Australian summer, Feb 2017, I took a break from coding and walked around Sydney harbor. Despite the stunning beauty, I felt an unnatural, desert-like, searing heat in the air. And every year it is getting hotter there. In 2019, Sydney set a record of 107 degrees. That same year there were devastating fires in many parts of Oz. In my global travel, I've seen too much of what is happening to our planet due to climate change. The record heat events in Australia are but one of most striking effects I've personally experienced. A graphic summarizing the Australian temperature change (below right) is from wikipedia.
Like so many people, I've long wanted to 'do something' about climate change, but felt personally unempowered and uneducated.
A Road Trip
Last year, CarbonDown co-founder, Ian Arko and I drove down a gravel road to visit a spot just outside of Alamosa, CO. We took this detour from a real estate road trip. On this trip, Ian was teaching me about the practicalities and ecology of living in off-grid housing in his native southern Colorado.
But what was outside Alamosa? As we drove to the site shown above, Ian talked excitedly about his dreams for this picturesque spot. We discussed many details involved in implementing sustainable methods for housing. This was not an unusual conversation, I'd met Ian a few years earlier, he's always had an insatiable curiosity and impulse toward building. He was now doing both in the physical world as an EE major at Stanford and also in the logical world of software, coding CarbonDown.
Why did I join CarbonDown as its first advisor and board member? Of course Ian's drive is a factor, but it's more than that.
"You need to meet Leif!"
Ian invited me to talk with his CarbonDown co-founder Leif Gonzales-Kramer late last year. Given Leif's impressive knowledge and experience taking action to combat the impact of climate change, I was intrigued. Leif's quiet perseverance is a natural balance to Ian's electricity. Lief has worked in locations around the globe on this problem for his entire life. From South Africa to Iowa, his actions show his commitment to combating the destruction of our world. In 2020, WHILE co-founding CarbonDown, Leif graduated from Stanford majoring in Earth Systems.
Leif's experience and ability to evaluate the impact of carbon offset projects is key to the value that the CarbonDown app provides.
What does the first advisor to a startup do? TL; DR whatever matters most. From reviewing pitch decks to scouring source code for security vulnerabilities, I aim to add value. Early-stage startups are needy. During my 15+ years in tech, first working for Microsoft, then running my own consultancy, I've contributed to many of them. CarbonDown is different though, this time it's personal.
I feel quite privileged to be contributing alongside two hard-working and informed co-founders. In CarbonDown, Leif and Ian are building a usable, beautiful and powerful mobile app which enables all of us to heal our world. Join in - sign up for the beta via this link.