Every company on the planet right now wants to be sustainable but it isn’t easy. Anastasia Kuskova knows this better than most.
While leading sustainability at a $10B metal company, she constantly fought with the complexities of managing sustainability in a sector that is at the beginning of hundreds and thousands of supply chains.
“Sustainability transformation is a huge and overlooked problem in the metals and mining industry, a critical sector for the global energy transition,” she says.
With Sirius, an Amsterdam-based startup she co-founded in 2022 with Sergey Tyan and Seva Martynov, Kuskova wants to rewrite how metal companies drive impact.
A first check from Techstars in 2023 saw Sirius start on its mission. Now, the Dutch startup is accelerating that mission with an oversubscribed pre-seed round.
Oversubscribed pre-seed round
After receiving its first check from Techstars in 2023, Sirius is announcing today the close of its oversubscribed €1.2M pre-seed round.
This round was led by Fund F, a female-led fund based in Austria that backs gender-diverse founder teams.
Kuskova says Fund F’s vision aligns with its vision as a female-led startup in the metals and mining industry.
The round also saw participation from Germany’s Wepa Ventures, Denmark-based Blackwood Ventures, and Techstars, the first investor in the startup.
“It’s a powerful group of investors who are as passionate about our mission as we are,” says Kuskova.
The road to this oversubscribed pre-seed round, however, has not been easy. As startups struggled to raise capital last year, Kuskova says she created an unorthodox KPI to not “fixate on the setbacks.”
This approach and learning that nothing is more important than having a strong founding team, Kuskova says, has been key to closing this funding round.
“We’ve also realised the significance of our support network including our families, partners, mentors, advisors, and friends,” she adds.
Sustainability a no-brainer
Is sustainability a no-brainer? Kuskova says it is not but her startup wants to bring the metals and mining industry to a point where sustainability becomes a no-brainer for an entire industry.
From phones to electric vehicles, metals form the starting point even if people don’t notice it every day.
With dependency on metals only expected to grow four to six-fold to support our transition to a green economy, Kuskova sees a clear need to manage the hundreds and thousands of supply chains.
She adds, “We worked with industry giants like the World Economic Forum, Tesla, and major metal producers, and it became crystal clear that this space was crying out for innovation.”
Through Sirius, Kuskova and her co-founders have built a platform specifically designed to untangle these complexities and fill a gap in the market.
The platform creates what Kuskova calls “a sustainability twin” for companies and fully automates the process of sharing data, finding gaps, creating insights, and analytics.
In addition to automating the process of sharing data, Sirius has also developed an AI that acts as a digital copilot for sustainability teams.
Sirius, as the name gives away, wants to help the metals and mining industry get serious about their sustainability goals.
The ability to help the industry comes from the collective expertise of the founders and the management.
Joining CEO Kuskova at the helm is co-founder Sergey Tyan, who serves as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), and brings a wealth of strategy experience as a former BCG consultant and executive.
Together with Tyan, Kuskova had previously built a metal traceability startup with big names like Tesla.
Martynov, who is Chief Operations Officer (COO) & Chief Technical Officer (CTO), has a history of building supercomputers and leading complex IT companies.
Kuskova tells me he is the brain behind the data architecture while Chief Impact Officer Galina Donnik brings vast experience in driving sustainability in top industries and organisations in shaping the company’s sustainability model.
Kuskova says the key challenge facing industries right now is quantifying their sustainability efforts in terms of value and not just cost.
“It’s vital for sustainability leaders to communicate the financial impact of their work,” she explains.
With the metals and mining industry, she says Sirius is trying to help sustainability leaders showcase the financial impact.
It does this by equipping sustainability teams with the latest technology tools, reducing their workload significantly, and providing insights and trends for benchmarking and compliance.
Kuskova adds that Sirius allows sustainability leaders to focus on strategic initiatives that make a difference, “aligning with our approach of delivering real, impactful solutions.”
In addition to helping sustainability leaders quantify their efforts, Sirius also helps manage supply chain decarbonisation and Scope 3 emissions.
From metal and mining companies to automotive and electronics producers, Kuskova says Sirius plays an important role for companies at both ends of the metal supply chain.
“We facilitate access to up-to-date sustainability data, enabling companies to efficiently report on regulations like CBAM, without overwhelming suppliers with data requests,” she says.
“This helps in driving more informed decisions in decarbonisation efforts.”
Go-to solution for sustainability
For Sirius, the next year will be all about growth and scaling their operations while also deepening their industry impact.
The Dutch startup plans to use the new funds to grow its headcount while also focusing on the central mission of turning Sirius into a go-to solution for sustainability management in the metals supply chain.
Kuskova says their immediate focus is on getting the product and distribution right and ensuring that it is scalable.
She also adds that Sirius doesn’t need to raise any additional funding until they have laid a strong foundation.
“When we do go for the next round of funding, we’re fully prepared to accelerate quickly,” she affirms.
As an entrepreneur, Kuskova repeatedly emphasises the need to know the basic truth that fundraising is tough.
She thus advises startup founders to get comfortable with hearing ‘No’ and seeing it as part of the process and not a verdict on their vision.
Even when she uses cliches like the sky’s the limit, Kuskova doesn’t veer away from recognising the need to lean on people around you for support, staying focussed, determined and having belief in your mission.
As they embark on this journey of making Sirius the go-to solution for sustainability management, Kuskova, Martynov, and Tyan aim to try to have fun along the way.