Since returning to Australia in July (yikes, almost a year ago) I had embarked on Chapter 2 of my life, which meant “1) advising clean tech startups and 2) working with advocacy groups to change the economics of climate change”.
While I’m largely on the same trajectory, a lot has happened!
Shortly after I wrote the “Chapter 2” blog post, a number of things fell into place, and I made a number of key decisions:
- The number of startups that I could work with simultaneously was no more than 10. Oh, wait… no, more like 6 or less. Okay, actually, it’s 4, with each getting 1 day per week. Scratch that — it’s really about 1.75.
- I wanted to get back to being involved, not just advising. Achievement unlocked. Since September, I’ve helped fundraise. I’ve helped recruit and interview. I’ve helped plan strategy. I’ve run leadership team meetings. I’ve planned and run several leadership off-sites. I’ve written financial plan. I’ve pitched investors. I’ve spent a lot of hours advising entrepreneurs.
- I’ve said “No” much more than I’m comfortable with. You’d think I’d be used to it as a product manager, but I’m not. There are a ton of great companies out there, who are working on great things, who I’d love to work with. But I have to focus.
So what specifically have I been working on?
Insects, Robots, Economics, Oh My!
Via Grok, I met Olympia, the founder and CEO of Goterra, in September and quickly knew that working with her would never be dull. I realised right away this is someone I could spar with and challenge, and she’d challenge me right back.
Goterra is a magical intersection of biology, insect husbandry, robotics, genetics, automation, software, all in the unsexy but incredibly important field of managing food waste. For those of you who’ve read Drawdown, you might remember Reducing Food Waste is #1 or #3 (depending on the scenario) among the 80 solutions that can reduce greenhouse gases which cause atmospheric warming.
The best thing about Goterra for me is that it’s a brand new domain, that’s teaching me a lot about where my experience can be applied broadly versus what’s just specific to my software-tech background. The second best thing is resolving labour disputes between the insects and the robots.
OneSmallStep for the planet
Also around September, I met another entrepreneur, Lily Dempster, who was working on something I was interested in: How do you make people more aware of the carbon impact of their choices? While I had been thinking about it purely from a financial angle, Lily’s background in behavioural science was tackling the problem as a way to shift people “One Small Step” at a time. Working with Lily has been great — everyone who meets Lily quickly realises that she’s the person we need to be leading this effort.
I’m incredibly excited to announce that OneSmallStep launched in Australia just a few weeks ago! The app is beautiful, and I’m already seeing some changes in my own carbon footprint from it’s recommendations and step-by-step handholding. The app is free, but if you yell the promo code “BJR-IS-GREAT!” when you create your account, I promise I will hear you.
One Small Step
We combine technology and behavioural science to make it easy, fun and financial rewarding for people to reduce their…
While we are still in “stealth mode”, I can tell you that WorkForClimate is a non-profit project targeted at “Climate Concerned Professionals”. Our goal is to help you find a way to make a difference to climate in your workplace.
If you know how to make changes in the organisation you work in, we’re building out the inspiration, strategy, and support so you can make a massive difference to climate change, without having to change jobs or chain yourself to a natural gas pipeline.
If you’re interested in learning more, send me a carrier pigeon, and I’ll add you to our mailing list!
I’ve spent smaller amounts of time with a handful of other impact oriented startups:
Through an introduction from Skip Capital I met the talented team at WORK180. WORK180 is the pattern of company that I would love to keep working with: smart, driven, and great at getting targeted, actionable advice. Just 30 minutes with Gemma and Val goes a long way. They are the model entrepreneurs in how to maximise the benefit from an advisor.
I’ve also been working with the Sydney accelerator Startmate, and through them met and talked with a wide variety of startups. One is VerveSuper, — I was proud to be the 21st male to sign up for a “Super fund by women for women.” (For those of you not Australian, a Superannuation fund is the mandated retirement savings program to which all employers must contribute; essentially a 401k that comes with every Australian job). After all, my kidney is a woman’s kidney, so why shouldn’t my super fund be for women?
It also turns out that ethical investing pays off!
“While the Global Pandemic resulted in all super funds experiencing investment losses, newly released data shows that Verve was able to protect member balances from the worst of the market drops, returning the 6th highest performance out of 216 balanced investment options over the 12-month period to the end of April 2020.
Through Startmate, I also met ByGen, a startup creating activated carbon in a carbon-negative fashion. Unless Australia’s venture community figures out the right funding model for organisations like ByGen, SwitcH2 (hydrogen from brewery wastewater), and 5B (rapid, low-cost solar rollout), all part of the first “Climate Cohort” of climate-focused companies in Startmate. I’ve also done a few mentoring sessions with EnergyLab, a clean tech focused accelerator in Australia, connected to a global network of energy entrepreneurs.
Room To Read — Education at risk
While I wanted to make this blog as pandemic-free as possible (it’s important, but we could all use a break now and then), charities have all been hit very hard by the pandemic. Room to Read, the global charity focused on literacy that I’ve supported over the years, is no exception.
1.3 billion children and youth are out of school globally due to COVID-19. For those in developing countries below the poverty line, “catching up” is not a simple matter of a few algebra lessons. While many kids in the developed world are distance learning, the learning for these students has come to a halt.
I’m a passionate believer that education continues to be the best investment to improve our world. If you feel inclined to donate, please do.
More blogs to come
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s been about a year since my last instagram post (and I’m happier for it). Lots going on in the life of BJR, including a move to Bondi (gasp!). Stay tuned.
In the meantime, be safe, be smart, and be kind to large dogs.