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My Climate Journey on Smash Notes

My Climate Journey podcast.

December 31, 2019

A podcast about a recovering software entrepreneur (me!), and my quest to reorient my career around helping solve climate change for this next chapter and beyond. Includes interviews with people in the thick of tackling this problem, and commentary from yours truly. I'm glad you are here!



Episodes with Smash Notes

Today's guest is Henrietta Moon, Co-Founder and CEO of Carbo Culture.

Carbo Culture makes functional biocarbons and Biographite from waste to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere. They're working with green and blue infrastructure and carbon-negative materials developers to start a new era of Carbon Culturing. The startup describes its process as an "ultra-rapid conversion" where woody residues are turned into functional biocarbons at an extremely high temperature. The process then "locks" the carbon into a sort of charcoal that won't degrade for 1,000 years. Before Co-Founding Carbo Culture, Henriette was in the Spring 2019 StartX Cohort, ​​Stanford's prestigious founder community and supported by serial entrepreneurs. She also was a board member at Yleiselektroniikka (YE International) and a Helsinki Hub member in the Global Shapers Community, a World Economic Forum initiative.

In this episode, Henrietta and I deep dive into biochar, its impacts on climate, and why the climate community has been apprehensive about embracing it. Henrietta explains what motivated her to co-found Carbo Culture, the startup's mission, and why decarbonization is essential to addressing climate change. It was great to understand more about Carbo Culture's solution, and Henrietta is a fantastic guest. Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded September 29th, 2021

Today's guest is Chase Lochmiller, Co-Founder and CEO of Crusoe Energy.

Crusoe is on a mission to eliminate routine flaring of natural gas and reduce the cost of cloud computing. The startup repurposes otherwise wasted energy to fuel the growing demand for computational power in the expanding digital economy.

Chase is an avid tech enthusiast passionate about enabling new technologies like AI and blockchain to impact people's lives positively. Before founding Crusoe, Chase was a General Partner at Polychain Capital, a $1 billion fund investing in blockchain technologies, digital assets, and energy-intensive computing applications. Chase was previously a quantitative researcher and trader at Jump Trading and GETCO, where he developed and managed a portfolio of algorithmic trading strategies. Chase holds undergraduate degrees in math and physics from MIT and a master's degree in computer science from Stanford, specializing in artificial intelligence.

I was looking forward to this episode because cryptocurrency is a controversial topic in the climate space. Chase walks me through the problem of flaring for oil and gas companies and how Crusoe Energy came to be. We also have a lively discussion about the biggest blockers for cryptocurrency related to energy consumption, how the fossil fuels companies will exist in the clean energy future, and why powering data centers is a climate issue. This episode is a must-listen, and Chase is a fantastic guest.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded September 20th, 2021

Today's guest is Kate Steel, Co-Founder and CEO of Nithio.

Nithio is an energy financing platform powered by a proprietary AI-enabled risk analytics engine. Nithio developed its innovative approach to standardize credit risk assessments to unlock and scale energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nithio advances energy financing at scale through its Financial Intermediary, Nithio FI B.V., which offers receivables-backed funding to off-grid energy providers in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya. Driven by the Risk Analytics Engine, Nithio FI's innovative approach expands access to off-grid clean energy for households, micro-businesses, and smallholder farmers.

Kate co-founded Nithio in 2018. Before Nithio, she had a long career in the off-grid power sector, most recently as Energy Director for Power Africa. In addition, Kate was on the Energy Access and Investments team at Google and the World Bank-IFC Lighting Africa initiative manager.

In this episode, Kate takes me through Nithio's approach and what led her to co-found the company. She explains why energy access is a climate problem and policy's role in the equity and clean energy transition. We also discuss the existing funding tools available to startups across Africa, the importance of integrating impact into the startup's mission, and what holds lenders back from investing in energy access startups. Kate is a great guest, and it was exciting to learn more about the important work Nithio is doing. Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded September 27th, 2021

Today's guest is Stuart Landesberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Grove Collaborative.

Grove Collaborative is a certified B Corp and e-commerce company providing eco-friendly sustainable consumer products focusing on home cleaning, personal and sexual wellness, and baby and child care. The company offers over 150 sustainable brands whose products are non-toxic, effective, sustainable, and cruelty-free.

Grove Collaborative was founded by three friends in San Francisco and sought to answer the question: what if it was easy to find healthier home essentials? Since then, Grove has become a billion-dollar company. In 2019 alone, the company saved over 1 million pounds of plastic and funded the planting of more than 100,000 trees. Before co-founding and serving as CEO of Grove, Stuart was an Investment Professional at Toro Investment Partners, an Analyst at TPG Growth, a Financial Analyst at Vincraft Group, and an Investment Banking Analyst at Lehman Brothers. Throughout his time in finance, he focused on global technology and retail investments. Stuart also holds a BA in economics from Amherst College.

In this episode, Stuart and I have a lively discussion about Grove Collaborative, the company's business model, and its core customer base. Stuart explains why the consumer product market is broken, the definition of a "sustainable product", and how to balance government mandates in a voluntary market. We also dive into the role offsets play for Grove, how the company tracks and measures success, and the myth about plastic recycling. Stuart is a great guest with a wealth of knowledge.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded September 17th, 2021

Today's guest is Dr. Michael Dorsey, Global Energy, Environmental, Finance, and Sustainability Expert.

Dr. Dorsey is a serial organization builder and leader in for-profit, non-profit, scholarly, and governmental realms. Dr. Dorsey is an active investor, and co-founder and principal of Around the Corner Capital. Through Around the Corner, Dr. Dorsey maintains active relationships and agreements in the U.S. and beyond with various partners from Barrett Capital, to the ​California Clean Energy Fund​, to Silverleaf Partners, the ​ Royal Bafokeng Holdings (South Africa), Univergy (Japan/Spain), the World Bank and many other institutions and high net-worth individuals driving the global renewable revolution.

In non-profit realms, Dr. Dorsey helped to co-create the northern California headquartered Center for Environmental Health. In 2013,​ Dr. Dorsey and two former student collaborators co-created the predecessor to the Sunrise Movement​. Beyond this, Dr. Dorsey sits on several non-profit boards. In academia, Dr. Dorsey was a professor in the environmental studies program at Dartmouth College.

Dr. Dorsey's significant government engagement began in 1992 as a member of the U.S. State Department Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, "The Earth Summit." Dorsey was a task force member of President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development, a member of Senator Barack Obama's energy and environment Presidential campaign team, and was appointed to the EPA's National Advisory Committee.

I was excited about this discussion because Dr. Dorsey is a profound climate activist, environmental investor, and public advocate. In this episode, Dr. Dorsey explains his theory of change and what motivated him to focus on climate. We also dive into a discussion on single-solution rhetoric, why our leadership is failing, and how to create a more sustainable and just future. Dr. Dorsey is an incredible guest.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded September 16th, 2021

Today's guest is Joe Zhou, CEO of Quidnet Energy.

Quidnet Energy is transforming the power sector towards renewable energy through the deployment of low-cost energy storage solutions. Quidnet's innovative technology repurposes existing resources to quickly implement solutions to our most pressing energy and climate challenges. Attracting significant investment, including Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Quidnet's solution is a potential game-changer in balancing the grid as intermittent renewable resources are added to the power generation system.

In 2017, Joe assumed the role of CEO. Before Quidnet Energy, Joe was the Director of Business Development at Green Charge Networks, which ENGIE North America Inc. acquired in 2016. Joe also served as an associate at McKinsey & Company and a Process Engineer at ExxonMobil. Joe holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta and an MBA from Harvard.

In this episode, Joe explains Quidnet Energy's unique solution, his motivations to work in climate, and how he ended up heading Quidnet. We also dive into the viability of battery storage, the role venture capital should play in accelerating climatetech solutions, and the future of Quidnet. Joe is a compelling guest, and I was excited to learn more about the startup.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded September 9th, 2021

Today's guests are Gaurab Chakrabarti, Co-Founder & CEO, and Sean Hunt, Co-Founder & CTO of Solugen.

Solugen is a venture-backed biotech startup that produces high-performance chemicals from plant-derived substitutes. Our award-winning hydrogen peroxide technology was developed in-house by a team of doctors, scientists, and engineers from MIT.

Before Solugen, Gaurab, who holds an M.D./Ph.D., researched the role of chemicals in cancer progression in medical school when he found an enzyme that turned sugar into hydrogen peroxide. Meanwhile, Sean, a graduate of MIT with a degree in chemical engineering, focused his research on improving traditional chemical manufacturing. Gaurab and Sean met playing poker at the University of Texas Southwestern, and in 2016, submitted their idea for Solugen to an MIT pitch competition. In 2017, Gaurab and Sean were named Forbes' 30 under 30 and joined the Y Combinator accelerator program, one of the rare startups outside software to get in. In September 2021, Solugen closed a series C round.

I was looking forward to sitting down with Gaurab and Sean because I don't know much about the symbio world. Gaurab and Sean explain how Solugen started, the impact traditional chemical manufacturing has on climate, and what motivated them to focus on climate change. We also dive into Solugen's experience with Y Combinator, a discussion on a green premium, and how policy shapes the company's future. Gaurab and Sean are fantastic guests.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded September 10th, 2021

Today's guest is Lee Hoffman, Co-Founder & CEO of Heat Watch.

Lee Hoffman is the Co-Founder and CTO of Heat Watch. Over the past 18 years, Lee has co-founded and managed technology for companies as diverse as Time Warner, Razorfish Studios, and Terabolic, Inc. Most recently, Lee co-founded and served as CEO of Veri, a venture-backed NY mobile startup that in 2018 was acquired by The Knot.

Heat Watch is the first end-to-end boiler and heating system management platform. The company combines a proprietary heat computer and sensor network, machine learning systems, and a team of trained boiler experts to reduce fuel consumption by an average of 20-25% across over 2000 buildings in New York City. Heat Watch's customers include some of the smallest owners, all the way up to the biggest, including Lefrak, Related, Fairstead, Columbia University, and Lemle & Wolff. Heat Watch's platform is the only end-to-end boiler monitoring and management system that saves owners money, increases tenant comfort, and radically lowers carbon output across New York City.

In this episode, Lee walks me through Heat Watch's charter, the problem they are tackling, and how commercial buildings impact the climate. We also dive into Heat Watch's solution, how the company supports its customers, and how policy and government mandates affect its success. For those interested in the intersection of infrastructure and climate, this is a must-listen.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded August 19th, 2021

Today's guest is Ion Yadigaroglu, Partner & Member of the Investment Committee of Capricorn Investment Group.

Capricorn Investment Group seeks to deliver extraordinary investment results by leveraging market forces to scale solutions to global problems. One of the largest mission-aligned investment firms around the world, Capricorn has grown to manage more than $8 billion in multi-asset class portfolios for families, foundations, and institutional investors.

Ion is a Partner and member of the Investment Committee of Capricorn Investment Group and a Managing Director of Capricorn's Technology Impact Fund. Prior to Capricorn, he was a Director of Business Development with Koch Industries, executing a range of acquisitions and investments. Before Koch Industries, Ion was a founder and Chief Executive Officer at Bivio, a software startup in Colorado, and an Analyst for Olsen & Associates, a foreign exchange analytics company. He was a research fellow at Columbia University and holds a Masters in Physics from Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich in Switzerland and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Stanford University. Ion is also an early investor in iconic technology companies, including Tesla, SpaceX, Planet, QuantumScape, and Saildrone.

I was looking forward to sitting down with Ion and learning more about his work at Capricorn Investment Group. Ion walks me through his climate journey, what motivated him to focus on climate, and an overview of Capricorn and the Technology Impact Fund. We also dive into capitalism's effect on the planet, the role policy plays in a sustainable future, and the Technology Impact Fund's investing strategy. This is a great episode for investors and founders alike.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded September 7th, 2021

Today's guest is Naman Trivedi, Co-Founder & CEO of WattBuy.

Naman Trivedi is the Co-Founder & CEO of WattBuy. He founded the company to help millions of Americas choose cheaper, greener electricity plans and advance the global transition to a clean energy economy. WattBuy provides transparent, intelligent insights for homeowners & renters, helping them save upwards of 40% on electricity bills, select renewable energy plans, and gain a deeper understanding of their home's energy use. Prior to co-founding WattBuy, Naman worked at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, pushing a policy initiative for Community Choice Aggregation. This system aggregates the buying power of individuals in a neighborhood to purchase renewable energy supply contracts. He also spent two years at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama Administration, working on federal renewable energy policy and grand prizes.

In this episode, Naman gives me an overview of WattBuy, why their work addresses climate change, and what motivates consumers to use WattBuy. We also talk about how WattBuy builds trust amongst its customers, the barriers WattBuy faces as the startup looks to scale, and a discussion on how to increase home sustainability consulting. It was great to learn more about WattBuy and have Naman join me this week.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded August 11th, 2021

Today's guest is Cisco DeVries, CEO of OhmConnect.

OhmConnect provides home energy management solutions via smart meter analytics and energy market integration. OhmConnect's platform enables residential users to sell their energy reductions directly into energy markets.

Before OhmConnect, Cisco co-founded Renew Financial, which became one of the largest dedicated clean energy finance companies in the U.S. As CEO of Renew, he raised over $2 billion in private capital that financed energy efficiency and clean energy projects in nearly 100,000 homes. Previously, Cisco spent five years as the Chief of Staff to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. In 1996, President Clinton appointed him to serve as an aide to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, where he held roles at the White House and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Cisco has over 20 years of experience in public policy and energy efficiency. He also holds a B.A. in political science from UCSD and a Master's of Public Policy from UC Berkeley.

In this episode, Cisco explains what OhmConnect does, how their platform works, and what led him to serve as CEO. He also touches on the relationship between OhmConnect and CA utilities and barriers to large-scale deployment. Plus, we have a lively discussion on pricing carbon and other policies that would address climate change. It was great to have Cisco join me this week, and I'm excited for listeners to learn more about OhmConnect.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests. Episode recorded August 13th, 2021

Today's guest is Patricia Bubner, Co-Founder & CEO of Orbillion Bio.

Patricia is a founder and the CEO of Orbillion Bio, Inc. The company is on a mission to accelerate the broad availability of a variety of healthy, nutritious, and flavorful cultivated meat products. Orbillion recently graduated from renowned Y Combinator's Winter 21 batch. Originally from Austria, Patricia is a scientist and engineer working to build a future of ethical and sustainable food. Before Orbillion, she co-founded an agriculture & food systems project, The Millet Project, that aimed at diversifying agriculture and our diet by cultivation and consumption of lesser-known grains such as millets. Patricia did her postdoc at the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley, where she studied the expression of glycoproteins in filamentous fungi and plants.

In this episode, Patricia walks me through Orbillion Bio Inc, the company's origins, and how the ethics of traditional meat production motivated her to co-found the startup. We dive into the key phases of bringing the company to market and how to scale the cell-based meat industry. Patricia also explains the impact food systems have on the environment and why wide-scale adoption of alternative meats is essential for addressing climate change. Patricia is a fantastic guest!

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded August 6th, 2021