Giving old wood new life with Ben Christensen from Cambium

In 2018 landfills in the US received 12.2 million tons of wood most of this Is useful material that could be reused But the lack of infrastructure means the Wasted wood can't always reach to Developers wood workers and creators who Need it luckily the system is changing We now have the ability to source track And relocate wood to mitigate this waste And give it new Life you're listening to found Tech Crunches podcast that brings you the Stories behind the startups and today Today we're talking to Ben Christensen From cambium a company that is Reimagining the wood supply chain and Reallocating previously wasted wood to Be used in new building projects I'm Becca scac and here to talk about what Happens to trees in their second act is My fabulous co-host Dominic madori Davis And of course before we get into our Conversation with Ben we have our two Troops in a lie so listen closely to see Which one of these statements is not True is it that Ben used to work as a Backcountry guide that only 5 to 10% of Wood ends up getting reused or that Ben's first company was selling firewood To campers for10 a bundle oo all of Those sound interesting so listeners You'll have to keep listening to today's Episode to find out which is true and Which is not before we dive into the

Conversation with Ben if you might mind Taking a second our lovely listeners to Rate and review the show on whatever Podcast platform that you are currently Using we would greatly appreciate it the More feedback we get helps us with the Show and now we'll move on to today's Episode so here's our conversation with Ben hey hey Ben how's it going doing Pretty well how are y'all I am doing Well are you based in DC did I make that Up yeah in DC in Baltimore fabulous have You gone out to see the cherry blossoms Are they as amazing as everyone says I Have and they are they're spectacular It's been a great year for them H I love To hear it tried to see the ones in Brooklyn last year but some spring Storms had ruined them before I got There unfortunately they're always a Little finicky speaking of Storms and Speaking of trees kind of a nice little Segue into what we're going to be diving Into today maybe you want to start by Telling us a little bit about cambium Absolutely happy to talk what we really Do is we build regenerative Supply Chains and we do that for wood what that Actually means is we're helping to Create better technology for this really Big industry so wood you know obviously It comes from trees and it's all around Us it's in our desks it's in our floors It's in our buildings it's a $215

Billion industry it's a massive part of Our world Today we source that primarily from Virgin Timber so we cut down trees and Forests we send those often times all Across the globe we don't have any Tracking really there there's really a Limited software stack that actually Connects the dots there and instead We're building a better value chain Where you can use local material you can Use Salvage material and all of that is Connected through our technology so That's what we do is we deliver carbon Smart wood locally salvaged wood tracked On our technology to large buyers to Build buildings to build Furniture to Use any sort of thing that you use wood For and we do that in a really efficient And cost competitive way what is carbon Smart wood why is this a better option Than say maybe what people were Traditionally using yeah absolutely so The big problem that carbon smart wood Solves is this waste material problem so If you think about steel in America we Actually recover around 95 to 98% of so We're going to take steel it's coming Down and ultimately it's going to be Reconstituted and used again for wood It's somewhere like 5 to 10% of that Actually ends up getting reused and so There's this massive massive volume of Wood waste and that wood waste comes

From a few different places it comes From trees coming down in cities trees Are living things it's hard to be a tree In a city and so when trees get older They die and at the end of their life Usually we chip them up into mulch or we Send them to landfill or Reb burn them We also see a lot of wood coming out of Buildings through deconstruction and Then more and more we see wood coming Out of places for you know sort of fuel Load reduction so you know in the American West when you're trying to Address Wildfire you're taking a lot of Material out of forests and right now a Lot of that material is all being wasted So what we're really addressing with Carbon smartwood is taking that wood That's already local that's already There and is currently being wasted and Helping to salvage that to save that Material and turn it into you know Beautiful conference tables the material That you actually build buildings out of And a lot of different components like That so carbon smart wood fundamentally Is it's wood that was wasted that is Salvaged and has full chain of custody Tracking and then also reinvests in new Trees as well and I'm curious what got You interested in the space to begin With have you always been a lover of Wood supply chains a lover of trees yeah Absolutely you know it's one of those

Things where you look backward on and it All sort of Falls in line but while you Were living it didn't really know which Direction it was going for sure but I Was born and raised in a really small Town in rural New Mexico so about 200 People up in the national forest and When I was about seven or eight got hit With pinion pine bark Beetle and so Basically all of the trees around my House died and my mom is a scientist she Helped me understand that that was Really connected to climate change and So from as basically as young as I can Remember I've seen my life's work to be Addressing climate change in a biggest Way as possible so always cared a ton About climate at the same time my dad Was a woodworker and a carpenter he was Somebody who you know had me in the shop All the time grew up around wood and Really fell in love with it but never Thought that that would be something I Did full-time you know from there I also Just like loved teams I've always loved Teams I started my first business when I Was seven you know I've always brought Teams and found group dynamics to be Fascinating and leading teams to be Something that I'm really really Passionate about so kind of took all Three of those and worked at the National Labs first addressing climate Change more on the technical side and

Then focused really on the team side as A Backcountry guide and then ultimately Realized there's this massive problem of You wasted material started seeing that That could be something that wood plays A really big part in and was like wow There's a big solution here and in Particular there's a solution that Really requires new technology and can Create a lot of scale what was I got to Ask what was the business right The my first business yeah yeah so my my Dad and all my family friends are Oldtime folk musicians so I grew up Playing oldtime folk music and we would Go to these like folk festivals Essentially lots of musicians camping in The woods and it's summertime and Basically there's these camps and people Are there for a week and everybody needs Ice for their coolers and so I learned As a kid that I could bring I could Charge people to go pick up ice from the Ice machine that was like a half mile Walk bring it down for them and they Would do it what I ended up learning is That if I actually went and bought the Ice up front and brought it to them I Could get an even better price for them Because I could walk around I could sell It directly eventually in my second year Of it I hired an employee who was I Think a 7-year-old um who was my first Employee and with that model

Unfortunately my first employee ended up Leaving our inventory out because you Know he got distracted and was playing Or doing something that you know a Six-year-old or seven-year-old does and All of our inventory melted so we lost You know all of our Capital it was a Great great early lesson in business Building wait that's so funny though oh My gosh wait not to keep harping on this But what were you charging people we Would charge basically we would charge $10 a bag if we went and got it but if We were walking around we found that we Could charge $20 a bag I also think That's a crazy price that people were Paying for ice but it was really hot and I think we were sort of had that kid Adorable Factor you know that it was Like maybe not a fair market that we are Totally operating in that's a lot that's A lot guys yeah it's a lot but you know Something I did want to ask since you Kind of come from a wood background a Woody background the way that the issues Of wood recycling is addressed now have You seen it evolve over the years cuz I Know that it's obviously an issue that People are still trying to work with but Has it at least gotten better from like When your dad was a woodworker you know When you think about the history of wood In this country there's lots of Different sort of moments there we've

Largely and almost all of our material Today comes from cutting down virgin Timer and there's times where that's Great and that like makes a ton of sense There's also times when that really Doesn't make sense so what we're trying To do is is bring in this new way where You can also Source locally if you think About the last 20 years there's been This really big growth of people seeing The same problem and working to salvage That material and these are a lot of People that we work with and that we Serve with customers on our technology Platform is there's all of these local Wood Products businesses and many of Them are starting to try to salvage Material but they have their own Challenges they don't have technology That serves them and they don't have Access to large consistent Ord so that Actually makes it pretty hard for them To scale so what we're really doing That's different is we're trying to Stitch all of the different pieces Together within the full supply chain And that's what's really transformative But we truly couldn't have done that 20 Or 30 years ago because the basic Components of that supply chain they Just didn't exist so that's been a big Transition you know in the last 20 years As well I think the other thing that You'll note you know what is this

Massive industry it's $25 billion Industry in the US it's also going Through this sort of ational change I Mean my dad's a great example not Software native you know if you try to Talk to him about technology good luck I've tried you know see how that goes But there's a lot of sort of the next Generation of people who are taking over Family businesses who are getting into The space who are really adopting the Tools and seeing the efficiency and Benefits of that as well and I got to Ask before I dive into the actual Tech But has your dad said anything about the Fact that you ended up working in the Wood space like was he like oh I always Knew you'd come around or anything like That yeah I mean my dad was a a Stay-at-home Dad my mom worked growing Up so we've always had just a really Special bond and you know for me my dad Is has always been my best friend and You know getting to do this and getting To work on something that connects me to Him is incredibly powerful and the Biggest thing is that I can just talk to Him about it and he is just so innately Excited it's really nice to be able to Call somebody and I feel like really Blessed as to get to call a parent and Talk about work and they just are like Endlessly interested and that's such a You know such an amazing thing so he's

He's definitely really excited about it And really proud and you know a lot of Other parts of our family are in wood And we just kind of that's what we do as A family in many ways and so it's been a Really cool way to stay connected and to Really learn about that as well I love That I feel like we talk to a lot of Founders on the show who make jokes that They're like yeah my parents still like Don't get what I do or like VCS who are Like my parents still like wish I was a Doctor even though they don't get I'm Doing this like really great High-profile job so that is really Interesting to hear about but I wanted To ask about the actual software piece Of this when you came up with that idea How did you build that out or kind of Like how did you know what to include or How to make it into what it is now yeah No that's a great example and sort of to What we were just saying my dad gets That it's with wood gets that it's good For the planet definitely doesn't Understand the supply chain technology That underpins it so that's the that's The a new part what we really understood In this space and I'm a huge believer That you follow problems you don't Follow your idea of solution and one of The big things we talk about as a Company is listen first so we actually Started addressing this problem thinking

It was City specific we thought we Needed to help cities had all of this Wasted material find a better way to use It and then what we found was that there Was actually a lot of local businesses And sort of medium and larger scale Businesses in and around cities that Could or were trying to use that Material but the fundamental problem was A lack of connectivity and then a lack Of consistent demand and so we really Solved that in two ways we solve that Connectivity problem through our Software what that actually looks like Is its Inventory management it's Business Ops its point of sale that Connects each of these different Businesses so something I always like to Share to sort of like help conceptualize That is you know a lot of us have desks That are made of wood or a table that's Made of wood probably about 8 to 10 Different businesses had to touch that Material before it ends up in your home It's like 45,000 Wood Products Manufacturers in the US and each time You know they pass a board to a dry Producer they have to exchange Information like there's a transaction There they have to sell those pieces and So that's what we really facilitate is We make that a lot easier but we didn't Start there we started by sort of Following the problem listening to the

Problem and realizing wow this is a Really underserved Market that need Technology to actually connect those Dots and what was feedback like when you First started cuz I know you mentioned Like folks like your dad or like that Kind of generation would necessarily Like adopt technology here but Especially with climate companies and Maybe this is just because I've been a Reporter for a number of years which has Made me slightly pessimistic that it's Like okay we build a great climate Solution it seems so obvious but do People adopt it is the industry like Ready to embrace those kind of things so I am curious what it has been like not Necessarily selling this software but Kind of getting people excited or Interested or like what feedback you Have gotten from the folks who would use It so the nice thing about our solution Compared to some others I'm a huge Believer in climate you need everything You know a couple of pieces that Differentiate us is we're really selling Into an existing market so the wood Demand side already exists and there's Also sort of growing trends that are Pushing to adopt software overall so we Have that going for us you know what we Really learned and this goes into sort Of the two parts of our business so we Have the supply chain technology which

Helps Source this material and then we Sell this material carbon smart wood Like we talked about at the beginning to Those large buyers and so what we're Able to do is when we source that Material for somebody like a room and Board or for Patagonia some of our Customers we then have strong orders That help us bring people onto the Platform so the big difference there is If you start initially with hey you know You enter this sort of traditional space It's a lot harder to start a convers Ation and say hey you should buy our Software you should get on this people Are like a little bit hesitant more and More we're seeing people jump on and We're seeing a lot of organic growth There because we've sort of turned the Corner on adoption but initially you Know a lot of it is if you start a Conversation with hey we want to buy Material from you we have an order for You and we can bring you a lot more of These orders if you use this platform That really helps drive that sort of Conversion cycle and so that's part of Why we've built our business like that Is because the demand side people like Really really want to buy this material We've been really overwhelmed with Demand there and that helps us get Sourcing and volume onto the platform in Order to go and meet that demand more

From this conversation right after a Quick Break and something I was interested About cuz I'm I'm just trying to like Imagine it in my head how do you Source The wood how how does that work do you Like work with people or like do you Just go to the forest how does it work Yeah it's a great question so if you Think about sort of the four steps of Our business so you have to Source the Material from somewhere you have to get It to somebody who can process it and Turn it into you know a usable table or Flooring you have to sell it to somebody And then for us you also reinvest in Local climate Solutions and Workforce Development so really focused on Creating a sort of fully circular model That sourcing step we really do a couple Of things so we work with cities we work With States we work Fally to help people Who manage trees and ultimately are Wasting lots of that material understand Where they can put it so a good example Is like a large developer who's building A new you know Housing Development often Times trees are going to come off that Site that's part of our City's growing And so that material right now is going To be wasted we work with them on the Front end to say hey we actually have You know 10 different local processors In the area here's the three that are

Closest to you you can go and take that Material and then we can also work with Them to say and if you want to actually Put that material back into the building If you want to turn you know the tables And you know chairs that are going to go Into your your office from material on Site we can do that full service for you As well and so that's sort of how we Think about that sourcing component is There any type of wood that you guys Can't use like I would assume obviously Like trees that maybe are like heavily Damaged in a wildfire or something like That but is there actual scenarios where Like Wood's been treated a certain way Or anything that makes it not a good fit For this yeah so we really think about It a good analogy for us is if you're Familiar with Misfit markets or Imperfect produce kind of this movement To use they've been on the show yeah They very good but to use that material That's being wasted it's the same thing That we're doing but the big piece there Is you have to find different uses for It and so you can utilize pretty much All of this material not every sing Single piece of wood that is coming out Of a city right now can be turned into a Beautiful table some of it should be Turned into something like a ceiling Which you don't see you don't look at in The same way or can be turned into a

Material like Mass Timber where that's Actually inside a wall so you don't Actually see what it looks like and so There's a lot of different grades for Material and ways to use it so generally You can use pretty much all this Material but you can't use it for every End product so that's how we we really Think about it definitely and Switching Gears a little bit I want to ask about What your journey has been like and Deciding to launch this company I know You had your really lucrative ice Startup so not your first startup but When did you know it was the right time To kind of launch back into startup land And kind of what was it like making that Decision about timing and obviously Starting a company is very different Than say working for a larger Corporation basically the core of it for Me is I was in grad school I had Actually gone straight from undergrad Into grad school was the the youngest Person in my program and I really needed To find work in order to be able to Survive and get through that and I Couldn't get any jobs because I was Competing with people who had a ton of Experience and I was like a month out of Undergrad never thought that I would go Straight into grad school didn't think That was really on the table for me and Then was like oh my God this happen I'm

Here I need to figure out how to pay for It and to sort of be there and I Couldn't get my foot in the door Anywhere and I tried and I tried and I Tried and I just like couldn't get the Foot in the door and so what I was Really focused on was like all right What can I do and it was this Interesting moment where I was seeing That you know I've always focused on Building teams and building businesses But there is a really big opportunity to Do that in a space that adds a lot more Resources and could really unlock sort Of near-term value for me so I ended up Starting the company while working at The world Resource Institute and was Able to go after that in a much bigger Way and something I've meant to ask Before as you were getting the company Together getting everything organized What was fundraising this like like how Did investors respond I'm really I'm Really interested so a couple of Prevailing Dynamics you know initially We really didn't know anything about Fundraising in Venture Capital we've now Raised about 10 million really Understand the space understand how to Speak the language but initially a lot Of it was about learning that and so we Had to do some of that initial learning Curve you know in our our sort of preed Fundraise and our initial rounds and

Then we also had to really get people to Start to understand the space so wood Right it's this massive massive industry Huge technology opportunity huge climate Solution there's all of these pieces That fit there but people don't really Talk about it this isn't a mainstream Idea this isn't something that people Often intuitively understand and so our Largest experience with investors is That once they understand it they're Very interested and you know now because We have so many proof points on the Demand side and have these much larger Sort of off-take contracts coming down The pipe that we're really excited to Announce later this year it's really Changed the fundraising Dynamic but in The you know sort of starting phases a Lot of it was getting literate and Getting people to understand the scale Of this problem is massive because when You say recycled wood I think we all Intuitively think oh that's a small Problem but it's actually we spend Billions of dollars a year as a country Throwing away material like paying to Get rid of it if we salvaged all that Material you know you're looking at 20 To4 billion dollar depending on what you Scope that material with that we could Actually be you know salvaging so There's this gigantic opportunity there And once people understand that then

They tend to be really really excited That makes sense yeah always interested I feel like we talked to Founders a lot Who not say exactly that but there's Always like this education piece and I'm Curious like did you pitch a lot of like Climate focused investors who probably Would have understand understood the Problem a little bit faster or did you Go more of the journalist route or cuz We've had people on before who said they Were in an area where there were funds Dedicated to that and had trouble Raising from them but did not have Trouble raising from generalists and Vice versa I'm like always curious like How that processes yeah I often find With the VC space that it's pretty hard To map what you think somebody will Think of your business to what they Actually will think of your business so We definitely see a good bit of Variability there We've Ended up you Know having a fairly diverse investor Set so we really hit the sort of SAS Investors people who are very interested In pure you know and very software Centric Solutions because what we're Doing in our business model is really Creating technology for an industry that Is fundamentally lacking it and then we Also have played really well in the Climate investment space because of the Speed to market with the climate

Solution wasted wood material biomass Off gasing is over a gigaton emitter Globally today there's a giant Opportunity to really address that at Scale and we have investors who are very Very focused on climate and then we also Have folks like Joe Sai who's the Co-founder of alib Baba who's really Understands Supply chains and how to Make technology you know happen there And so we've been able to pull in a Pretty diverse set that said a lot of That is how we think about what kind of Investors we want and so I've always Been a really big believer that we want To be really selective about who we Bring in and we want people who can fill In gaps who can help us understand what We don't know and we don't know a lot of Things and we're very aware of that as a Company and so we really focus on Bringing in people who can help us see Around corners that we we don't already So we often are trying to focus on that Diversity within our investor set to be Able to answer those forward-looking Questions also I feel like I have to ask This where is the AI angle with your Company I know it has to be there I know It's there it is it absolutely is and And we're actively working on it so the Big opportunity for us is when you think About the future of Supply chains and You think about the regulatory pressure

When you think about having you know the Pressure from people who want to know Where their material comes from so Consumer pressure and then you think About actual you know business and Operations cluster so being as efficient As possible within your supply chain a Lot of that is ultimately tied into Dynamic data that could actually track The material so in our case a board from The tree that it came from through the Trucking company to the primary Processor to the secondary processor to The Kil dryer you know all the way Through the process in order to actually Reach the End customer with real data With real time updates on tracking and Timing and can actually facilitate the Transactions of each of those components So that's the future and that's the Platform that we're really building that Dynamic data layer both has you know Tons of opportunity for optimization so There's big AI application in terms of Optimizing those Supply chains and then The second opportunity that's really big And that we're working on the near term Is taking that data this data that we Already have for lots of our customers And translating that into impact Reporting into environmental product Declarations into you know aligning with Their sort of impact and Emissions Profile so doing all of that is a great

Application for AI as well and sort of The near term and then long long term It's taking all the supply chain data And optimizing that and being able to Really understand very very clearly what Is the most efficient both economically And environmentally way to bring Material to Market and thinking sort of About building the actual company itself What has it been like hiring and kind of What has it been like bringing people Into the business to kind of grow to Where you guys have gotten so far it's Been great I mean I feel incredibly Lucky to have so many smarter better Folks around me and I think that our Team really has benefited from a very Different and sort of diverse group of Thinkers you know folks who approach Problems differently but share a core Set of values you know one of the things That we've notic from the hiring Perspective and this is one of the great Things about our solution is it can Check a lot of different boxes in the Sense that it's a really big climate Solution it's a really big software and Technology solution it's also a really Big job creation solution and a really Big social sort of equity solution Because we're focused on creating access To jobs in cities you know really Bringing back manufacturing to the US And so we end up fitting in a lot of

Different places and I'm a huge believer That in order to bring on people who are Going to create long-term consistent Really creative value for you as a Company you need to make sure that what You're building and your company Narrative fits within their life and Personal narrative very clearly and so One of the advantages I think we have is That there's a bunch of anchor points That different folks on our company are Really doing this work for the same Overall reason but for different Personal reasons and those personal Reasons are very strong and so that's Been a big part of bringing in people And having incredibly low turnover as a Team you know really having a core group That is staying very focused and is very Very committed who was your first hire So our first hire was actually one of Our advisors so we got really lucky and I'm a big believer in this generally is That I like to work with people if you Can figure out a way to do it before you Actually bring them on full-time so we Ended up working with one of our Advisers for about a year before we Ended up bringing him in full-time he's Our VP of growth now he's amazing his Name's Joe McDonald's he's a a huge part Of what we're building and sort of Thinking about building the company Culture and things like that it's 2024

You always have to ask these kind of Questions like are you guys remote are You hybrid how are you kind of fostering The company culture as you've been Working to build the company yeah it's a Great question obviously it's one that You know you have to invest in and I Think one of the biggest things I Learned being a Backcountry guide so Spending a lot of time in these pretty Intense outdoor environments intense Sort of wilderness medicine scenarios is That before you're dealing with the Challenge or like the acute trauma of Whatever's happening that's when you Actually are investing in the problem so What I mean by that is before you get on The trip or you know before you get to a Point where things are really bad that's Where you have to really be investing in Communication resilience all those core Components and so we really believe that And so it can often feel and I'm I'm Guilty of this like wow it feels like Sometimes we're over investing in the Communication or in the culture building But then we see that pay off like not Having turnover not having really any Significant cultural or like conflict Issues as a company I think a lot of That comes from this mentality we call It putting cards in the deck but really Trying to consistently put cards in the Deck and so we do that in a few

Different ways we are a company that was Founded and you know sort of started Working on it during covid and then Fully found it in 2021 so definitely Coming into the world in the remote era We also have a physical presence in Baltimore so a core set of our team is There we try to have you know this this Balance between allowing and enabling You know hybrid work and then also Really facilitating in-person Co-creation and sort of the creativity That comes with that I'm also a really Big believer that kind of this is Another n of one problem people relate To their work very differently and Sometimes you really need a full team we Have plenty of folks on our team who Work incredibly well remotely we also Have plenty of folks on our team who Don't and I think those are you know Things that we try to match a little bit More personto person rather than having You know hey here's a ubiquitous this is A one-size fit-all solution within our Team definitely what would you say has Been the craziest wildest memory you've Had throughout the Journey of this Company I'm thinking like maybe like a Moment where not like failure but like Where you're like oh crap how did that Happen or what's been the wildest thing That's happened because I imagine There's a lot of fun stories that could

Come from working with wood yeah I'll Give a a good one this is from a it's in The past obviously we have have learned Our lesson but a good example of just Being like wow I like never thought this Would be a thing that I was dealing with Or our team was dealing with but we Ended up early on getting a customer in Canada who was looking to buy material And basically our model is we sell Material to an end customer we then use Our technology to go and Source it and So we sort of stitch together that order And we ended up shipping it to them and We get a call from this tracking company That is like I'm stuck at the Canadian Border I have all of this wood and they Won't let me into Canada and we ended up Having to do this just like very Extended complicated Canadian customs And like the size of the log was too Long and there was all of these crazy Logistics that went around that dealing With like the Canadian border patrol and Just never thought that would be Something that we had to deal with we Ended up sorting it out and we learned That there's some really like efficient Ways to do that and really inefficient Ways and so that was like a very early Startup story of being like oh right That is the type of customer that Actually we should say no to until we're Really ready to service them wait that's

Actually crazy like what were the Canadians asking or like what were they Saying because you they said the wood is Too long like they have trees there they Like what yeah it was more about can you Bring in material and a lot of these are Import export laws and then it's also a Lot of it is like agricultural products Laws and so you know if you think about The rules like you can't fly into Different countries with you know fruit Because you might bring in a pest or you Might bring in one of those pieces we're Also dealing with that because there was Questions about how dry was the material Was it dry enough for Canadian standards Versus US standards there's a lot going On in that process H border stuff is so Fascinating to me the different rules Again people who listen to the show Probably think I have the most boring Interests of all time and unfortunately That is one of them but we only have Time for about one more question before Wrap so I did want to ask you you are Building obviously in the climate space Climate change is something that you've Long been interested it isn't the right Word but passionate about or sort of Passionate about finding solutions for It and building in a company like this Does the concept of climate change is it Daunting or does it inspire you cuz it Is such a huge issue obviously we feel

The effects about the fact that it's Getting worse like seemingly every day How do you kind of wrap your head around Working toward a solution for a problem That really is big and sometimes does Feel like it is continuing to grow I Mean I think that it's two things I'm a Huge believer in being really honest and Being direct and understanding that Climate change the impacts of it are Going to be horrendous they're also Going to be really disproportionately Impacting People based on sort of Existing socioeconomic inequalities so It's going to be way worse for certain Groups and not as bad for others but It's going to be really catastrophic for Us overall and that we need to be very Honest about that like we need to own That we need to reckon with that and I'm The huge believer that we only get to Solutions if we believe that we can and So I actually am fascinated you know my Co-founder and I we have gotten into Ultramarathons we're doing this run in The Sahara actually next week it's six Marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert all self supported and we do These things because teach you about how Do you go after something that feels Impossible like running 100 miles in a Day that we did last year in a way that Actually gets you there and what we've Learned in that is that the only way you

Go and address something as audacious as And in Aievedirect it's also about like putting Yourself in the race to possibly finish Like you're never going to run 100 miles In a day unless you sign up for a race To run 100 miles in a day and I think That's the same thing with climate Change is we're never going to build the Type of climate solutions that I think We want to see which are you know really Addressing climate change but also doing It that in a way that is not just like Recreating the same economic system that We have we want a better more Equitable One we only do that if we believe that That's possible so staying connected to That belief and also being very honest That getting there is going to be very Very hard like I know this race next Week it's going to be horrible it's Going to be awful there's going to be so Many moments that are going to be Incredibly difficult and that's where we Need to like build toughness sort of and Build resilience within ourselves as Individuals within our teams within our Society to be able to deal with those Things so that's how we think about it But I really believe we can get there I Think it's only going to happen if we're Honest about how much work has to go Into it and that we're going to have to Make some very serious changes to our

Livelihoods to be able to have the Benefits of not having a world that Totally has catastrophic climate change And the last question before we wrap of Course we have to ask do you have a Favorite type of tree I do I do have a Favorite type of tree my favorite type Of tree are Aspen trees and the reason Is twofold one is because I grew up in In the mountains in New Mexico and so Was always surrounded by them and you Know spent a ton of time with them the Other reason is because they're actually You know the largest living organism in The world so populous tremuloides which Is a species Aspen trees are actually When you see like a Grove of Aspens They're all connected it's all one tree Which is really really amazing so the Biggest organisms in our world are Actually it's it's one tree oh that's so Funny we were like taking a bet we're Like what tree is it going to say we Think we thought it was going to be Pine But um good guess that's my number Too well perfect well now that we've got The most important question of the day Answered we do have to wrap but thank You so much for coming on the show Ben This was fun thank you so much Appreciate it Y'all and that was our conversation with Ben and before we dive into the outro Quick situational awareness if we sound

A little manic a little crazy a little Insane on the outro is because we just Are recording this during the earthquake In New York so if you're unaware New York got a 4.8 earthquake on Friday April 5th um um we are having an Earthquake what the heck we are having An earthquake are we having an Earthquake yeah we are what should I do What The um so does that mean my flag is Going to get Canceled but anyway anyway back to your Regular scheduled programming Dom what Was the LIE we're we're going to yeah We're going to pretend like the Earth Did not shake and we're in a skyscraper Yes so the LIE the lie was that Ben's First company was selling firework to Campers for $10 a bundle he was selling Ice and he's selling $20 like the most Luc business I've ever heard it did make Me think of I once was traveling with my Family and we stopped to buy ice and my Aunt was like oh well I have cash so Like let me just like don't use up the Cash for this she's like I don't know How much six bags of ice could cost like Here's $60 and the six bags of ice was $13 so I always think about that that's Very very expensive ice six bags for 13 That's a good price that's a good price $20 is like Luxury Ice it must be it has

Be I really like this conversation Because we've had like recycling Companies on before and recycling Obviously is a big thing that people Talk about but I always forget how much Stuff gets wasted Beyond like the Obvious like of course wood gets wasted When a building gets torn down or Something like that but it never really Like occurred to me like how much wood Would get wasted or kind of like how Large of a problem this really was yeah It remind me when we were talking to Glacier about the robots and Recycling And it made me realize that I really Don't know what happens to Wood after I See it in in a tree like I have no idea What we do to Wood I don't know the life Cycle of it I'm not surprised that what We're doing now might not be like the Most sustainable but I'm also really Happy and not surprised that people are Quickly addressing that issue and making It more sustainable cuz yeah I mean I I Literally know nothing about wood I Guess yeah cuz I guess when I think of Like in my mind like quote unquote like Wasted wood I just think of like things That have burned but of course like There's so many other things I don't Know I would have thought that like the Wood wouldn't be able to be reused if it Had certain like varnishes on it or Paint or something but it sounds like

None of that stuff's really an issue Yeah I know now I'm like is the whole Time and they're probably is not any in Relationship at all but I was thinking About vibrant Planet because I was Wondering I was like is there Crossover With the wood and use in wildf fired AI I was like is there something going on Cuz it seems like this is it's just Really interesting I never I just never Really thought about it I loved his Backstory I love that it was coming from Someone with like a history of wood it Reminded me of when we were talking to All those like the people trying to get Into farming Tech and they were like Yeah you know the farmers were like Really clickish cuz we were Outsiders And then you had this guy Ben who's like He's like no you know my family's in Wood we're wood you know like we're like Wood guys yeah and so I was like okay he Knows the he knows the industry yeah and It also is just like him becoming a Founder and launching this company and We were asking him like why did you know The timing was right and he was Essentially like well I couldn't get a Job and I had this idea and I'm like hm I wonder how many times that's the real Answer and people don't tell us that it Probably is more often or not the real Answer Cuz that's like a good that is a good

Time like if you like you do have an Idea and you don't have like an obvious Other thing to be doing like it's not Weird to say that it's just like I feel Like that is a funny way to launch a Company and take on money and stuff like That but yeah it's good to hear about The fundraising journey to that because You never know I climate stuff is always Funny in that way where it's like in my Mind I'm like will investors would see Why this is needed so obviously like It's a climate solution and like they Can see everything going on whatever Like even regardless of cuz everyone's a Little more political about it than they Um actually invest by like most majority Of people know that climate changes real Even if they vote for people who say Otherwise but it's just like I'm always Surprised when people have luck they Don't have luck there is the educational Element there isn't you never know what VC's like know about these different Things yeah I know and that's why I was I was actually like looking at how much He's raised I think it's like around 8 Million right or something I was Actually expecting it to be more than That like it seemed like he would raise It seems like climate Tech is kind of Hot and rivate Planet raised a lot of Money and so I was like something like This even Glacier I think raised a

Little bit more maybe not so maybe not Then I guess also it depends on like how The company's doing I've covered a few Rounds recently that were not related to The space at all but they were smaller Rounds and it came up in like both the Conversations I had with the different Companies one was shorthold Trucking and One was SAS for guided hunters and it Was like well we're profitable so we Just like don't need as much money and We don't need to like give up as much Equity and stuff and like he didn't say That about himself or whatever but I'm Like yeah if you get a lot of demand Like you don't necessarily need as much Capital to expand yeah I guess but you Know I was also thinking about what a Glacier times this crossover cuz the Robots maybe we could have robots doing Something with wood I don't know it's an Early idea you're like I'm still working On it I'm still working on it I'm still Working on it but it's like the whole Time I was like a robot could like be Near a tree and Source out the would I Think yeah cuz especially with this it's Definitely like the foundation for how This could like continue to grow cuz Like just having this way to connect People and like just it sounds like it's Kind of just is starting the supply Chain to get this like quote unquote Wasted wood to the sources you need it

So like there's so much stuff that could Be built on top of this that could be Interesting like adding on a company That like physically goes and does the Recycling itself and things like that so It's like this is definitely a good base That either if kambon wants to grow off Of or if they don't they want stick in a Lane and they want to partner with Companies we can grow off of it like There's just so much you can do from Here found is hosted by myself Tech Crunch senior reporter Becca scac Alongside senior reporter Dominic madori Davis found is produced by Maggie Stamitz with editing by Kell our Illustrator is Bryce Durban founds Audience development in social media is Managed by Morgan little Alyssa Stringer And Natalie chman Tech crunch's audio Products are managed by Henry pikovit Thanks for listening and we'll be back Next Week


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