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Human Nature: Insights from Interactive 2022

June 14, 2022

· 7 min read
The Elemental Team

1106 days. Little did we know when we said goodbye to all our friends, colleagues, and collaborators at the end of Interactive 2019 that it would be over a thousand days before we would say hello again in person. It was worth the wait.

At Interactive 2022:

  • We welcomed 450+ people from all over the world
  • Hosted 100+ 1:1 meetings between investors and portfolio companies from Elemental, Earthshot Ventures, and PRIME Coalition
  • Heard from 16 incredible innovators in Cohort X
  • Dove deep into the intersections of technology and community and policy
  • Announced a new $32.5M, five-year commitment from the U.S. Office of Naval Research

If you weren’t able to make it, we’re here for you! We’ve collected key insights and highlights from the afternoon of demos, dealflow, and dialogue. We hope that you will learn something new and come away feeling the way we did at the end of the day — grateful for the grit, empathy, and ingenuity on display from so many people working across industries to ensure a better future for people and planet.

And if you’d like to learn more about any of these entrepreneurs and their companies, you can drop a virtual business card to get in touch.

Until next year!

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Speed, Scale, Startups, and Schools of Sustainability

In a conversation with Ryan Panchadsaram, co-author of Speed & Scale with John Doerr and Advisor at Kleiner Perkins, Elemental’s CEO Dawn Lippert set the theme of the day: “Entrepreneurs are one of the most powerful accelerants driving us towards driving down the gigatons.” And Ryan added, “Entrepreneurs are the ones convincing policymakers that there’s a future there.”

Over the course of two hours, we dove into all 10 climate OKRs, which range from accelerants like winning policy, innovating, and investing to solutions such as electrifying transportation to removing carbon.


Climate Tech’s Unfair Advantage: Policy

A trio of experts working at the seam of climate and policy joined our COO Avra van der Zee to discuss what climate tech entrepreneurs and investors need to know about policy, one of the most crucial drivers of scale. Here are a few of our favorite gems 💎:

  • “With all of the infrastructure money coming down the pipeline, it’s almost silly as an entrepreneur not to plan around policy.” — Evette Ellis (ChargerHelp!)
  • “Change moves at the speed of trust. Your solution is made better by taking the time to listen and learn from the community.” — Alexandria McBride (Waverley Street Foundation & formerly City of Oakland)
  • “If community change moves at the speed of trust, policy and agency change moves at the speed of risk abatement. It takes a long time to de-risk change for policymakers.” — Josh Stanbro (Elemental Policy Fellow & City and County of Honolulu)

Hot Takes, New Funds

As new climate funds seem to appear almost every day, we flipped the script and put a trio of investors on center stage. They spoke about deals they were particularly excited about, big bets they got horribly wrong, and how they’re reading the recent turmoil in the markets.

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Elemental’s Cohort X took the stage in thematic groups, speaking about industry trends, company momentum, and the benefits of involving community in technology deployment. At Elemental, we are guided by the belief that technology brings one half of the solution and community brings the other. As you will see, this idea shines through in the way many of these companies are serving communities with their climate solutions.

Zero Carbon

From a technology platform for forest restoration and sustainable aviation fuels to robots sequestering carbon on farms, this group of entrepreneurs’ innovations are redefining what it means to protect nature and remove carbon from the atmosphere. These are absolutely critical to meeting our climate goals, as protecting nature alone is 30% of the climate solution.

Some 💎s:

  • “Nature has been investing in this pretty awesome carbon removal technology for about 20,000 years, called forests.” — Alison Wolff (Vibrant Planet)
  • “Biggest misconception of carbon removal is that it is expensive. There are technologies today that can be deployed at scale and can durably remove carbon for a thousand-plus years that don’t cost hundred or thousands of dollars per ton.” — Jason Aramburu (Climate Robotics)
  • “Through Elemental’s Navigator program, we were introduced to United Airlines, which I’m stoked to announce invested in Dimensional Energy to help us bring speed and scale and serve the global sustainable aviation fuel demand.” — Jason Salfi (Dimensional Energy)

Climate Resilience

From monitoring wastewater and removing microplastics to recovering e-waste and greening the clean technology supply chain, this group of highly skilled entrepreneurs are transforming how we make and use the products, goods, and materials that are all around us. “In these highly engineered, technical solutions, the things that sits at the center of them all is people,” said Elemental’s Senior Director of Innovation Kim Baker. “We all know that we’ve got to get it right, and we’re got to get it right right now.”

Some 💎s:

  • “Most people have a huge appetite for devices but they never think of what happens when they reach the end of life.” — Bonnie Mbithi (WEEE Centre)
  • “The demand for critical minerals that will power the energy transition is growing exponentially.” — Megan O’Connor (Nth Cycle)
  • “There are 5.25 trillion particles of plastic in our oceans. Thats more pieces of plastic in our oceans than stars in our galaxy.” — Adam Root (Matter.)
  • “The value of one yes is worth about a thousand nos, so just keep going for that one yes.” — Ryan Dunn (Sentry)

Built Environment & Infrastructure: Buildings

This group of entrepreneurs is working to eliminate the world’s most potent greenhouse gas (SF6), making it possible for commercial buildings owners to reap the financial value of energy efficiency and renewables, digitizing the energy transition in emerging markets, and purifying indoor air while reducing the carbon emissions in buildings.

Some 💎s:

  • “These issues are so complex, you also need to build a complex coalition.” —Israel Biran (enVerid Systems)
  • “Always be listening to our customers, listening to the market, staying humble and not assuming that you have all the right answers.” — Jason Gregory (EnergyRM)
  • “The importance of actually focusing not only on the impact, as to how its changing someone’s life day-to-day, but really what it looks like to transform a continent” — Ugwem Eneyo (SHYFT Power Solutions)

Built Environment & Infrastructure: Mobility

“This group is building bridges. They are committed to moving older, legacy industries into the new future,” said Elemental’s Managing Director of Portfolio Danya Hakeem as she introduced the four mobility focused companies in Cohort X. “And it’s no surprise they are intentionally thinking about the communities that are directly impacted by climate change.”

Some 💎s:

  • “The last time the utility and automotive industries spent some quality time together was in the early 1900s … and due to electrification there is an opportunity to bring together these two industries and reduce 60% of U.S. emissions.” — Apoorv Bhargava (WeaveGrid)
  • “I wanted to create a place where gig workers can feel good about what they’re doing, and not like pawns in some big machine.” — Herb Coakley (Courial)
  • “Millions of riders have already solved for their regional mobility challenges by using the greenest form of transportation — busses.” — Numaan Akram (Rally)
  • “We’re not disrupting, we’re transforming and with the right people you can do incredible things.” — Vijay Harrell (TradeLanes)

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