Impact Hustlers - Entrepreneurs with Social Impact

Capturing CO2 profitably using cooling towers - René Haas of NeoCarbon

March 07, 2023 Maiko Schaffrath Episode 130
Capturing CO2 profitably using cooling towers - René Haas of NeoCarbon
Impact Hustlers - Entrepreneurs with Social Impact
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Impact Hustlers - Entrepreneurs with Social Impact
Capturing CO2 profitably using cooling towers - René Haas of NeoCarbon
Mar 07, 2023 Episode 130
Maiko Schaffrath

Rene Haas, the co-founder, and CEO of NeoCarbon. A company that has created a product that removes CO2 from the atmosphere by retrofitting industrial cooling towers with direct air capture devices. Direct air capture has been promoted as one of the most promising solutions to climate change.


  • [0:47] Rene Haas’s background.
  • [4:33] Do entrepreneurs have to start from bigger companies before committing to start-ups?
  • [7:45] Intentionality of building a company around your life
  • [11:07] How does NeoCarbon work?
  • [14:49] How far along is the technology? 
  • [15:50] NeoCarbon business model
  • [18:16] Business benefits for cooling tower manufacturers
  • [19:06] Clients benefits from using NeoCarbon
  • [20:24] Next steps to achieve target cooling tower solutions
  • [22:16] Inflation reduction act client's impact 
  • [23:44] Lessons learned along the journey
  • [29:57] Co-founders therapy, how does that work?
  • [31:31] Is a business start-up exciting or not?
  • [32:58] Rene’s 10-year vision  


“Hardware is different to scale than software for manufacturing companies” [16:05]

“Big companies and manufacturers have crazy high margins on their products hence easier for them to do service maintenance on their equipment” [18:29]

”Our next step, is going from lab to the real environment as fast as possible, because we started, prototyping super early, before we had proper models” [20:44]

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Rene Haas, the co-founder, and CEO of NeoCarbon. A company that has created a product that removes CO2 from the atmosphere by retrofitting industrial cooling towers with direct air capture devices. Direct air capture has been promoted as one of the most promising solutions to climate change.


  • [0:47] Rene Haas’s background.
  • [4:33] Do entrepreneurs have to start from bigger companies before committing to start-ups?
  • [7:45] Intentionality of building a company around your life
  • [11:07] How does NeoCarbon work?
  • [14:49] How far along is the technology? 
  • [15:50] NeoCarbon business model
  • [18:16] Business benefits for cooling tower manufacturers
  • [19:06] Clients benefits from using NeoCarbon
  • [20:24] Next steps to achieve target cooling tower solutions
  • [22:16] Inflation reduction act client's impact 
  • [23:44] Lessons learned along the journey
  • [29:57] Co-founders therapy, how does that work?
  • [31:31] Is a business start-up exciting or not?
  • [32:58] Rene’s 10-year vision  


“Hardware is different to scale than software for manufacturing companies” [16:05]

“Big companies and manufacturers have crazy high margins on their products hence easier for them to do service maintenance on their equipment” [18:29]

”Our next step, is going from lab to the real environment as fast as possible, because we started, prototyping super early, before we had proper models” [20:44]

Support the Show.

[00:00:00] Maiko: In today's episode, I speak to Rene Haas, the co-founder and CEO of NeoCarbon. A company which has created a product that removes CO2 from the atmosphere by retrofitting industrial cooling towers with direct air capture devices. Direct air capture has been promoted as one of the most promising solutions to climate change.

However, there has been controversy and discussions around it whether the technology is too expensive or if it can actually be implemented at scale, and NeoCarbon believes that it has found a much more scalable and affordable solution because industrial cooling towers actually already create a great environment for direct air capture, which reduces the cost massively.

So it's great to have you on the show, Rene, welcome.

[00:00:44] Ren: Yeah, thanks Michael for having me. 

[00:00:47] Maiko: So tell us a bit more about your journey before we dive into the technology, or how did you get where you are now and why do you do what you do?

[00:00:55] Ren: Yeah, I'm Rene from Background Industrial Engineer. Studied in Germany, then Spain, and also spent some time in China during my master. I was firsthand confronted with climate change, which was a huge trigger for me personally already 10 years ago. During the master I started working at Siemens Energy in R&D for large gas turbines.

Really enjoyed this R&D heavy work, but realized, okay, maybe the big corporate is not my perfect setup with this point in life, so I decided to go for consulting. Consulted all the big energy companies within Central Europe, so the duck region, and very randomly I would say I met some, people from startup, they just started and I just helped them out after my consulting hours, just some hours per day. 

So then from nine to 11 during the week and realize, okay, I can actually create something. I can shape the company and I can have an impact. And I really enjoyed that, and this was, five years ago by now. And I thought, okay let's do my own company, I want to become an entrepreneur.

I really enjoyed the work and the lifestyle, but I wasn't ready at this point, so I decided to join the company because I didn't have the track record or the co-founder or a business idea, so I had nothing and I wanted to learn a lot, so joining a startup was actually a very good decision.

I joined as a, I would say now you would call it a founder associate. So working super close with the COO together and then progressing into, the role of the head of business development, so more the strategy lead and we have been able to raise 50 million and I personally scale teams from 20 to a bit more than 100 people.

so I got like this, investor relationships and also how to treat them, but on the other hand, also dislike how to lead people and how to set up structures that can scale. And with this now I've felt ready and also my private life fit very well to what I'm doing now because I still don't have kids and I can really dedicate all my energy and time to this very early stage venture. And so I quit my job just after we raised the round of 40 million. So it was I think by now it was a smart move, but back in the days it was like a bit weird. But then I struggled nine months in finding the right co-founder.

I talked to a lot of smart people, but no one was 100% dedicated. And I had the same, like before starting my own real company, I had I think 20 site projects here and there and tried this and that, and nothing really played out because I was never really dedicated. But also, maybe it was the wrong idea, I don't know.

But then after nine months, I said let's just join an incubator program and let's see how it goes. I joined Antler in Berlin, it's quite highly selective. So they had 1,500 applications and 50 people got in, so you also know for yourself, okay, whoever got in has somehow at least a bit of scale or you would assume.

And yeah, there I met my co-founder on the first day we completely clicked on values and how we want to create a company and what kind of company we want to create. We have been not so sure around will it be direct air capture? Will it be something else? This was not 100% defined, even though we both look really deeply into direct air capture ourselves before.

And yeah, I'm super happy with my co-founder. he's French. I'm also an engineer. He's focusing more on the tech, he's the CTO. And he had a previous startup in Helsinki, so he has also already this founder experience.

[00:04:32] Maiko: Amazing super interesting journey. I think there's quite a few people in the position that you were in initially of tinkering of some projects. Do you initially before you actually committed to it. Do you think that was necessary for you to make up your mind on where you want to go or what do you say? Okay. If you want to be entrepreneur, go to something like Antler as soon as you can?

[00:04:56] Ren: I think that's really also a lesson learned from all this journey, it's your way. For me it was perfectly like this because I valid, dated a lot of tracks that are not right for me, but maybe for other people it's they don't need an incubator.

Other people just start the company when they're super young. Others do it when the kids are out of the door, I would say. So it's really unique, I realized for me it was very good to see all those different things, and I tried a lot of different things. Like it was not only climate tech was also other things where I thought, oh, maybe I do this.

And I realized, okay, there was no purpose in it so I could make money with it and it would be a business, but do I enjoy it? And then I was like, okay, no, it's just basically wasting my time, so I don't wanna do it. Even though you can maybe have a decent lifestyle with it. So I think it's very unique and trying a lot is a good thing, I would recommend trying this and this out. 

You don't have to go the first big step if you feel not ready for it. I would not force myself into, okay, you have to do. just start at the side a bit here and there, learn a bit and you can learn a lot as an employee, especially when you get in kind of a leadership position.

Especially in a startup because that's very similar from being a founders. Like a lot of things I learned, I use now at NeoCarbon. Like I said, I fucked up a lot of things here and there just happens and it's normal, but better do it early in your journey, so learning somewhere else, it's a good thing.

[00:06:20] Maiko: And, fuck up on somebody else's budget. That's always good.

[00:06:24] Ren: Yeah,

[00:06:25] Maiko: Not to say that openly, but...

[00:06:28] Ren: Of course you have to make a lot of things also right, to grow up and to get more responsibility. But like learning somewhere else, especially I would say in your twenties, is a smart move, because I tried really even before joining, think I had a small gap between consulting and I just wanted to start on my own.

But the progress was just not fast enough. Learning somewhere really accelerates your speed and also the network and also the trust in you. While when just sitting at home or like even when you work all the. The progress and the learning curve is just not there. So learning from someone who's already there is something I would really recommend and you've accelerate so fast, it's super cool.

[00:07:10] Maiko: Got it. So many questions around this. We'll dive deeper into this later in the episode as well, but one more question I'd love to ask before we jump into your solution, and what you're doing. As you mentioned that you were very you met your co-founder and you just, matched because you had a similar vision of the type of company you want to build. 

Not even the like a hundred percent clarity on what you want to build. And I had a similar conversation recently with, Tom Foster Carter who was the former COO of, Monso, which is a big unicorn FinTech banker here, and he's a four-time founder. 

So he started all kinds of unicorn companies and now a smaller company, but he's actually the latest companies he's founded. He basically just decided what kind of company, what kind of culture, what's important for his life, like he's a father, he wants to design the company around his life as well. So tell us about that, have you done that with your co-founder in the early days? Tell us a bit more about being intentional about the type of company you're building before you even do the rest? 

[00:08:16] Ren: When we met, this was the first day of enter, so you meet 50 people, but then it was just about, I don't know how to describe it but we clicked while having just lunch and I said, okay, let's go for dinner one-on-one.

And on the dinner we didn't really talk about business. It was more about his family, his brothers. I talked about my life and it was really, about like the values we have, and I think it's, especially this founder journey is so intense that it's really important that you have the same values and also you expect the same. We also later filled out very famous founder questionnaire.

Each of us individually and then we put it next to each other and what do we want at this point in life and does it fit? And yeah, for us, we acted a bit like brothers to be honest. So in some things we are different, but in a lot of things we are very similar, and the company we are now building fits our both lifestyles.

So, I think he's two months older, but we're really the same age. And also private life very, very similar, and the intensity of our individual lives, it's also quite similar So we clicked on a lot of things and we spent also a lot of time together in our free time because some founders know each other since many, many years.

What we did we drunk quite often together, in the early days and just went on the dance floor and enjoyed life, and this brought us close together. So we acted more like a team and we had a very good understanding of each other. So I think the values is important and what kind of company you want to build, and the rest will then fall a bit into place.

[00:09:51] Maiko: How long did you take until you committed to actually, okay, we're gonna definitely gonna start his business together. How long was this kind of dating phase, so to say, to get to know each other party, make sure you are a good fit?

[00:10:02] Ren: Now I would say it was like the whole enter program is like 10, 12 weeks, and I think we decided after four or five weeks. So after this initial perfect date, we met everyone else in the program, so we wanted to validate, okay, is this the right fit? Is this the right person and after meeting everybody else, and we met a lot of great people.

So before I had no potential co-founder, then I had five I realized, okay, that's actually the best fit. And then we just said we haven't been aligned on a business idea at this point. But we said, okay let's work together, but in the meantime, we had a lot of work sessions together where, for example, once we had it, that everybody had 24 hours and then you have to prepare a business case, to the other and have to convince them of your business idea. In this, we made in circles and there you could see, okay, how fast can this person work? How they create results and what do they do, how proactive they are. So we validated a lot during those weeks, but it took us some months and it was good, to take your time, like you're not in a rush.

[00:11:06] Maiko: Got it. Okay. Let's dive into NeoCarbon, into your technology. Tell us how does it work, how does NeoCarbon work and how is it different from what's out there?

[00:11:16] Ren: In general, there's too much CO2 in the atmosphere, we have to cut emissions, which is super important and super critical, but like the IPCC says, now even we have to remove certain emissions from the atmosphere, only a few technologies can do this. One is so-called, direct air capture.

Problem there is the very high cost, what you normally do you build a big fan that's creating a gigantic airflow. This airflow you push on the absorbent, which is like a, can be a liquid or a solid yeah, chemical. And this orent really likes CO2. So the CO2 attaches to it while the Nitrogen and Oxygen, which is also in the air, doesn't attach to it.

After normally 60 minutes, the material is saturated, so it can't capture more CO2 it's like just saturated. So what you then do is you heat up your system to 80, 90 degrees and then release the CO2 as a, pure stream. Problem there, like mentioned super high price. And we thought, okay if we want to help this industry to scale, we need to find a way to cut the costs, which also suits our background.

So we are both not chemists but we are both engineers. So, retrofitting existing infrastructure and with that cutting the costs seemed very attractive to us. And then we thought, okay, what kind of infrastructure is out there? What could we use? And then came across cooling towers, because they are actually perfect for what we are doing.

So the biggest ones you probably know are the ones from nuclear power plants. So gigantic towers, but there are even a lot of smaller towers out there as well. And what they do they evaporate heat in the form of water. So basically water's coming from the top, air's coming from the bottom, and they just cool down the water to cool an industrial process.

So this is just perfect for us because when we leverage those, we have, first of all, we have a CapEx safe because we don't have to build this tower, but we also have a safe on the groundwork around the tower because we are an industrial set up compared to building in the middle of nowhere. 

Then second thing, we have already existing airflow. So it's a portion especially of the opex to create this kind of airflow to get this ventilator in motion, which you would normally have at the direct air capture plant. And the third very big advantage, especially when it comes to opex, it's the heat. So like I said, a cooling tower is just evaporating heat, that's the only job. 

And basically you can see, ah, here is waste heat because there is a cooling tower and we can leverage this waste heat for our desorption phase, which is like a huge driver of the opex. And the force, kind of advantage is more in our go-to market while we focus in the early days on industries that need CO2 as an input so we don't have to handle logistics and sequestration.

Of course, this will not make it carbon negative and it will not be carbon removal. It's more like avoidance, but this will help us to be in the market very early on before all the infrastructure, all the carbon hubs, all the pipelines before all of this is ready. We are already having like some installations out there that can run and that we basically collect those hours those operating hours.

And yeah, with all of that we have something quite unique and with this we can cut the cost down. It's impossible to scale this industry because if, it's at the moment, like $1,000 per ton, we just calculated it's like 25% of world GDP if we would remove that per year, so that's something can't scale. So using this existing infrastructure just makes a lot of sense.

[00:14:49] Maiko: Got it, and then what stage are you at? How far is the technology and what's still to do now?

[00:14:55] Ren: Right now we are lab scale, so we built the first proof of concept in February, just one month after the company started. It was very hectic together, prototype, but it worked on a high level. But we have very special conditions because Should not interact in a bad way with the cooling tower.

So pressure drop is there, we are not allowed to block the tower, basically. So there're, we tried different approaches, now we iterated our product. it's fully running now with proper sensors, proper measurements. I would say it's right now TRL three to four and early, 2023. We want to bring this then in a real environment.

So moving away from lab to a real environment, we have already the first yeah, potential pilot partners around Berlin. So for us it's very important to learn from the field as fast as possible and to see there what can go wrong. And there are a lot of things that can go wrong, actually, especially when you're building hardware.

[00:15:49] Maiko: We'll talk about that and maybe the development process as well. I'd love to learn a bit more about business model. I assume you're selling, like the goal is to sell these devices to these companies running these factories and cooling towers. Is that the case? How does the business model work from your side?

[00:16:05] Ren: So, from our side, the thing is hardware is different to scale than software, of course, and our idea is, don't scale ourself. So we see ourself as a technology company, that's building the most novel approach to direct air capture, but then scaling with big partners.

So there are big energy companies, big cooling tower manufacturers. Actually talking now to the, I would say seven biggest in the world. And the idea is that they license our technology for a certain amount of time in a certain industry for a certain country and that we basically generate revenue while they implementing our solution.

And for them, of course, they are different than their competition and they get additional service revenue because we also don't wanna do the service ourself. Imagine if we wanna have a big impact and then say to an investor, I need 5 billion to do the rollout, and they would say, maybe that's not the case, that's not what we wanted to do.

But for them it's quite cool because they have already those service engineers out there, they have already those sites. And for us it's just a perfect scaling case. So licensing, especially when you have a unique approach makes a lot of sense and that's what we are aiming for.

[00:17:20] Maiko: Got it. And then basically you're selling assuming the kind of offsets generated by the carbon capture. Is that like what you deal with as well, or is that somebody else?

[00:17:29] Ren: So `it's the early days, so a lot of things we need to be defined. We think it makes a lot of sense if we own this kind of, whole process and that we also handle this process of the offsetting. Of course, we will not do the offsetting ourself like the sequestration, so pumping it back underground is something we will have the overview of the process, but this is also something to do with a partner because it's a whole different, than technology. But if the cooling tower manufacturer, like license is our technology, we take care that everything else is taken care of and that all the agreements are already in place. And they don't have to handle this, of course, if they want to do this as well. We are open to discuss, it's the early days, but ideally we have already all the contact, so why building them?

[00:18:15] Maiko: Got it. And then what's in it for the cooling tower manufacturer? Okay, they can say they're more innovative, they have the better cooling towers that captures CO2, but what is their bene business benefit for them or for their customers that basically gets them to actually buy this?

[00:18:29] Ren: So like said, first of all, they're different than their competitors, and they don't have like crazy high margins on their product. So it's like really a differentiator. And of course like said they will generate additional service business. So also our products need service maintenance.

We have to exchange the absorbance for the chemical over time, and that's something we don't wanna do. So as a startup we say, okay, we will have some pilots and we wanna iterate on them and learn from them, but we don't wanna do all this service and all of that. So for them, it's a differentiator to the competition and really additional service business.

[00:19:06] Maiko: And then for their clients, why would they basically go of that solution? Would it be purely out of a perspective? Actually, we wanna, be seen to do something or they may have to spend that additional service revenue that your customers are making. Obviously so it's increased cost for them, what's the benefit for them in the end?

[00:19:26] Ren: Of course, for them it's like you have more and more regulations forcing industrial players to decarbonize, and that's super important and a lot of things are also happening there. Problem is a lot of those industry do, of course, point source capture. So from those exhaust streams and point source capture gets very expensive.

At a certain point, like when you want to reach from 95 to 99%. So then you are more in the thousands of of Euros per ton, and then it's just an economical advantage if you say, okay the rest we do with direct air capture instead of the last end with this point as capture.

So that's their advantage, and the good thing is when you already do point source capture, then you already have the infrastructure for the sequestration and the whole CO2 logistic. Also already there. So for them, there's also an advantage to turn their factories really carbon neutral or even negative.

[00:20:23] Maiko: Got it. This is so cool, it's very amazing to hear. Now my question that I have is what does the roadmap look like between where you're now and actually having this really as a massively scalable, implemented solution that's in every cooling tower in the world? What are the next steps for you that you need to accomplish?

[00:20:44] Ren: Yeah, so immediate next steps, of course, is going from lab to the real environment as fast as possible, because also in the early days we started prototyping super early, before we had proper models. We just okay what we need and then hacked together and learned a lot from this, build a lot of supplier relationships early on.

And now we want to go into real world and want to learn from there as fast as possible. So end of Q1 2023, getting the first like thing in the real world out there, we don't care so much about the scale, how much tons we capture. It's more getting something end to end running. And then we have different research tracks throughout the year.

So we collaborate with big corporates but also with universities, and iterating there before then going for a bigger roll, hopefully then 25 around. And then ideally with a partner. So we always want to keep our R&D market, which will be Germany or Central Europe.

We have rerun the stuff ourself but then scaling to different countries with this licensing model after 2025, 2026. Most promising markets on what we saw, so far. are U.S for us of course, inflation reduction act Q 45. Super interesting for us and we see a lot of demand coming to us, so we don't really do reach outs in general, like people coming to us, I don't know how, why and how, but they do it.

And we see also a lot of demand from India. Those are, besides Europe, of course our market where we then want to scale and then over time let's see how this, develops.

[00:22:16] Maiko: Got it, and then and you mentioned the inflation reduction Act. Is there any specifics that are driving people now to contact you? What is it that they're trying to solve for themselves?

[00:22:26] Ren: So the US Inflation Reduction Act is basically incentivizing direct air capture. Before it was $50 per ton, now it's $180 per ton. If you do sequestration, if you do utilization, it's a bit lower. And this is like a huge thing, so I think that's one of the main drivers.

But also we are quite well connected in the US so we are part of Air Miners of DAC Coalition and we see a lot of things in the industry are starting in the us Even though Clime work's, one of the biggest players is from here. We see that they are really pushing this forward, so I think maybe its because of that.

[00:23:03] Maiko: Interesting. Obviously in climate tech there's always the discussion who's moving faster or putting more regulation in place, but I think everybody I speak to in climate tech says the inflation reduction, I guess just changed everything, now for the US for sure. But obviously this Impacts us here in Europe as well, as we see with you.

[00:23:22] Ren: Yeah, and very interesting to see also Europe has to do something like we are in an energy crisis right now in Europe, especially specifically in Germany, right now. I think something will happen, but of course you never know when and how big it will be, but what the US did, it's just super cool for the whole industry, let's see what Europe comes up with.

[00:23:44] Maiko: Let's hope we get or we catch up again. Now I would love to actually take things a bit deeper into some of the lessons learned in your journey and some things that founders can learn from you. We have early stage founders listening to this. Are there some like hard lessons learned, difficult things that you had to learn the hard way in the last couple of years, and what are they?

[00:24:08] Ren: So there are some things to share, of course not by order and at different times, different learning. But definitely something I want to share, don't underestimate the intensity of the early days. I do a lot of sports, I'm really into World Cross stuff, but starting this early stage company was so intense.

Some weekends my cofounder and I both just slept whole weekend, just we have been so exhausted. So the intensity of the early days is, it has some own magic. So it was very cool and super exciting. So i would definitely do it again, but it's, it really takes a lot of energy.

So, that's something to have in mind, so you should be taking care of yourself. So like eating good, maybe finding some time to train it. It's really intense. Also we saw at the beginning, ah, let's do something smart, let's do some shortcuts here and there. But in some things there are no shortcuts.

So in our case investor conversations, we had a lot of inbound from, Investors and then we had one investor who who wanted to give us a term sheet and we said, okay, perfect, and we work with you and all good. And then they want to see, but who else is interested? And then we cannot had, we said, okay, let's just talk to some.

But basically we had to go out to all the investors and have to talk to everybody, and I had to pitch the company probably some hundred times. So there was definitely just no shortcut, super intense early days, but another good thing is that like everything at the end planned out way better than we expected it.

So, both my co-founder and I, when we started working together we started writing letters to ourself. So it was three months in the future, very broad, of course. What you think of, and so on. And then looking back, a lot of things like this was also good learning, played out way better than you thought.

And I was way more ready than I thought. So I took this years and years of learning and actually probably I could have started it two years earlier as well, so this definitely was a learning for me. And another thing was really I didn't expect how important your reputation is. People reached out to previous employees of mine, but also to my previous boss asking how I was working. 

Investors did it, but also other partners and I do it as well if I start working with someone. So, even as an employee, I worked super hard, I didn't really care about the hours, and I just cared about having something great that we can build together.

And really, people picked this up and it's a very strong thing. What you do even before you start your company, the years, you will be measured by that. Of course, don't be scared, but that's definitely a thing. So it pays off even if it's not your company yet, it helps you later. 

And one thing I also want to share, because this was a very hard lesson for me, and this I thought when I work on something that meaningful, then I'm never like burning out or I will always have energy. But that's definitely not true.

You need time for sports, for your family, for your friends, and when you're just work You get uncreative, you are not in a good mood, and when you are not in a good mood as a founder, you can feel it in the whole team, everybody's behaving weird.

Then, so even when you work on something great taking care of yourself and having certain breaks, so it's okay in the fundraising to work till two in the morning, no problem, but if you do it in a regular week for several months that's a problem. Then you just do a lot, but is it really, does it make sense what you do? So really, even if it's something purposeful still having in mind to think of yourself And another thing I want to share, sorry for all of that. 

[00:27:45] Maiko: Oh, so much to dive deep into. Even just on that point, I just gotta emphasize the point you just made is so important. I think, like I've been through this myself, with the first company I started, which was a platform for finding jobs in the social and environmental impact space, so we match talent with companies.

And I thought, I just have this mission and I love it, and if we can get more people to leave these corporate jobs and work for his exciting setups that solve social problems, I'll be fulfilled. I can like work 24/7 basically. And I felt a duty to do that as well, I was like, It's important to work on this work seven days a week and after a while I found myself in bed, unable to get up, depressed, burned out first time in my life going to psychologists and therapy and things like that.

And it's interesting. I think that's something that, impact driven founders. Some founders or quite a few in our space, actually make that mistake because they're like so driven by the mission they forget about themselves and maybe deprioritize themselves. So I just wanna emphasize that point, love that you brought it up.

[00:28:51] Ren: Yeah, and also another thing when you talk about psychotherapists and stuff like that, what we are now also starting with my co-founder is that we go together so that we start like this couple therapy while everything, in good faith, like everything is now very cool. We are still super close to each other, but we want to start this very early because when at a certain point, like our investor like to say, if shit hits the fan, then you have to be ready.

So, being close with your co-founder, even when you sing, everything is going very well is important because that's the like first of all, of course the relationship to yourself. So you have to feel good, and when it takes you half an hour to, stand up in the morning, that's not good. And if it's some hours, then it's even worse, of course.

But the second biggest relationship in the company should be the one with your co-founder. So always being close to your co-founder and this person should really know how you feel, why you feel, how you feel like being close with the co-founder is core, from my point of view for a company to succeed, that's what employees will see and that's also what investors and partners, all of that will see how good your relationship is and how good the company is running.

[00:29:56] Maiko: It shapes, the culture, the relationship you have with your co-founders shapes the whole company. Especially once you scale up. I love that you are doing co-founder couples therapy or so to say. Tell us a little more about that, is that like a traditional couples therapist? Is that like a co-founder therapist? Is that a thing? How does it work? 

[00:30:17] Ren: No, we are just starting with it, but it's basically like a business coach. We have a lot of very experienced founders within our network and we get a lot of advice and we ask very often for advice, and that's what came from all of them. So it's basically someone thats listening to both of you and or even when you're more than of course more, and just basically an open ear, but also like to really block this time and to say, hey, that's an important thing. That's also doing something with your relationship already, of course, don't make it too complex, but I think to have someone external that also coaching other founders Is beneficial for you as well.

[00:30:57] Maiko: Got it, you shared so many lessons there, we could do a whole episode on each of them, but really good advice. Really good to hear as well on the kind of referencing from VCs and how much they actually do reference checks, maybe especially in 2021, you could get the impression that VCs would just wire money to, whoever it was deemed the hottest startup out there, it's not quite the case, especially now, people are careful with their money. If they invest their money, they will do property diligence on you as a person, especially in the early stages.

That's all you have really, you may have a little prototype or something, but that's about what you have. You have the co-founders and an idea and a mission, so I love that you brought that up. I think the other point you mentioned is a bit of a disease in some degrees, VCs asking who else is investing? I don't whenever I hear that, I just don't think, okay, do you actually think the startup is exciting and promising or not? Or do you just need somebody else with an exciting brand name to say that for you and you just follow them, without naming any names or anything, but in general, do you think, do you agree with that or what's your view on that?

[00:32:09] Ren: Now I think it's for the investor also a bit de-risking themselves. So I think of course the investor should do their own due diligence and they should find it themselves. Interesting, and not because someone else told them, but for them, of course, it's a bit de-risking. I would say it's okay that they ask.

Of course, it's weird if you we had it at the beginning, you have no investors and at the end you have to reject that's a bit the weird part, so it's maybe a bit too much at a certain point, like I would more emphasize doing your own DD and understanding what a startup is doing and then being confident based on your DD and not, others investors, DD, but in general, I can understand a bit that they want to de-risk and that's why they want other other investors to be in or at least interested.

[00:32:57] Maiko: Got it. One last question for you, and that's about the next 10 years. I know it's a large timeframe, but if you think about 10 years from now how does the world look like if new carbon succeeds? 

[00:33:09] Ren: if we would really go where we wanted to go then we would be in the millions of tons. We would not be at the gigatons removal, but definitely in the millions of tons, which, would mean we have Some hundred thousands of our installations which would be amazing, you don't know. The company is just a year old roughly, and we developed insanely good, and if we can keep that speed maybe it works out, so that's what we are aiming for.

[00:33:36] Maiko: I wish you all the best on that journey. You mentioned earlier on don't underestimate what you can accomplish, so I think it's absolutely realistic to do that and be ambitious and there's actually some old clips from Mark Zuckerberg talking about Facebook. Now it's a whole different discussion around Facebook, but I think what's interesting on that is he actually envisioned Facebook not as big as it became in the end.

When you hear him talk, he talks about it, maybe one day we'll be at all the universities and that's it. It is a challenge that most founders have that they don't quite see how far they can really push this and how far I can go, so wish you all the best on that journey, and thanks so much for joining.

[00:34:20] Ren: Yeah. Thanks Michael.

[00:34:22] Maiko: Thank you, Rene bye-bye.

Rene Haas’ background
Do entrepreneurs have to start from bigger companies before committing to start-up?
Intentionality of building a company around your life
How does NeoCarbon work?
How far along is the technology?
NeoCarbon business model
Business benefits for cooling tower manufacturers
Clients benefits using NeoCarbon
Next steps to achieve target cooling tower solutions
Inflation reduction act client's impact
Lessons learned along the journey
Co-founders therapy, how does that work?
Is a business start-up exciting or not?
Rene’s 10-year vision