Welcome to this episode of Hardware to Save a Planet. Today, Dylan is joined by Andrew Gollach, Principal at HAX, a pre-seed and hands-on venture capital company for Hard Tech startups focused on climate change, sustainability, industrial automation, and human health. 

Join them as they discuss the challenges of hardware innovation, the importance of mining industry innovation, and the need for renewable energy scaling. They also touch on other innovation areas and investors’ role in supporting climate tech. Listen in for an insightful conversation on solving climate change through hardware innovation and investing.

About Andrew

Andrew has over ten years of technical and operational experience in renewable fuels and traditional oil and gas industries, and he has worked as an engineer in nine different countries. He has led a team in deploying a first-of-its-kind low-carbon fuels facility and contributed to the operations of many more large CAPEX projects. He leverages his engineering background and business acumen to help founders de-risk their technology, develop scalable go-to-market strategies, and secure additional funding.

As a Principal at HAX, he is passionate about supporting and investing in Deep Tech startups that are tackling the most pressing challenges in climate and sustainability. HAX is the physical sciences-focused vertical of SOSV, a global venture capital fund with over $1 billion in assets under management.

What is HAX?

HAX is SOSV’s pre-seed program for hard tech startups. The startups apply to HAX with an initial prototype, customer insight, and vision. The company then invests and builds alongside the founders, fundamentally inflecting their technical progress with HAX’s team of engineers and investment partners. Founders should consider HAX an extension of their engineering, business development, fundraising, design, and marketing teams. Andrew is the Principal at HAX, and in this episode, he walks through how deep-tech startups are addressing climate change and sustainability with hardware innovation from different directions.

Want to learn more?

Check out the key takeaways of this episode below. Better still, listen to the podcast!

Key takeaways

  • 09:21 – 12:20 – Sustainability problems addressed by HAX: HAX provides the infrastructure and technical expertise to nurture startups. They have a prototyping and manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China, and a procurement and engineering back office in Pune, India. Their head office in Newark is a 35,000 sq. ft. facility with a machine shop, a wet lab for chemistry, and 3-D printing capability. When a startup approaches them with a sustainability concept, they are able to accelerate the hardware development, prototyping and proof of concept stages and provide a platform from which HAX can start funding the startup.
  • 20:01 – 21:44 – Helping startups address the funding challenge: Climate and sustainability startups face challenges while trying to secure funding. Andrew gives the example of a direct air capture (DAC) startup that wants to build a plant at scale to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. An economically viable plant would cost $100 million, and chances are that the founders won’t have experience in building such a plant. Due to the inherent risk, traditional financiers like banks and financial institutions won’t underwrite the project. The founders then approach pre-IPO investors, who will take a big chunk of the company before they provide funding. The founders run the risk of losing control over the company, and this problem is common to all sustainability startups, be it in DAC, sustainable mining, or alternative fuels.
  • 24:44 – 26:45 – Sustainability areas underserved due to lack of funding: Andrew highlights that 80% of the capital they are investing at HAX goes into climate change and sustainability startups. The one area that is currently underserved is the mining of critical minerals like copper, nickel, and cobalt, which form an integral part of the electricity cycle. Not only does this not attract much investment interest, but there is also a serious lack of talent in this area. Andrew mentions that because this area is underserved, HAX has an unlimited appetite for investing in startups in this field. 

Episode resources