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🌞 Earlywork #47: Dishin’ the Dirt on Cleantech
Featuring Kiya Taylor (EVP) and Nick Zeltzer (CEFC), Gigs from Lyka and Mantel Group + One Minute Hustle with Thanh Du (Founder & CEO of Oss)
Hot off the press today is Earlywork #47, a careers newsletter providing free weekly career resources, news, jobs & real-world career stories for young Aussies & Kiwis in the tech, startup & social impact landscape.
If you’re not already part of the crew, subscribe now to keep a pulse on our latest stories and conversations:
🗞 We made it in the AFR!
Usually, we’re the ones interviewing cool guests, but this time, we got to sit on the other side of the table to chat about how Earlywork started, the power of the community and the future of the early careers space.
Thank you to Natasha Gillezeau and the AFR team for this feature!
💡Weekly Cheeky Tip
Roll up your sleeves and get those gardening gloves on because we’re about to dish the dirt on what’s been happening in the Cleantech space. 🍀
Our headlines have been dominated by lip service to climate action, the outcomes of COP26 (or the lack thereof), accusations of greenwashing and more.
It’s really not pretty.
Our most recent Earlywork Community Masterclass featured Kiya Taylor (Head of Platform & Community at EVP) and Nick Zeltzer (Associate Director, Clean Energy Innovation Fund @ CEFC), and from that conversation, it was clear that there’s a whole heap to be hopeful about as well when it comes to cleantech.
💸 Following the money in cleantech
Rewind a couple of years and cleantech investing often fell into the “too hard” bucket - it’s hardware-heavy (making a lot of VCs cringe), feedback loops are much slower than SaaS software and it’s simply hard from a scientific point of view too.
However, the narrative is shifting:
Tesla (yep, it’s a cleantech company) is now valued at over a trillion dollars
Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes announced that they are committing $1.5 billion of their personal wealth towards reversing climate change
Aussie Agritech Loam Bio raises a $40 million series A just last month (October 2021)
And it’s just the beginning.
What was once an asset class just to “tick the boxes” is now a growing area that not only makes sense for the planet but also rakes in financial returns as well.
ESG funds have quadrupled over 2019-2020 and VC’s are “fighting” to have a seat at the clean-tech table. And although one startup or one VC alone probably can’t reverse the effects of climate change overnight, those in the startup ecosystem can become leading players towards our planet’s most urgent problems.
Here’s Nick’s take on the current climate of cleantech investing:
“The quality of entrepreneurs in the sector that are now targeting solutions in the space means the velocity of new ideas has increased exponentially and with that, we’re seeing generalist VCs also playing a role in the space as opposed to just specialist VCs and government”.
🦘 Cleantech in Australia
“Cleantech is now so many things. There was a point in time where cleantech was very much synonymous with energy-tech. Now it’s evolved beyond that.” - Kiya
Cleantech is no longer just solar panels or wind turbines.
It’s everything from utility-scale energy generation, energy storage & transportation, alternative proteins, energy retailing and gadgets we use in our homes.
🤔 So, what does all this mean for early careers?
The cleantech space is, by no means, the easiest sector to be building or operating in. However, the challenges are met with equally large opportunities.
Regulation. There’s a lot of innovation that cannot happen unless there are changes in regulation. Changes in the market will open many doors for entrepreneurs and investors.
Political. There is a lot of politics surrounding the sector. Find ways to cut through the noise and defend the people.
Complexity. Cleantech is inherently complex. In terms of science, it’s hard. Unfortunately, trying to read your energy bill and understanding the tariffs and charges is also very hard. The opportunity here is to simplify UX and focus on the end customer experience.
Diversity. Previously the sector has been dominated by a few particular skillsets - engineering and economics to be exact. Bringing in talent from diverse backgrounds will accelerate creativity & innovation in cleantech.
Both Nick and Kiya are great examples of people who started their careers in very different fields.
Kiya, ironically, started in the mining sector, developing an appreciation for energy generation and the complexity of that process.
Nick started off in investment banking and later “followed [his] heart and brain to see that there are plenty of problems worth solving”.
“If you want to be in the cleantech space, you can...it makes sense, both for the planet, but also commercially now which has been the main change that we’ve seen over the years”.
What content would you like us to cover next? Anything we missed? Keen to share your own Weekly Cheeky Tip?
🌏 Earlywork Community
🐝 The Buzz
We held our biggest event to date with Sahil Lavingia - the Founder & CEO of Gumroad. Check out his book The Minimalist Entrepreneur: How Great Founders Do More with Less.
And we had our first Earlywork Melbourne meetup! Shoutout to Bryce Chee for organising 🧡
📚 Trending Topics
Our favourite reads and resources being discussed in the Earlywork community.
Twitter thread on the differential advantage of Tiger vs. Traditional VCs
A podcast about one of the most talked-about NFT collections - Bored Ape Yacht Club
🔎 Gigs Spotlight
💪 Strategy & Analytics Associate @ Lyka (Sydney)
Lyka is a pet wellness startup that is on a mission to put our doggos’ health first, and change the status-quo of feeding our pets highly processed, unnatural kibble that often sits on shelves for months. Lyka is also making strides as a green company as Australia’s only carbon negative dog food.
They’re looking for a Strategy & Analytics Associate to join the team and dig into strategic business problems and create effective and scalable solutions to support Lyka’s growth.
Check it out and apply at 👉 earlywork.co/gigs
⚙ Future Associates Graduate Program @ Mantel Group (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Auckland)
Mantel Group is a “house of brands” company, focusing on building technology solutions for business partners. Some of their brands include kasna - helping businesses leverage Google Cloud technologies, eliiza - creating scalable data science solutions and CMD - cloud technology consulting.
Mantel Group is now launching its first graduate program in software engineering, cloud engineering and data.
Check it out and apply at 👉 earlywork.co/gigs
Disclaimer: Earlywork received monetary compensation for the roles featured in this section.
1️⃣ 🕐 💪 One Minute Hustle
We are back once again with One Minute Hustle, a bite-sized interview with an emerging Australian young startup founder or operator.
This week, let’s get inside the noggin of a young founder who is helping the people get paid for the personal data that they share.
⚙️ What are you working on?
We are working to change the way the data industry treats you and your data.
We have built Oss, a data ownership platform that helps you profit from your own data by renting it to businesses as insights - anonymously.
Imagine you’re an artist receiving royalties from sharing your songs on Spotify.
With the Oss platform, you receive royalties from sharing your data with us!
🌱 How’d you get started?
4 key events over 3 years:
Event 1 - Starting working at a Social Media marketing agency, discovering the value of data and insights. Our entire business model was dependent on our ability to read those insights well and advertise to you better. Yes, I was one of those people who made those annoying ads that tracked you.
Event 2 - Facebook x Cambridge Analytica scandal opened my eyes to how our data can be wielded to manipulate us to unfavourable outcomes. If it happened once, it could happen again.
Event 3 - I followed Andrew Yang during the 2020 presidential race and heard him speak about data ownership for all through legislation. Making Facebook, Google and all the tech companies pay you a Data Dividend for the information you’ve provided to them.
Event 4 - COVID happened and the business I was running went to a complete halt. I decided to do a bunch of research and followed this thread of data ethics, ownership and privacy.
And the rest is history!
🤔 Why do you do what you do?
Curiosity and a sense of duty.
After doing all this research, I found it so bizarre that we’re all suppliers of our own data (the oil of the 21st Century and multi-billion dollar industry), making money for everyone else besides ourselves.
In addition, I want to shine a light on the shadiness of the data industry, buying and selling our information up in the ‘cloud’ with no transparency for us and no strong control mechanisms.
Here are the questions that keep me up at night:
Can we reverse the power dynamics of the data industry, where people are included in all the conversations to do with them and their personal information?
Can we actually empower people to truly own and profit from their data like property or an asset?
What happens when Google or Facebook wants to shut us down or absorb us?
Keen to share your story, or know a young startup founder or operator we should feature next?
Share your deets and we’ll get in touch!
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Ciao for now,