You may know Stefan as one of our most popular mentors in the Climate Salad community, and previously working in startups for AWS, he now joins Climate Salad as Director of Growth. We caught up with Stefan to learn more about why he jumped ship to the Salad and what his plans our for Climate Tech in this region.
- Stefan, what inspired you to jump in at Climate Salad?
I have been worried about climate change since learning about it in the mid 80’s from my brother who undertook an Environmental Studies degree at the University of California, Santa Cruz. We’d talk about integrated pest management versus pesticides, the greenhouse effect that carbon emissions caused, the hole in the ozone layer from CFCs and the destruction of salmon fisheries as a result from clear cutting old growth forests which destroyed streams. From then till fairly recently, taking action for the climate and environment was mainly in the scientific, activist, political and not for profit realms.
As an entrepreneur from early days, I didn’t see a way to connect startup life with taking action to address my growing climate change awareness and compounding guilt. In the back of my mind I thought it was a foregone conclusion that mankind would eventually snuff itself out by focusing entirely on perpetual growth economics underpinned by carbon fuels and the consumption of the natiral world.
The epiphany came during the holidays in 2020 when I started reading all the great books that had come out around the “green new deal” and “the third industrial revolution”. Noam Chomsky is a favourite for me in this genre, way to go Noam! I realised that addressing climate change had crossed over into mainstream economics and that mankind wasn’t destined to play out an inevitable extinction level event but could address the situation and even reverse the damage within the capital constraints of the economics systems we had devised over the past 200+ years.
Mick called me in 2021 and I started my journey out of darkness and into the light. Initially I applied my startup mentoring skills to help Climate Salad companies. Along the way I learned about all kinds of direct changes I could make so that I could personally contribute to the solution and then I embraced them. My house is powered by solar, I now drive an EV, I’m steadily increasing my home garden food production, you get the idea.
Then Mick said to me “come help me grow this thing to have the biggest impact possible”. How could I say no to that? The opportunity to combine startups and help save the climate and environment is simply too good to pass up.
If all goes well, I’ll be doing this work until my personal extinction, we’ll help mankind get on track to stabilise the climate and repair the damage done so far and we’ll help heaps of Aussie startup founders that Climate Salad take their solutions global which will accelerate the needful change.
- What are you working on at Climate Salad?
It’s a startup, we all work on everything :-) That said my main focus is on helping our founders tap into the best mentor network that is specifically focused on the emerging climate tech economy, get investment and get global customers.
- What are your super powers?
I spend most of my mentoring time with founders vetting business models plus product and goto market strategies. I have been told this is my super power which is a good thing because I really love doing it :-) I guess that makes me a vet-eran. Can’t resist the Dad joke.
- What excites you most about Climate Tech?
It’s a no brainer. If you’re not doing something that ties into climate tech now, you will be in a few years time. Every aspect of our economy and day-to-day lives will be as fundamentally impacted by climate tech as it was by the industrial revolution brought on by carbon resources poured into engines, chemicals, food and everything.
- How do you take your coffee?
Not at all as of recently. A few months back my daughter said to me “Dad, why don’t you try green tea? It has the caffeine to stimulate your brain in the morning but none of the dehydration or crash that coffee has.” I gave her such a Dad reply “I don’t like green tea because it’s like drinking dust”. The thing is that my daughter always proves right, especially when my response is so Dad-like. On faith I started drinking green tea and now only occasionally drink coffee. My body feels better for it. I love learning things from my daughter.
- What do you do for fun on the weekends?
Why wait for the weekend? As much as I can during the week and on the weekends, I go for walks on the beach with my daughter and our three dogs as well as going to yoga.
- What do you do to help our Climate apart from all the amazing work you do at Climate Salad?
I switched my capital to climate tech and sustainability. I’ve gone almost 100% solar and electric for all the energy I use, I’m producing a steadily increasing part of my plant-based diet hydroponically at home, I buy offsets that fund UN gold standard climate projects for the rest. I continually challenge myself to do more, better for the planet.