Climb By VSC: Episode 21

Published March 22nd, 2023

⁠Leo Banchik⁠ is a Partner at ⁠Global Founders Capital⁠, leading their early-stage climate tech venture fund. He has a strong passion for sustainable technology and a unique combination of engineering and sustainability consulting experience. A mechanical engineer by background and graduate of the ⁠Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)⁠, Leo has conducted research at two US National Labs and holds a MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on thermofluids. Before Global Founders Capital, Leo was a product manager at an early-stage desalination startup and spent 5 years in a ⁠global consultancy⁠'s sustainability practice.

Some Of The Best Talent Are Leaving Their Jobs, PhDs, and More To Get Into Climate Tech

Vijay Chattha: Hello everybody. Welcome to another edition of Climb by VSC Ventures, where we bring on company builders in the space of Climate Technology. And today we have Leo Banchik, who's joining us from Global Founders Capital. Someone I got to meet recently at a salon dinner and got very inspired by after speaking to and really excited for today. So thanks for coming on the show, Leo.

Leo Banchik: Yeah, my pleasure. Likewise inspired at that dinner. I think that was a fun event. So thanks for having me there as well, Vijay.

VC: Yeah, of course. So Leo, let's talk about your journey. Tell us about how you got to this stage of investing and what was that path like from, you know, sort of your professional career through investing career?

LB: Sure. I'll start a little early. I grew up in Las Vegas, which is a kind of very unsustainable city. Lots of sun but still lots of natural gas use, you know, not as much solar as I'd want – even back then while I was growing up. So I caught the climate bug early. Went to my undergrad in Vegas, was doing solar energy research back in 2006. Worked at the DOE for a bit, worked at a couple of national labs, but I always wanted to either work in commercializing clean tech or working in clean tech. Saw clean tech 1.0 boom and bust. You know, saw some really interesting companies around that time. Got to work with one of them. And then you know, during the bust, I decided to go to grad school, you know, went to do my masters and PhD in mechanical engineering with a focus on my favorite subject, which is thermodynamics, energy conversion, heat and mass transfer fluid mechanics – the disciplines, which I thought would prepare me for a lifelong career in climate. At that point, you know, not a lot of folks were excited about climate. It was still after the bust and clean tech was still a dirty word to investors, as far as I understand. I really wanted to do fusion research. When I got to school in Boston, I was at MIT, and there just wasn't enough funding for fusion at the time, and so ended up doing awesome work in water and kind of desalination in particular, looking at new thermodynamic cycles for reducing energy consumption, looking at new methods of renewable energy production as well. So really enjoyed my time there. And then, leaving grad school, I thought about commercializing a clean technology. The science wasn't as strong as I wanted it to be, plus, the funding situation wasn't really there, as I just mentioned. So I decided to go into consulting and chose McKinsey. It had what I thought was the strongest sustainability practice and got to do about five years of work that I'm very proud of and very fondly remember. I got to work with a lot of private equity and venture capital funds, helping them think about where to allocate capital within the sustainable landscape and got to work with some startups on go to market. Got to work with some incumbents on energy transition. And then, after about five years, I – maybe it's because I'm from Vegas, and I've got the gambler inside of me perhaps – but I decided that instead of telling others where to allocate their capital, I wanted to try and do it myself. So I thought about where I wanted to be an investor. I had advised many of them, done diligences, done strategies, done a bunch of SPAC work, and I thought about where in the stack I wanted to play. I realized I liked working with, you know, founders at the earliest stages, pre-seed, seed, opportunistically series A. Found great alignment with Global Founders Capital, where that's exactly where we invest. Yeah, I knew I wanted to do just software and hardware, which was one of the reasons I joined GFC. We do hardware as well, moonshots as well as some software. So that's kind of the journey all the way from Vegas to now GFC, where I lead our climate tech practice.

VC: Excellent. It sounds like you got a pretty diverse background in different types of climate technology interests. So solar, desalination, also looking at fusion, even though you were studying at that point, but as you're now an investor, let's talk about your portfolio. What are the deals that you've done? What was your thesis behind those deals? I heard one thing which is hardware and software. Talk us through, you know, your deal flow and your deals.

LB: Yeah, so I've been at GFC for over a year and a half. I've done nine investments since being at GFC. I maybe won't mention any company by name here, but I'll talk about kind of broadly the thesis – unless you want me to – but I'll talk about the kind of broad thesis behind them.

VC: Hey plug away man, plug away.

LB: It’s me not wanting to oversell, but I mean, you know, they're all exciting for different reasons. They're all in different verticals. That's the exciting thing about climate tech. It's not one solution that's going to solve this problem. It's everything. We need, you know, every industry needs to go through its own green industrial revolution in order to make a difference. So let me just pull a few out of a hat. And I'll explain kind of in tandem, where those theses came from. So we did one in sustainable aviation fuels, a company called Lydian, and they have a kind of thermochemical process for making syngas, which then is used to make kerosene for airplanes. And you know, coming into GFC I knew I wanted to make a SAF deal, staff sustainable aviation fuel, mainly because when I was at McKinsey, I'd been working closely with a guy named Robin Riedel who kind of leads sustainable aviation for the firm. And, you know, we had done this big strategy piece right before COVID hit on what the future of aviation would look like. And we came up with, you know, this thesis that in the short run, it was going to be SAF and maybe electric and hybrid planes at least for short routes with lower payloads sub 500-mile, sub 19 passenger routes, once batteries get light enough and once the tech is proven out, plus hybrids as well. But it was going to be SAF for the rest of it, all the way up until when hydrogen is proven out there. There are a couple of companies, one of them is in our portfolio at GFC, Universal Hydrogen. The other one is ZeroAvia, which just had an announcement. But, you know, in the long run, probably hydrogen. In the short run, SAF and electric for really short routes, but it's going to be SAF for a long time. It's going to be a trillion dollar market plus. And we saw in Lydian a reactor that could do SAF but more than that as well and, you know, has its advantages. So I knew I wanted to place a bid in SAF coming into venture. I also knew I wanted to place a bet in carbon removal, right? You know, and for those that don't know, if the atmosphere is a big tub, we need to both stop the taps, so stop the pollution from you know, stop CO2 from going into the atmosphere, GHG emissions going into the atmosphere. We also need to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere, carbon removal. And I knew I wanted to make a bet in carbon removal. It's going to be a big market in the future because we need it. And I knew DAC was a little bit expensive and it's gonna take a while to ride down the cost curves, but carbon is more concentrated in biomass, and so I knew I wanted to make a BECCS bet – bioenergy carbon capture sequestration – and found a great team coming out of SpaceX, a company called Arbor. And so that gives a few kind of ideas of what the theses are. There's, you know, we made bets in industrial decarbonization at SkyVen. We made bets in regenerative agriculture, a company called IGN. We made bets in battery storage optimization, there's gonna be a lot of batteries coming online. So we made a bet in a company there, Equilibrium Energy. And yeah, there's still tons of verticals we haven't yet made bets in. We made bets in carbon accounting, but it was a regional player company in India called StepChange. Haven't made a fusion bet and haven't made a water bet yet so.

VC: Got it. That's amazing. Leo, it sounds like you're more of a thesis-driven investor, right? You've got these particular areas that you're passionate about. You look for the companies. Is it sort of 100% thesis driven? Are you also like kind of like, hey, the right founding team, they're gonna maybe they can educate me, teach me something I haven't thought about yet. How is that? How much of a balance is it for you?

LB: I think it's definitely a game of being both proactive and reactive. There are some teams that have come up with, you know, pitching ideas that I had not yet considered or that I thought were maybe too expensive and I try to be reactive to those ideas. You know, I try to be open to them. Definitely. And so, you know, that's sometimes how I'll dive into a new space if I start to see a crop of companies beginning to pop up in one particular area. So I won’t hue directly to thesis. You know, I don't want to be dogmatic about it. But I will be flexible when I see new things pop up on my horizon.

VC: Got it. And then talk to me about just to help the founders. What's the typical check size you're doing? How many deals do you want to do per year? How many deals in climate tech is the fund doing per year?

LB: So usually, our check sizes can be pretty flexible. What we'd like to do is come in early and then we'd like to be a lifecycle investor to the different companies that we work with for a portion of the portfolio. We'll continue backing them from seed up through different rounds. Usually check sizes between $250K to $5 million. In terms of deal velocity, you know, there's no set amount necessarily. You know, we're looking for, you know, great founders tackling verticals which need disruption with, you know, advantaged unit economics. And I'd say that, you know, there are months where I've done, you know, three or four deals at a time and there's, you know, there's some months where I meet a lot of companies you know, I but you know, we can't invest through our Investment Committee for a variety of reasons. So I wouldn't say there's a set number of deals, but you know, we're a large fund and, you know, we're definitely active in this space.

VC: Got it. Let's talk a little bit about the now like, what's the climate like right now? What's the climate like from a volume of founders pitching you perspective? Sort of the founder, psyche perspective? I mean, obviously, the markets corrected in the broader sort of public markets, but where do you assess the current vibe right now?

LB: Yeah, I mean, it's thriving, I think. I mean, relative to, I'd say, relative to maybe two years ago it's thriving, but definitely thriving relative to where it was 10 years ago during the bust, right? I mean, it's thrilling. I think tons of founders are waking up each day and wanting to get into this, whether it's folks that are leaving their PhD programs or master's programs. Maybe they're leaving, you know, Google or Facebook. Maybe they were, you know, laid off unfortunately, as the market kind of corrects, but you know, there's all this talk on LinkedIn, everybody's talking about, you know, talent flowing into climate and I see it. And so, yes, the markets may be correcting, maybe it's harder for growth equity to get raised, but I'd say, you know, there's early-stage VC is still a little bit insulated, right? And climate tech seems to be a little bit insulated for the time being because there's a lot fervor, enthusiasm, there's a lot of tailwinds like policy tailwinds like the Inflation Reduction Act, but also, you know, tailwinds in economics, a lot of these technologies have gotten cheaper over time and have enabled and unlocked new use cases. And so, climate tech, a little insulated, early stage, a little insulated, the venn diagram makes it pretty alluring. And so some generalist funds are beginning to come in and do climate tech deals, and that's great. The more the merrier. We have a lot more capital that needs to be allocated in this space before we start to move the needle. Right. So I'd say, look, I mean, the market is where it is. Right. So valuations are getting a little bit, you know, a little bit of scrutiny during negotiations but deals are still getting done. And I'm still seeing lots of climate tech entrepreneurs with great ideas crossing my desk every day.

VC: That's great. Well you’ll have to send some of those our way. But that sounds awesome. And let's talk about some of these verticals you're investing in. So when you think about like something like carbon removal, how many winners are there in that market? Like is it an Uber or Lyft thing? Is there going to be two winners? Is it one? I don't know, how you think about some of these verticals? Vis a vis like software, for example.

LB: Yeah, it's a great question. It's a great question. I mean, somebody we really respect in this space, Roger Haynes, who's a chief scientist at Lawrence Livermore talks about the circus tent approach. It's gonna take a lot of different players around the circus to in the circus tent, you know, making a difference. And in carbon removal, you know, I think it's going to be you know, it's not all apples to apples, right? Like DAC is more expensive, but in certain ways, it's a lot more permanent than something like, you know, nature-based solutions, which is basically, you know, a bunch of trees, either being protected from being cut down or being planted in a place where there previously was a forest or there wasn't a forest, right. So, taking advantage of trees to uptake carbon from the atmosphere. You know, it's there's pros and cons to all of them, right? The trees are cheaper, but they're not as permanent. They can get burned down during wildfires. Sometimes they're not as additional. Sometimes there's a lot of greenwashing associated with these nature-based solutions. With DAC, though direct air capture that's what I mean by DAC, you're sucking carbon out of the air, and you're putting it into a liquid solvent or a solid absorber, and then you're taking that CO2 and separating it back out and putting it in the ground. That's very permanent. It's very additional. It's also very expensive. And then we have kind of bio-based ones in between, bio char, maybe soil carbon, although the science is still getting flushed out there. BECCS, which is the one I mentioned earlier: bioenergy, carbon capture sequestration. Those are more expensive than nature-based, less expensive than DAC. But, you know, but they have kind of a blend of both pros and cons. So the way I see it is we need a lot of carbon removal if we're going to hit 1.5 to 2 degree Celsius target, as set out in the Paris agreements. By 2050, I think we need 10 Giga tons. We’re at two today, according to a new paper that came out. And we knew a lot. I mean, this is going to be a big industry and, you know, there's room for all of these, all of these technologies. I think the way I see it is you're going to be 10 Giga tons and a certain number of those Giga tons are going to be supplied by the cheapest credits, followed by, you know, biobased kind of BiCRS, BECCS, biochar, followed by DAC for those that want those kinds of credits. So I think they all you know, we need, we need all of them. They all play a role.

VC: So, let's jump around a little bit to some of these other interesting technologies. What is the solution to the water crisis we're going to face? I've heard desalination is too expensive, but there are states like California that are moving forward with plants. There's obviously examples in the Middle East and Israel where it's working, what are you seeing in the space?

LB: So a bit of a hot take here. I think, you know, water treatment and desalination absolutely necessary for the way that we live our lives. Wastewater treatment as well. I think that for municipal use, most of the capital required for those technologies is going to be infrastructure and private equity, and less venture. The reason being that the technologies that we have to do those kinds of things, treat wastewater, treat water and desalinate, ie, you know, separate salt from seawater or water from seawater. They're pretty mature. If we look at desalination, one of the biggest takeaways I got in grad school was that reverse osmosis is king, unless you're looking at kind of unique use cases where you need zero liquid discharge or you're talking about treating frack water right, produce water coming out of oil and gas. If you're just talking straight seawater, whether you're in the Middle East or whether you're in California and you want to desalinate, we have kind of proven treatment trains to do that. You have, you know, pretreatment filtration and then you have desalination usually through reverse osmosis. That's as good as you can do. On water treatment and wastewater treatment, you know, we have coagulants, and we know about chlorination and you know, these technologies have been around for a long time, some of them even since the Romans, the Romans were using coagulation. So, you know, the space for technological innovation, I think is a bit more incremental in municipal. There are some pockets where VC can help, but I do think that for, you know, the California desal plants you’re talking about, Vijay, you know, and in the Middle East, it’s municipal water. It's going to be mostly infra and PE

VC: Do you see the cost coming down over time? What would it take for it to come down? I mean, just hearing: Oh, that's expensive. That's not really helpful.

LB: I mean, price can come down for desalination further, likely. They're probably learning curves for that technology, although they've been dropping over time. I mean, I would say desal is going to be more expensive than water treatment. If you have, you know, it's very regional regionally specific, by the way, the problem we're talking about, right? If you’re in a place with lots of groundwater and an aquifer, it's going to be cheaper to pull it up and do water treatment than it is going to be to desal at the coast. But desal’s kind of cheap if you think about it, it's $1 per cubic meter. So $1 per 1000 liters. Imagine you go into a 7/11 and you buy a liter of water and it's like a buck, two bucks, three bucks. You know, you can get maybe 1000 of those or 500 of those for a buck through desal. And so the Carlsbad plants in California, I think, is achieving economics near that. And so it's not prohibitively expensive for communities that are absolutely parched like in Chile, in California, in the Middle East, right. In Australia, there are tons of desal plants as well. Right. So, again, it's not a place where I think there's going to be a step change breakthrough. Even though you know, there is even one more innovation that could be done in reverse osmosis going from continuous, which is what we do today, to batch or semi-batch. And that's kind of coming out of the labs. But even there, the economics is still being proven out like you've got lower energy consumption, but maybe you're increasing the CapEx because you're increasing complexity or you're putting in more electronics. And so I don't want to get too down the rabbit hole. You know, there are some places where tech can might have some hope, but it's not an open field of play, like in carbon removal where you know, there's lots of different technologies and lots of new work to be done. I view water as little bit more mature

VC: Yeah. Okay, awesome. I've heard the term underfunded. Either I'm making this term up or I haven't googled it yet, but are there areas of climate tech that are under founded? Right, where you want more entrepreneurs going after it. And obviously, for the right types of deals, you want to go fund those.

LB: Yeah, that's a really good question. I'd say, you know, industrial decarbonization still seems to, you know, it's not as sexy if I can use that term to a lot of founders. Green chemicals, although im starting to see more of these startups coming to light. I think, yeah, maybe advanced nuclear to a certain extent, but that takes a very specific kind of founder to tackle that kind of place. I would say, two years ago, I would have told you that there were some verticals that are underfunded or under-founded, but now I'm seeing representation across most of the verticals you'd expect. What I can say is that some verticals are overfounded. And so for software, if I can go there right, for folks that are coming out of the Google's the Facebook's, the, you know, the LinkedIn’s, for software programmers looking to get into climate, please come in. We need you. We really do, we need all hands on deck. However, you know, there are certain models which I’m seeing seed pitches sometimes for new carbon accounting solutions here in the US, and it's gonna be hard to find VC funding if that's the venture that you're thinking about starting or joining mainly because, you know, the train is to some degree left the station right. We've got growth equity players doing carbon accounting, doing home electrification marketplaces, doing, you know, doing carbon offset marketplaces as well. And so that kind of low hanging fruit for, you know, for climate has sort of been picked over the past two to three years. And so I encourage folks looking to get into climate just, you know, do a little bit of homework to make sure the horse that you're joining and backing as you join the company, you know, makes sense given the stage and the environment that we're in.

VC: Got it and makes sense. And you're talking about software. Now, let's talk about hardware. So obviously, everyone says hardware is hard. I mean, I've seen it personally and worked at a number of companies, but also like, hardware is where it's at. It's often the differentiator, it's the physical, tangible thing. What's a green light for you in terms of hardware, business models and teams and what is things that you stay away from in the space?

LB: I'll answer them one at a time, kind of, what I look for in hardware and what I might, I wouldn't say maybe stay away, but from where I’ll over scrutinize, I'll put in more scrutiny. So on the first one, first of all, I love hardware. Being a mechanical engineer by background and I do think, you know, the climate is an atom's problem and a bits problem, but mostly in atom’s problem. You know, normally I'm looking at, when I look at a hardware company, I'm looking at the technology readiness level or what's called TRL and I'm usually looking to make sure that it's between three and four, which is experimental proof of concept and the tech has been validated in the lab. I need to see that the science works on a lab bench, and that'll give me comfort that it can be scaled. I need to see continuous operation sometimes especially in some electrochemical processes, right, that your cell can run for 1000 hours without degradation of some components. That, you know, you're still producing what you want to be producing after 1000 hours or more. And, you know, usually want to see a TEA as well, a techno-economic analysis, which is you know, fancier way to just say the unit economics, right. I don't believe that corporates are going to, you know, be altruistic necessarily in taking up these green technologies. It has to make economic sense, which is what Gates talks about when he talks about the green premium, right. How how close are you to the status quo, or are you, you know, negative green premium, meaning that companies will save money by switching to your green product. And that's all baked into the TEA and are the assumptions reasonable? Do you have ranges for conservative to optimistic? Those things are very key when it comes to looking at a hardware and whether you're going to be able to make it into an industry or make it into residential homes. So those are usually what I look at. Any questions there, Vijay, before I moved to kind of where I might overly scrutinize in hardware?

VC: Well on the TEA, is there like a hard and fast?

LB: It’s hard to have a hard and fast because they're just so many different kinds of technologies. It has to be specific. Obviously, it's a home run if it's a negative green premium. Meaning you know, and without subsidy, right. Like this is cheaper for corporates to do now without subsidy or with subsidy, right. But that's been the case for solar. That's why we see solar adoption, which has been consistently under-predicted, you know, since 10, 15 years ago, but that's why solar is now the cheapest form of energy that we've ever created. As humans and why it's being adopted so quickly, because the economics just makes sense. Right? And it's cheaper than a new gas plant build or, you know, a new coal build in certain regions, right. And so, you know, obviously, like, you know, unit economics being better than the status quo is great. If the IRA, the inflation Reduction Act, or other policies help you get even further that's great. If it gets close to the line, you know, maybe there are other benefits that would push the tech into, you know, corporate procurements. Sometimes it takes me talking to the customers to understand how big the traction is, right? Sometimes it's a matter of the first one is going to be more expensive, but the second one is going to be less expensive, right, first of a kind, second of a kind. And then what we predict is, you know, way down the line in 5,10 years, we’re gonna ride down the learning curve, and we're going to be much cheaper. And so those are risks that I might be willing to take, but it depends kind of on a tech-by-tech basis.

VC: Yeah, makes sense. So that was the hardware that you would do. What was, go a little bit deeper into the ones that you're a little more cautious of.

LB: A lot of this is coming from my clean tech 1.0 history. There’s scars, not necessarily I didn't I wasn't making investments back then. But I saw which companies had all this hype and then all of a sudden crash to the ground, right, I think. And I want to be pure here and say that it's not that I will never do a deal here. It's just that it will take 2x or 3x the diligence for me to gain comfort. You can imagine what they might be. Battery chemistry is one. Certain forms of energy storage. Secondly, CAES, compressed air energy storage. Battery chemistry is you know, clean tech 1.0 saw a lot of new chemistries promised that would have much better densities, but you know, batteries are tricky. If you improve the density, you might affect the cost or the lifecycle, you know, the cycle life or you might have, you know, might affect the risk of fire so it's tricky. Hydrogen as well. There's some parts of hydrogen where I'll bring in a little bit of extra scrutiny. Mainly because there's a lot of companies out there doing hydrogen electrolysis using either PEM or different kinds of cells to do hydrogen. And so, you know, there are a few areas where I'll bring in extra scrutiny. And under the umbrella of hydrogen, if folks are doing hydrogen for passenger vehicles, it requires a little bit extra scrutiny. I've done a lot of reading and at McKinsey, we did a lot of models showing that the total cost of ownership for hydrogen-based ground transportation for vehicles that are lower than class eight don't have advantaged total cost of ownership relative to batteries. And so there are areas where I'll say hold on, let's dive a little bit deeper here and see if we're going against the grain of thinking.

VC: Yeah, makes sense. I want to come back just before I rant about – I’ll give you my quick rant. Im still surprised that there's not a customer friendly solar brand. Just it’s interesting for something that's so mainstream and getting adopted. Why is a consumer brand not taken advantage of this? It still seems like infomercials on TV.

LB: Yeah, I mean, I'd say, you know, one of the cleantech 1.0 winners arguably is, you know, Sunrun. And after they acquired Vivint, they're pretty big. Could they be better? You know, maybe potentially. Although I know some folks that have been very happy with their service. I know there's others out there. What I will say is there's a crop of new startups that even I see trying to tackle this market, and it's one for which you know, the green premium is there. Or I should say negative green premium, there's a discount, right you save money. You can save money by switching to solar. That's how a lot of these companies make money

VC: Can you get back to technology level readiness, the TLR. Like, if you could just again, nail those keys for you on that. And then I do want to get after that to the TEA, the techno economics analysis. So if you could just kind of re-summarize that. It is brilliant.

LB: Yeah, sure. So it's not for all investors, right? There are some investors that can tolerate more science risk. But for, at least for me, for GFC as well, we typically look for technology readiness level of three or four. And I know other investors you know, see our way as well. Usually that that includes an experimental proof of concept, or that the tech is validated in the lab. And so, you know, that gives me faith that you can go from the lab to a pilot, from a pilot to commercial scale, from a commercial scale first of a kind to a second of a kind, etc. until you scale up, right. I need to see the science working. And if I don't, usually I'll work with the founders to help them explore nondilutive funding or talk to other investors who sometimes are confident in taking those risks, those science risks. Some investors that want to do kind of quote-unquote catalytic capital and come in especially early. But otherwise, there's like NSF has SBIR grants, Small Business Innovation Research grants. ARPA-E will give grants, nondilutive so as a funder, as a founder forgive me, you're not taking on any dilution by applying to those grants. And then once you can prove out certain milestones, then you're ready to go out for a raise with a higher valuation because you've de-risked the science. And so, you know, the TRL, the technology readiness level, is definitely something that I consider when looking at hardware in particular. Now the TVA, it kind of goes hand in hand, right? You've got the technology you're showing, hey, this tech works. And if we if you, you know, put on your vision, your glasses for the future, you look into the future, what will this cost when it's at scale? Can we get close to kerosene? Let's look at sustainable aviation fuel, for example. It costs maybe $3 to $4 a gallon, your TEA is going to spit out like 3 bucks a gallon, or $2.50 a gallon, and there's going to be ranges showing like this is what we would get with the IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act, tax credit for SAF. Oh, by the way, we're also making our SAF using hydrogen so we can take that credit too. And so the TEAs can get fancy, but ultimately it's going to spit out a dollar amount. And that dollar amount needs to compare to the status quo. The world was built on fossil fuels. If we're going to switch to green, you need to see what that green alternative is going to cost relative to the status quo so that you can make an investment decision and so that corporates can make offtake decisions.

VC: Makes total sense. We're coming up on our time here, but I do want to end with a couple of just sort of fun questions. But on your side, you know, what has been the best advice given to you as an investor?

LB: I think there's a few, some which I picked up from McKinsey, some which I picked up from other venture capital. But the one maybe that I'll focus on now is about focus. And it's that one of the fastest ways to kill a startup is by losing focus. And so sometimes I'll see really great founders with really great ideas, but they want to tackle too much. Snd, you know, when you're pitching these, as a founder, I'm talking to all the founders out there, when you're pitching your idea, just try to focus on one and then tell the heck out of that story and get the funder excited, get other team members excited, But, I think that focus is pretty important. Sometimes folks want to tackle multiple markets at the same time, you know, space it out, we're gonna tackle this market first. Here's a deep dive on our beachhead. Horizon two and three, we'll tackle another time.

VC: Super helpful. And then how about you as an investor, I guess advice to other investors. What's been the most helpful and it's something you use in daily practice?

LB: Do your homework. Don't just have FOMO. We all sometimes feel it when a deal gets very hot and the founders are very strong and the tech seems really exciting. Just, you know, do the work. I'd like to think that founders appreciate, you know, VCs that go deep on the tech, on the economics so that if you do end up investing at the end of that journey, you understand the business very well. And so, you know, do the work. And I'm not saying like I do the work and other people don't, it's like we all need to just do the work because I think this is a very important space. We've got the future of our planet's temperature and and biodiversity at stake, so.

VC: Awesome. Leo, I really appreciate the time today. I think we could go on and on for hours. But, you know, we'll save that for another conversation. The firm is Global Founders Capital. They're excited to be looking at companies $250k to $5 million checks. And I'm excited to continue seeing what happens in the space. Thank you for your time today.

LB: Thank you.

Thank you so much for reading our latest update from VSC Ventures Fund I. We're in the early days of our long and healthy partnership with all of you, so please reach out to us with additional questions on anything above. Thank you again for your support for our vision and our fund!

Vijay Chattha & Jay Kapoor

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