November 6, 2023

Carbon Removal and How to Build a Deep Tech Startup with Carla Glassl

Michel Gagnon
Michel Gagnon
CEO of Stun&Awe

The climate clock's ticking, and it's high time for us to step it up. But here's the exciting bit: trailblazing startups are already on it. Take Ucaneo Biotech for example, who's taken the bull by the horns with an audacious goal – pull a million tons of CO2 from the sky by 2030.

Carla Glassl, their co-founder and CTO, dropped by recently and gave us a good look into their world. Ucaneo is working on some truly novel tech: the world's first cell-free Direct Air Capture technology reversing climate change with synthetic biology. They're dead-set on giving our planet the breather it needs. But this is not all sunshine and rainbow.

In this fun and enlightening conversation, we talk about the intricate world of climate tech and the challenges of bringing a hardware product to market.

Carla shares a ton of advice and anecdotes about:

  • The importance of assembling a World Cup-level team
  • Hacks to reduce experiments timelines with hardware
  • Her plan to scale a climate tech with a modular container approach
  • The secret to get to the finish line.

And she doesn't shy away from sharing some of the mistakes she's made.

We conclude with a deep dive into the investor landscape for climate tech and the expected timeline for Ucaneo's product development. Plus, Carla shares her outlook on climate tech, why putting a value on CO2 is critical, and stresses the need for multiple solutions to tackle the climate crisis.

If you're a tech entrepreneur interested in fighting climate change, building a meaningful business, or getting into a hardware tech, this is the perfect episode for you!

We covered

00:00:00 - Exploring Carbon Removal in Climate Tech

00:01:34 - Understanding Carbon Removal

00:02:22 - Ucaneo's company and tech developments stage

00:03:19 - VCs on Hardware Technology's Scaling Factors

00:05:17- What Ucaneo does with the CO2 it captures

00:07:58 - How Carla builds a new technology and runs a business

00:10:58 - The customers who can buy CO2 from Ucaneo

00:12:28 - Transitioning from Academia to the Startup Life

00:14:06 - How to Build a World-Cup Level Team When You're Developing a Brand New Technology

00:16:51 - Hacks to run fast experiment for hardware startups

00:19:18 - Is it easier to raise money for climate tech companies than before?

00:21:19 - When Is Ucaneo Going Live

00:23:22 - How to build a production line to drive revenue and allow for changes

00:24:25 - How does Ucanoe's magic carbon removal machine work

00:26:30 - The advantages of Ucaneo's container approach

00:27:18 - What industries are interested in buying pure CO2?

00:28:30 - The obstacles that still need to be overcome

00:30:08 - Carla's outlook and the important step that could completely change the game

00:33:27 - What Carla would do differently if she could start again

00:35:21 - One of Carla's biggest learnings

00:37:19 - The Mistake to Avoid When Working with Partners

00:38:25 - Why you should dig deeper if your gut is telling you not to follow someone's advice

Podcast Transcript

Full Transcript →

Where to find Carla: