealthBridge, and SampleServe. A graduation celebration hosted by 20Fathoms is planned for Sept. 30.
“Birch’s success is another indicator of the breadth of industry and the depth of potential that the Grand Traverse region holds for early-stage technology companies,” said Lauren Bigelow, the Executive Director of 20Fathoms. “Like our other successful entrepreneurs, Ken was able to identify and solve for a significant pain point. In helping ameliorate the risk for corporations entering into renewable energy contracts, Birch has tapped into a lucrative, long-term market and we look forward to watching them continue to grow.”
Learn more about Ken Davies as renewable energy thought leader and founder: “Founder’s Story: Ken Davies and Birch Infrastructure, a Renewable Energy Startup in Traverse City.”