Bryan is an Operator-In-Residence at Grok Ventures. Bryan was the first General Manager at Atlassian, responsible for the Jira business unit, and later the Server business unit which represented about two thirds of Atlassian’s revenue during that period. With degrees in Computer Systems and Electrical Engineering from Stanford, Bryan has been a founder/Head of Product in early stage technology companies in Silicon Valley and Austin, and had two successful exits with acquisitions by Cisco and Dell. Bryan now focuses on clean tech and how to get businesses behind the climate movement.
I think there is a lot of focus on renewable energy in clean tech, and of course that is an incredibly important pillar in decarbonisation. But there are other very big categories of carbon emissions, like food waste (biggest source of CO2e) and agriculture. So technology that can solve the bigger problems that don’t always get the attention are really interesting to me. One of our portfolio companies, Goterra, has an incredibly novel solution using insects and robotics to tackle food waste. Another portfolio company, Vow Foods, is solving the problem of creating meat without needing to raise animals, through “cultivated” (cell-based) meat. Exciting times!
With companies in clean tech or outside of clean tech, being clear on their mission is really important. Is your mission to remove CO2? Or help endangered species? Or something else? Being very clear on your main goal (“North Star”) is really important - I see far too many companies who want to solve 10 different problems rather than just solve one.
I believe it takes leaders in several different spaces. There are mature spaces, like renewable energy, where leadership looks like SunCable, building undersea electric transmission networks to power Singapore from the Northern Territory. They are building on decades of investment in solar, and now are using it to solve an entirely new set of problems. Then you have SunDrive, who hold the world record for solar cell efficiency, who are making solar cells more efficient and more affordable. Then you have companies like Antora, who are introducing brand new technology - electrifying heavy industry with thermal energy storage for zero-carbon heat and power. Each has a very clear mission and are focused on their part of the overall problem of climate change, and technology is at the core of what they are delivering.
I helped create WorkForClimate, which is for climate concerned professionals trying to make a difference in their own company. I think many think of the primary benefit as marketing - to employees, to recruits, and to customers. However, the leaders have found ways to actually save money from shifting to renewables, and future proofing their business. A lot of companies lose any real feeling of innovation or creativity as they scale, and tackling their path to become carbon neutral or carbon negative as quickly as possible is a great way to find the leaders in a company who know how to make real change inside of an organisation.