Landon Brand is the Co-Founder & CEO of Wren. Landon and his startup has helped to offset more than 64,000 tons of CO2 from the earth's atmosphere while supplying clean cooking fuel to refugees in Uganda, planting over 372,000 trees, protecting Peruvian rainforest through technology, and creating regenerative agroforestry in Scotland. What is even more astonishing? For this startups thousands of passionate members from across 70 countries, it costs only $23 dollars on average per person and is as easy as signing up for a Netflix subscription.
This Forbes 30 under 30 founder and his college roommate found a passion for solving problems through software while attending USC and figured they would make excellent partners if they started a company with each other. After meeting their third cofounder, getting accepted into Y Combinator, and failing to get an HR software of the ground, they decided to point their talents at the biggest problem they could think of: the climate crisis. With the global economy emitting 38 billion tones of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, this is no small feat.
What they created was a simple and intuitive way of calculating your individual emissions and allowing you to offsets these costs & contribute to projects which help with carbon removal. So far they have raised $862,103 from 2,840 paying users to put towards climate solutions. Using the same startup playbook to growing fast, they became a mission driven public benefit corporation backed by mission-aligned investors like Y Combinator, Union Square Ventures, LocalGlobe, and angel investors, including Paul Graham and Yancey Strickler.
I'd say creating new things that really spread and that last will make us evolve for better, or for worse too. I think that's a big thing to keep in mind. Think about how what you're working on will effect and make the world evolve.
This article is sourced from the Evolve Podcast, a top social entrepreneur startup podcast. Listen or subscribe below.
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Want hear another founder using technology to fight climate change? - Listen to Episode 053 with Christian Shearer, CEO & Co-Founder at Regen Network, a community of actors engaging with ecological regeneration, ecological monitoring, verification, distributed computing and technology development, centered around the blockchain Regen Ledger.
Landon Brand Interview
Landon Brand: [00:00:00] sometime one of you're doing all this research on climate change. Basically, I got to a point where it just felt overwhelmingly negative. Like basically we're we're fucked, right? Like it just did not seem like there were a lot of paths where we don't lose a lot of species on earth where humans don't have to sacrifice a lot of quality of life.
Right. And a lot of people die. And that was really depressing. I feel like there's a week in there where I just had a lot of existential dread about the climate crisis. But one thing that really helped was discovering
hey everyone. Welcome to evolve. I'm Brandon Stover and today's guest has helped to offset more than 64,000 tons of CO2 from the Earth's atmosphere
Brandon Stover: [00:01:02] while supplying clean cooking fuel to refugees in Uganda planning over 370 200,000 trees Protecting Peruvian rainforest through technology and creating regenerative agroforestry in Scotland.
What is even more astonishing for this startups? Thousands of passionate members from across 70 countries. It costs only $23 on average per person, and is as easy as signing up for a Netflix subscription. This Forbes, 30 under 30, and his college roommates found a passion for solving problems through software while attending USC and figured they would make excellent partners.
If they started a company with each other. After meeting their third, co-founder getting accepted into Y Combinator and failing to get an HR software off the ground. They decided to point their talents at the biggest problem they could think of the climate crisis with the global economy, admitting 38 billion, tons of CO2 in the atmosphere each year.
This is no small feat.
They created was a simple and intuitive way of calculating your individual emissions and allowing you to offset these costs and contribute to projects which helped with carbon removal.
They've raised 860 $200,000 From 2,840 paying users to put towards climate solutions, using the same startup playbook to growing fast, they became a mission driven public benefit corporation backed by mission aligned investors like Y Combinator union square ventures, local globe, and angel investors, including Paul Graham and Yancey Strickler.
Today's guest is co-founder and CEO of Ren land and brands.
Landon found his passion for coding in high school and attended USC to build software. he met his two co-founders Ben Stanfield and Mimi Tran Zan, Betty And USCS new Jimmy IO, vine and Andre young Academy. now I vine and young are the co-founders of beats headphones, which actually sold to Apple for roughly $3 billion, but perhaps are more famous for their work in the music business as the co-founders of Interscope records. You may recognize Andre Young's name as the rapper and producer known as Dr. Dre,
this unique educational environment provided some experiences for Landon that helped him to start to become a founder.
Landon Brand: [00:03:19] So I did kind of an interesting undergraduate program that covered a mixture of. A little bit of coding and technology, a little bit of business, basic business stuff, but as well as some more like startup minded business classes, and then also learned a bunch about design in that program. And for me, that was kind of perfect.
It was like, I didn't really know what I wanted to be when I grew up when I got into college. And so this was a really nice blend of a lot of my favorite things. And I ended up meeting my co-founders there, which is probably honestly the biggest thing it did for me. Like the people in that program were amazing.
And with my co-founders and I, we started working on projects together outside of class through a student organization we were in and yeah, pretty quickly, I guess after a couple of years, got pretty serious about building stuff and eventually ended up building rent.
Brandon Stover: [00:04:18] Well, your first co-founder was actually your college roommate. And you, obviously, you guys were doing lots of projects together. What were some of the things that you guys were tinkering on when you were in college?
Landon Brand: [00:04:27] Yeah, so we were part of a student organization that was all about fostering the entrepreneurial spirit. So it was a really broad definition. Like what we just believed was that everyone in this world can make things that have an impact on the world, around them. And that's not obvious to people like for me growing up, like, I didn't realize the world was like made by people.
I thought it was just the world and that's how things were. And in college I gradually realized like, okay, the says a good Steve jobs quote about this, where he basically says the world around you is made by people, just like you. So that was kind of a breakthrough for me and my co-founders and I were working on.
events, speaker series, that sort of things where we would bring in entrepreneurs or we'd have like a hack night and people would talk about the projects that they're working on. So that's how we started working together a bit. And then also more like class projects where we'd have to make a piece of like multimedia art or NABI later, we were designing like web apps together.
And for those projects didn't take them too far, but it, it definitely helps. And then eventually we started working on more serious projects. We had another, we had a couple other friends who were working with us at the time. And one of our good friends was really into AI and started diving into this world of like machine learning research on basically company communication.
And we actually went super deep into that for a little bit, trying to see if we could help companies build a better company culture by. Using some of the insights from AI that were coming out, this was about like 2017 or so. So that was, this is, this is skipper. Yeah. So we, we were playing with a lot of those ideas that were kind of new in the world back then.
Brandon Stover: [00:06:18] End out.
Landon Brand: [00:06:19] I'd say a lot are using, so you can imagine we were college students. We like didn't know much about what it was actually like to be in business. Like we had a few internships between us. But we knew nothing about the HR department, which is like basically what we were trying to sell into without product.
So we thought we could kind of do this thing where we just do like a ton of user interviews and really like dive deep and try and understand that problem space super well. And I think that was probably possible to do, but for us it was like, going uphill and you have, we had no advantages in that space.
it took a lot of user research. I feel like to get on a remotely interesting idea. And even that idea, just we didn't have any product market fit with it. And we spent maybe, maybe like 12 months on this, I'd say kind of off and on or in fits and starts like we were students as well. So it wasn't necessarily full time.
But we spent quite a bit of time on it and eventually just came to the conclusion that we were not the right people to work on this. Like we reached a sort of phase of burnout where we had been working on it so long and. Kind of kept having to go back to square one with the idea in some form that it, it felt like we should just totally move off of all the AI stuff, like all of this, anything that the HR department and we just brainstormed a bunch of ideas and that's actually how he ended up on climate change.
Like we just realized, okay, this is going to be really fricking hard. We're probably just going to fail anyway. So let's try and work on something that's really gonna make a huge impact on the world.
Brandon Stover: [00:07:52] Yeah. I mean, going from HR to climate change seems like a pretty big pivot. One 80. What was calling you towards tackling the climate crisis?
Landon Brand: [00:08:01] Yeah. Well, I would say in many ways we are much more excited about tackling the climate crisis than working on HR. I think in the beginning with the HR ideas, what we really cared about was building teams that like felt good. I think that we had some really positive team and work experiences and then also some not so positive ones.
And it felt like we could just try and make every team a great place to be. And also we could tackle some issues like pay and equity in general diversity in the workspace as well. So it was, that was still kind of mission-driven, but I would say with climate change, we kind of realized that the problem was much more urgent.
We had grown up kind of understanding climate change and we were all from California and people talk about it here. I think it's part of the, my different be part of the state curriculum. So for us, it was like, this is probably the biggest crisis that we've ever faced. This was about the time that the 2018 IPC report came out, talking about how important 1.5 degrees is and how there's these.
Some of these feedback loops might be really getting out of control soon. So it felt really urgent for us to tackle this. We didn't really know anything about this space and weren't really sure what exactly we could do yet, but we felt like this was a problem we should at least try and see if we can make an impact on.
Brandon Stover: [00:09:21] Yeah. And it's something that's a little closer to home. As you were speaking with the HR thing, like you guys hadn't been in business, you hadn't worked with HR departments, you had to do a ton of user interviews, but the climate crisis is connected to everybody and everybody has a stake in it. So I think it was a little, maybe easier for you to grasp that instead of the HR
Landon Brand: [00:09:41] Yeah, absolutely. And we were, we were kind of looking around at what we could do and what our friends were doing about the climate crisis. And it felt like there wasn't much that we could really have an influence on like at that time. There's a lot of press about stopping using plastic straws and like these really tiny feeling things.
When it, it was like, this is a crisis. And so we felt like we could either become activists, which I think would be really cool, but also is maybe not, it was not up our alley as much. Especially getting further into like actual politics. I think that's none of our strong suits, but it felt like even in our daily life, like we couldn't do that much to move the needle on the issue.
So that's how we started thinking about ran and started thinking about how can we make it easier for people to take action on the climate crisis.
Brandon Stover: [00:10:29] Yeah, well, your guys' first stab at this was actually a vegan cloud kitchen that could potentially be like a franchise or something. How did that go when you first started doing that?
Landon Brand: [00:10:39] Yeah. So I'll tell you more about how we, how we approached new ideas. When we were thinking about the climate crisis, basically we just brainstormed a whole ton of ideas. Just got a bunch of post-its out or spend a day brainstorming that sort of thing. And after doing some research, I think a lot of people know how red meat especially has a really high carbon footprint and how going vegetarian and going vegan can impact your carbon footprint a lot.
And so we were thinking like, Hey, maybe we can get a lot of people to go accidentally vegan. Like what if the food was just so good? And there was so much, so many options for them that it was so convenient that they just ate vegan food all the time. Cause that was the best option, which I think is a really cool idea to this day.
But for us, we started actually doing it for a couple of weeks. We just like made a bunch of vegan food and we had this idea of online ordering online delivery sort of system as well. And we did some prototype nights with like our friends, but we realized pretty quickly that if we were to get into this.
Business, it would look nothing like anything we had ever done before. And especially there'd be a ton of hiring and firing and like cutting costs aggressively every single place we can. It would, it would basically be really difficult for us. And once again, like not really playing to our strengths, like I think my co-founders and I, we really care about building digital products.
Like that's our bread and butter. So it felt like we were going the wrong direction there. And we had a fun couple of weeks, but we, we felt like we could just have way more impacts if we could focus more on software. And then also just think of ideas that go beyond just changing diets. Like that was one area we were excited about, but we realized there's way more stuff we can be doing here.
Brandon Stover: [00:12:25] when did the idea for rent start to come into the picture?
Landon Brand: [00:12:27] sometime one of you're doing all this research on climate change. Basically, I got to a point where it just felt overwhelmingly negative. Like basically we're we're fucked, right? Like it just did not seem like there were a lot of paths where we don't lose a lot of species on earth where humans don't have to sacrifice a lot of quality of life.
Right. And a lot of people die. And that was really depressing. I feel like there's a week in there where I just had a lot of existential dread about the climate crisis. But one thing that really helped was discovering drawdown, which is basically this list of a hundred solutions to the climate crisis.
It's that drawdown.org. It's an amazing resource. They also have a book. And when I came across that, we kind of realize, Oh, Hey. We actually have the solutions we need, we just need to actually do them. Like, it's not like there's some impossible science problem. Maybe there's a few key breakthroughs that would really help us here, but we can do so much today.
We can really get started. we were looking at that list of solutions and just said, what if we could crowdfund these, like, I would want to support this. I think it'd be really cool to grow, like grow way more trees or switch this traditional farm to a more agroforestry model. And that was, I'd say the initial idea.
And at first we didn't really pursue it. It was kind of just one of many ideas that we were kicking around for a week or so. But then as we go further into it, we learned about this whole world of carbon offsets. And we also, we started talking to like our friends about it. People we knew more in the startup world and we kind of realized maybe there's a product here.
Where you can both learn how to reduce their carbon footprint and then also fund all these solutions that are offsetting your carbon footprint. And so that was the initial idea for REM maybe in may or April of 2019.
Brandon Stover: [00:14:18] Yeah, why come up with something that supports an existing solution rather than say, go out and create your own solution or start doing a ton of research in bad direction.
Landon Brand: [00:14:27] Well, what it felt like when we discovered drawdown was that there's all these solutions ready to go. Like they just need a bit more capital here. They just need to be accelerated. So it felt like we could have way more impact by accelerating the best solutions around today, rather than trying to invent some brand new solutions or solve some of the other really hard problems we have left in decarbonizing.
Brandon Stover: [00:14:51] Yeah, I think that's a really smart cause you were mentioning before, you know, you guys come from a software perspective, that's your bread and butter. So being able to take your challenge and support existing solutions of people that are focusing on their talents, I think is a unique way to look at the problem.
Landon Brand: [00:15:07] Yeah, absolutely. And I'd say with the climate crisis, that's really some of the thinking we need, right? It's like, there's a hundred problems we need to solve. There's just so many problems we need to solve with the climate crisis, but also we need to deploy every solution and we need policy. That's going to make these solutions permanent.
So there's, there's a whole ecosystem that has to be built out in order to solve this.
Brandon Stover: [00:15:28] Well, you guys went through Y Combinator with run. What was the lead up to getting into Y Combinator? What were you guys doing to prepare for that?
Landon Brand: [00:15:37] We had a really interesting experience as Y Combinator. We actually applied with skipper the HR product. While we are still a college students and actually like significantly before we were going to graduate. So they had just launched this early decision program where you could basically apply for one batch later than what was their current batch.
So for us, that meant at least for Ben and I, we could totally finished school like normal, but also know that we're doing YC that summer. And for us, that meant like we didn't have to get a job. We were both kind of thinking about like, Hey, this thing might not work. We don't have like, we need to make rent pretty soon.
so that was definitely transformative to get into YC. I'd say the lead up, we basically had 10 pilot customers who weren't paying, but who had agreed to do a pilot with us, we had kind of deployed to one or two of them, maybe. The product was extraordinarily messy, like basically unusable, I would say, missing countless features.
But I think, well, why C liked about us was that we actually had talked to a lot of potential customers. We had actually got a few people that sign up and we had some really enthusiastic feedback too. That was a really confusing thing about pivoting for us was that so many people were saying nice things about us.
Like one person said, this is the Holy grail of HR. Like just insane testimonials. It felt like, but they weren't actually using our products when they said that. So it maybe wasn't product market fit in that sense.
Brandon Stover: [00:17:08] Yeah, actions speak louder than words. When it comes to that,
Landon Brand: [00:17:11] Yeah. so we, we applied to Y Combinator with that, talked about that in their interview. And then got in and by the time we had the batch actually started, we had pivoted, right?
Brandon Stover: [00:17:20] what did you guys learn in Y Combinator that maybe you didn't learn to your unique entrepreneurial education at USC?
Landon Brand: [00:17:26] Yeah. I would say my education at USC was definitely entrepreneurial, but also fairly broad, like. Lots of the folks that I went to school with are building really interesting products. Now, maybe for other companies, or they might also be artists or designers like it's, it's not necessarily just the startup world, whereas Y C is really specific on the startup world and actually like a specific type of startup, I would say, like this really venture backable extremely fast growing type company that can reach a valuation of above a billion dollars eventually, which basically means either a few people are paying you a whole lot of money or you're reaching millions and millions of people on earth. I would say some of the more surprising things that they really ingrained with in us was being really, really comfortable with.
I wouldn't call them bad version ones of products, but really the MVP is a lot more minimal than maybe myself and my co-founders were inclined to believe that it should be. So we got really used to that concept of testing really quickly. I would say we, we were talking to users before, too, and kind of understood the value of that, but I think C showed us more of what it really felt like.
Like, I think when we were working on skipper, we were kind of going out and doing user interviews with people who maybe have very little interest in the product. And we're just trying to be nice to us because they thought we were nice students who seem to do sciatic. And then in Y Combinator, it was much more about kind of talking to you, our community of users and like finding these like niches online that we could talk to to really find the people who are excited about our product.
Definitely their extreme focus on growth as well was super helpful. coming into it, I felt strategy was super important and there was a lot of long-term thinking I would say that went into skipper, which eventually was worthless, right?
Like no one even wanted the product. So what was the point of having this really robust, like longterm plan? That's not to say long-term planning, isn't important, but it's maybe something that can wait until you have a few people really using and loving your product and you can kind of evolve from what they're looking for.
Brandon Stover: [00:19:39] Hey, this is Brandon Stover, and you're listening to the evolve podcast with Landon brand co-founder of red in just a moment. You're going to hear about Renz MVP and how they acquired their very first customers.
At first, I wanted to let you know that all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free firstname.lastname@example.org and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.
all the lessons that Landon is sharing today are super valuable, but they're only as valuable as the ones that you're actually going to put into execution. So that's why I just do all the actual items from each episode into one, easy to use step-by-step worksheet. So you can immediately start applying these to your life and business lessons, like how to create ideas.
You're passionate about how to find your first two users, how to build a community and so much more. All of these lessons are email@example.com and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right hand corner. That's evolve the.world Or you can follow the link inside the show notes of your podcast app. Now let's get back to the evolve podcast, but Landon brand co-founder of red as he shares how he applied, what Y Combinator taught him to create his minimal viable product.
Landon Brand: [00:20:49] I would honestly say we built more of an MVP than we needed to probably, but We spent maybe a few weeks on it. I think Ben mostly designed it. It just an illustrator pretty quickly. And then we just built it as quickly as possible trying to cut some corners. It was basically a landing page, a CA a calculator for calculating your carbon footprint.
And this was built on top of a third-party API. So it was, it was maybe easier than that sounds to build took just like maybe four days or something five days. And then we had a project, just one project that you could support on rent to offset your carbon footprint. And we felt like that was not maybe as much as we wanted to have, but it was totally fine for the launch.
So it was, it was very simple. There there's maybe a profile feed too, but that was put that together in like a couple hours. It was very, very basic. We showed it to a couple of our friends to get some feedback. Just did like a call with each of them. we actually didn't intend to launch really when we did, we were, we had just implemented Stripe as like the last step to actually making it work and accept payments.
And then we were just sad, like a birthday party with one of our friends and he just took out his phone and, and signed up on like this completely unusable mobile version of the site. Cause we hadn't even designed for mobile yet. And so we were kind of shocked at how effectively the MVP worked. Like we didn't really intend to launch it when we did,
Brandon Stover: [00:22:19] You
Landon Brand: [00:22:19] if people want it,
Brandon Stover: [00:22:20] what did you guys do for strategies to get your first subscribers and were they responding pretty positively to the business model?
Landon Brand: [00:22:27] we launched first on like communities. We were kind of a part of so there's like Y CS internal social network is, is really useful for this sort of thing. And we got a really good reception there and just sending it to a few of our friends, like people were enthusiastic about the products, people were sharing it.
Like they thought it was really cool that our, that we were out there trying to tackle the climate crisis. And then after some of those like initial launches launched on product hunt probably hacker news was in there as well. Then we, we got some PR which was really lucky, I would say. I think it's pretty hard to get pressed now for a product launch that's as early stages as we were.
And I think a lot of that came down to having the YDC, like name and YC connections. I think they, I don't think that's really necessary a hundred percent, but I think it makes it way easier if there's some like impressive sounding stamp that you have when you're emailing some of these writers. we tried to launch on a bunch of Facebook groups.
I think mostly none of those work, maybe a couple of we've launched on like radish, basically everywhere we possibly could. We were trying to post about this. And then we also reached out to people on Twitter to try and share Ren basically didn't work except for Paul Graham. I think once again, because we were in YC and he has a bias towards YC companies, he was open to sharing, but that was also, I would say very lucky.
I think it was 50 50 if that would work out. So generally the approach was just send this to everyone. We possibly can get the word out there any way we can, and then it kind of would grow. It grew organically from that for many weeks.
Brandon Stover: [00:24:12] I seen on your guys's product roadmap that you ended up doing like 150 user interviews early in the process. What were some of the people saying during those that led to changes in the product for you guys? Yeah.
Landon Brand: [00:24:24] Yeah. Great question. So we've done a ton of user interviews since launching Rand. That's always been super helpful. Probably some of the biggest product changes have happened around the project selection experience. We kept hearing things like, I don't know which project to choose, or I don't want to choose just one.
I actually want to support all of these projects at once. So that led us to implement what we call the Ren climate fund, which is like a portfolio of projects on Ren. And that works really well. That definitely increased conversion and has other benefits too. I think it's more impactful per dollar than having people individually select projects, which is cool.
And actually a recent wave of user interviews that we did just a few weeks ago. We kind of realized that a lot of people are looking for projects closer to home, we might be able to choose projects that resonate a lot more with them if they're local. So is there maybe two good examples?
Lots of feedback from user interviews is helpful though. Not because of how you change the product, but like what you can feel confident in, in the product. So, one thing we kept hearing was people liked how easy it was and that they didn't really care about having this a hundred percent accurate carbon footprint calculation.
And for us, that was super helpful. Like it was helpful to understand, Hey, we don't need to focus on this part as much. We need to focus on the rest of the experience.
Brandon Stover: [00:25:46] I went through the whole product. I really loved getting the report at the end of your calculations, like particularly showing you how much carbon you emit, what it equates to and things of like, you know, things that I understand of driving a car or how much, a whale ways, things like that.
And how I can lower my own footprint. And it makes the climate crisis much more like personable that people can take personal responsibility for it, which I thought was really cool. And why do you think it's so important that individuals have like a personal connection and responsibility with the climate crisis?
Landon Brand: [00:26:18] the climate crisis is definitely an issue that's affecting everyone. It's very urgent to like every year is more and more emissions. Right. And the, the potential scale is absolutely insane. Like we're talking about every future generation of humans, potentially. If this goes too poorly, that they're really going to be affected by it.
So, because of that, it's clear that it's important, right? Like the question is more, how do we actually make all the changes we need to make? And in order to do that, I really think we need to engage millions and millions of people, even just in the U S around the world. Many tens, hundreds of millions of people need to make it clear to everyone around them that this is a critical priority.
Part of it comes down to creating lasting policy changes that will prevent us from ever sort of falling back into this issue. Like clean emission standards are a good example or banning combustion cars carbon taxes. There's lots of kinds of policies like that that are, should be robust and should be, should really accelerate the rate that we decarbonize them, tackle the climate crisis.
So part of the reason we have to engage so many people is in order for any policy to pass, a lot of people have to be supporting that policy. They have to convince their politicians like, Hey, this is the thing I really care about. You have to do this. So that's part of the reason the other part is there's a lot of impact that can be had by individual action.
Like if everyone in America went vegan, for instance, that's decreasing their carbon footprint by like 10 to 20%. That's pretty significant. If you can imagine, we want to hit net zero by 2050, having 10% or 20% more time on that is really helpful. So a lot of these individual actions are also way more impactful when you're getting your friends to do the same and kind of you're changing the culture around what we eat to make it about plants and less about red meat.
So for, for both those sort of challenges, it's not just about what an individual person does or believes it's about spreading that individual person's beliefs to more and more of those around them. And I think that's one area at Ren now that we're focusing more and more on is like, how can we make it easier for someone to engage their parents or friends on the climate crisis?
Cause it, it can be a tricky topic to bring up sometimes.
Brandon Stover: [00:28:44] Yeah, I've seen a lot of things in your guys's product that you're implementing. Now you have like the referral system, you have leaderboards and achievements. What are some of the processes and growth strategies that you've been using to try and pull more people in now?
Landon Brand: [00:28:58] we definitely think it. Needs to be fun to talk about the climate crisis. Like right now, I think it's very common for conversations about the climate crisis to be doom and gloom. So something like leaderboard for like, Oh, like who's offset the most CO2 this month. achievements are another great example.
Like we give you a little badge on your profile if you're if you're vegan and that's just fun and maybe something that provides a little optimism to tackling the climate crisis. So I'd say part of our growth strategy is just making it easier to talk about making it more fun. I think there's definitely something around content that we can do.
We send project updates every month about like, let's say you're planning, you're supporting a tree planting project. We talk about how many trees are being planted. Where are these trees? Like, what are the stories of the people behind these trees? Show me some photos, that sort of thing. And that's.
We're looking to make that as shareable as possible. I think for now, it's still kind of jury's out on how effective of a channel that is. the last growth channel we're thinking about is more traditional paid marketing. Maybe traditionally for the past five years, that'd be something like Facebook and Instagram ads, which we're exploring.
And then also stuff like YouTube, sponsorships, just kind of a newer channel that works out for some folks. that's definitely a big focus of our growth strategy as well.
Brandon Stover: [00:30:19] Going through it. I had a couple ideas to throw out to you. So one of them is when you actually pay for your first offset. I seen that, like, you guys have the ability to like pay for the entire year beforehand, or you pay. For like the entire offset of how long you've lived, which I think is pretty awesome.
I think in the email that comes like directly after you pay, there should be some sort of award that you get to basically have that good feeling that you just did this. But also possibly sending like a physical thing, like even a bumper sticker or something that says, you know, I'm a net zero or something, something that builds identity that people want to share, take a picture of can bring traffic that way.
And then the email following after that basically looks at, because you've paid this much, like this is how much you're going to offset in the future. And so now people want to like share that email because they're look, look at all the good things that I'm doing so you can start getting more people that way.
So those were like a couple things that I had thought about, cause it also starts to build like a identity and community around being a part of Ren.
Landon Brand: [00:31:22] Yeah, I love that. And I think identity and community is the key part too. Like I'd say, especially identity. I think we need to see a shift in people's identities to people who are actively solving the climate crisis. Like it has to be part of everyone's identity that. We are on this planet together. We need to figure out a way to keep it habitable for all future generations.
Brandon Stover: [00:31:43] One of Wren's commitments is to evaluate its effectiveness. How do you guys choose which carbon offset projects to fund and moderator effectiveness? You mentioned photos and all of these things that you're showing in your reports.
Landon Brand: [00:31:56] Yeah. Great question. So I'm not sure how many of your listeners will be super familiar with the world of carbon offsets, but basically they've been around for a while. There's policy systems called cap and trade schemes where companies that emit too much have to go and buy carbon offsets to kind of make up however far past the limit.
They are And so this world of carbon offsets has existed maybe now for 20 years or more. And we're seeing a lot of the projects that have been tried before. Aren't really working out how they had hoped to. So let's say someone was promising to protect rainforest. Maybe some of those rainforests on those big carbon offset projects actually has burned in that, or it was illegally logged.
And also we've seen things like someone saying that they're going to chop down these trees unless they get their carbon credits. But in reality, those trees were always going to stay standing. Like there was no risk in it. It shouldn't count as a carbon offset to protect those trees. So there's lots of fraud, lots of problems trying to account for this sort of stuff.
And so for rent, a huge focus going in was always on trust and transparency into these projects. What we kind of realized was that. If you're a corporation, you can do a lot of due diligence on each carbon offset project that you're going to support. You can see, like, who are these people behind it? Like let's really look into their finances, make sure that our money is being used effectively here.
They can go really deep, but if you're a regular person on the internet offsetting your carbon footprint in five minutes, like you don't have the time to really do a ton of research that in these like confusing PDFs and documents with like a lot of scientific lingo as well. And so what we focus on is making it really, really simple and transparent.
Like big focus, especially when it comes to transparency is like showing all of the photos, showing all the people behind this, showing how money is spent and just making that really approachable. So that's a big selection criteria for us. There's a few more kind of more. Traditional carbon offset selection criteria, like making sure that the science around a project is really solid and we understand how exactly carbon is being sequestered.
And we know the math there will hold up. Also making sure that the project is what we call additional. So basically without offset, without funding from carbon offsets, this project couldn't have happened. That's obviously an important criteria also on rent, I would say we prefer projects with a good story, like all other things being equal.
It's awesome. If the project has other benefits to ecosystems or to people working on the projects or has some element of maybe scalability, where after this particular instance of the project is done, we can take that methodology and apply it somewhere else. So all other things being equal, that's a really exciting factor for us as well.
Brandon Stover: [00:34:54] And this is all part of your guys's charter, which is part of becoming a public benefit corporation. Can you explain what a public benefit corporation is and why you guys chose to become one?
Landon Brand: [00:35:03] yeah. Public benefit corporation is the simplest way to explain it is that it's a corporation that has a legally binding mission. So it's kind of almost in between a nonprofit and these traditional corporations, it's their, their venture backable. So you can take investment if you're a public benefit corporation or you don't have to, of course, and there's the it's tax like a corporation really similar to a Delaware C Corp.
If you're a Delaware public benefit corporation, like you don't have to worry about any accounting differences or anything weird like that. But I think it's a really, really great model almost for any company. I would recommend it because it. It feels so much more meaningful to be able to say we have a mission and it's not just some page on our website, like it's legally binding.
And if we aren't upholding our mission, our stakeholders will Sue us. And I, what we really care about. Obviously our mission is to help in the climate crisis. That's the reason we started Ren and we're the reason we're working on it. We want to have as much impact as possible here, but we also think that it's really helpful to be able to raise investment and scale really quickly since the climate crisis is so urgent.
And so it didn't make sense for us to be at a traditional nonprofit for this particular product. And so the public benefit corporation was like the perfect home for us.
Brandon Stover: [00:36:27] Brenda is very transparent about everything from project funding, receipts, to, you know, the updates to exactly, you know, what expenses you guys are doing, you know, even salaries of everybody. Why is transparency so important and what have effect, have you seen it with the relationship of your users?
Landon Brand: [00:36:44] Yeah, I'd say transparency is really underrated to me. It's weird that more companies aren't super transparent. There's actually like this trend. Now maybe a building in public is maybe the new term for having like a lot of transparency in what you're building, being transparent, just lets all of your customers, users, community members understand what's going on in your mind.
And that just builds trust basically for free. Like if you're already writing something down, if you're already. Doing something you can just make that publicly available to anyone who wants to look at it. Like our roadmap, for instance, we roadmap every week and we don't publish like our internal roadmap necessarily.
Cause it's a bit too in the weeds of like, this is how we're going to implement it, but we just copy and paste those tasks over to this other roadmap. And that's like free, free content. Basically. That's took us no time and people can read and they can also give us feedback on it. Like it's so much easier to get feedback on everything when you have people who actually know what you're doing in the world.
Brandon Stover: [00:37:49] It's a super cool the roadmap going through it. Cause it you're able to see like all the updates that you guys have done and seeing, you know, when you took it the 150 user interviews, like these are all the project updates that we did, we're actually taking your feedback, we're implementing these things.
So yeah, I think it's just another great way to be connected with your users.
Landon Brand: [00:38:09] yeah. And it it's so easy to do that sort of thing like that. Just showing off what we've accomplished already as an easy way to build trust.
Brandon Stover: [00:38:17] I also wanted to ask, you know, essentially you were putting your financials out there, which I think is what maybe keeps people from being transparent is they don't want their financials out there. What does money mean to you? And like how much are you, do you want to make I heard in another interview, you talk about that the climate crisis is very important to you.
And so. Making a ton of money isn't necessarily the end goals and England, the climate crisis. So I'm curious what your thoughts are about that
Landon Brand: [00:38:44] Yeah. For me personally, or more for the company
Brandon Stover: [00:38:46] for you personally.
Landon Brand: [00:38:47] for, yeah, for me personally, I think I've never really cared about money. I watched this documentary into the wilds when I was like in high school and It's also a great book. It's basically about this person, Christopher McCandless, who.
I think, or just graduates high school or college, and then just bumps around the U S like subsisting, literally on a bag of white rice, like mostly goes to Alaska. Eventually there's a tractor again, David, that story that I won't spoil, but I was really influenced by that sort of, that documentary. Also a lot of the minimalism movement was kind of coming out when I was in high school.
So to me, I didn't really, I don't know. I never really was super into making a lot of money. I think it's really important to have like a base level of feeling secure, but beyond that, what I really care about is being happy and I think a good way to do that is by working on something really fulfilling, like helping end the climate crisis.
So I am definitely not interested in any sort of financial outcome for me personally. I think. Yeah, probably would just donate anything I make from REM beyond just like a base level salary. But yeah, the, the purpose of it being like a corporation is more so, so we can raise funding and hire more and more people rather than like me getting excited about a future exit at some point.
Brandon Stover: [00:40:08] Yeah. How does that sit with investors? And like, obviously you guys have raised your first round and you were very successful with that. How did that go with this sort of mentality that you have with yourself?
Landon Brand: [00:40:20] Yeah. I think for the right investor, they get it. Like no one is going to support Ren. If it feels like a, we're just trying to make money. Like it has to be about the impact that we're having on the world. So I think the smart investors totally understand that. And actually we have a really great investor from union square ventures.
His name's Albert He's a big proponent of public benefit corporations. He actually pushed Kickstarter to be a public benefit corporation. And now they're obviously pretty big. So it's one of the bigger public benefit corporations out there. And we have lots of other investors who are the same way.
Like they see the importance of being extremely focused on our mission and sort of, you know, it's a company in some sense, like there's a lot of ways it's parallel to any other tech startup, like is not going to be useful to anyone if we don't have users. And so we want to get more and more users to grow our impact, but they also understand how having that mission is really critical.
Brandon Stover: [00:41:16] our previous chat, you mentioned feeling a degree of imposter syndrome or, you know, having some self doubt. Can you share how those came up for you as you've been building run?
Landon Brand: [00:41:26] there's tons of low moments building anything. I would say. So you can imagine coming out of college, like didn't really know much about anything had basically had a couple internships as my main work experience. I think in the early days of the building, the products, it was pretty easy.
Like we had built a bunch of stuff before, so we understood that process. But as soon as we started getting more into like, how do we grow? And then later, like how do we raise money? So we don't just go. And how and then now if there's other challenges, like we don't have a huge team. It's still just five people, but even that is different than when it was just three.
So there's a whole range of challenges. There's definitely months where it's really tough. it's really nice to be able to fall back on the mission and just understanding like, Hey, this mission is really, really important. And if I'm doing the best that I can, that's that's enough. Like. I can feel comfortable in my contribution to the world through that.
Brandon Stover: [00:42:25] Yeah, the at least you're fumbling, you know, towards something that's really important.
Landon Brand: [00:42:29] Exactly. Exactly.
Brandon Stover: [00:42:31] I know you're a fan of biographies. Is there any stories or biographies that particularly helped you overcome the self-doubt.
Landon Brand: [00:42:37] That's an interesting question. I would say actually more so than biographies. What has been most helpful is talking to other founders? Or our investors also, even the ones who weren't founders, I've just been around enough founders to like, know, Hey, there's hard moments.
Like it's okay. Like stuff will go wrong and you'll figure it out. And then before, you know, it you'll be building something really special and it will be having the impact that you want to have. So I'd say our community from Y Combinator is definitely invaluable. Like talking with lots of our batchmates, who went through a lot of the same struggles as us, you know, like they pivoted they've had products where they launch and then they get some hype and it just, it doesn't work out longterm though, or vice versa, like they're launched no one even cares.
So there's a lot of comradery there. That's probably the most helpful thing for just feeling like everything's gonna work out. Like it's okay. We're gonna figure this out.
Brandon Stover: [00:43:35] Yeah, for like a entrepreneur that's just starting out right now. And you know, they're looking at something as big as the climate crisis. It's super complex, but they want to do something about it. What sort of words of advice would you give them that maybe that you heard along your journey?
Landon Brand: [00:43:50] first of all, don't be intimidated. Like. You can really have a huge impact on the world. And maybe at first it'll feel impossible, but over time it might feel easier and easier. Like some of these things, it is like an exponential curve where you don't make any progress for so long, or it just doesn't look like you are.
And then all of a sudden the exponent gets a bit larger and then it's just crazy. don't give up, like be ambitious, but I would also say play to your strengths, like figure out why can you do that's maybe a unique contribution to the world. Do you all, can you offer any different perspectives?
Can you, do you have activities that you really, really love that could add a lot of value here? And I would really lean into those. And I think it, if you do have like something that you love, that seems like it can line up with the issue that you're really passionate about or a crisis that the world is facing.
I'd say there's no question that you can have a huge impact. I think a huge amount of it is just perseverance and caring enough to get up every day and keep chipping away at this problem.
Brandon Stover: [00:44:52] Well, shifting back to the climate crisis. I mean, it's an immediate problem that we need to solve now. And runs mission is dedicated to ending this. What do you think it would take for us to solve this fast enough before it reaches a critical point that we can't turn back from?
Landon Brand: [00:45:06] Great question. So there's kind of a timeline on the climate crisis. People you hear figures cited likely like 10 years of this many years to end the climate crisis is not entirely true. Like it's never too late. We can always, you know, we're always figuring out new technologies. Humans are extremely creative problem solvers, so we shouldn't think about it like, Oh, we passed the deadline at any point, but there's definitely a lot that we have to do.
And it's better if we do it sooner than later. So a lot of the really big things are. Transitioning our current systems and to new systems. So anything right now that's burning fossil fuels. We're going to have to electrify that and the sooner, the better some, some sort of capital stocks as we call them, take a while to phase out like 30 years, maybe others like maybe cars.
We, we have enough electric vehicles right now where we can really start moving. We have the technology in place. We can ramp up manufacturing if there's the demand there. So for anything like that, where we feel poised, but maybe just got to phase out this slow moving stock. I think it's extremely helpful to have policy solutions.
And I think that's what really takes it from maybe early mainstream to just the absolute norm. Like there's no question. Everything is electric. And then for some fields, We need new technologies like cement and steel production, or maybe a good example. Cement production produces emissions steel production.
You have to do it at a temperature that requires fossil fuels in the current paradigms that we have. So for, for that sort of technology, we need to be inventing new things. And then there's a certain amount of general like cultural shifts that would be super helpful. Like I think one of my big questions right now is are cows going to be in the long-term future for humans?
Because they burp methane. Right now we have some technology that's kind of at the cutting edge where they could eat certain foods and that would make them birth less methane, but obviously burping less is still not zero methane, right? Like it's still every year. These cows are going to be admitting a large amount of greenhouse gases and.
Right now it's not a small amount. It's like 10% of global emissions almost is basically from cows in one form or another. So there's some, maybe a technology change could help there, or maybe that's going to have to be like lifestyle change. We might have to shift out of that part of our diet a little bit unclear, but basically I think there's these solutions we have ready to go.
We need policy. We need early adopters to help speed them along their way. And then there's kind of these new emerging technologies that we need to invent. And then there's this handful of lifestyle changes that are could be really, really helpful in getting us to the goals we need to hit. I guess, one other interesting thing to mention is that there's some challenges like protecting rainforests or planting trees where.
we don't mean necessarily new technology, but we might need new kind of creative instruments to make sure that the rainforest is protected or that we plant enough trees. And I think actually that's one really interesting thing about Ren is we have this proud funding approach to creating those instruments, to ensure rainforest is protected or to ensure that there is a financial incentive to plant trees.
I think there's probably a lot of more creative ideas around making that happen that could get could get spun up as well, or put hat. Perhaps policy solutions would work in the longterm as well. We just, for something like the Amazon, we just don't see enough policy or political will at the moment.
Brandon Stover: [00:48:46] The difference between like mitigation strategies versus adaptation strategies. And what do you think the biggest levers we should be pulling with those are.
Landon Brand: [00:48:54] Yeah, it's a good question around mitigation versus adaptation. So basically like, should we try and be curving the climate crisis ASAP? Or should we say, Hey, you know, the climate's already changed. We're going to have to prepare for something let's really get ready for some of the big changes that might be just around the corner.
I focus much, much, much, much more on the mitigation realm. I'd say I'm like an optimistic person and that's what I maybe like thinking about more and also with Ren, it's what we focus on, but we do need to adapt as well. I honestly, I don't know the best low-hanging fruit on the adaptation side that are kind of no brainers.
But I think certainly like the foods that people are growing in some places that's probably one that's likely to change. I'd say also in California, especially just. We already have a serious wildfire, like wildfires are part of the ecosystem here basically. And I think the climate crisis is changing how those work a little bit.
And so we need to figure, we might need to shift our forest management strategies there. Luckily for California, that's like easy in a sense, California has a lot of money. Like we have the, the resources to make that happen. I think adaptation strategies and places that have much less resources is going to be a much, much trickier problem.
And in many ways more important.
Brandon Stover: [00:50:11] This is Brandon Stover and you're listening to the evolve podcast with land brand co founder of red in just a moment. You're going to hear what Landon believes government's role should be in the climate crisis.
At first, I wanted to let you know that all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free firstname.lastname@example.org and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.
all the lessons that Landon is sharing today are super valuable, but they're only as valuable as the ones that you're actually going to put into execution. So that's why I just do all the actual items from each episode into one, easy to use step-by-step worksheet. So you can immediately start applying these to your life and business lessons, like how to create ideas.
You're passionate about how to find your first two users, how to build a community and so much more. All of these lessons are email@example.com and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right hand corner. That's evolve the.world Or you can follow the link inside the show notes of your podcast app
Now let's get back to the evolved podcast with Landon brand co-founder Ren, as he shows his view on government role in ending the climate crisis.
Landon Brand: [00:51:18] Government is really critical to ending the climate crisis, especially if you take a long-term view there's the classic tragedy of the commons problem, right? if you're a band of sheep farmers and everyone's eating the same grass, there's no incentive to leave a little grass for it next month.
Right? The atmosphere absolutely like that. If we're burning fossil fuels and the fossil fuels are making our quality of life decrease, causing all these problems. Yeah. We should stop burning fossil fuels, but also can't everyone else stop running first. So governments can solve that problem just by saying, okay, as a country, we agree we're going to solve this problem.
We're going to implement this policy. And that's critical, especially on a global scale when we're thinking about the climate crisis in a hundred years, like we need tools that just ensures in ongoing CO2. Concentration in the atmosphere. That's good for us. That is really the world that we want to be living.
So there's no question about that. The one challenge with policy solutions is that it takes a long time to convince everyone to change their minds. Like in America, you see this very clearly. You see some people who say like, Oh, this is a climate hoax.
Like none of this stuff is real. And then you see people on the other spectrum who are saying, this is an emergency. We need to be taking giant urgent actions now. So I see Wren kind of fitting in as take all the people who are ready for those urgent actions, give them good urgent actions to do. And then over time, governments will take more and more we'll implement more and more solutions, especially the longer term solutions that we really need here.
Brandon Stover: [00:52:56] Hmm. I think a huge part of this too, is behavior change from the individual level to a society as a whole. How are we to best influence that behavior change? So that it's positive. It's it seems very hard even for somebody to get up and go to the gym sometimes. So how are we supposed to keep them from doing the things that, caused the climate crisis?
Landon Brand: [00:53:16] It's really interesting to think about like behavior change versus government action. It's like, could we just convince everyone to stop using their cars to stop eating needs, to change all these aspects of their life? I think the answer there is, is basically no, like you can't convince everyone, right?
Maybe you could convince a lot of people. Maybe we could convince like 20% of the population, 30% of the population to really change the way they live. That is still an amazing, fantastic life. That's like way better than all of human history. But also is compatible with a really great future for humans too.
But I think with that behavior change, we won't see everyone change. And so we need policy too. I think behavior change is maybe a good way for markets to develop in the early days like Tesla is a great example. We had these early adopters who were kind of like rich hippies who are ready to buy a Tesla.
But not everyone's going to be able to afford that Tesla not everyone's going to want to buy it in the early days when you have all these downsides of not having all these charging stations, but once everyone who's kind of ready to make that lifestyle change has made it, then all of a sudden now, like Tesla's doing really well.
There's a lot of car companies trying to copy them and it's, it's becoming more and more clear that there's no future with combustion engine cars. Like we are going to switch to fully electric cars. And that's thanks to the lifestyle changes that some of these people made early on. And it's also important there to distinguish that these were good lifestyle changes.
Like people there's downsides to the Tesla, like, especially around charging stations, but also really cool looking car extremely performance car. And so it wasn't like they were stepping into the dark ages or something was like, Oh, this is really dope. I'm going to change my lifestyle here. Maybe there's a couple of downsides, but over time, those downsides get erased and it becomes a no brainer, I think.
Brandon Stover: [00:55:12] Overall a positive, like it's something cool that they're becoming. Like getting something very cool. Getting a new identity with, as we talked about before, and it's not so much a sacrifice as it is a more additive thing to their life.
Landon Brand: [00:55:25] exactly. And I think with vegan food, we might be in a similar spot where right now it feels like, Oh, it's like maybe giving up a lot to go vegan. But as we get more and more, really great vegan recipes as stuff like impossible starts to replace some of some meat really well. As we get more advanced with fermentation techniques too, we'll see more and more really delicious vegan food that's available.
And it's also cheaper to produce. Like you don't have to grow animals, which take a ton of plants anyway, to get to maturity. And it's better for the wellbeing of animals. If that's something you care about, if you're sympathetic to other life on earth. So I I'm optimistic that even something like going vegan that might seem like giving something up today might be a lot easier in the future.
Thanks to kind of technology changes and a lot of the market shifts that those early lifestyle change adopters have.
Brandon Stover: [00:56:19] What are you guys doing at red? And to help with this like behavior change, influence.
Landon Brand: [00:56:24] there's a couple of things we do right now. The biggest one is definitely showing people their carbon footprint, just so that they can kind of understand like, Hey, this is what you should focus on. Even though like plastic straws just got a bunch of press, like maybe you don't need to worry about that in terms of your carbon footprint, although obviously cool these a reasonable strategy.
And what people realize usually is like flights are really massive part of their carbon footprint. if they're a professional or just kind of upper middle class, I think the median American flies like once a year or so. But lots of folks who are early rent adopters are flying a lot more than that.
They see that's a huge carbon footprint. And then. Other things like really putting diet and perspective is helpful too. Like kind of understanding, Hey, this might not be the single biggest thing you can do, but it's true. Changing your diet could be a big lever here. We also have a email series called climate camp that we built out that basically shares tips every week on how you can live a bit more sustainable, your help tackle the climate crisis in some way.
And I think we'll, we'll continue to produce kind of content like that. That takes maybe a hard challenge, like changing your diet and makes that a little bit easier for you.
Brandon Stover: [00:57:38] All right. Is there anything of like in the future looking at maybe as they do some of these things and they record them inside run or whatever that they're able to, you know, they bring down how much carbon they're emitting in the air. So it would actually bring down like their subscription price or whatever.
So kind of rewards them for doing this monetarily.
Landon Brand: [00:57:57] Yeah, exactly. It's cool. It's like. It's almost like Ren is like an opt-in carbon tax in a weird way. Like obviously marketing wise. No, one's going to jump on that track train, but you do get rewarded for your lifestyle changes. If you're offsetting a hundred percent of your carbon footprint. I think that's a cool aspect of it.
Brandon Stover: [00:58:15] when I was doing this and I got to the end of mine, mine was like $26 a month or whatever. It was like, if this was a carbon tax, like I would be okay, paying this like $26 a month and we're going to, you know, mitigate the climate crisis. This doesn't seem like that much. So I, but I think it's cool that you guys are doing it in a way that's, you know, again, positive instead of a negative thing that they're looking at.
Like, I don't want to be taxed anymore than I have to be.
Landon Brand: [00:58:38] Yeah, no, it taxes are really weird and interesting idea or problem. I would say, like, I think everyone likes the idea of like, we'll all pitch in and do this really cool thing. But somehow attacks, is it just, it just feels like it's going to this black hole. Like you have no idea how the money's used.
Probably you can be like, Oh, the government's doing a really bad job of it. If you want to, you can say that and you have basically no way of knowing. So I feel like there's an opportunity to make taxes feel much more exciting and positive. And about the world that you're building like spending money to address Corona virus is a great example.
I think most people are very excited to end coronavirus to get to a point where we don't have to think about it every day. And that's maybe a cool way that taxpayer money has been used to help address some of the, this, that challenge. But it, it doesn't necessarily feel like that feels like taxes is just.
Aligned like a line item on your expenses and you don't really think about the positives of where that money's going. So Thorin obviously we focus a lot on emphasizing the positive of the impact that you do have.
Brandon Stover: [00:59:45] Yeah. During an interview that I listened to during prep, I also heard you mentioning like the idea of universal income, because it allows people to take a risk without having to worry about their income, which is obviously good for entrepreneurs who. You don't want to go and solve something, but it can be super risky sometimes not having a stable income.
What are some other ways that you think whether through education or something else that we can better support an entrepreneurial mindset to take risks and solve problems?
Landon Brand: [01:00:12] Ooh, I love this question. I have lots of thoughts on education. I would say what's interesting for me is I think the two most influential educational experiences I've had, I would say are like learning how to code on my own. From like online tutorials where mostly my, when I was like in sixth grade, my sister was just like, Oh, land.
And you should do this HTML tutorial. I didn't really know what that was, but I don't know. I figured I would just give it a try and it was kind of fun. And then I just got this feeling of like, Oh wow. I just made this webpage show what I wanted it to show. Like, I just told it what to do. That's so cool.
And all of a sudden I was like off to the races of playing with computers in that, without that I've no idea what I would be doing. But it just, it led me into this world of coding for sure. And I feel like more education systems could be focused on providing that experience of like creating something that's actually really useful for others.
Right now it's kinda more about hitting the standardized tests, but it could be instead about teaching that aspect of creativity in the sense of. everything surrounding you has been created by someone. And you can, you can create that stuff too. And maybe that provides a much stronger motivation to learning.
I think also the other big experience, I, I feel like I've had for online learning or sorry for, for education in general is online learning of watching lots of YouTube videos, reading lots of, kind of online courses, type material. That's really, really helpful. And especially when our economy gets more and more specialized, like there's more and more small niches of, learning how to do something.
I think it helps a lot to move to a more online model because I think that's when people will really be able to find what resonates with them and pursue it. So I think that's definitely one big way. Universal basic income for sure. Helps provide just a safety net. I think there's lots of other policy solutions that do something similar.
Like you can imagine if you didn't have to worry about healthcare that'd be great. Also if companies didn't have to worry about healthcare, that would also be great. And it would probably just cost less money in total. There's lots of no-brainers there, yeah, anything that can kind of make things more equal in terms of like economic equality thing is usually really helpful for entrepreneurship.
And then also it can change markets a bit as well, which can be useful.
Brandon Stover: [01:02:38] I really loved you mentioning about the education piece. Was this idea of like when you first started coding, you were kinda, you were being curious, but you were also like solving your own problems. And like when you started researching things on YouTube or whatever, a lot of times there's some problem that you have in your life.
And you're like, I need to figure out a solution for this. And I think if we can link education to that, those problems in somebody's own life and they start solving them for themselves, they feel more empowered that they can solve problems. And so when they look at something like the climate prices will, they're like.
Well, shit. I just solved all these problems. Maybe I could do that one too.
Landon Brand: [01:03:13] Absolutely. Yeah. Like the feeling of having an impact is key. I think it's tragic that we don't teach that because I think it is not obvious that you can have an impact. I think that'd be huge.
Brandon Stover: [01:03:23] you're still pretty early in the journey with Ren. Who do you hope to become as a person working over this on this for the next decade?
Landon Brand: [01:03:30] I hope to maintain a lot of positivity. I think it's. Tough with the climate crisis to be maybe faced with a lot of bad news. Often Biden getting elected as amazing and super exciting, but still there's a lot of negative news coming out like each month. So I hope to maintain a lot of positivity.
A lot of optimism, definitely hope to get more and more ambitious over time as well. And otherwise, yeah, making sure I can just execute super well and accomplish everything we want to at Ren super important.
Brandon Stover: [01:04:01] Do you think this is your forever company? Or do you foresee something else in the future?
Landon Brand: [01:04:06] Well, I don't know if anything's forever, I've only, I haven't been alive that long. I think by the time I'm much older, I hope that the climate crisis is in a really different spot. Hope it's much more like, okay, we're 90% there. We have all the solutions ready to go. We're kind of just in the last phases of implementation.
So maybe in 30 years or so I do think Ren will look quite a bit different. There's lots of other sustainability challenges that we could work on. Like micro-plastics might be great example. We're not exactly sure what's going to happen with so much microplastics in the ocean and cause a lot of ecosystem collapses and that looks like it might be a tricky one to figure out.
So perhaps we'll change to other areas of sustainability way down the road. And yeah, as for what I'll be doing, I definitely don't know. I think I've definitely got my hands full with Wren for the foreseeable future, but what's been interesting with that journey is like my day to day work has changed a lot where in the early days when we didn't even have a product, it was all building.
And now I I'm not even in the code base because it takes too long to on-ramp me. Every time I need to do something So even if I'm still at random, I'm sure things will look very different.
Brandon Stover: [01:05:17] Hmm. Well, one of the things with Brin you mentioned earlier was starting that fund that basically funds across the projects. Do you see that being something bigger in the future where, like you said, you might see different projects that could help towards sustainability. So you just take a mass of everybody paying in and fund each of those projects.
Landon Brand: [01:05:36] Yeah. It's an interesting question. I would say certainly the current product is all geared around the climate crisis and I do think that's the most urgent and largest crisis we're facing by a pretty large margin. So it's unlikely that we would just take our current model and kind of expand the scope a tiny bit.
But I guess it's, I guess it is hard to say, I think right now everything is kind of focused on tons of CO2. And that obviously doesn't make sense for any other, like if we're talking about micro-plastics or something but maybe a similar approach would work, like the idea of kind of some impact or footprint calculator that could definitely apply to other areas than just carbon footprints.
And certainly like creating content on the most effective actions you can take that can apply to so many things. And yeah. Also funding the best solutions. Like you kind of alluded to, like, we could have maybe different portfolios of projects tackling different issues one day, maybe.
Brandon Stover: [01:06:35] Well, before I get to my last question, where's the best place for people to follow you and get started with Ren.
Landon Brand: [01:06:41] Yeah. You can check out firstname.lastname@example.org it's, w R E N like the bird And you can email us anytime. We're a email@example.com. We love feedback. Any ideas you have, like, please don't be a stranger. We follow us on Twitter on Instagram. Yeah. Feel free to reach out whenever I'm excited to chat with any of you.
Brandon Stover: [01:07:01] Awesome. Well, my last question is how can we push the world to evolve?
Landon Brand: [01:07:05] Ooh, that's a good question. if you look at some things recently that have pushed the world to evolve, I think technology definitely comes to mind and maybe I'm biased because I'm into this stuff. But if you look at how people communicate today, they have evolved to communicate over Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp much less face-to-face in Corona virus, you're on zoom and stuff like that.
even with the, the climate crisis, that's kinda caused by. The discovering how to use fossil fuels and finding this really cheap source of energy that completely evolved how we live in so many ways, even like how our food is produced how we move around, opened up whole new possibilities.
And I think we'll keep seeing that where if you make something new and it kind of replicates that's going to make the world evolve. And I guess it doesn't even have to be technology. It could be a cultural idea. Like even the idea of a coffee shop, that's kind of replicated around the world. Now that is that's creating something new that maybe has made us evolve a tiny bit in one way, but wasn't necessarily just from new technology.
So yeah, I'd say creating new things that really spread and that last. Will make us evolve for better, for worse too. I think that's a big thing to keep in mind. Like Facebook gets a lot of flack for all the political polarization stuff. I think some around social isolation as well. Also, obviously fossil fuels have put us in this place where we're now dealing with the climate crisis.
And even though we can be really thankful for all the ways that they've changed our life for the better. Now there's this question of like, you know, depending on how this climate crisis goes, could have been for the better for the worse. So I think it's really important to him. Think about how, what you're working on will make the world evolve.
Brandon Stover: [01:09:00] Thank you so much for coming on and sharing this story about Ren and everything else that you shared today.
Landon Brand: [01:09:06] Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. This is a lot of fun.
Brandon Stover: [01:09:08] That was Landon brand co-founder of red, a startup, which makes it easy for anybody to offset their carbon emissions, essentially negating their individual footprint. I think that taking a complex problem, like the climate change and creating a solution that allows individuals to take personal responsibility Is an important lesson we can learn from My ended
people are mine more likely to take action on something. If they are personally connected to it, Complex problems. Like the climate crisis are just too large and too esoteric for individuals to grasp, let alone feeling like they can actually make an impact towards solving these problems. The more personally people identify with a problem, the more they feel compelled to fix it. Now, if you want an easy to use resource full of all the lessons from this episode, they are available as a free downloadable firstname.lastname@example.org and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.
You can also find all the show notes and transcripts for this episode at evolve.world/episode/landed brand.
The Evolve Podcast is focused on evolving the world through evolution of the individual. Brandon Stover unpacks the stories and mindsets of extraordinary social impact founders, visionary leaders, and social enterprise experts as they share how they built startups that are solving the worlds greatest problems. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.Leave A Review