Discover more from Climate Musings for all Shapes & Sizes
Farewell, fond wishes, and Patch on! 🚀
A look back on learnings, gratitudes, and optimisms stemming from my Patch chapter
Holy guacamole! 🥑 Time flies…
But alas… it’s hard to control the winds of time and fate, and I firmly believe that luck looks like a healthy combination of opportunity, timing, preparation, & conviction.
More about what’s around the corner another time — because today is about reflection, gratitude, and memories — specifically:
Sharing a (metric) tonne worth of learnings…
Reflecting on a deep sense of gratitude… and,
Echo'ing a boatload of enthusiasm for what Patch is serving up next 🥘
A metric tonne worth of learnings… ☁️
Across the technical, consulting, and investing phases of my career, I got to roll up my sleeves to help ten different climate hard-tech start-ups grow.
These roles — with the majority being in a consulting or investing capacity — made me *think* I knew what start-ups were all about.
While I knew a bit, man did Patch show me the ropes…
#1 - Learning to bathe in, and thrive amidst, the uncertainty
Most corporate jobs frankly don’t involve a great deal of uncertainty. Mature businesses, clear scopes, standard promotion timelines, established customers and selling motions, large support networks, and the list goes on.
Startups are the inverse, and that takes a little getting used to!
Instead of boundless certainty, you’re dealing with not knowing if your technology will work, if customers want to work with you, if you’re selling the right thing in the right way, being clueless to what your competitors are doing, hoping and praying that awesome people will want to join your team…. and onwards.
How do you make clear decisions, with the best information possible, in an agile and iterative way, with the conviction needed to blow through the uncertainty?
My takeaway is that this skill set can’t be taught, it must be learned — and it takes a healthy heap of figuring s#%t out DNA.
#2 - People, people, people… and some more people!
VCs loveeeeee to say “we invest in people, we invest in teams”.
From my experience as an investor, this mindset is more accurately represented in a heuristic of “Do I personally like this founder? Would I want to sit on a board with them?”
If I went back to my investing days, I’d ask myself entirely different questions that tease out the true power of people, and get to the root of why hiring is the most important thing that any start-up, and more broadly, any business can do.
Would I join this team?: If I was the best in my field, could this leadership team convince me to drop everything, likely take a pay cut versus my current role, and join their crazy mission? Not an easy feat, but the ultimate feat.
Who’s doing the real work?: what team(s) are driving the day-to-day milestones? Beyond the founders, who’s making stuff happen? What drives them, are they collaborating effectively, and what stuff are they made of? And… can I meet them?
Who’s taking care of these humans?: If I get the conviction that a world-class group of humans *has* been assembled to date, who’s taking care of those people? If hiring is the most important thing anyone can do… who’s thinking about retaining, motivating, rewarding, and nurturing those humans to reach and maintain their full potential?
In sum… can these people take advantage of the compounding power of 1%?
Are they going to work 1% harder, with 1% more ingenuity, 1% more curiosity, 1% more compassion, and push through 1% more pain and uncertainty than the rest?
If so: 1%, every single day, for 10 years or 36,500 days is a heck of a lot of goodness. I think that’s how most great businesses are built in the end.
#3 - Mo’! (aka momentum) (aka the hype machine)
Bethany McLean, the author of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise & Scandalous Fall of Enron shared the sentiment…
There’s a very fine, and ever-evolving, line between a visionary and a fraud.
Believe it or not, she was referring to the evolution of Tesla, but the broader message I take away here and what I learned at Patch is one of momentum.
Or said colloquially… the “hype machine”.
Start-ups are extremely delicate organisms — a massive balancing act. You’re constantly balancing growth and development across hiring, fundraising, customers, technology/product, partnerships, and external communications.
Each of those threads is heavily dependent on the others, and they require a great deal of harmony and coordination. Said differently, one thread can’t get too in front or too far behind the other… or the whole house of cards might collapse. ♦️ ♣️ ♥️
This fine balancing act of momentum is another one you have to learn by doing — and it really is the driving force that keeps the start-up machine rolling until it has enough juice to be self-sustaining. A thrilling, harrowing, and rewarding journey!
A deep sense of gratitude… 🙏
For the opportunity — Patch took a bet on me, and I took a bet on Patch. Life is a series of small leaps of faith in other human beings you sense a bit of magic in 🪄 and I’m grateful for this leap, and all the ones preceding it.
For the people — if you’re looking for top-notch human beings, look no further than the collection of peeps at Patch. Is it because of all the Canadians and their purebred, maple-syrupy friendliness? It’s impossible to know for sure.
What I DO know for sure is that I learned a heck of a lot from that collection of human beings, and I’ll miss them deeply ❤️
For the partners — it takes a village, and that statement rings true in climate. A village of technology developers, customers, investors, employees, carbon accountants, investigative journalists, NGOs, governments, and on and on. The village that is carbon markets is a pretty dang good one ✨
A boatload of enthusiasm for the future of Patch… 🚀
I won’t steal the shine from a jam-packed launch schedule… but hear me out on three reasons why I’m stoked about what the power-packed team at Patch is going to serve up in the coming months…
Solving big problems with simple solutions: a lot of the messy problems in carbon markets — double counting, price gauging, unfair value distribution across the development chain, mounting complexity, and missing standards — can be addressed with rather simple technological solutions. How? Stay tuned.
Creating markets for catalytic climate technologies: what first drew me into carbon markets was their ability to support a wide range of mission-critical climate projects, namely — halting deforestation, reforestation, and CDR.
With that said, each of those solutions costs a drastically different amount today — and it’s DAMN HARD to convince someone to pay 20-50x more for “one tonne of carbon” when most buyers aren’t up to speed on why a tonne, isn’t a tonne.
I’m proud that Patch was able to deliver an average willingness to pay >10x higher than the broader market and drive millions annually into critical, catalytic, and (currently) expensive solutions. I think the team is only getting started.
Expanding into infrastructure and unifying climate action: what happens when the entire climate space — from insight + accounting through to action — is unified, connected, un-siloed, and humming like a machine? What happens when someone’s climate impact can be fully aligned with their climate action?
Honestly, I’m not 100% sure — but I’m excited to find out.
Getting by with a little help from my friends
Alongside that beautiful hype machine I mentioned is A LOT of help from friends. My friends, your friends, our friends — the capacity of humans to help each other out never ceases to amaze me.
Thanks to all the friends who have helped me, helped Patch, and will continue helping all the way down the winding road of life.
You the real MVPs. Onwards…
All worth checking out! General Fusion, Origin Materials, Mosaic Materials (acq. Baker Hughes), Syzygy, Quidnet, Sanctuary AI, and a few more not to be named 🤫