Kenyan bitcoin mining startup Gridless raises $2m seed funding for expansion

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Kenya’s Gridless, a bitcoin mining company helping to bring new energy generation to rural communities in East Africa, has secured US$2 million in seed funding to support expansion of bitcoin mines across Africa.

Founded earlier this year by veterans of the connectivity, infrastructure and software space in East Africa, Gridless designs, builds, and operates bitcoin mining sites alongside small-scale renewable energy producers in rural Africa where excess energy is not utilised. Gridless 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. 

The startup’s aim is to serve the needs of energy producers in Africa as they seek to electrify the continent and create more affordable power for people in rural communities. It uses bitcoin mining as a tool to accelerate growth in the sector and to further geographically distribute and secure the bitcoin network.

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 in the near future.  

This expansion will be funded by a US$2 million seed round of funding, led by Stillmark and Block, Inc., in addition to pre-seed round led by Factor[e], which is also participating in this round. 

“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.” 

Alyse Killeen, managing partner at Stillmark, said her firm was focused on investing in companies that are helping to advance the bitcoin ecosystem in ways that offer sustainable value and solutions to many.

“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,” she said. 

“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.”

Thomas Templeton, lead for bitcoin mining and wallet at Block, which was co-founded by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2009, said Gridless represented a close strategic alignment with Block’s vision of ensuring the bitcoin network increasingly leverages clean energy, in combination with bitcoin computational centres around the world. 

“This work can support positive community externalities while also helping to secure the distributed infrastructure behind bitcoin’s monetary ecosystem,” he said.

Hersman said while bitcoin mining had been dominant in North America, Europe and Asia, Africa presented a great opportunity to further diversify mining across the globe, helping to better secure the network. 

“Renewable energy is abundant on the continent. This presents excellent potential for profits for both energy generators and miners as well as the ability to deliver real positive impact on the communities where it is put to use,” he said.

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