What do you get when you take a lawyer, a financial analyst and an engineer and you give them an opportunity to change the world. You get sustainable revolutions. Anthony, Matt and Noah are three bright minds looking to change the way we look at biofuel and farming. Using their innovative marketplace Agrawatt, they hope to be the “SOLUTION FOR ALL YOUR OFFTAKE NEEDS”. And I had the pleasure of being able get to know them in the conversation below
Dean: What inspired you to start your journey?
Noah: Back when Matt, Anthony and I were all working together at a biogas startup, we learned how to get a sustainable energy project up off the ground. Because the team was small, we had to quickly adapt to every role biofuel industry.
Matt: We saw certain gaps. It took us about a year and a half to figure out what the actual problems were. Agrawatt was built to address those problems, enabling more sustainable energy projects to get off the ground.
Dean: What is Agrawatt?
Noah: Agrawatt is marketplace for biofuel. A lot of people do not realize biofuel is valuable for its environmental attributes, and its energy content. Whereas fossil fuels super cheap, but they're only valuable for their energy content. We're providing one single interface for project developers to access all the markets in North America, um, so that they can sell those environmental attributes.
Dean: How does your platform help those looking to invest in biofuel?
Matt: So, on the buyer's side right now, this is the crazy part, if you live, or if you operate a fueling station in California, Oregon, and soon Washington, essentially by using biofuels, you get paid.
Dean: Okay, we have state incentives, are there any additional incentives?
Matt: Yeah, so essentially all these incentives stem from compliance carbon markets and ESGs.
Dean: How did you come to find the carbon market?
Noah: 90% of a biofuels project revenue comes from these markets. So, you must learn how they work, how to access them, and how to maximize revenue in them. That's, that's really what we're trying to help all project developers do. Because there's a lot of confusion. This is a whole new world. Our society never valued carbon before, so valuing carbon even just as an idea, is something a lot are confused by. Then there's what reporting you have to do, and how you verify your carbon removals. We make it easy to find markets for ESG commodities, but our primary focus is on biofuel project developers.
Dean: How did biofuel become an interest?
Anthony: We were working for a startup in North Carolina, we were supposed to produce biogas. I was initially there as an advisor, but it fell through. Noah approached Matt and I with an idea a while ago. He had been doing a lot of research into the biofuel market. We started consistently working on our mission around January or February of this year. From the moment we started I knew that this right here was the future.
Matt: I came in as lead financial analyst the last start up, but when Noah pitched the idea to me from an environmental upside and showed me how great these energy plans were, it was a no brainer. It was truly incredible to be exposed to this marketplace.
Anthony: Yeah, a hundred percent. I started as the general counsel for the last startup. For me, I couldn't not see how this is not the future. To me, the industry is going towards this. It’s almost foolish to not actually pursue this opportunity. I think all of us realized that around the same time. Noah's a great engineer. So, any project he’s behind is bound to succeed.
Noah: (laughs) Thanks man. As an engineer I have always had an interest in sustainable engineering. The biofuel revolution is almost second nature to me. And being able to make a mark with my friends is a once in a life opportunity that I could not pass up. We could all go get jobs and get paid handsomely in our respective fields. But we see the long term. You just got to do your research and have some faith in yourself.
Dean: What effect do you guys think you'll have on the market, either short term or long term?
Anthony: I think the biggest problem this market faces is that its new, but the world needs sustainable solutions fast. For example, animal waste, could go into a landfill and create methane that emits into the atmosphere. And within the next 20 years, that methane will have a warming potential, 85 times that of carbon dioxide. So, methane's a huge problem.
Noah: Instead of allowing this waste to go into a landfill and convert into methane, which ends up into the atmosphere, these projects trap that methane before it gets there. So, what we have a lot of supply or a lot of feed stock that could be used to make fuel, but that fuel needs a market to go into. So, if we can provide the market, there's plenty of feed stock. The way I see it and the way ESG is going, this whole revolution is going to have plenty of buyers. Our mission is to enable this market to reach its full potential.
Matt: On top of the carbon credits, the developers can go to their investors saying “hey, we're actively doing this to remove carbon, and it costs a little bit of money, but it's all right because we're gaining carbon as asset in return”. Their shareholders can see that they're lowering carbon from their balance sheet.
Anthony: Yeah, and honestly, the whole chain of people in the process benefit. Even if you start at the beginning, the farmers. We put these digesters, on their farms to create this biofuel. They have to do something with that animal waste anyways. They're putting it in these ponds called lagoons, and once it reaches a certain point, they get fined by the government. So why not get paid to get rid of it and, and make biogas so everyone benefit from it?
Dean: With your experiences, what would you recommend? Someone do if they wanted to start a sort of sustainable development project or anything that will help people raise their ESG scores?
Matt: The first thing I would do is find somebody who needs what you're selling. So, if you're developing a project, you're selling something, right? Finding a buyer, I think is the biggest thing and it that a project should do. First is find a buyer. Once you find a buyer, well then you have recurring revenue that's guaranteed. And so, you can go find somebody who’ll finance the project up front, and then you can go and actually build a project.
Anthony: I just fell into this industry. I knew nothing about what I was doing. The only way to learn is to find mentors. The mentors and people we've talked to have helped us pivot and figure out how our personal values add to the ecosystem. The more time you spend, more people you talk to, the more research you can do. We've had to pivot a couple times, you know, So, I mean, straight up we've fall on our face before. I mean, it's just all about getting back up and we recalculate what we're going to do, and it just works out.
Noah: Reach out to people, figure out which needs are key.
Anthony: Like you can't just start a company and not know the problem you need to solve. And that's exactly what we did. We did the groundwork. We've reached out to so many people in the industry, we got feedback from them, and we heard the problems they need to solve, and things they don't need solving. Every time we heard something like that, we changed our game plan, and worked towards it.
Noah: You got to be out, you got to put yourself out there. One of the biggest things I'd give for people for advice, you can't be afraid to put yourself out there. If we, you know, we're younger and, you know, we were intimidated at first dealing with all these older people and like, “hey man, like, why would they want to take a call with us”?
YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO KNOW UNLESS YOU TRY!