Taking on Climate Change With Grit and Technology Innovation
Grant Canary and Matthew Aghai Share the Story and Vision of DroneSeed
In This Episode
Tech startups innovate many different aspects of life, but is there any aspect more important than the survival of our planet? We hear from Grant Canary and Matthew Aghai of DroneSeed about their journey of adding another tool to the toolbox of tree planters, foresters and public land managers to combat climate change by using drone technology to plant trees after disturbances like forest fires.
Not only do we get a lesson in how this technology can work hand in hand with current methods, but we also hear from their experience of what it takes to work and hire people in an industry that is tackling a global issue which can at times be daunting. We hear about how it takes grit to push through the hard challenges. We also learn about how initiatives like #teamtrees and being featured on popular youtube channels and the discovery channel is helping them share their goals.
First 10 Minutes
We start by meeting Grant Canary, who introduces us to his company, DroneSeed, that helps to re-plant forests after events like forest fires using their seed vessel. During the introduction, Matthew joins us from Australia.
10 Minutes – 20 Minutes
We learn about why this method is saving time in re-growth and helping to add a tool in the foresters toolbox and helping to have an option for public land. We learn about the origin of the idea to start using technology in the space of tree planting. We hear about the effort to plant 20 million trees through the #teamtrees initiative (https://teamtrees.org/) partnership with different youtube content creators. You can see the fundraiser video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPJKxAhLw5I
The group talks about the impact of such an extensive social media campaign and the future of what their business can bring to society overall.
20 Minutes – 30 Minutes
Grant shares their mission with the work they do as a company, how they hire employees, and what is driving them along their journey as a company. We get an update on their results so far with their technology.
Grant’s entire career has focused on for-profit sustainability. Over nine years he built his first company to acquisition and then worked for the acquirer. The company takes food waste, feeds it to larvae, and then produces industrial protein for fish feed from the larvae. Under the acquirer he worked as second in command to the CEO. Together they raised $10M and brought it from the lab to factory, building a 60,000 square foot production factory. The company is still expanding today. Prior to that, Grant worked for two years at Vestas Wind Energy in their management training program doing change management projects for executives in China, Denmark, and the US. Grant has lived ten years abroad on four continents and visited ~25% of the world’s countries. He and a collective of people, including Ben Reilly who started as an advisor and would become DroneSeed’s CTO, distilled the company’s mission into a few simple words: ‘make reforestation scalable.’
Director of Biological R&D, DroneSeed
Matthew has a rare dual skill set in having lead revegetation programs for private timber, mining companies, public lands, and NGOs, while also serving as an academic and researcher at top-tier institutions. He is a PhD Candidate at the University of Washington, and has previous degrees in Forestry and Wildland management. Matthew has also trained and practiced as a nurseryman and restoration specialist. His twelve years experience working as a consultant have sent him around the world to manage reforestation projects including Idaho, Washington, Hawaii, Australia, China, Lebanon, Poland and Sweden. Reforestation has always been his mission.
Climate change makes every other problem harder to tackle. Three years ago we resolved to find a way to mitigate it.
Since then, we’ve spent time with foresters to learn about their pain-points in the field. We’ve talked to nursery managers about breakthroughs in seed enablement. And we’ve listened to climate scientists about the best tools to sequester carbon.
DroneSeed is the culmination of those continuing conversations.