I couldn’t have predicted how my 2017 would have evolved. I knew that the first step in my entrepreneurial journey to work on reversing climate change was to start a consulting company that would allow me to get paid while learning more about the broad field of carbon management. I was fortunate to have built up a bit of a client base and gotten the right exposure so I could sustain myself. I also feel lucky to have had the chance to work on other people’s ideas (both at start-ups and as a consultant) while fostering my own. Though I used Carbon A List to work across all 5 R’s of carbon management (reduce, reuse, recycle, replace, remove), ultimately, 2017 is the year that took both a breadth in carbon management and a depth in the removal.
2017 was the year of doing things unconventionally while ever learning and striving for improvement. This meant finding things that would pay me in the carbon management niche while also experimenting with things that would not, but from which I could also learn and had something to do with entrepreneurialism. If 2016 was the year when I put out the initial call to find a software team with whom to build a platform to accelerate carbon removal, 2017 is the year when I found one and started a company called Nori to do just that. I am extremely grateful for all the people I met, jobs I got to work on, and how it has optimized my trajectory of my goal to launch a company able to help reverse climate change. As I reflect on the year, here are 14 things I did that will undoubtedly affect my 2018 and beyond. In some way, they all are part of the origin of Nori, so I will dub a new term: Norigin.
“Do or do not. There is no try”
14. Strategized for a solar PV start-up building a software platform
I took a consulting job working as a strategist for a start-up that was building a platform technology to help deploy commercial and industrial solar by facilitating the interconnection process for utilities. This work allowed me to dive into learning about platform technologies and challenges for financing new technologies that involve multiple parties (i.e. banks and utilities), while honing skills of customer discovery, fundraising, and start-up strategy.
13. Hosted the first (and certainly not the last) Reversapalooza
Hosting Reversapalooza during Climate Week NYC brought in over $700 and gave me the opportunity to learn how to put together innovative events that bring people together around a purpose. It brought together artists who painted the above art. Here is a link to a post that I wrote about the event. It was also great to have with Rezwan from Footprint to Wings, an organization committed to making games to get people thinking about how to reduce their carbon footprint, and Gavin and Dylan from Metta Makers who are professionals at putting on parties with a purpose.
12. Identified value propositions for investors about carbon recycling
Rolling over from 2016, I helped create content for Carbon XPRIZE that gathered key information about carbon management technologies and synthesized the opportunities for investors. This type of work helped broaden my view of carbon management technologies that use a source of carbon from power plants and teach me how to put information into language that investors will understand.
11. Authored a collaborative grant proposal on carbon recycling
Though unfortunately we weren’t successful on the grant, it was an honor to be the grantwriter for NUCURE (the Network for Upgrading Carbon Using Renewable Energy). This allowed me to work on putting together a broad technical research and better understand the supply changes and research opportunities in key areas able to turn carbon dioxide into products.
10. Sourced environmental projects for a major media company
I had first met with the client in 2016, but in 2017 they were finally ready to fund a project that would ultimately pays for biochar cook stoves. As part of this work, I learned a create deal about carbon offset markets and the inefficiencies that surround them. This was the first client relationship that Paul Gambill and I had together.
9. Put companies and projects that decarbonize on a list
In my newsletters I picked companies that I thought would be useful for people who had money and influence to learn about. I published them all here.
8. Launched a video challenge featuring climate change solutions
I decided to step it up a notch and also product videos about different climate change solutions. I made a personal challenge to create 50 selfie videos in 50 days. In the end, I only made 44. All of the companies I highlighted made “The Carbon A List.” Here is the link to the playlist
7. Became a StartingBloc Fellow
Becoming a StartingBloc fellow provided an incredible opportunity for me to learn how to scale my impact. Along with making friends and being part of an awesome community, I also got the chance to meet a personal hero of mine Seth Godin. It turned out that Seth had previously read my blog and called me out when I met him in person for not posting consistently.
6. Gathered and produced a lot of content
Maybe it wasn’t consistent, but including this post, I published 23 blog entries this year…
I also co-authored a piece “Climate Change is a waste management issue“, for Issues in Science and Technology; “Carbon Geoengineers: the Debt Collectors of the Future” Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment; and “What does sucking CO2 from air have to do with Energy” ; “Recipe for proliferating solar energy“, “Is there room for fuels when talking about energy storage?” for New York Energy Week.
5. Tiptoed into the crypto
Along with thinking about just carbon management, I expanded my analysis to think about the blockchain and in June was commissioned by the Sallan Foundation to write a piece where I highlighted one use case “How a Blockchain Token Can Scale Renewable Energy.” Dipping my toes into researching it has now evolved into launching a company that is using creating in it. I am now fully immersed in a team where I am breathing this stuff daily. Yes, it’s fair to say that I think blockchain technologies will change everything. I have drunk the kool-aid.
4. Built virtual learning-centric communities
I had been working for L2O as a long term client. It was an idea that was funded by a Sequoia partner who was willing to fund the development of an app and website for an online learning community. Unfortunately the platform had too many bugs, very few people used it, and made a number of strategically strangling decisions, so was ultimately shut down, making my job obsolete. Nonetheless, my work experience with L2O taught me the practice of building genuine connections, coordinating with a large software team, and learning how to create online tribes that involve learning and sharing. Inspired by the idea of providing a space for learning online, I launched a new side project, “Starting BlocChain” in September that has a growing community of almost 200 other StartingBloc fellows. I’m now coordinating bi-weekly 30 minute calls that highlight different guests who are involved with social impact and started a “Starting BlocChain” facebook group.
3. Competed in a hackathon
In September, 5 of the members on the Nori team participated in the month long ConsenSys Blockchain for Social Impact Hackathon under the code name Geagora and won in the Energy and Environment Section. Here is a link to our submission materials.
2. Started the Reversing Climate Change Podcast
As part of the hackathon submission, along with co-host Ross Kenyon, I’ve kicked off a podcast which we are now releasing weekly. We’re 7 episodes deep and bring on people who would pay to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, people connected to ways to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and people who have a relevant viewpoint to the whole ecosystem.
1. Co-founded Nori
I couldn’t be more pumped to be doing this collaboratively with an all-star team who can get behind a shared vision. We have the opportunity to create the world’s first voluntary carbon removal market place using blockchain technology. Here is a link to our website.
None of the above is written with any intent to be braggadocios. There is an enormous of work ahead and I am humbled to be part of it. I started out alone and went quickly. Now I am working with a team with the intent to go far.
Also published on Medium.