Andy is an experienced corporate executive with over 25 years in senior finance roles (Balfour Beatty, GE Capital, Westfield Group, and KPMG). With qualifications as a chartered accountant, a law degree and an MBA, he mentors Greentech’s portfolio clients on market entry strategy, project delivery and business management. Andy also plays an active role in marketing Greentech’s client innovations to our network of multi-national companies.
John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by Trajectory Energy Partners. Trajectory Energy Partners brings together landowners, electricity users, and communities to develop solar energy projects with strong, local support. For more information on how Trajectory is leading the solar revolution, please visit trajectoryenergy.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact podcast. Today we are going across the pond to the UK, we are so excited to have with us, Andy Taylor. He is the commercial director of GreenTech Global. Welcome to the impact podcast, Andy.
Andy Taylor: Thanks John, I appreciate the invitation. It is great to be so involved in what we are doing and learn wonderful opportunity to be engaging with you I have been looking at your business and it is a steam company.
John: The feeling is mutual and before we get talking about all the important work that you are doing at GreenTech Global, can you share a little bit about your history, in your background? What led you up to the formation of Green Tech Global? Why you are so interested in excited about the environment?
Andy: Absolutely, well maybe a little background you detect that I actually do not have an English accent, but an Australian accent, I grew up in Australia. So I come from the world of studying chartered accounting law, and I have got an MBA. So I come from that corporate background to give you context. My world started in big firms, like Anderson and KPMG. I came over with the Westfield shopping center group. So property MNA, big shopping centers, Benjie Capital, then Balfour Beatty which is a big largest construction company in the UK, and that experience of working with large corporates gave me a sense of the opportunity to really address how quickly companies at that multinational level can embrace changing the world for the better. And the challenge which I now overcome is the inertia of those companies to innovate and particularly to innovate in a way that addresses the ecological and carbon challenges that we all face. And so I have invested in Green Tech with my business partner, Nick Yeatman. Nick is a little bit polar opposite to me, which is how we complement each other. He grew up in the world of Brands and marketing and formula one and being in the music business and being in the events business. So he is very much about branding, sales, and consumer relations. And then I come at it from the idea of the the large corporate mindset of growing up in that space and understanding how large corporates function and how they think.
And so a little bit about us a Green Tech. So what we have got is a true impact investment company. So far, we have invested our own capital and what we seek is companies that have innovative sustainability solutions that are market-ready but have not yet generate a significant revenue because they are right at that cusp of having developed a pilot, having got their intellectual property resolved, having hopefully got their brand and their website resolve but not always. And then so we focus effectively what I call an hourglass model. So the top of the hourglass is the business development, the sales, the engagement with large multinationals. I have had 25 plus years of experience working with big companies. It helps to have that sort of pedigree when you are trying to connect with people of our vintage on LinkedIn, which are mostly the c-suite now. And so that helps, when we are working with maybe a technologist or an entrepreneur whose only had five or ten years experience but very smart. Well, we are relying on our experience to then be able to knock on their door and start a conversation about their technology.
John: Andy how long ago did you start GreenTech Global and for our listeners and our viewers out there that want to find Andy and Nick, they could go to GreenTech.global. When did you start it?
Andy: In about 2015, we launched. So we launched with a couple of very innovative companies which I can happily explain. One of them is, so these guys were focused very much on the infrastructure space. One of our very exciting companies is formed and founded by an ex-banker, a similar experience to us, a very successful banking career. He invested in a team of polymath scientists and what is fascinating is they have developed a way of making graphene very cost-effectively. I do not know if you have heard of graphene but it is quite a revolutionary discovery 10 years ago at Manchester Uni. They won a Nobel Prize for their work in the idea of taking pencil lead and shaving it and working out that graphene is the smallest form of carbon and it is one of the most conductive substances, one of the strongest substances known to mankind. And I feel it is genuinely going to revolutionize the future of our children. When you look at its capabilities, across a whole suite of different areas, this is in batteries, it is in carbon fiber, it is in polymers, and it is in paints.
So in broad concept, when you add graphene to any particular product line you end up with an outperformance result. In the battery space, they have resolved the chemistry. So it is not quite just graphene, it is not just as simple as taking it, but there are different grades of graphene and there is a debate as to what this graphene in the world, there are different discussions happening all the time. But essentially they created a formula that is a combination of different energy technologies that when you add it to the cafe, the electrolyte, and the anode of a battery, you end up typically with around a 30 percent increase in energy density for a lack comparison to say typical lithium-ion battery. And they are demonstrating that because our simple model to clients is you do not have to believe us. Just send in your current battery specification, we have a template for them to complete, he then works with his outsourced contract manufacturing partners.
Ostensibly in Asia, where they have got all the supply chain and very long-term established pricing, and they will give you a comparable outcome. In one case, a client of mine, which we have brought to him is a client in Italy whose designed his own mopeds with partners in China. He historically had a swap in swap out battery for the moped that was about 12 kilograms. So I need kilograms we are in the UK and we took that battery down to eight kilograms for the same power. Now that means your wife is an avatar John or your daughter can now lift the battery out comfortably, more comfortably and take it inside and charge it overnight. And, and that is the kind of delta in that instance. In other cases, he is doing some very interesting work in the domestic energy, battery, and solar market. Because he is a commercial banker, what he has done is he is now providing a complete turnkey solution of batteries, solar panels, and air source heat pumps and that is wrapped and delivered by his own installation company and that is allowing him to generate some very significant new market share in the UK in competition with some of the big established players. And in his case, his batteries are roughly 15% smaller than, 15% lighter, and 15% lower cost than the other incumbents in the market.
So, this is some of the exciting stuff we are working on and if you want to hear even more about what we are doing on this particular instance, I have broken another client out of the USA. He is a wealthy mining magnate, I will call him. Made a lot of money out of reprocessing old iron or tailings. He has invested a lot of his private capital with a team of our Believix Tesla engineers and others to create an electric drive unit. His mission is to convert existing diesel and petrol vans and cars into electric cars. But my client is doing is working on partnering with him to deliver a swap in swap out battery solution. So you can imagine, if you imagine taking a Ford Transit van, an existing diesel Ford Transit van that is currently used ubiquitously in most cities to deliver a lot of Amazon and other last mile delivery products, as a big source of pollution. Well, with this, the combination of these two companies and we homologate that in the sense of working through the mechanics of it, becoming a factory supply solution in the sense of, you put a Ford Transit through the process on day 1 and day 5 it comes out with not its ice engine replaced, its internal combustion engine replaced with an electric engine and our batteries and our vision is to put the batteries in a way that is possibly in the back of the van, so that the driver can now access them. And instead of having to worry about range anxiety, and get back to base somewhere to then charge overnight. Instead, they will turn up at various locations where they can access a locker, change the batteries over and five minutes. Now they have a commercial case you see for that same delivery company only having to invest maybe under $10,000 to do the conversion.
We will then lease the batteries to them and that means they are not polluting anymore, which means they are actually allowed into certain city centres, which are slowly banning these Elana petrol vehicles, delivery vehicles. I know they are doing that in the Netherlands already. And what we are doing is addressing the commercial drive, where they can now use that van 24/7. So if you imagine three shifts of eight hours, at the end of the shift, they will change the batteries over at least enough to carry on for the next eight hours, is the vision and that way the vehicle continues its journeys in a non-polluting way and we have solved the commercial case where people with a lot of existing fleets which has still got five or ten years of effective life of the vehicles unable to write them off and they are now able to repurpose them to generate another 5 or 10 or 20 years of life. That is one example, one or two or three examples of what we are doing in the thought space of solving it commercially you see. We have to deliver an ecological sustainable lower carbon and outcome now in the world we are in. You have to have a commercial business case underpinning how you engage a large group. They cannot afford to just do a token green outcome unless you are playing an optics game of planting some trees and claiming the next era, which is a nice debate in town of the month.
John: For our listeners and our viewers who just joined us, we got Andy Taylor with us. He is the commercial director of GreenTech Global. To find Andy and his partner Nick going to GreenTech.global. Compared to when you started the company in 2015 Andy to today 2021. Is to climate, no pun intended, is the climate and social political economic structures in Europe, United States, in Asia now more excited about ESG and circular economy behavior than ever before?
Andy: Absolutely I have to say. My observation is we are facing a green rush at the moment as in, you know in the 1850s whenever there was a gold rush, I can see right now that there is a green rush and in some respects I think Covid has woken up a lot of people to the idea of the environment is now can be malicious in a material way if we do not look after it. Historically, scientists have been warning about global warming and rightly so in Greenpeace that we are doing in WWF and have been doing a great job and those others to highlight the risks we face. But until it is really in your face, people are not really minded to change their behavior. Most people go about their day worried about how to pay their mortgage or their rent, worried about their job, worried about their family life and the environment has not had to factor too much because it is someone else’s problem. And what I feel is that the evidence of the science and the 2050 agenda in what the United Nations is doing to address this and obviously taking [inaudible]the scientist has now built up. I think you have got past the tipping point where governments are realizing the implication of and seeing the evidence slowly of what appears to be a shift in global warming patterns where more and more natural disasters are impacting significant populations. Heatwaves in Northwest America causing fires similar examples in Australia, they are under flood at the moment. So those scenarios I think are starting to engage a lot of individuals worried about their future. And that is now nicely feeding through into people who can in the form of pension funds and the big sovereign wealth funds now starting to take heed of putting pressure on large global corporations about now. How do they accommodate the investor, concerns about what they are doing on a global front? So the nice thing is you have got politicians slowly starting to wake up to the idea that their constituents are concerned about the environment and that if you do not address the green outcome, then they will get pilloried in social media. In the UK, we have had various action groups that are gaining a lot of publicity for the disruption they are causing in terms of sitting on the streets and campaigning around the environmental concerns that they have and so the government is having to address them there.
Our mission is again is about what can we do across the piece now to bring either a business case to a corporation to change their carbon profile. To either help, a company establishes a brand story that is true and genuine about what they are doing to save the planet. And I can take you through some of the stuff we are doing there and also we are moving a lot now into the consumer space where we are looking to address a lot of the behavioral science around what might motivate you or myself or my family and my friends to change their behavior in an ecological way. Can I give you a little anecdote?
John: Yeah, of course.
Andy: One thing that, I work in the space but quite a revelation is, would you believe the shirt I am wearing is made out of recycled bottles?
Andy: So this is one of the new products we are bringing to market. And I am wearing, not a client of mine but a third party, a gentleman who does recycled cotton yoga clothing for men. I am wearing his yoga pants at the moment and would you believe I actually feel emotionally better. I feel happier during my workday wearing my eco clothing.
John: How does it feel? How does the clothing feel on your skin?
Andy: This is just like a normal polo shirt that I have got three or four or five examples of from major brands. The recycled cotton is obviously stuffed and it is comfortable to stand up but you know recycled cotton pants if you can see it. So they are very comfortable to work in. I go walking in them. I got a few pairs. The other thing is psychology and maybe I am unique because I am in the eco-space but if you are going to tell your friends a good new story, if you are looking to chat to them about something, well actually I feel quite proud now to say, “Hey, I am wearing recycled cotton yoga pants.” It is something to talk about, right?
Andy: It is something to actually be a little bit proud of that I am trying to make as a little individual in the world of many millions and billions. I am trying to make my little difference and it is on brand. In some sense, maybe they have this little philosophical conversation for you in a moment. Maybe some of your listeners will be interested, which is, I feel the world should shift to a new paradigm, which is, no matter how rich or poor you might be, we should be celebrating minimalism. How minimalist are you in a sense of your impact on the world in terms of total carbon and total pollution and total waste? Why aren’t we as a culture celebrating people making that effort to minimize their carbon footprint in a meaningful sensible way as a point of kudos, as a point of personal reputation as a point of self-confidence? What we seem to do is celebrate, no disrespects, I am not trying to be a socialist far from it, but what I am saying is we seem to celebrate those people who drive the biggest, fastest, petrol cars. Who have the biggest homes for example, and have the biggest ocean-going yachts and things in the world seems to celebrate their idea of all of those classic examples of wealth is the way to recognize whether someone is genuinely successful to someone is not, as in terms of how much money they make. And my proposition is actually well, that is a statement that you actually do not care about the environment because you are a massive carbon generator, you just are.
What are we saying to people now about if you care about the environment well why are you not driving an electric car? If you can afford it, you should be driving electric car and there are some beautiful hypercars coming. There is the Rimac coming for two million dollars. That is fully electric and it is faster than most other things in the world that are powered by petrol, it just is. So if you got the money, celebrate driving an electric vehicle. If you got the money, celebrate having an eco-home that as eco as it can be, it can be the biggest home in the world, but it might have solar panels all over it. It might have ground source heat pumps and might have all sorts of ecology or deploy your resources into showing that you care. And for those that want to make a difference, go on brand, just not about necessarily wearing big brands, it is about wearing clothing that you feel comfortable in, and also you are making a statement that does not have a horrible supply chain around it in terms of everything to do with not only its carbon footprint but then obviously child labor and all those other things coming to play.
John: Well two points, to your point about you being in the eco-business, as I am, I still think that everyone really is in the eco-business because Andy, no matter who you are, terms of social status, economic status, or political affiliations. When you, and I have friends and relatives and other people around us who do not agree that we all want to drink cleaner water, breathe healthier air. So really, we all should be in the eco-business, number one. Just making the world a better place from wherever we sit. And to your point about bigger macro shifts, I think we really are moving from, thank gosh finally, a linear economy to a circular economy and that bodes well for what you are doing at GreenTech Global and what we are doing here at ERI and so many of our colleagues are doing so I think it is great. Have you invested in those companies of the shirt and the pants that you are wearing right now?
Andy: Not in the pants yet but in the shirt, we have a partnership with that company where we are helping to deploy their product range under our new brand. We are launching a new brand called Oshn, O-S-H-N. We have not launched it yet, we are still in developing our catalog if you like. What we are doing in the moment is trying to work with large corporates to encourage them to use these clothes as uniforms. So you see part of our strategy always is, with new technology we try and launch it first into our corporate relationships. Where it is on-brand for a company to then adopt the technology. Trying to sell into a corporate market is always a struggle for every new consumer brand because it is so frightfully expensive to try and convert people. You have to see something John seven times before you buy it as a standard protocol. This is why so many companies struggle to get their product into the market unless they are very well resourced or can tap into an automatic natural database of individuals. But through our various initiatives, we are slowly, we are going to be building our own considerable networks of ecoline individuals because part of what we are addressing on the consumer front is the behavioral science of motivating people through discounts and rewards and eco points to demonstrate their involvement in the full cycle of recycling and recovery economy.
John: But to your point also outside of the reward system, economic reward system, I think there is a huge psychological reward system that is for free that accrues the people that are actually behaving, more ecologically speaking and actually thinking about what they are doing and more responsible behavior than historically they have been doing.
Andy: But the challenge for them is how to demonstrate that to their peers and family and friends to get the kudos from. Historically, someone can wear a branded shirt and that makes a statement because of the advertising of that brand about how they correlate into being affiliated with that advertiser. My challenge, this is my point around the minimalist example, is that if we build an ethos and a personal recognition where I can say to you John, “Hey what are you doing about minimalizing your impact on the environment?” You can proudly say, “I am being XYZ, and you?” And that is my contribution. I can say, “That is amazing. I give you total respect for that.” When you having a beer with your friends, you are talking about these things around, and it is something not about your new car outside it for maybe electric of course, but you are talking about actually what difference you are making and then people giving you real respect for it.
John: Andy, talk about your thoughts around employing a head of sustainability delivery at companies. And what does that mean to you and why is that so important?
Andy: Sure. So what we have identified in engaging with a lot of multinationals, I am talking to some of the biggest brands, some of the biggest listed companies in the UK right now about some of our solutions in terms of promoting to them and I have been in touch with some we connected on LinkedIn and other places with some of the global heads of sustainability some very big companies. And if you look at the experience of heads of sustainability, they are often very educated and very, very capable in terms of the whole sustainability agenda, and they have grown up in that world. The challenge they face personally is that they may not have had a lot of corporate and commercial experience in their organizations. And my point is, let me just explain just a little bit of backstory. So part of when you are engaging with a very big corporation, my philosophy and experience are that CEOs are fundamentally the only ones given the [inaudible] about their shareholders and their board to innovate. They get paid to innovate. They get paid to see the future. And it is a high-risk, high-return relationship, if they are successful they can get remunerated wildly if they fail they get kicked out pretty quickly. And they are always betting on innovation and the future to grow their business and to prevent their business from being disrupted by outside forces. Very few other people in the hierarchy are given the permission to innovate and take risks. Most people, if you look at your organization, trying to go up the corporate ladder, they are paid to do the job as to what they did yesterday. They are bonused on last year’s numbers plus 10%. If they come to you with a new idea, let me give you this example, if they come to you with a new idea, like a new innovation, a new concept of reducing your carbon footprint, as a business owner, your concern will be if that fails and causes you brand harm, causes you commercial harm, causes you litigation harm if it is unproven, untested, untried. And if it will go all wrong that individual’s career just came to a screaming halt.
The only way that that person can prevent harm to them is to coalesce a number of other people in the organization, to sign off on the idea and they collectively take it to the CEOs as a concert. So if you play that forward, our vision is that if companies are meaningfully wanting to engage with market-ready sustainability technologies, the idea of a head of sustainability delivery is a partner to the head of sustainability and they will be someone who has five to ten years commercial experience within the organization. Having delivered operational outcomes in terms of delivering what they do for their clients. By function, that will have a natural network of a lot of peers in other segments of the business, as, in the legal community, the risk management community, the finance community, the HR community.
The idea of the head of sustainability delivery is that they will, first of all, be a gateway for new Innovative sustainability technologies to contact, to share their ideas, to share their concepts. They will understand what the sustainability remit of the company is and evaluate them quickly as fit the purpose or disregard. If they are worth exploring because it aligns to the company objective, they have the imprimatur and the permission of the CEO to then motivate the analysis of that technology across the different business segments. They can go to the head of engineering, the head of IT, the head of legal, and say, “Hey, I have got this new idea. What do you think of it? From your lens, what is the legal risks and associated with this, in terms of more warranties and indemnities and balance sheet you would expect if you are going to sue them?” From the end of our engineering, what are the risk of contamination or any other variables in terms of this risk management paradigm of solving for how you operationally deploy the technology, how you evaluate the idea? Because you see, most other people in the organization are going to be sitting and thinking, why did I not invent it? And it is only going to cause me more work because it is new and incremental to my current day job. So that is why you need a head of sustainability delivery to motivate those different business segments to get behind it because the CEOs ultimately buying them saying, “Hey, you are going to innovate and we are going to reduce our carbon footprint meaningfully, I need you to engage.” And so they marshal the different business segments and that collective very quickly rather than having to rely on personal favors because you got a good idea. I now have the the imprimatur of the CEO to make those people engage, and the idea is they quickly then collectively evaluate the viability of the business case of the technology. They very quickly agree, it has a business case, they quickly sign off on it being piloted within the organization. They very quickly, then evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats of that technology. If it works for them and the business case is sound, they can deploy quickly, you accelerate their carbon footprint and their waste outcome or whichever eco outcome this particular thing solving. And that way the head of sustainability is held harmless, they are held harmless for pushing the idea through the organization. They have the ability to motivate the whole organization behind the innovation and then the idea is accelerating what is typically a three to five-year buying cycle for a new entrant into a company, like a multinational, my goal is one year. Because then there is no point about, see if you think in 2050 terms, of 2030 terms, that is beyond the career lifespan of most of us today you can make a difference. So the people in senior management roughly had to have 20 years, 30 years experience, which is our generation, people between 40 and 60, right?
Andy: Most people at 2030 thinking I am retired. What can I possibly do to influence things? Might 2050 is like most of us will be in the grave, right? So depending on other conversations about lifespan. But the point is right, it is outside our influence zone, so you do not motivate. My point is, you are on watch today, let us make a difference on your watch. Most CEO careers, roughly five years on average, give or take, let us make a difference today. Show a meaningful act of mine by the way, if you want to appease your shareholders, get some great news about demonstrating your credibility and capability in the space. If you have got on an environmental social governance bond only your finance director is very happy because you have got the lowest rate of interest possible having tick all those boxes. If you have got a young millennial workforce, they really care about the environment because that is their future. They have seen what Covid has done to their families and particularly their parents and their grandparents, they don’t want that to happen to them. So they are very alert and awake being very, digitally aware to what the environmental damage is that their inheriting.
I feel emboldened by what I am doing in the moment because I have got a 13-year-old son and a ten-year-old son and I am giving them the legacy of what we are doing now. I feel our Generation X roughly, you know, the legacy of the last boomers are starting to retire, and wherein management now, it is our opportunity and our responsibility to deliver these outcomes for our children, because who else will. Not to be an evangelist about it is about, well, I have had 30 years experience, I have got the connectivity and the network to make these things happen. I have got the experience to have the conversation with you in a meaningful way to say, “Listen, here is a business case. I thought through the matrix of all of these legal concerns, warranty concerns, insurance concerns, let us make it happen.” And frankly, with the sort of stuff that we are being attracted to and seeing, I can guarantee making a carbon difference to pretty much every company we engage with or a waste difference. We have got a portfolio, not to be marketing because I mean frankly, it is our mission to market these companies. We put our money in them which gives you the confidence that we put our money in them, so they must be something worth it there in terms of why we are putting our reputation and our brand at risk with representing this technology. We must have due diligence it, we must have understood it. That is an important statement. We are not just sales, guys trying to make a bark and then be gone, so that is important. Two it shows that we are in for the long term, we are about the life cycle, it is about making a difference in terms of, our mission which is to make the world better. And so, that is what we are quite passionate about. If you detect any passion of mine, which is I am seeing these technologies, I am witnessing the business case in the brand case and the story that drives real outcomes. Now, it is just about finding the right people in the right companies to embrace talking to us and then evaluating it quickly. Rule the business case in or rule that out. In most cases, they should see the value equation of why it makes good business sense to engage with us. And keep in mind, our philosophy is inevitably we want to be manufactured direct. So commercially we are not working through three or four different middle people trying to take a margin. All of our companies, we own to be manufacturing directly which means we control the full vertical of the conversation around pricing and delivery and quality control. And we are therefore about, this whole conversation around making it a meaningful company John is the mission.
John: Andy like you said it is our responsibility because of our unique relationships in the historical track record to make a difference now not push it off on another generation and not take the slow approach. I love your approach of working with a sense of urgency that makes total sense. Given that, science is winning this tragic pandemic period that we are all living through around the world, including here in California, and the UK, and London. What do you foresee for you and GreenTech Global in the next 12 to 18 months as we become untethered from the pandemic and get back to the business of making the world a better place?
Andy: What is fascinating is we have been on this long journey with these clients like the iconic battery client and other technology out of France Danae, which has got a device that connects into air conditioning units and is proven to reduce the the energy cost of those by 15 to 50 percent. They have been through that piloting stage, so just out of total serendipity and coincidence and obviously, Covid has put a lot of them back a little bit, but we are very pregnant – I am saying to my business partners, “We are very pregnant now.” Where we have got pretty much a baby about to be born in the sense of a number of our portfolio clients with established credentials. They have got deployed solutions in a number of verticals. So we are actually very well prime to be launching all this now, just at the perfect timing companies are starting to address, “Okay, I have got a brand problem, I have got a workforce problem, I have got a stakeholder problem, I have got a investor problem around making myself be really green.” So frankly I am hugely excited by function of what we are building in the sense of it starting some real conversations with some clients where historically we produced it shown in them and idea and I said fine, but then radio silence. I am now being able to go back to them to say, “Hey check this technology out.” There. you can go and visit it in a house where you can see it on a moped or here is the vehicle or here is the the the van we just converted, it is real, it is here.
Do you want to taste it? Do you want to touch it? It is proof so let us have a conversation about how we can make this meaningful for you.
John: I love it. Well, Andy, the fun part about this show is that we have been doing this for 13 years and we love to have our guests back so you are going to come back as we move through 2021 and get into 2022. I want you to come back and share the success stories of Green Tech Mobile. I want you to know that you and Nick are always invited back to the show. And for our listeners and viewers out there to find Andy and his colleague, Nick please go to www.GreenTech.global. Andy really this has been a pleasure, I love what you are doing. I love your sense of urgency and I am so grateful to you for sharing your story on the Impact podcast today. But more importantly, making the world a better place. Thank you for joining us today.
Andy: John it has been a pleasure and we walk them engaging with anybody who would love to be a part of our story because it is genuinely about making the world better and we hope to be on a mission with people. So feel free to reach out, we will be delighted to have a conversation with anybody who wants to make a difference.
John: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit themarketingmasters.com.