Conversations with startup CEOs with technology that can change how the economy functions.Hosted by Marco Annunziata and Michael Leifman
Bonus: The Future According to M4Edge Guests
In the 3+ years that M4Edge has been around, we've aired over 50 episodes and, as listeners know, we usually ask our guests to give us their view of the future 20 years hence. Sometimes the answers are somewhat expected, sometimes they're a little humorous, and sometimes they're deeply thought provoking. As a holiday present, this episode offers a compilation of some of our favorites. We won't go so far as to say that this is a "best of" set, since we left out some great ones. But we've reached across the catalog, from our very first to our most recent episode, and offer you here some of our guests' views on the future of manufacturing, material design, food and agriculture, artificial intelligence, human resources, business analytics, robotics, clean energy, autonomous driving ... you know, M4Edge stuff.
Stay tuned and stay curious as we retool our show in 2022!
Alex Rodrigues of Embark Trucks on his driven journey and our driverless future
This is the final M4Edge episode of 2021 an we are finishing this year with a bang, Our guest is Alex Rodrigues, founder and CEO of Embark Trucks; he is a Forbes 30 under 30, and more importantly, at the tender age of 26 he has just brought Embark public through a SPAC deal valuing the company at over 5 billion dollars.
Embark is right up the M4Edge alley, where we look at technologies that change the way the economy works: Embark develops software for self-driving trucks. Alex Rodrigues has a long-standing interest in automation: his passion for robots started when he was 11, so even though he’s only 26, he is already kind of a veteran in robotics. In our interview he revealed a number of interesting insights on the present and the future of automation, and some of them are quite surprising. How is this for a nugget: here we have the founder of a self-driving trucks company predicting a bright future for truck drivers!
We had a great conversation on where and why self-driving trucks could create – or at least preserve – jobs; but also on where they will be deployed first, and what they could imply for the future of logistics and distribution, quite an important topic given the recent dramatic supply chain disruptions.
Alex also explained why the development of self-driving trucks might be very different from that of self-driving passenger cars; we talk about road safety and cyber-security, and about Embark’s business model: they don’t actually produce trucks, they are a SaaS company.
And we close with Alex’s reflections on the future of robotics and automation. This episode has everything we – and you – like best: an enthusiastic and deeply knowledgeable guest, cutting edge technology, business model innovation and important implications for the way we live and work.
Thanks for listening, Thanks for Being Curious, and as always, please share the episode and if you have a few minutes, leave us a review. We’ll be back in 2022 with a brand new series we’re planning, so…enjoy the holidays and STAY curious!
Dror Tamir of Hargol FoodTech explains why eating grasshoppers is better for you, better for the planet, and how he gets you to get by the "yuck" factor.
After a long absence, we’ve returned with a very fun episode and right in line with the M4Edge theme. The startup we focus on today is really micro, in the weeds, you might say, with some very macro aims, and it’s about as edgy as can be.
You probably know that we’ve done several episodes on ESG or impact investing, and we’ve also done quite a few food-tech and ag-tech episodes. This episode is part of that series, but with some cool twists .We interview Dror Tamir, the CEO of Hargol Food Tech. Dror wants us all to be eating grasshoppers. Yes, I know, it sounds gross. Dror knows that too. But not everyone feels that way! It turns out that in many parts of the world, they are a delicacy. But Dror doesn’t expect those of us who grew up with Western diets to crunch on wings and legs, instead Hargol grinds up the grasshoppers into a powder, which you can blend with other foods, or even put in gummies.
What’s the big deal about grasshoppers? They are tiny little nutrition machines, so part of Dror’s vision is protein for the world. There’s a climate angle too, since reducing beef and poultry consumption will reduce emissions; there’s a water angle, since growing this form of protein uses FAR less water than other animal production; there’s an animal cruelty angle, since Hargol takes pains to kill the grasshoppers in a humane way. The stats on how healthy grasshoppers are for people and for the planet are frankly mindblowing. Beyond that, Hargol has internal ESG goals unrelated to their product, for example around hiring people with disabilities. Dror sees his mission as being an element of the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam - repairing the world.
Oh yeah, this is the Jewiest episode we’ve done, too. Marco compares Jewish grandmothers to Italian grandmothers, I talk about kosher laws, Dror explains a Hebrew pun and Marco even vocalizes an excellent chet. But all you goyim and our faithful M4Edge devotees shouldn’t worry; it’s an ecumenical episode - there’s plenty in here about Hargol’s approach to their market, their production process, their place within the booming food-tech scene and more. We know you’ll enjoy the episode.
And since you’ll enjoy it, please share it with others, rate us on Apple Podcasts, post it on social media - you know what to do - spread the word. And as always, thanks for being curious!
Michael Sachse of Dandelion Energy on Decarbonizing your Home with Geothermal
It’s not often that a small startup has ties to Google and Bill Gates. Our guest today, Michael Sachse, the CEO of Dandelion Energy inhabits that rarefied atmosphere.
Dandelion Energy was originally part of Google X, Alphabet’s so-called moonshot factory. And very recently, Dandelion received substantial series B funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which is the VC arm of a Bill Gates – led organization whose mission is to help get the world to net zero carbon emissions.
So what’s so special about Dandelion that it attracted this sort of attention? They are tackling one of the hardest clean energy problems we will face as we decarbonize, namely how to heat our homes without fossil fuels. Dandelion harnesses geothermal energy – which is itself not a new trick – but the way they do it and deliver it is indeed new. There’s tech and business model innovation involved, and since this is M4Edge, we’ll of course explore some policy issues, some labor issues and more. And you’ll learn what kind of outright ban Marco thinks would be in the public interest.
Enjoy the episode, and thanks for being curious!
Nathaniel Jackson of TrueAlgae explains how he can help your strawberries taste better, last longer, while improving farmers profits and reducing GHG
We seem drawn to Agtech and impact investing. And good-tasting fruit.
We kicked off our 2021 season with a discussion on impact investing or socially responsible investing, including with a startup (EcoRobotix) that produces solar-power farming equipment for AI-based precision application of herbicide. We've done a few episodes in the Agtech space, including with a startup (Strella Biotech) that uses sensors to determine optimal fruit ripening in storage, reduce food waste and make our avocados not crummy. In this episode we continue these trends, and learn from TrueAlgae CEO Nathaniel Jackson about how their product can improve crop yields while simultaneously improving the sweetness and nutrient density of fruit, all while saving farmers' money and helping reduce the GHG impact of agriculture. This company is a true "double bottom line" company, or more like triple bottom line. Nathaniel himself was an impact investor at the Inter-American Development Bank, and has strong personal stake in seeing the impact investment sector succeed.
Please share the episode with your friends and ... thanks for being curious!
Doing good and doing well: Impact Investing, Social Entrepreneurship & ESG, cohosted by Georgetown's Beeck Center
We kick off this season with a deeper look at the meaning of our phrase “changing how the economy functions,” specifically examining what you may have heard of as “social entrepreneurship,” which is the idea that entrepreneurial ventures should measure themselves not just by revenue but also by metrics that capture their broader impact on the social and natural environment.
Impact investing takes many forms. It can be venture firms seeking out so called “double bottom line“ or even “triple bottom line” returns, meaning financial & social returns or financial & social & environmental. In fact, there is a venture firm called DBL Partners - double bottom line - one of whose portfolio companies we’ve had on the show- Zola Electric. DBL invested in another company you may have heard of - Tesla - which is probably the most high profile, but not the only proof point that impact investing is not charitable giving.
Impact investing can also refer to the idea of investors screening for or against certain types of activities. The institutional approach is the idea of ESG investing. ESG stands for environmental, social, governance. ESG investors are typically mutual funds or financial companies with specific funds that invest in companies that are promoting those aims or perhaps which are improving their own internal practices.
How big is ESG? According to Morningstar, there are about 275 ESG open-end mutual funds and ETFs available in the U.S.. And according to Deloitte, 75% of investors applied ESG principles to at least a quarter of their portfolios in 2019. Another sign of how far this idea has come is that the incoming director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, most recently led BlackRock’s ESG investing, in other words, one of the most prominent economist positions in the country is about to be inhabited by an ESG guy.
Some of the more well known impact VCs include DBL, and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest, whom we’ve also featured on M4Edge. There are many other examples, all with ambitious aims, including the HEED fund, The Impact Engine, SustainVC, Village Capital, Better Ventures and many more.
We’ve decided to delve into a few of these areas, with the help of three guests. First, we’re joined by Sonal Shah, the Executive Director of the Beeck Center at Georgetown. Sonal is so steeped in the world of impact that we asked her to cohost this episode. Sonal interviews Lisa Green Hall, the Impact Chair at Apollo Global Management, but has held many roles in this space, as is really one of the pioneers of the field.
But we’re technophiles here at M4Edge, so we also interview Steve Tanner, the founder and CTO of EcoRobotix, a Swiss ag-tech company whose mission is to “develop, produce and sell innovative farming machines that require low energy and that reduce the negative ecological impact of modern agriculture, while keeping costs competitive.”
Smart, useful podcast for tech startups
Michael and Marco both have impressive business backgrounds, which is evident in the high quality of the follow up questions. This is a great podcast for techies and entrepreneurs to learn about what fascinating new technologies are coming down the pike from the perspective of the founders of startups.
Easy listen, great content!
I loved this most recent episode as it combined useful information but more than anything the vulnerability and humanity often not reflected in business shows!
Excellent guests that talk in a down to earth way about start up companies offer great advice 👍👍great podcast