Episode 64

Published on:

22nd Apr 2024

SPECIAL EPI: How Glassdome digitizes and accelerates industrial decarbonization

Nick and Josh Charnin-Aker, Glassdome’s co-founder and CTO, as well as TJ Yoon, Product Manager, discuss how Glassdome is building a platform and a deeply experienced team to accelerate sustainability in manufacturing, heavy industry, and more. Not only does this involve building a first-in-class digital product to help customers like SK manage things like product carbon footprint calculations, but it also entails getting their hands dirty to collect novel, primary data from manufacturing environments and supply chains. Specifically, Nick, Josh, and TJ discuss:

  • The new base layer for manufacturing and industrial decarbonization Glassdome is building
  • The regulatory environment and specific rules and regulations necessitate a much deeper understanding of supplier and factory-level data from manufacturers
  • How deeper and digital intelligence will accelerate sustainability outcomes in what are traditionally thought of as ‘hard-to-abate’ industries


00:03:27 - Overview of Glassdome's Business Focus

00:06:12 - EU and SEC Regulatory Landscape

00:08:45 - EU Battery Regulations and Challenges

00:12:07 - EU Battery Regulation Impact on Manufacturers

00:14:04 - Facilitating Deeper Data Understanding in Manufacturing Supply Chains

00:20:01 - Differentiation from Other Carbon Accounting Software

00:21:37 - Acquiring Data from Outdated Manufacturing Equipment

00:23:31 - Granularity of Emissions Data in Manufacturing

00:25:46 - Macro vs. Micro-Level Emissions Analysis

00:27:03 - Opportunities for Manufacturing Decarbonization 

00:30:08 - Global Shifts in Manufacturing Sustainability

00:39:41 - The Broader Context of Sustainability Beyond Emissions

00:42:10 - Call to Action for Listeners and Job Seekers

Don't miss out on this podcast if you're interested in learning more about the state of climate tech, the energy transition, and the role of better data to accelerate industrial decarbonization. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple, Google, or your favorite podcast platform.

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Nick: All right, Josh, TJ, welcome to the Keep Cool podcast. It's great to have you both. Hey, Nick, thanks for having us.

TJ: Thanks for having us, Nick.

Nick: Yeah, I'm excited for this one. So we've all chatted independently a number of times before. So for the audience listening in, it might sound like we're already pretty familiar with one another. But for those folks edification, why don't we start with some quick intros and then maybe we can also do 60 or 90 seconds on Glassdome as the business and then we'll go from there.

Glassdome. We started back in:

TJ: My name is TJ. I've joined Glassdome last June. I'm working as a product manager and partnership manager here. I also have a background in finance and also in business development in the blockchain industry.

Nick: Fantastic. All right. And Josh, maybe you can give us the 60 seconds on Glassdome. What should listeners know if they took nothing else away from this conversation about the business.

Josh: So originally, actually, we were founded as a manufacturing data company. So we have a whole suite of products that we offer to manufacturing customers. But the one we've been most focused on over the last couple years has been helping them deal with their regulatory compliance around sustainability initiatives and helping them be more efficient in their production. So those are the two main things that we're doing these days.

Nick: Excellent. And when we think about, yeah, helping manufacturers with, as you said, regulatory compliance and really understanding, for instance, the kind of product carbon footprint of some of the stuff that they're bringing to market. I guess my first question is, when did that become more of a focus for the business? And what were some of the catalysts behind that?

Josh: Yeah, so it definitely has its roots all the way back in COVID. So we're a company that's based in the US but has a strong presence in Korea, where a lot of our development team is, a lot of our customers. And early on in COVID, You know, Korea was much more open with manufacturing than the U.S. was. They did a good job of kind of containing themselves in a bubble. So we moved a lot of our emphasis over there. And with the large Korean customers who are exporting to Europe, they were keenly aware early about CBAM, which we'll talk about later, I'm sure, and some of the other product regulations regarding carbon footprints that the EU was scoping. So they were the ones that kind of first alerted us to the issue and then we pretty quickly spent two or three years building out our products to be able to service them.

Nick: Understood yeah at the highest level it seems like you know whether you look at the US or EU or other jurisdictions there's. thankfully and importantly, a lot more emphasis on both, you know, kind of incentive-based policy to accelerate more climate tech development and deployment. We see a lot of that, particularly in the U.S. with things like the Inflation Reduction Act. But then also a lot of on the regulatory side, I kind of always break it down into sticks and carrots. Like there's also things that are a little bit more aligned with kind of the stick side being developed to regulate in ways that also kind of either protect domestic industries around clean tech manufacturing or try to accelerate or really challenge stakeholders up and down value chains to get more thoughtful and to really care about sustainability in new ways. It also seems like sometimes these regulations are sort of developed and then customers or folks that have to think about them are then sort of challenged to react to them. I'm sure regulators work pretty hard to engage with the folks that might be impacted by stuff that they're putting out, but there always does seem like there's a little bit of a gap and that there's a lot of work still done to be afterwards for the folks impacted by it. So it sounds like that's some of what you all found with respect to some new regulations coming out in the EU, but I won't put the cart before the horse. I'll let you speak to that a little bit more.

Josh: Yeah, definitely. So I mean, TJ spends a lot of time with our customers in the EU and in Korea, speaking about, you know, the actual technical needs and demands that these regulations are having on them. From an overarching regulatory standpoint, I think both the EU and SEC do a good job of giving you two or three years of lead time between anything being signed and any numbers actually counting against you for tax purposes. So for example, with CBAM, that's Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. And so essentially, the EU decided, hey, we have all these great measures to make sure that we're not doing too many carbon intensive practices on EU soil. but we want to avoid a situation where we're just offshoring those dirty practices. They instigated CBAM to try to protect against that. One of the difficulties of it is now we actually have to calculate the estimated carbon emissions from all the affected products. And so that's a difficult task, especially if a lot of the carbon emissions are coming from your suppliers, right? These are scope three emissions we're talking about. CBAM right now is limited to just scope one and scope two. And there's kind of a clear set of guidelines on how you calculate that. But I think all of our customers are very cognizant of the fact that scope three is important and it's coming. So they're pretty far ahead of the curve.

me point, even if it's not in:

Josh: Yeah, exactly. And if you look at SEC, the previous version, they were estimating the increased administrative burden on 10K filers to be $10 billion. Fortunately, that's come down quite a bit. And you'll see that in the revised version now, I think it's 900 million. So it's a much more manageable lift without the scope three. But even in looking at that 900 million figure, that accounts for they're estimating $600 an hour for external services. And based on the numbers that they're estimating, I think, you know, it's really encouraging to us because we know that we can do this for companies much more affordably than the SEC thinks it can be done. And that's kind of our value add that we're trying to put out there in the market.

Nick: makes sense. Yeah. And you know, another regulation that I know is on your and glass domes radar that but I really, you know, as someone who covers the climate tech space pretty intently wasn't on my radar until I got to know you all better. And I don't think is necessarily on a lot of other people's radar unless they work in battery manufacturing. or have a keen eye on EU policy. And I'm speaking to some of the EU battery regulations that are forthcoming, or at least will go into effect pretty damn soon, like within the next year or so. PJ, maybe you can speak to some of those because I know those directly impact a lot of the conversations that you're having with manufacturers.

TJ: Yes, so I think that I mean, Josh mentioned about the scope three part, the scope one and two are also very tough to measure for these battery manufacturers in here in Korea, because there is a extensive guideline on what kind of data that you need to gather in terms of calculating product carbon footprint. So it's there are two options. One is there them hiring a consulting company to do this every year with all the communicating with different departments that could give you a not so great data set that consulting team goes through, you know, adjust all the numbers and kind of like make it ready for the PCF calculation or they can think about integrating all the system so that they can start collecting these data in a way that it could be calculated into product hardware for print in the later stage. Yeah, so those are the two options that these manufacturing companies face. Most of the battery manufacturers or battery OEMs already have these data integration systems in place. So it's easier for them to be honest, but for tier one suppliers or any supplies below that it's gonna be very difficult for them to even think about integration strategy and that's where we come in we offer them a very easy and more. Cost effective way to do the data integration and then that's how we are getting in touch with them.

Nick: Got it. Yeah. And that makes sense. And if we take a step back for the listeners edification, what are kind of some of the things that the battery regulations are actually going to mandate or institute that present challenges for the way that the folks downstream have operated historically? Yeah.

TJ: So battery regulation has a associating PCR, which is a product category rule that's being published by JRC, which is also a EU kind of like body. And in this product category rule, it states what kind of data are needed to be in a company specific data, such as if a battery OEM needs to calculate product carbon footprint of a battery, they need to be able to get the data in terms of cathode or anode, those cannot be industry average data, but rather a company specific data, meaning if they're getting any of the cathode or anode material from other supplier, those suppliers also need to provide the battery OEM with the actual data, not any of the industry average data. So it kind of like cascades down to the suppliers. And then it's pretty crazy because the System the boundary of that is pretty huge and whenever i meet with these battery or am the at first they can't believe. How wide this boundary was it even goes down to the minerals in some cases so that's where the hardship is and then even. When we were meeting with some of the european battery manufacturers they were also having the same concern so across the globe the battery manufacturers are facing the same regulation and the hardship so.

Nick: Interesting. Yeah, that strikes me as uniquely challenging. If you are basically assembling a battery that and you probably have all kinds of I don't even know, but I imagine that you have all kinds of different suppliers. And historically, if you've just been allowed to kind of apply an industry standard or an average, you've probably been doing that for a long time. But now you're actually being asked to step in and kind of decompose all of that and understand it at a much more granular level. I can appreciate how that probably of put some fear in the eyes of those folks when it was first being proposed and is now coming to fruition. I'm also curious, and this might be jumping the gun a little bit, but to what extent can some of the actual data vary? If an average was historically applied for a specific component of a battery, I'm sure there have been some instances where once you've helped manufacturers step in and actually understand that data at a much more granular level, the data was actually quite different, or the conclusion was actually quite different.

TJ: So it actually goes both ways, right? Some were previously using industry average, and then when they actually calculated it, it actually turned out that they were the ones that were bringing up the average of the industry. But most cases, it actually brings it down because of how they do the manufacturing practices and whatnot. But the good thing is, once they know their state, once they know their actual state, it gives them a good place to start on how to decrease them. So I think that's where we're going to go. First, assess their state right now, and then afterwards, go and help them on where are the hot spots, how they can reduce the cover footprint, and like a step going forward.

Nick: Yeah, that makes sense. And if we take a step back, because I kind of jumped the gun there with that one a little bit, but what's some of the work that you all have helped facilitate that wasn't being done previously, but that enables actually being able to step deeper into the supply chain and understand supplier to supplier, material to material data?

TJ: So we allow our tenants, we say, tenants are the users of our software, different companies who is using our software. We allow the tenants to communicate with each other so that whenever this one tenant is done with calculating their PCF of a material of a product, that value could be shared with other suppliers or even to their buyers and by doing so, the suppliers don't really have to give out any other information such as bill of material which is directly associated with the cost information of the material with the buyer so they are only sharing the product carbon footprint. Previously though, these buyers were actually asking these suppliers to share most of the data so that they can help them calculate product carbon footprint. So it was like a bait. They were like, oh, I know, I know you guys are busy and you can't calculate your product carbon footprint. So just give us all the data and we'll calculate it for you. But suppliers were like, eh, we don't really want to do that because it's really, this data to calculate product carbon footprint is really associated with the cost of their product as well. there was a barrier and then we're helping them kind of like go over that barrier by just providing the product from a footprint data. And the other aspect that we help is, like I said before, these tier one suppliers, it's very difficult for them to start with the digital transformation or data integration, so on and so forth. I mean, like I said before, we offer a very cost effective solution for them to do so. And then once they do it in the beginning, they don't have to go through that again. unlike consulting work where they have to hire them over and over again every year. For us, it's mostly implementation costs in the beginning, but once you're implemented, it goes on and on and on.

n we think about the world in:

Josh: Definitely. I would agree. I think that's why we've really focused in on product carbon footprint as opposed to, let's say, organization-wide sustainability efforts. Because we really see PCF as where the rubber meets the road. This is where we can make apples to apples comparisons between two different manufacturers, domestic or international, and say with a high degree of certainty that X manufacturer has Y amount of carbon that they're releasing per ton of product. And that's how we can really make effective regulation. We can make a level playing field for everyone. We can make clear legislation that incentivizes the things that we want to incentivize.

Nick: It's quite an interesting time to be having this conversation because today, I think we saw something like $6 billion across 33 projects in the U.S. from the Office of Clean Energy demonstrations for really like industrial decarbonization products. And some of them are for types of products that we have already referenced in this call so far. With respect to CBAM in Europe, like I think the first aluminum smelter is going to be coming back to I'd have to look up the specific test site in the US, but there really is like a renewed commitment to, you know, ensuring that all of this stuff doesn't just remain in China forever. And I think that's kind of getting at some of the same around understanding that If there isn't a combination of reshoring and regulation, then there will be lots of ways to continue to sort of, especially when scope three isn't in scope, to continue to skirt really thorough analysis of the emissions footprint of different products. But yeah, I mean, suffice it to say, it definitely feels like it's coming. It's the right time to be thinking about how to actually bring really good data around all of that to the fore. Definitely.

Josh: And I think one thing that some of the media is missing, which I think you highlighted in one of your posts, was that these types of regulations are actually really good protectionism measures, right? If we have a clear view of the carbon footprint of a product that's made in the US versus China, that's really all the evidence we need to be able to support that manufacturing in the US in any way we can.

Nick: Yeah, makes sense. I think for a lot of folks listening in that, you know, might not be as in the weeds on manufacturing things like product carbon footprint to them, it might seem like, and I've certainly had this thought at times, like there are a lot of kind of carbon accounting software companies out there, which is good. You know, we definitely need some of them, but you know, we haven't used those words yet and you all certainly don't frame yourselves as that. So maybe we can continue to build on, on kind of the differentiation there. When you think about other competitors in the carbon accounting software space, Beyond sort of the focus of some of the customers that you serve, what are some other ways that you feel like your work differentiates from them? And we can also speak to things that you're building now that will come to the fore in the future that probably add to that differentiation.

Josh: Definitely. I think when you look at the landscape of carbon accounting softwares, you have a lot of incumbents who are companies that naturally already had a lot of this data. You might refer to it as ERP data, enterprise resource planning, already well integrated with, you know, understanding how a company is allocating resources like people, buildings, vehicles, things like that. So it doesn't really make sense for a startup to try to challenge that, I don't think. But where we did see that we did have a competitive edge was with our background in acquiring data for manufacturing environments. These are from computers that the average equipment lasts in a factory for 25 plus years. That means we're looking at stuff that was installed in the 90s, which means the software and it was written in the 80s. It means there's this huge moat actually with only certain companies have the resources or knowledge to get this data. and your typical startup couple of kids in their dorm in Stanford is not going to be able to get data out of these machines tomorrow. We saw it as an attractive place that we could focus on.

Nick: Yeah, and this might get into some of the secret sauce that you don't want to just speak out, speak about super liberally. But I'm curious, like, what like actually goes into some of the expertise around when you say sort of like getting data out of those machines? Is it familiarity with the environment? And having gone to a number of different customers this at this point, and having seen pretty similar things in those different environments, I'm sure like that compounding knowledge helps, but I'm sort of curious what else goes into it, because that's kind of a pretty intriguing visual image of these old computers in longstanding factories.

Josh: Yes. I can tell you when we were a five-person startup and I was trying to do this on my own and failing at it, I can give you the vision of me crawling around on hands and knees through inches of dust in Windows PC rooms on factory floors and not doing a good job of getting them connected. So luckily after we got some more funding we went out and hired guys who had spent their careers as what you would call systems integrators. So these are guys who are hired by factories to go in and connect the various software and hardware devices that they have. Luckily, most manufacturing relies on something called a PLC, a programmable logic controller. And this is kind of like the brain of most manufacturing lines. And as a result, the data that we get out from them is somewhat standardized. And there's probably five or six companies that make these PLCs that you would find in about 80% of the manufacturing lines around the world. And it's kind of based on geography. So if you go to Europe, you'll find more Siemens stuff. If you're in America, you'll find more Rockwell stuff. And in Asia, you might find LS. But if you can write code that can understand and effectively interpret these PLCs for, let's say, seven or eight different companies, then you've done most of the work.

Nick: If you go all the way kind of down to the level of, let's say, like the supplier of a specific component, of a battery that a manufacturer in South Korea might then use for instance, are they still at some level, like way down the chain, using sort of averages or interpolations to kind of come up with their emissions data? Or are a lot of them actually sort of measuring exactly how much energy they're using to produce and then they have a pretty good understanding of where that energy came from and what the emissions footprint of that was and et cetera, et cetera? Just more out of curiosity.

TJ: So mostly they don't even have any electrometer installed on their factory site or if they do. They have it installed on a factory wide level, not on a machine by machine or line by line level. The problem is if they don't have it on a line by line level. we need to go through a process called allocation where we divide up the electricity that was used in producing that one type of product. And then that's actually a lot of work because you have to gather all the data about produced amount of that specific product that you want to calculate carbon footprint versus the total production amount, so on and so forth. It's actually very challenging for the suppliers to calculate product carbon footprint. First, they don't have the knowledge about the rules to calculate product carbon footprint. Second, they don't have money or time to invest so much on all these equipments that can help them gather the necessary data that's required to calculate product carbon footprint. So at this stage, it's very difficult for them. So what they do is, that's why they hire consultants to do all the gathering of the data. They go through their electricity bills or They go through their pp to gather all the like production amount or the sold amount or go through all those paper data to figure out what would be the best. Data to use for calculating pcs and that's that's a lot of work for them.

Nick: I mean i'm glad that you are doing that work and not sounds intensely complicated it is interesting in the sort of reminds me of where we started the conversation of. you know, at some point, you have like at the highest level, sometimes these new regulations coming out or these global assessments of, you know, emissions by country or by a specific product or a specific industry, then when you really step down all the way to like the most discrete level of a factory, somewhere in the world, at that level, it can be intensely complicated to understand what the actual kind of carbon emissions of an operation or a product are. So yeah, I don't know. For some reason, that's kind of annealing and congealing in my brain is like one interesting kind of insight from this is like sometimes it's almost easier to take a look at the macro level. But then when you try to go understand a very discrete product, it can get intensely complicated.

Josh: Yeah, and it sounds simple on the surface, but if you think about it, let's try to think about a single product in a factory. Most likely, that factory is making multiple products on multiple lines. Most likely, the only real data they have about their, let's say, their electricity usage is a monthly utility bill that covers the entire facility that might also cover their offices and bathrooms and things like that. And it doesn't account for the fact that maybe they're doing demand response. So maybe at the times where the grid is the dirtiest, they're actually shutting off. So, you know, there's a lot of opportunities out there to try to figure out how you can play within the system and assuming that the system is incentivized to make you make clean decisions that you can benefit from that.

Nick: Yeah, and that gets into another piece of this conversation that's interesting is, you know, as you build the business and build the products and serve more customers, what are some of the other kind of opportunities, whether it's for additional products or just ways that you work with the existing customers that you're getting excited about, especially as it pertains to So we're getting good, we're getting better at understanding the baseline and some of the things we need to understand around product carbon footprint. But for instance, how can we now help accelerate some of the decarbonization of manufacturing that needs to happen?

Josh: Yeah, that's a great question. And I think here in the States, we talk a lot about the free hand of the market and trying to let the market sort itself out. I think one way we want to integrate the two sides of the coin, which is one is a lot of the decarbonization is going to happen through regulation, but also we want to make sure that we're helping customers make the right incentive based choices. The thing that I'm excited about is that on the future roadmap for our product, is as customers look to one, analyze their own supply chains, they also have the opportunity to see essentially marketing from other suppliers who have cleaner product carbon footprints that they want to put into the supply chain. It makes it easy when you're doing the calculation right there in front of you. Hey, here's my current situation, but let's do a scenario analysis of if I were to change to this greener product, whether it's steel, aluminum, could be even electricity.

Nick: Right. TJ, what comes to mind for you when you start to think about ways that, especially as someone who works on the product, ways that you can continue to serve customers and drive good outcomes?

TJ: I think for me, what's very exciting is not actually about where the product is heading, but actually where the regulation is heading, because I think battery, you know, it's a big product. It's a very big industry. But what this tells us is that this regulation now, all the product carbon regulation is going to shape in this form where they will require a extensive data gathering or data requirements so that these other industries also would have to follow in terms of this extensive data collection or whatnot. And that's where I think it's very exciting for me because we are already getting inquiries from Not just battery but also automotive sector where they ask about what kind of ways can you help help us in terms of getting the supply data because they feel like this regulation is gonna spill over to them saying you know when you want to calculate a product of a car you have to collect data up to this point is, I think, what they're getting it. And because automotive sector is moving that way, these suppliers for automotive sectors are also contacting us how we can help in terms of gathering the data for them or even from their suppliers. So it's a chain of fear or a chain of interest or whatnot. It's just like snowballing right now. And then it's great that we're in this space at this time, because I feel like there's no other company that's actually thinking deep enough about the hardships of getting data from their manufacturing sites, or also about all the different logics and rules that you have to follow in calculating product carbon footprint. So I think that's where I'm very interested, because the way our software and our solution is structured right now is we can tailor to different industries in terms of calculating product carbon footprint. We're not just tailored towards battery, but we're tailored towards various materials or rules that needs to be followed. I mean, calculating part of it.

Nick: So, yeah, it's very interesting time to watch global industries kind of reckon with the fact that for so long, they've competed predominantly on price and also quality, obviously, but are now increasingly being asked to think about emissions or other sustainability quotients. And yeah, it's like if that had always been part of the calculus, then perhaps a lot more infrastructure for the data capture would have been built 30 or 40 years ago. But now you have this vast kind of global manufacturing system that is being asked to shift and rebuild. It makes sense that that's extremely difficult for them and not something that they necessarily have time to think about and why they need help with it.

TJ: Yeah. And I think the other fun fact is that all these companies who come to us, they're very curious about their competitors numbers, you know, so it kind of tells us that they don't, they have no idea what the industry standard is, right. And, or industry averages or how their competitors are doing. So we feel like that's how this industry is going to grow. meaning all the others will probably know about their numbers and then now working towards lowering that number or have their competitors number on their manufacturing site and say, oh, we have to be lower than this number or something like that. I thought that was a very fun picture that we can draw for the near future. Then I remember Josh telling me about the guy that he met in a train or something who knew exactly about their carbon footprint. Josh, if you want to talk about that a little bit. I thought that was a very funny story.

Josh: Sure. Actually, I was on a safari in South Africa, and one of the other guys on the safari was from Brazil, and he worked for a large steel company in Brazil. And he asked what I did, and I was trying not to bore him, so I just said, oh, I do sustainability for manufacturing. and we got into talking and it turned out that he knew that exactly the product carbon footprint of the steel that his company produces. That's great. Yeah. It was very impressive and he was not a guy that was in charge of sustainability as part of his effort. He just worked in HR and he said that our company really puts sustainability at the forefront and everyone in the company on a management level knows what our product carbon footprint is and knows that our goal is to reduce it by X percent over the next few years.

Nick: Yeah. Well, I mean, to both of your points, I think, A, it's good to know that, you know, there are some manufacturers of steel in the world already thinking that way. And I think that is actually a misconception that folks, like I probably even thought this way a year or two ago, is that, oh, that's like such an emissions heavy industry, and they just don't really care. And in some cases, perhaps that's true of specific steel manufacturers. But I think in many cases, the world's actually already shifted pretty meaningfully in the last five years where regardless of what the impetus is, they know that it's going to matter to their business and that it also matters to the world and to their customers. And so, you know, I think those aren't necessarily conversations that would have happened a decade ago at the bare minimum. I don't know exactly when that story is from, but the world is already shifting pretty meaningfully in this way. And I think it'll continue to, it'll continue to accelerate.

Josh: Definitely. You know, when it comes to these pillars of civilization, like steel and concrete and electricity, having a carbon footprint is quickly going from a nice to have to a need to have.

Nick: And something you mentioned was interesting to me, TJ, because I do think there will be a lot of value as you have a more robust set of customers and different types of products that you work with. You all will see a lot of really interesting data across all of their supply chains and across different geographies. How do you think about both making the highest use of all that data and using it to accelerate and help those businesses decarbonize while also knowing that at some level, whether it's a supplier or manufacturer, they're not necessarily going to want their data broadcast to the whole world either. So that seems like an interesting sort of case of needing to have the right firewalls or there's some duality to that.

TJ: Yeah, so the way they do it right now when they get their PCF verified, they make two versions where one is a shareable version that does not have any of the activity data per se. Activity data meaning the amount of data that goes into making this product. And there's another version where they just keep it as private data and then Entering to nba or whatever to actually share that data and then the way we want to do it is probably the same if the company wants to disclose that we wanna help them do it so that they can get more transparency and if they don't we wanna make sure that we can hide that not that per se but make sure that they don't have to share that data to prove their product. So that is basically why we are working with verifiers or assurance providers, so that when that number gets shared with another manufacturer, there is this third party who can verify that number on behalf of that supplier. So yeah, that's how we're designing it. That's how we are making sure that sensitive data don't get shared.

Josh: Certainly there are some strategies that companies have that are proprietary, right? Methodologies that make their product greener than others. But in the vast majority of cases, I think we have customers who kind of have an idea of what the potential decarbonization solutions are that are available to them. You know, they might know, for example, we use that a lot of NAC gas in our process. We know that switching to hydrogen, you know, down the road when that's more feasible is something that we should examine. Glaston, could you tell us, you know, what do you think the impact would be on our product carbon footprint from doing that? Right. And that's kind of our job is to say, okay, yeah, we've seen this. Here's what the data says your new carbon footprint would be if you were to make a switch like that.

Nick: Yeah. And I mean, that'd be super helpful for them to even just like be able to quickly assess if that makes sense then from an investment perspective, like what's the ROI.

Josh: Exactly. And I mean, hydrogen's a rare example because it's not really being done yet in mass, but something as simple as solar is much easier for us to calculate. And it also is much easier for them to enact. So that's something that it's very easy to say, all right, here's your carbon footprint. And here's what it would look like with solar on half of your building. And this is the implications for your carbon footprint. And then the last piece of that equation is, here's what we think your EU carbon tax is going to be based on that. So now you have yet another impetus as the C suite is making that decision. Okay. Should we go with solar now? There's at least a little extra bonus. Maybe it's only pennies on the dollar, but another line item that we can put on the category of, yes, you should go with solar.

through the first quarter of:

Josh: Yeah, I think a big focus for us this year, actually, we've had a really strong relationship within the GBA, the Global Battery Alliance. Right. And so this is kind of the world's largest group of battery makers, automotive OEMs, NGOs, governments, and groups that are advocating on behalf of child labor and human rights policies around the world. And within this group, they're essentially looking to make a battery passport that not only meets the requirements of the EU battery regulations, but also goes above and beyond by addressing some of those issues that I just mentioned. And so we're leading a couple pilots that are going to take place throughout the summer for two of the major Korean battery makers. It's going to be a really in-depth project going to a lot of their suppliers, all the way actually to mines. So we're doing track and trace in partnership with Avery Dennison's project. They have something called Atma.io, which is a already in existence track and trace provider. They're mostly in the textiles industry, but essentially we'll have a clear view on a few of the products, not the entire battery, but a few of the products. Probably it's looking like it'll be lithium. We may venture into nickel and cobalt as well, but to actually have visibility from mine all the way to battery, I think is something that's pretty important because it's just the first step in really making a digital product passport that's meaningful.

Nick: It's a good reminder too that sustainability is really ultimately about so many different things at the most basic level. If you think about really just like the definition of the world, it's like, can we keep doing things one way forever, or at least for a long time? And so obviously we've spent a lot of time talking about emissions, product carbon footprint, and that's super important. But of course, things like labor practices and other criteria play into that. a lot more than perhaps folks in climate tech are talking about on any given day, which I think is an important broadening of the conversation, too. CB.

Josh: Definitely. And I think the battery industry is keenly aware that there are some negative externalities on the laborers within the supply chain. And I think they're being really proactive about trying to address them. Because obviously, one of the fortes of the battery industry is how much it can improve over what we've done with internal combustion engine and gas and oil industry. So they're keenly aware that they need to be very proactive about highlighting these types of issues and making sure that they're minimizing the risk that they occur within their supply chains.

Nick: Right, yeah. And again, that's something that I think we've already seen a lot of shift and progress on in five years. I mean, at the most basic level, I've seen a lot of folks at least position themselves to be able to shift away from cobalt as needed in their battery chemistries and things like that. And obviously, that's not inherently necessarily the right solution. A better solution would probably be figuring out how to make mining more safe, fair, and sustainable in places where it does provide income to people. But I won't claim to be an expert on that. TJ, when you think about the product and the customers that you work with every day, what are some of the things that you're most excited about for the rest of the year or even beyond?

TJ: So for this year, I think our goal is to have our, for some of the first customers of our solution, the solution will be going live around May, June timeline. And then that's when they will start the verification stage with one of the assurance providers that we were working with. And I am very excited to see the first full cycle that goes through with this client. And then that's very exciting for me. And then by the end of this year, I want to make sure that we provide a solution that helps these manufacturing companies with not just supplier data, but also about the industry specific data that they can use, not from the website, but from our pseudo customers, set of customers that is in the same industry. That's a few of the things that spinning in my mind right now.

Nick: Yeah. And jumping off that, I always got to ask the boogeyman question. What are the things that are keeping you all up at night?

Josh: That's a good question. Honestly, I don't lose too much sleep. What's cool about working in this industry is that even if we fail, let's say financially, if we feel like we're doing the right thing and we're helping companies make a difference, then we've at least achieved something.

Nick: 100 hundred percent. Yeah. And the product that you've built, as long as it remains useful to people, I probably wouldn't go anywhere. For sure.

Josh: Yeah. I would say maybe the one thing I do is sleep over is, you know, first do no harm. I always worry, you know, if we're putting bad information out there or, you know, making someone's life more difficult than it needs to be having any negative impact like that, that's what keeps me up at night. But in terms of where the market's going, you know, I love having the regulatory tailwinds behind us. I love where we are in terms of What I see in our competition and I enjoy the results when we get to deliver results to a company and make recommendations and see them enact change.

TJ: For me, the fact that I'm in Korea and then Josh is in the US keeps me up at night because whenever I, whenever I finish my work, come back home, Josh wakes up and starts posting some things on Slack. And then I have to read it, you know, because I don't want to I don't want to fall behind. So that's something that's keeping me up at night. But all jokes aside, I mean, it's a lot of it's It's a lot of work, right? It's a lot of work. And I want to make sure that our Glassdome solution is the frontrunner of this solution, right? Frontrunner of the Product Carbon footprint solution. So I think that's what keeps me up at night. I want to make sure that I'm not, I don't slack off so that we lose that title or we lose that place. So that's something that's keeping me up at night a little bit, but not too much. I'm doing fine. So no, no, no worries, Josh. No worries.

Nick: Trying to toe the line. I like your boss on the call. I'm just joking.

Josh: I love your literal interpretation of that question, TJ.

Nick: Yeah. The perils of the globally distributed team. Yes. Yeah. I'm just kidding. It's ultimately a very good thing to always important to end on calls to action for folks that have stuck around this long or compelled by the conversation. A, you know, who are the types of people that you do want to hear from and then be what's the right way for those folks to get in touch beyond emailing me if they feel like that's easier because I'm happy to do that too.

Josh: Yeah, I feel like anyone who's listening is at a manufacturing company and feels that they're in a place where they can propose either just a first look at their systems or wants to actually take steps towards sustainability actions. It's not really a zero or one type of thing. Committing to do a little bit of analysis of your product carbon footprint is a spectrum. It can be something as simple as doing some rough estimation. all the way to doing a really detailed analysis that will survive the test of regulators. So really anywhere in that chain, I think we have a good offering.

Nick: Excellent. Yep. And for any job seekers, glassdome.com forward slash jobs. I just made that up, but is that right?

Josh: I think we'll have to set that as the URL. Um, but I'm glad you brought that up. I mean, in all seriousness, we are looking for the best life cycle assessment practitioners out there. The people with the most experience doing product carbon footprints. I think we're willing to pay a very high price to get those people on our team. Because essentially what we're trying to do here is onboard as much of their intelligence onto a software platform that can start to automate some of that for our customers. So it's actually really interesting. It's a very select group of individuals that has the skill set and has practiced it in the field. I think it's an industry that you're going to see expand very rapidly in the next five or 10 years. But right now, it's actually a limited select few, and we'd love to hear from them.

Nick: Excellent. Yeah. Well, Josh, TJ, thanks so much for the work that you do and for joining. I'm stoked to keep tabs on Glassdome's progress in the coming months and years. And I'm sure we'll have lots of opportunities down the road to check in and see how it's going and update some of our prognostication.

Josh: Thanks a lot, Nick. We appreciate it. And we really enjoy reading your reports every week. Thanks so much.

Nick: Thanks for tuning in. So you don't miss the next episode on another cutting edge climate tech, make sure to subscribe on Spotify, Apple, Google, or wherever it is that you get your podcasts. We'll see you soon.

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About the Podcast

The Keep Cool Podcast
Where climate tech investors get deep dives into the latest cutting edge technology and discover how it fits into the broader landscape.
Climate tech is constantly evolving. Why? To help solve the most important challenges facing our planet. With so much innovation it’s hard to pick out the companies to watch, and it’s even harder to connect them to the wider climate tech picture. That’s why The Keep Cool Show is here. Join host Nick Van Osdol as he dives deep into the latest technologies shaping climate solution technology, but also zooms out to help investors and anyone working in the industry join the dots and get a broader view of what’s really going on. Every week Nick is joined by a climate tech founder, investor or operator, discussing how they’re working to solve climate change. He’ll join the dots in real time, bringing out the nuances, trends and patterns in the industry. If you’re a climate tech professional already working in the industry, looking for the next big opportunity or simply curious about the space, this is the show for you. Episodes every other Thursday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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Nicholas Van Osdol