CleanTechies Podcast

#142 Lessons, Thoughts and Advice From Running a Climate Tech Podcast w/ Ryan Grant Little (Another Climate Tech Podcast)

December 19, 2023 Ryan Grant Little (Another Climate Tech Podcast) Season 1 Episode 142
CleanTechies Podcast
#142 Lessons, Thoughts and Advice From Running a Climate Tech Podcast w/ Ryan Grant Little (Another Climate Tech Podcast)
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🌎 Today Somil & Silas had the opportunity to do something slightly different today since we did an episode with Ryan Grant Little, the Creator and Host of Another Climate Tech Podcast. He has conversations that are more topical with his guests who are, in many cases, people he already knows. Ryan has a really fascinating background as a Founder, Investor, and Consultant. He found his way to climate via some of the impact work he was doing in Canada.

Since all three of us are used to interviewing others, we decided to interview each other. We really enjoyed making this as it was a fun change of pace from our usual work. We hope you also enjoy it.

Please also be sure to go follow Ryan’s podcast if you’re not already following.

Enjoy the Episode! 🌎🔗🌍

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🌎 If you'd like to see the full PodLetter, go to our substack to see all the written content that supplements the audio interview.  
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📺 👀 Prefer to watch: subscribe on YouTube.
📫 Interested in written summaries and takeaways from the episode? Subscribe to the newsletter.
Want to be part of the community and engage further? Check out the Slack Channel. https://tinyurl.com/mwkn8zk5

Topics:
**Intro
**About Our Podcast Formats
**Why the Newsletter
**Why Somil & Silas Decided to Collab
**What Silas & Somil Do
**Ryan’s Climate Journey
**How to Decide What Not to Do
**Human Connection + Scaling Relationships
**Areas we are Bullish On
**Regulation vs Market Forces

Links:
**Listen to Another Climate Tech Podcast on Apple Podcasts & Spotify
**Connect with Ryan Grant Little on LinkedIn
**Check out our Sponsor, NextWave Partners
**Follow CleanTechies on LinkedIn
**@Silas & @Somil_Agg on Twitter / X

Support the show

We are proud to continue working with NextWave as our official show sponsor for this podcast. NextWave and all of its staff are highly motivated to advance the ClimateTech revolution and are constantly innovating ways that they can help affect that transition. From experts in the talent space to ESG experts, NextWave is taking on Climate and Social responsibility head-on and helping companies build great cultures that not only make the world a better place but also increase workplace satisfaction. Reach out to NextWave Partners today to learn more about how we might partner with you today. https://www.next-wavepartners.com/ / info@next-wavepartners.com

SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

And I spent a lot more time talking about storytelling than about financial modeling, because, I mean, ultimately, that's what we need to do is we need, like, we need to get our story straight about why this stuff matters and, and make it like, you know, in different ways, cool or appealing or, you know, enjoyable, and move away from this, this


Welcome back to the CleanTechies Podcast, where we interview the top climatech founders and VCs to get their best advice for you.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

On this episode, we interview Ryan Grant Little, host of another Clement Tech podcast.


Well, literally, that's the name of the podcast.


We dive into many of the topics that have been interesting to us throughout the year, many things to come, and some of our favorite stories throughout our time hosting great innovators and entrepreneurs.


We really hope you enjoy this different format of episode because we had a fun time recording it.


Thanks so much for listening and enjoy the episode.


A quick reminder to check out Ryan's podcast in the description.


We really hope you enjoy it.


Shout out to our sponsors, NetZero Insights.


NetZero Insights' mission is to enable the transition to a sustainable future by giving decision makers access to the leading market intelligence platform on climate innovation.


Through the NetZero platform, NetZero Insights provides high quality data and insights on the climate tech venture market by being the best at tracking organizations and funding rounds.


I personally have had a great time using this to prepare for the podcast and researching companies, funding rounds, VCs, and the latest I need to know about the climate tech ecosystem.


Use the link in our description to schedule your personalized demo with the team and claim your 10% discount.


Thanks again to the NetZero Insights team for sponsoring this show.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Hey there.


Are you building a climatech business and looking for very specialized talent?


Consider reaching out to our sponsors, NextWave Partners.


NextWave are experts in talent acquisition, recruitment and retention across the climatech, renewables and ESG spaces globally.


So if your team is growing or you're looking to make a career change yourself, feel free to reach out to NextWave at next-wavepartners.com or reach out to one of their consultants directly via their LinkedIn page.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

All right.


Welcome to the show, Ryan.


How are you?


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Great, Somil, Silas.


Great to see you guys.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

This is going to be a very, very fun episode for us.


I feel like we do a lot of time behind the questions, but now we actually get to do a little more of the talking.


Ryan, you actually run your own podcast, so this is sort of an opportunity for us to get to know each other and just talk about the


Climate Media Space and the Climate Podcasting Space in general.


So, you know, we have obviously gone back and forth quite a while.


We know each other and we've shared a lot of notes, but could you just introduce yourself for the audience, who you are, what you do and how you ended up with the podcast?


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Sure, this is the episode where the interviewers get interviewed, I guess, right?


On both sides.


And I was really happy to hear from you guys when you reached out.


So you're based in New York.


I'm in Vienna.


We both have climate tech podcasts.


I think mine is probably a bit more Eurocentric.


Yours is more US-centric.


My podcast is called Another Climate Tech Podcast, maybe aptly called


that and the reason i did it so i'm an investor advisor consultant in climate tech and i just get to have really interesting conversations with people all the time you know whether they're activists to investors to people in the arts and of course lots of founders


And I thought, you know, would it be cool if I could just hit record once a week and put one of these stories kind of out there?


There are so many podcasts that interview founders of tech companies and SaaS and these types of things.


But we don't really celebrate a lot the people who are kind of what I talk about as like


Solving the Problems That Really Matter, you know, and that I talk about this podcast as being interviews with the people who are trying to save us from ourselves, you know, and they tend to be very selfless people who are working in labs or, you know, not on the covers of magazines, but doing some of the most important stuff in the world right now, given our climate crisis.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I think it's pretty interesting.


A lot of people criticize people for making another podcast and all these things, but I think that some people just overlook how much fun it is to actually get to talk to people.


And it's also, for people like myself, when I started this, it was a really good reason to get people on the phone so I could actually talk to them and learn, right?


Because people do like to talk about themselves, just a little.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

One of the things I tell people to do with the episodes is, look, this is your 30 minutes of explaining what you do, telling your story.


And so now when, you know, people, especially in Europe, get a lot of requests from bachelor students, like who are interested in climate tech or kind of


They want that 30 minute zoom to hear kind of the 101 about what you do and I said now you've got this in the can you can basically just put this in your email signature or send it to people and say listen to this first and if you have any follow-up questions then send me an email and I've had people you know some of the early guests on the show are like you don't know how many hours it saves me now that I've done this interview so


I feel like, you know, we're telling stories for people in the sector.


So that's a service in and of itself, but we're also saving time, right?


So that they don't have to tell the same story over and over one-on-one.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, there's so many things you can do with that.


Yeah, I totally agree.


That's a really good way.


We should probably tell someone about this.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

I'm going to tee up a question for the both of you.


So this is going to be a bit of a breaking the third wall.


I feel like I'm going to have a lot of fun hearing this.


So for Ryan, why the 30-minute episode?


Why the shorter episode format?


And then Silas, I'm going to have you directly say something negative about it.


I'm just kidding.


Hey there.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Thanks for listening to this episode.


If you made it this far, it's likely that you're enjoying the show, so I wanted to ask your help.


If you're enjoying it, please give us a review on Apple Podcasts and share with somebody in the same industry who might find this interesting.


And if you're interested in getting summaries of these episodes, go subscribe to our newsletter that comes out on LinkedIn and Substack.


Links can be found in the description.


Thanks for your help in growing the reach of this show.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

I don't, I mean, I don't know if I could prepare an hour and a half of talking every week for it, you know, and I'm a huge podcast listener myself, and I love 30 minute episodes, because it's always like, it's just the right amount of time for me to do, you know, whatever I'm going to do.


So that kind of seems to just work for me.


But to be honest, like, I don't know, I mean, I tend to,


Maybe it's because I'm a one-man operation, both with the podcast and in my business and everything like that.


Time is really of the essence.


Time is the resource I have the least of.


And so I guess I try to, that's sort of just a natural thing for me.


And I try to keep a lot of my meetings to 30 minutes.


So it's just kind of like a comfort thing, I guess.


And, you know, some of them will run a little bit longer, but I don't have, maybe I don't have enough to say.


How did you guys decide on the longer version?


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I mean, I think, I think for me, so originally, we were doing mostly just one hour episodes.


And that was the way I looked at it originally was, hey, let's do it.


It's long enough that you can actually build a rapport with somebody.


And you can actually get a pretty good amount of stuff covered in that time.


But it's also not too much time commitment.


But with going with one hour and a half episodes, what we've realized, especially with the VCs, is there's a lot that is not said and we miss a lot of things, right?


So if we're going to get them once in every couple years, right?


Because we only have so much time as well to interview them, we're going to try to get as much out of it as we can and really get some holistic viewpoints on what's going on because


My favorite episodes of podcasts are actually generally longer ones, right?


I really do like when it's a really good guest to listen for a long time because if they're really good, it's just like a good book, right?


They say you want to read the good books, you don't want to just read any book, right?


So that's kind of how I look at it with what we're doing now is I really believe that some of the people we're getting on are just


Truly incredible thought leaders in the space and we should hear more from them Not just an hour because we can't get through their story plus what they think about, you know Their thesis and then also the insights to the market in an hour, right?


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

It just doesn't it doesn't work That's probably



You know, I've been, I've made a lot of investments.


A lot of the people I'm talking to are people I know and I'm working with in different ways.


And so a lot of times I'll book an hour with them and we'll talk for half an hour and then we'll record for half an hour.


And it's kind of more like, what are you working on?


What are you excited about?


Where can people reach you?


So I guess, you know, maybe, maybe that's a core difference is I'm not aiming to go too deep.


And a lot of it's kind of like introductory to, to different topics or different, you know, things that folks are working on.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.


I can also add an additional point, which is one thing, kind of plugging our new format, which will be hitting the audience.


I think by the time this episode is out, it'll already be live, but this is something that we're rolling out new, which is an hour and a half long episode.


And I think that's why it's topical for us.


I feel like this is also just the case where like, look, you're a consumer of media, right?


And there's so many different podcasts.


So if you're looking to get a generic profile of some of the people you're talking to, it's probably been done two or three times like this.


I mean, sometimes you are, but you're probably not their first podcast appearance.


So I feel like one thing that's really interesting is being able to get nuance within your show, right?


And go into a


like segment or strength area of the guest that really fits them that may not show up in other content and I think that's something that we're like Silas and I are always aspiring to and again like you said fair play you you do like sort of that prep session and then you probably do learn a little more about what they're good about but I think that's just a really something that I aspire to see in our episodes which is you know did we produce something that isn't found on any other platform


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Yeah, that's awesome.


And getting that kind of depth out there, I think is really important.


Definitely.


And I, you know, I love listening to your podcast for that reason.


And maybe a question for you also is, so you have a longer podcast, you have a newsletter, you're building a community.


How do you do it all?


I mean, how do you do this every week?


And for me, also, I always think about the newsletter as being like a very challenging thing.


It's not something that I'm working on.


I'll just sort of post it on LinkedIn and be done with it.


How do you build this?


And how do you decide on what assets you're going to deploy?


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I think from the, just looking at it all generally, like we try to do as much as streamlined as possible.


So we usually don't have to do too much editing to the episodes.


We have somebody who does that for us.


So that, that helps it.


We do a pretty good job of taking timestamps throughout.


So we can just say, Hey, you know, once you add the intro and all those stuff, just make sure you remark those episodes or those, those timestamps.


And then a couple interesting clips, right.


But in terms of the, there's just a lot of value to written content is what we realized that a lot of people.


they are very busy.


So there's a lot of very, very interesting things being said by the guests, but with an audio format, it's not like you can just skim read, right?


You cannot skim listen to something.


You can listen very fast, but you still kind of have to listen to all of it unless you can see it, right?


So the newsletter is an attempt to really get the big pieces onto paper so somebody can, with their limited time, be like, all right,


I've got, you know, 15 minutes right now.


I'm going to listen to that section because that seems very interesting and it's interesting for me as an investor.


I want to know what people are thinking about this or that.


And I believe that's important because that's the purpose that we're trying to achieve is like, can people get the value?


We don't need them to listen to the whole thing.


So in terms of the workflow, I'll just say this much.


I am not great at writing.


Somil is much better at this stuff than I am.


So he's behind a lot of this stuff, making it actually look good and doing the work there.


So I can't take credit for most of that.


So yeah, that's kind of the background, I would say, on the workflow.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

How did you guys decide to do a podcast together?


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

I can probably answer that.


So I came from a written newsletter background and Silas, I'd obviously built up this platform for about, I think, two years at that point.


And so I think we just connected over, I think, a shared work ethic, a shared mission for the content that we're getting out there.


And probably, frankly, a shared craziness with hustle.


I don't know if we're both sort of scrappy and not the most organized ways, but I think it works well in terms of the things that we bring to that scrappiness.


So I think that sort of synergy and the vision that because I think one of the things that and Silas like feel free to contribute like When you're building something as amorphous as a climate tech podcast, right?


Especially in a very undefined space such as climate where people don't even really know what it is.


It's


to 124


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I mean, I would say from my perspective, I have been doing the show for, I think, two years and a couple months.


And then, like, Somil and I bumped into each other in New York because you came down for a visit at one point before you lived here.


And I was like, I think this guy's doing some interesting things.


He's in the content game or whatever.


But I was also like, I've basically just been on autopilot with the podcast for a while.


And I was like, at that time, I had been probably doing almost three to four recordings a week because there were so many people coming in and I hated to have people know.


So I was like, I just want help with this, right?


I want somebody who can help me do these things and hopefully eventually make money with it.


I will say it because it costs money to make a podcast, right?


So ideally, start making some money with it.


So yeah, and I think it's been great because our growth has been pretty substantial since Somil joined.


So I'm pretty sure that's mostly due to him.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

I just realized we should probably split the cost of editing for this podcast.


Just send me a bill.


We'll take you up on that.


That's really cool.


And so, and you're both based in New York City.


And what else?


I mean, what are the other things that you do?


And probably your audience knows this pretty, pretty well, but mine won't.


Like, what else do you do with your, you know, with your days if this isn't paying the bills?


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I can go first.


My day job is I'm a recruiter in the climate and sustainability space.


I work with a company called Next Wave Partners.


We're globally based out of Singapore, but I lead our climate sustainability team for the Americas and then helping out with Europe as well.


So that's what pays my bills.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

Yeah, I can I can take over and jump for a second.


But so my background, I work in product.


I'm working at the Schmidt Futures Foundation, but also to do product support right now, actually an elemental accelerator.


You know, I have a background, I spent some time at VC at an early stage seed startup, seed stage investing group.


And before that, I founded a company in ag tech.


So I think my background really does come from more of a fundamental product side combined with like that vision on how do you grow, how do you scale and how do you bring things to market which is I think usually how people who come from founding relate to investing which is how do you bring this product to market rather than how do you like make money off of this invention.


And you know for our audience please tell us a little bit more in detail about your background.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

So my background, I'm a founder by background.


I started as a teenager and had like a B2B e-commerce company, which I sold and then used the proceeds to set up like a donations platform in Canada, where I'm from originally.


And so my unicorn is kind of like a nonprofit basically, but it's kind of the center of Canada's


Digital Philanthropy.


It's called Canada Helps.


And working with that and running, you know, founding that and then running it for a while got me really hooked on impact.


And that impact kind of shifted, or I mean, it was always very much focused on environment.


So I was the kid who was an insomniac because I was worried about global warming, you know, when, before it was cool.



And that never went away.


And then in the mid 2000s, I decided I wanted to get into renewable energy and built a biogas company that we sold in in 2010.


And I decided to kind of shake things up, move to Europe.


I moved to Berlin.


And for about 10 years,


There in Berlin, I worked with social entrepreneurs.


I've worked a lot to help kind of build the social enterprise world environment there out of Berlin and make some of the first impact investments and that type of thing.


So again, my kind of my I've always been sort of a picks and shovels about the kind of capacity building for these kinds of sectors.


So I did that for that kind of work for a long time and then kind of stepped out as an into independent consulting in the impact space designing accelerators and things like that for for for environmental and socially impactful companies.


And one of my clients was, as a consultant, was just a pure B2B SaaS company.


And the founder basically asked if I'd step in and take it over and build it up and sell it.


And so I did that and


I made a couple of bucks out of that and I decided ahead of time that 100% of whatever I make from that, I'll put into impact investing.


And then I so basically had to create my own blueprint or strategy for what I want to invest in.


And that forces you to think a lot about your values and kind of what matters to you.


And I realized, again, it's really about climate and largely about animals also.


So that brought me into kind of the alternative protein space, which is, you know, a subset of climate tech, basically, you know, and that's two, three years ago now.


So it's all, you know, as these things, when you look back on it, you can create a narrative when it's all in front of you, you're just kind of following a thread and hoping it works out and,


So, you know, it's always been about entrepreneurship and, and climate.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah.


I think it's really, I really appreciate hearing the background.


This is something that I feel like is my favorite thing about what I've learned from doing the podcast is everybody, no matter how successful they are from like a current perspective, you look at them, they're running a big fund, they're doing lots of great investments and their investments are winning.


They all had very large amounts of uncertainty early in their career, right?


They did not know, oh, I'm going to go do this, and then this, and then this.


It's going to be great, right?


It was more like, oh my gosh, what's next?


Like, I guess I'll do the thing in front of me, right?


And I appreciate that background.


One thing I did want to ask you, though, is specifically, since you have all these things you've done and kind of work on, how do you decide what to do versus what not to do?


Hey there, quick break to remind any founders or VCs listening.


If you are looking for deal flow, seeking to raise funding, looking for partners to help service your needs, or perhaps you're looking for corporate investment partners, feel free to reach out to us through our Slack channel, which can be found in the description.


Because we meet a lot of people in this space, we set aside time each week to make introductions to the various people that we encounter.


This is something we do free of charge in order to help these incredible companies solving climate change to scale.


Looking forward to hearing from you in the Slack channel.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

I mean, it's a good question.


And I, you know, as with a lot of people, I probably take on more than I should.


I think it's really important to know what you're good at and what you're not good at, and to focus on like doubling down on the things you are good at and trying to like, not become really good at the things you're not good at, I guess, you know, so what what I like doing what I the role I play


You know, pretty well, I think is as kind of like a catalyst and as an integrator.


And so I'm pretty good at kind of seeing like, you know, it makes sense for this person to be in the room and that person in the room and to have this kind of conversation and to facilitate that and to learn from different industries.


I've, you know, crossed all kinds of different industries.


And I can borrow kind of the interesting things or things that have worked from one and bring it into another, you know And and so I like to play this I like to start things.


I like to kind of kick them off Bring the right people bring the right ideas together and then let them kind of gather some momentum and then once things are going then I usually want to move on to the next thing and and try that that again and and


You know, build in some of the structures and some of the scaffolding to make that thing successful.


But I like to kind of move on.


So I'm a really early stage person.


That's interesting to me.


And I think I work a lot with, you know, I'm a people person.


I'm not the guy who's sitting there on Excel at midnight trying to figure out, you know, trying to tweak the model and stuff like that.


So, yeah, I mean, it's,


Anything where I see that I can bring people together and kind of like, you know, influence a movement in the old school term of influence, not the Instagram version of it.


That's where I see I can play a role and where I've been successful before.


And, you know, and quite often with the idea generation aspect of it as well.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I guess one thing I'm


I guess curious about is when you talk about being an integrator and being a people person and connecting people, et cetera, do you, you know, this is something I felt like I'm quite good at.


And I've always thought about what, where is the best type of job for those people?


Because usually hanging out and connecting people doesn't necessarily pay the bills, right?


Sometimes, but usually not.


So like, what, what is the best type of job for those types of people who are not a technical expert?


They're not a commercial expert.


They just really good at connecting dots.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Yeah.


I mean, it's a, it's a good question.


And, and, you know, through the years, a lot of the work that I do, sometimes I have to just stop and be like, okay, I need to get paid for some of this stuff.


And like a lot, a lot of it, I end up just doing and, you know, somewhere you'll find a way and, and, you know, making, making deals there's, you know, if you're that kind of person, you're probably making some kinds of deals.


And if you're making deals and you watch out for it, then there are ways to make money doing it.


Right.


But, um,


Silas Mähner


and a startup and that results in a deal happening and stuff like that.


So I try to build out more and more roles as an advisor, you know, or be kind of like just available on retainer for strategic advice for a company that's, you know, fundraising potentially.


I think having been through the financing rounds, you know, like as an entrepreneur, but then also having now been an investor, you've got some value you can bring to the table to especially first time founders who are going through that process.


So a lot of times people will bring me on as a as kind of like a coach slash


Therapists, slash, you know, guy who makes introductions and stuff like that for the fundraising round.


So I like doing that.


But, but yeah, it's I do, I do a lot of, you know, I do a lot of free stuff.


I do a lot of volunteering and that type of thing.


And for me, money's never been a driver and a good in and of itself.


Money's only interesting for me in terms of being able to solve other problems or that type of thing.


My own personal lifestyle and stuff like that is pretty modest.


I like scaling things.


I like scaling ideas.


I'm not interested in having a big bank account for the sake of it.


But I mean, Silas, you're a headhunter.


I mean, that's, I would imagine, exactly the type of role where relationships really matter and connecting the dots pays off financially in a pretty direct way.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, I mean, it definitely is.


I think that the difficulty I usually run into is that there's so many people that I want to help.


And I can very easily get really, like, my Saturdays are totally shot type of thing because I was like, oh, I'll help you.


I'll make intros to these six people I can think of.


However, that still takes time, right?


Because you can't just make a mass text and send it.


Like, you have to do it in a nuanced way.


Otherwise, the relationship is compromised, right?


Which is like scaling relationships isn't actually possible, I don't believe.


Like, there's such ways you can do it systematically, but you cannot scale something because it needs to be personal.


So that's something, you know, that that's usually why I ask that question is because there's so many free things I try to do to help people out because there's reciprocity that will come back at some point.


But it's like, where do you draw the line?


Right?


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Yeah, I mean, that's, that's a good example.


And you know, this, this classic thing of like, like, could I borrow a half an hour of your time?


And it's like, okay, but that half hour is then like, but can I then send you my deck when I've redone it?


And can you make these intros?


And this thing, you know, it sort of becomes this amorphous blob and like, like, you know, it's a forever commitment for the rest of their lives kind of thing.


So that becomes really challenging.


I do a lot of coaching and accelerators as well.


Accelerators will hire me to do pitch coaching or to do investment readiness.


Those are just basically excuses to jump in on a startup strategy overall, right?


But one team was talking to me recently and they're going through their


auto emailer, you know, CRM thing and trying to go through that, like, is this good language to send to a VC?


And I'm like, maybe, but it's not good language to send to your list of 800 VCs.


Like that's not the approach.


Like, well, what if we tweak it like this?


And like, it's not, the point's not to tweak it.


The point is, you know, get a warm introduction or follow these up or, or, you know, figure out what this investor is really interested in.


But it's not, it's, it's indeed, it's not an issue of technology.


It's an issue of,


Political capital and you know like in the end all of this stuff so much of it comes down to relationships And that's because you know that's human nature right and it's important.


Yeah, it's none of this is a technology issue


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Yeah, my first boss, his biggest thing to me was, he was like, the number one asset in business is contacts, right?


He started a company with like 300 bucks and sold it for 100 million.


And it was because he was like, he knew somebody, right?


He was able to go and get some kind of contracts and stuff like that.


So, yeah, I think it's really important.


And this is something I, you know, kind of fundamentally, maybe it's philosophically struggle with is that in this age of all this technology and AI and everything, it's like,


Human connection is needed more than ever, especially if you're going to solve problems and do things and partner with other people.


But people are all trying to find shortcuts.


And I think that for some reason, the newer generation of entrepreneurs, generally speaking, doesn't realize that there is no shortcut to just talking to people.


I mean, the junior candidates I talked to, there's so many of them.


I try not to talk to them as much anymore.


I made some blog posts to send them so they can like, here's my advice, but in a blog post, saves me, you know, 30 minutes.


None of them, almost none of them network with people ahead of time.


They only network when they need a job.


And I'm like, okay, that's the purpose because now you're coming asking for something rather than giving something.


And that is the exact reason why people don't want to take your call or my call because of you, right?


Because of these people who are just asking.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

I think there's like, I, you know, if for some reason we get on the radar of all in the all in podcast, I will say I might be misquoting them.


But I think I either read this, I either heard this there came across this in writing about like our generation of 25 year old entrepreneurs.


and how there was this like swath of like again like mid-20s level entrepreneurs you know Bill Gates was Bill Gates was earlier Mark Zuckerberg you know just this you know swath of people who sort of changed the industry at the young like within their mid-20s and part of it was their ability to dream different and think different and asking you know where is that in this day and age entrepreneurs are generally trending older


One thing I find interesting is that is also what is like a core tenant of venture capital, which is, you know, even outside of the advice, even outside of the way that you can help a company like survive some tough times, it's, you know, I'm a VC who can introduce you to 20 customers.


I'm a VC who can introduce you to your acquisition partner.


So I think networking as an industry has also become more institutionalized.


That may, that's something that I feel, especially if you look at, and this is something that, you know, I have a real passion and I think Silas has, you know, we've talked about in the past.


If you look at how other entrepreneurial ecosystems work, so take East Africa, for example.


you see in places like these where the sophistication level of the capital stack is just not as strong and especially related to climate tech like there's there's momentum but there's not as much as you see as like the ira there's a huge premium now in the u.s on like this institutionalized networking like i'm not just going to network for you let me put my money with you as a vc and then i'll network for you right and so i think that's done something to the entrepreneurial ecosystem where it's put up these guardrails and


you know just and I wouldn't say it's stifled innovation because you know the point of venture capital is to to invest very risky solutions but I think it's done something to the way that people look at entrepreneurship and now entrepreneurship isn't just building a company and getting into market it's you have an idea you go to an accelerator you go to an incubator you then talk to a VC you then build a product but don't really build a product because you're still trying to sell it right and yeah we're probably propagating some of this but there's a almost a formula to it which I think is


taking away from the actual ability to create this like momentous generation changing technology.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Well, and it comes back to Silas's point about shortcuts also.


And like, I mean, the risk is that people spend too much time reading top 10 hack lists on LinkedIn about how to secure VC money and less time, you know, fiddling in the garage on the product, right?


And that's, so I think, you know, the older vintage of


of entrepreneurs maybe was, you know, like spending a little more time on the thing itself and a little less of the meta time of like, you know, wondering what it means to be a founder and like joining the founder club and doing these kinds of things, spending more time on like building the actual thing.


And I think that's probably pretty healthy, that kind of approach.


I do feel these days that


the, some of the, and I see this, you know, I'm, I'm invested in a lot of startups and I see this sometimes that like the goal is to, you know, raise this money.


And, and the, the example I use or the metaphor I use is like, look, the hard part about running a marathon is not signing up.


It's running the marathon.


Right.


And like getting the financing in a lot of ways is just the signing up part, right?


Like you're signing up for the hard part by getting the money in.


Sure.


It's not easy.


and Silas Mähner titled


But, and, you know, Somil as a product guy, like, you know, that like, what it comes down to is you have to have a good product.


That's, you know, that's a, that's a solution for a problem that exists and has product market, market fit and stuff like that.


And then, you know, then the, the goal of, as of the entrepreneurs, like sell the thing, scale the thing.


Right.


And it's like, this is the, this is important, make it real.


Right.


And, and,


Yeah, so but I can imagine, you know, I'm, I'm pretty sucked into LinkedIn.


And you see a lot of it there.


I'm, you know, by the grace of God, not on Instagram, or, or tick tock, or any of these places, but I imagine it's even worse there, where it's like, this is what it means to be a founder, like, what, you know,


10 things that successful founders do in 2023.


Wake up at 5 30 in the morning, drink, you know, do the Huberman routine and these kinds of things.


So, you know, and it's, it's all, it's all about the lifestyle of the founder and it's a way from, you know, what it is to like build something that the world needs and scale it up.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

It's so, it's so funny how revolutionary, like, I think we see this in our journeys, how revolutionary it is to tell entrepreneurs to think about why they're raising money.


Like that, for some reason, I think disproportionately is a very hard hitting piece of advice, because I think we've become this sort of rat race of like following this formula, which is, you know, for many technologies, it works.


But I think the big question is, okay, if we haven't solved climate yet, we're likely not going to do it doing the same exact things we've always done.


And I think that's this genesis for a lot of these new models and things like that.


So very much like you're saying, going back to the fundamentals of okay, my only goal is to see this technology out there.


And how do I do that?


and thinking from that point of view instead of, okay, how do I raise?


How do I get this VC to back me?


You know what I mean?


Because those are all means to an end.


One thing I do want to do since we have like a lot of the content minds, people who are ingesting content, let's do some synthesis of that.


So I'm going to put you guys on the spot.


Climate in general, which based on like the things and we'll go around the horn in each answer, which industry area do you think is


that you're like, do you think you're particularly bullish on that you want to see more guests or more coverage of?


Silas, you want to start?


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Sure.


I think in terms, this might seem just a little too general, but the thing I think is most important is still hardware related stuff, industrial decarbonization, because it is extremely difficult and it's much, much different than building a software climate startup because software, you know, you can still generally follow the formula.


Things are there, but for most of the guests that we've had on, the hardest ones, the hardware isn't, obviously there's the science risk and the engineering risk, but there's also how do you position your product to who you're selling to?


So if you're selling to, you know, some type of manufacturer of products, you cannot risk their equipment being damaged by your new chemicals that go in it or whatnot.


So I think that there should be more ecosystems.


I don't necessarily know, it's about coverage perhaps, but


There should be more ecosystems created that really do a good job of getting everybody, every single stakeholder involved in that space who is interested in actually decarbonizing.


And maybe even the ones who aren't, maybe the ones who are just, they're looking to save a buck, right?


Because they always want to save money.


Getting them to a table, then you can really start to make headway because otherwise you've got these really, you know, climate motivated people who are passionate and trying to build something.


trying to sell perhaps to the wrong person at the company or selling to the wrong person in the entire value chain.


So I think that that space generally is the space I'm most excited to see more ecosystem and coverage on.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

You know, it's everything, right?


And in 10 years, we won't be talking about climate tech, we'll just be talking about the way we don't talk about internet companies now, but in 2000, we would talk about an internet company, right?


This will be inside everything, right?


Everything we do from architecture, building, electricity, mobility,


food all of these things will be will be climate tech inside you know and so it'll be a fundamental like this is probably the biggest shift in generations or centuries in terms of how the world kind of exists for me it's food it's the food the food industry and for a number of reasons one it's low-hanging fruit


I'm invested largely in alternative proteins.


That's plant-based meat, fermentation and cultivated meat.


So that's like cell grown real meat.


What I like about this space is a few things.


It's not as sexy as like the Tesla or the flying electric plane and these types of things.


So there is kind of less attention paid to it.


That means there's more opportunity a lot of times as an investor.


So the food industry is responsible for 30% of CO2.


It gets about 12% of climate tech investment.


So that for me already shows an inefficiency, that's an opportunity.


I like that, right?


I like that kind of dynamic.


But what I also really like about the industry is we're months or years away from meat from alternative protein sources tasting like meat from animals.


right it's and for that to be to be on par with taste price and accessibility it will be healthier for a number of reasons and it'll be better for the environment but people don't care about that fundamentally right they'll say they do but they want it to be cheap taste good and be easy to buy


And so that, you know, that's going to revolutionize the entire food industry.


It's not going to disrupt the meat industry as it is right now.


It's going to transform it because it's going to be with the Cargills and the JBSs, right?


It's going to be with these companies and we see them, you know,


Silas Mähner


We're going through this kind of transition, but what I like about it for the end user also is that, you know, like your enjoyment of a hamburger as an end user is not like, it's the fact that a cow was, you know, grazed and went to a slaughterhouse, was slaughtered, and then was chopped up into a burger is not intrinsic to your enjoyment of that end product, right?


So we can replicate all of the things you care about with a hamburger from


minutes.


cows to graze to make hamburgers, right?


It's like, it's the most inefficient process basically in our daily lives.


So I'm super excited about the food industry for those reasons.


You know, it helps also that I'm an animal lover and so I wanna see the end of kind of the suffering that comes from factory farming.


But yeah, as purely from a financial perspective and from a climate perspective as well, I see tons of opportunity there.


What about you, Somil?


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

I have a follow-up question I want to ask just about that.


But to round out the point, I'm going to say something probably a lot less inspirational, a lot less relatable.


I think I actually would love to see a lot more green hydrogen coverage.


And the reason is that


To me, what the point of coverage and venture is, is to see an investment on those ideas that are high risk, high reward.


And so green hydrogen is an example.


So I'll just kind of paint the picture a little bit.


Green hydrogen is this technology that has massive upside if it works.


But the issue is right now, it's not an economically viable or frankly, like a very safe process at scale.


But that's the thing, which is that, you know, if you look at the top three things that matter most about why not to do green hydrogen, I read a report about this recently, it's high cost, the process to do it, high cost, high energy consumption, to break apart the hydrogen and the oxygen, which is how you get the hydrogen fuel, and safety.


I mean, just its combustibility.


Each one of those things, I would say, especially based on what we've seen, are areas where you can have a lot of innovation.


And so Upside is this very clean, sustainable fuel that you can store.


It's very easy to store hydrogen.


By very easy, I'm not saying this as an expert, just for the audience.


But, you know, I think that's something that I would love to see a lot more coverage on because it's the kind of things where I see the challenges being something that's very solvable in terms of large technology, like things you can invest technology into and money into.


But the Upside really gives you this energy source that


Solves a lot of our problems systematically in terms of how we get our energy.


So I think that is an area that I would love to see more coverage kind of flipping the angle instead of being from relatable to being something that people aren't thinking about or at least maybe disconnected from because it's not an EV charger because it's not a grid optimization because it's not a food item that you can relate to day to day.


So something that's out of sight out of mind, but I think should be in existence.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

And are you covering that so that when you say more coverage, are people talking about this on your podcast as well?


Do you have guests talking about this?


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

It's been a second.


Well, this is a plug.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

We've had a couple in the past, but it's been a second since we've had any.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

So this is a plug for any any listeners who are green hydrogen builders, please reach out.


But no, I think that's something that it's come to light as a reason because of the new legislation released by the Biden administration.


I won't quote the exact number, but it was, you know, a fairly large investment into green hydrogen.


So I think that's put this topic back on the radar of many people.


And so I think that's where especially I've been drawn to it again recently.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Very cool.


It's an area I don't know too much about.


I mean, I know the fundamentals of it, but yeah, I mean, you know, I like to start at kind of some of the easier things and also, you know, just electrifying everything, I think is also a huge opportunity.


But I wonder what your thoughts are on


Have you looked at kind of the math of replacing all of our kind of dirty electricity production with renewable energy and what the carbon footprint of that, you know, and what we need to use in terms of dirty energy to replace all of that.


I mean, can we still hit, you know, even two degrees Celsius if we


Completely replaced the grids in countries like the US with renewable energy.


I wonder if you've come across any of this kind of math.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

I'm really bad at math in the first place, so definitely not my thing.


But I will say one of my good LinkedIn posts had math in it, so maybe I should do that math more.


But the point is, I don't know, I think


I think it's very difficult.


There's probably some much more qualified people to answer that question.


I haven't seen anything in particular around it.


But what I did have somebody recently mentioned to me that I thought was interesting was the time value of carbon.


Obviously, it's better to reduce carbon now than later because it's worse now, right?


So it's more expensive.


We can put more money into it now.


That's the only thing I've heard on that topic, but I don't, again, not an expert when it comes to the math stuff.


So maybe Somil's got an answer for us.


So how many episodes have you guys done so far with the podcast?


We've got, released as of this recording, 132.


Wow.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Okay.


Let me ask you, so are you more bullish on solving the climate crisis now or before you started the podcast?


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

I don't think it's changed much.


I'm extremely optimistic.


Generally speaking, I would say maybe more because there's a lot of people who seem to be


figuring out the hard stuff right so until I really feel that genuinely until earlier this spring nobody was talking about systematizing how to really build hardware startups because we got to the point where we were able to do it with solar right solar is a hardware thing and it was work it worked partially because of subsidies in the beginning and then the costs came down and everything but


I don't think people really use it as a blueprint too much.


And when we talked to Keyframe, I think that was in April.


Keyframe was the first people, were the first people that I heard of kind of pairing this project financing and debt with venture funding, with equity funding.


And then we kind of fast forward to Climate Week and Third Sphere.


We just, that episode will be out by now with Sean.


did an amazing presentation on the, they call it the escalator of impact, I believe, right, where they kind of broke down all the different capital structures to use.


In that regard, I'm more bullish because there's really a large amount of sophistication going into it and people are willing to set aside.


It's very clear they're willing to set aside some of the insecurities that I think traditional venture had because this is mostly something I learned from Sean, which is that he's like, hey, listen, VC guys created this


this language to keep the private equity people out of the room so they had no idea what's going on, right?


And I think that combining the two together to basically take early stage tech and a hardware space as quickly as possible to the point where it's like a divert where the private equity can come in and make it funded easily.


It's a high quality return.


That should be the objective, right?


It should not be the objective to go and raise more equity, right?


You should just get it to a


really high quality product and then you can scale it very quickly so that's that's the thing I've learned and that's why I guess I would say generally speaking the short answer would be I'm slightly more bullish but not necessarily substantially.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

I think for my perspective you know I think you know also it's been a slightly shorter time for me being in this space but even in that time I think


More than being bullish or not bullish, it's really interesting to see the direction that climate tech is going and where people are putting attention.


I think my personal thesis, which is related to finding the innovative financial model that will support climate tech, I'm really inspired to see that that's becoming like a very, very pertinent part of the conversation that people understand systematically, you have to incentivize it.


And people are also systematically being like, how should I say?


minutes.


As far as how the industry has developed, I think we're in the right place in terms of understanding that we have to do something systematically.


How long it's going to take to figure that out is, I think, very much dependent on whether we do it all correctly or not.


So overall, probably a little bit more encouraged just because you do get to see how many people are thinking about this with a platform like this.


But more than anything, it's more eye-opening.


So I think slightly more optimistic, but also slightly more humble.


How about yourself?


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

In so many ways, I think we're the problem, right?


People are not designed to cooperate at this kind of global level to make things happen.


That's my biggest concern.


I think we work well at the individual, family, tribe, society level, but for things like this that really need everyone on side at the same time, it still feels too much like


Somebody passes one law and another country says, okay, that's an opportunity for us to then exploit it in a different way, right?


So, I don't know.


I don't know if I feel like we can get there where we need to be in time.


And, you know, of course, there are


This is the existential issue of our time, but that doesn't mean it's front page news or top of mind and that type of thing.


It's become more and more clear that it's not an issue of technology, it's an issue of people.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

I think that's really interesting to bring up and this is something


We don't have time to talk about it in depth with policy, but I think something I usually critique policy-oriented people around is that you cannot force these things into being.


You need to have some level of, you don't need to, but ideally you have some level of incentive, and then you pair that with people who genuinely understand, people meaning founders,


who genuinely understand the need to build a product that is financially better for the users, right?


It has a co-benefit.


We had Capture Six on recently and they were talking about the main reason why they're being able to win is that they have the climate benefit is actually a co-benefit to solving something else that they would need to spend money on.


So if you can


Get people to really on a broad spectrum think about it from that perspective.


You then decentralize the need for everybody to work together.


You can't get everybody to work together.


It's just like you to expect the whole you know world to work together because the UN says jump or whatever is not going to happen and if it did happen it would actually cause a lot of people to be really concerned because they don't they don't like that idea of you know, some one world government type of thing.


So you need to just create the incentives in a way in my opinion


that gets entrepreneurs thinking, how can we build this so that it's going to, the users don't actually necessarily care about the climate impact, but they care about the better technology.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

But fair, I mean, that works in some cases, but I would be concerned about, I mean,


Things like carbon pricing or these problems of the commons, right?


They require, definitely incentives is the way to do it, right?


It's carrots and sticks, but it's about getting, you have to really get countries around the world to find some kind of operating system that just allows the software to interact, right?


To make this happen, to use this just as a metaphor.


You know, you can't have a price on carbon in half of the world and then not in the other half of the world and things will work, right?


So there needs to be some kind of basic agreement on some of these things.


And that's what, you know,


And it's possible that we get there, but you know, you look at COP28 that's coming up in a couple of weeks and being chaired by, you know, the head of the Oil and Gas Association for the country.


And like, you know, I mean, that's not a harbinger of good things to come.


Silas, you mentioned something about the founders with having these solutions.


I think a big part of this also is about storytelling.


I've seen a lot of really great solutions and it's from engineers or from scientists, but they can't tell the story of it or why it matters and they can't get people interested in it a lot of times.


A lot of times I'll do these like investment readiness workshops and people are expecting that it's going to be really heavy about financial modeling and I spent a lot more time talking about storytelling than about financial modeling because I mean ultimately that's what we need to do is we need like we need to get our story straight about why this stuff matters and make it like you know in different ways cool or appealing or you know enjoyable and move away from this


Narrative of deprivation like you have to give up this you have to stop doing this you know though that doesn't work and these kind of like guilt narrative and Instead focus on like what what is there to gain by you know nothing short of the survival of complex life on earth That it should be an easy story to tell we need to look more to Lord of the Rings than to excel Yeah, I mean, I really agree with this I think we've talked about this before the show of our last week or whenever we had a catch-up and


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Where I come from, people don't believe that climate change is an issue, right?


Because they're like, well, it doesn't, you know, solar, it only works because it subsidize all this stuff, right?


They're talking about data from 20 years ago.


That's no longer true.


And there's nobody willing to give them a time of day.


I've talked to many people, and this was actually even two years ago, where like, oh, you know, I don't bother talking to climate deniers anymore.


I'm not going to try to convince them.


But the point is, there's a lot of people who just need to understand why, right?


I had no interest in working in renewables or climate prior to kind of accidentally getting the opportunity to work in it and moving to New York, right?


That was the real reason I wanted to move out of Wisconsin, right?


And as soon as I saw the technology, and I realized that you can make a product that is financially more viable for the end user, and the product itself is oftentimes stronger or better or whatnot,


and it has a green positive, then there's literally no argument to it, right?


Everybody should be open to doing it because there is nothing against it.


It's a triple win situation.


And I agree with you.


I think that a lot of people just do not know how to tell the story.


It's the best.


Yeah, that went by fast.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

Speaking of not having enough to talk about, man, we got plenty to talk about.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Maybe I should do our episodes.


Anything else, Somil, on your side?


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

Well, great.


Well, look, Ryan, we really, really appreciate this.


You know, most importantly, I think we turned ourselves into climate professionals halfway through, but we are, of course, first and foremost, podcasters.


So it was great to collaborate and work on this together.


For our audience, before we sign out, where can people find you?


Where's the best way to find your podcast?


Give us your call to action.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

The best place to find me is on LinkedIn, Ryan Grant Little, and the podcast is climatetechpod.com.


And back to you, where should my audience find you?


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

Also LinkedIn, that's the best place I'm the most active at Silas Mähner.


You have to put that in the show notes because I'm not going to spell it.


And the podcast is CleanTechies.


SPEAKER 3: Somil Aggarwal

For mine, my LinkedIn, it's Somil Aggarwal, just my name.


Also not going to spell it, so if you can include that, that'd be good.


And yeah, I believe I have an email on there as well.


So if you want to reach out, please go ahead and always love to see more people joining our community and furthering this mission.


SPEAKER 1: Ryan Grant Little

and hey, you guys reached out to me.


So I just want to say thanks for doing that.


This was a really cool idea.


It's fun to be interviewed and also to interview another, you know, I won't say another Climate Tech Podcast, but you know what I mean.


SPEAKER 2: Silas Mähner

It's a good name.


It's a lot of fun.


This has been a pleasure.


We probably have to do this again, though, because we definitely could have more coverage, more things to talk about.


So anyways, pleasure having you on, Ryan.


Thanks a lot, guys.


Likewise.

Intro
About Our Podcast Formats
Why the Newsletter
Why Somil & Silas Decided to Collab
What Silas & Somil Do
Ryan’s Climate Journey
How to Decide What Not to Do
Human Connection + Scaling Relationships
Areas we are Bullish On
Regulation vs Market Forces