Private Equity for Climate Solutions with Ibrahim AlHusseini, Founder & Managing Partner, FullCycle

The right technology at the right time.

Ibrahim AlHusseini is an award-winning serial entrepreneur turned tech investor. He made his fortune in fiberoptics and rolled it into Cleantech in the early 2000s after witnessing the acceleration of plastic pollution in our seas and oceans. He is the founder of FullCycle, a growth equity fund accelerating the deployment of climate-critical technology worldwide. He is an early investor in Tesla, Uber, Beyond Meats, and Zoom as well as neobank Aspiration, CleanChoice Energy, and Devoted Health. He is a frequent contributor on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Yahoo Finance, and a passionate advocate for immigrants and sound environmental policies.

On the Bigger Than Us podcast, Ibrahim tells the story of Red Sea scuba dives and the geographical mistake that became serendipity for his career, which ultimately led him to found FullCycle.

By making climate-critical technology a priority for private equity, Ibrahim is having an effect that is Bigger Than Us.

Take me to the podcast.

From Scuba Diving to Cleantech

Excerpts from a conversation with Ibrahim AlHusseini on the Bigger Than Us podcast. These quotes have been edited for brevity and readability.

I would go home and visit my family, and I’d scuba dive in the Red Sea in the same spot time and time again. So I had the displeasure of seeing the degradation of the quality of marine life over time. And it opened my eyes to something that I didn’t realize was happening, which is biospheric collapse.

So I went back home and hired every single climatologist and environmentalist that could take my money to educate me about the climate math on this closed sphere in the middle of space. I realized very simply that the earth is like a miracle upon miracles, in its capacity to contain life and so many beautiful expressions of life. That is an extreme rarity in the universe. And that we were messing with its life support system by releasing all these greenhouse gas emissions and changing the chemical balance of our oceans and our atmosphere.

So obviously, it didn’t make sense to continue to accumulate personal wealth on a planet that was dying. Wanting to be the richest guy in the cemetery seems stupid. But I also wasn’t a government, and it wasn’t an NGO. So I didn’t have faculty in those domains. But I did have faculty in being an entrepreneur and an investor. So I decided to direct my capital from that point forward to cleantech.

The Clock is Ticking

This isn’t a matter of technology coming to save us.

I realized over 17 years of investing in cleantech, that just investing in the right companies is helpful. But given climate timelines, they don’t actually play enough of a role in accelerating the deployment of climate critical technologies. And that’s when the model of FullCycle came into being.

This isn’t a matter of technology coming to save us. We have to invest a lot into replacing all these old dirty pieces of infrastructure into their new clean versions. So if you look at the math, and the timelines, it doesn’t work. You need a new model to accelerate the deployment of climate critical technologies.

If your house is on fire, you don’t go invent firefighting technology, right? You accelerate the deployment of buckets and hoses.

Venture is too early to actually combat climate change. And public equities, actually, very little of that money goes towards building new infrastructure in the ground that we need it. Just like when I buy a public stock, I’m literally buying it from another investor. So we’re shuffling paper from each other, which is fine, I’d rather the money go from things that represent the past that we don’t want and represent the future that we do.

But for those of you with big check writing capacity, private equity, and growth equity is where your dollars are going into new infrastructure on the ground, that is replacing old dirty infrastructure. So that is the asset class that you need to focus on. Assuming that the entities behind it have some real credibility in history into where they’re deploying your capital and not just throwing the name, sustainability, or climate into the name of their new fund, because they know you’re interested. They need a nuanced prioritized strategic approach. 

A Model Created to Do Good & Create Real Results

I get to do something that is good, that actually is going to create real results in the real world, as opposed to making me feel like I’m creating real results in the real world. And those are two distinctive things.

We created this interesting model that identifies these technologies that are climate critical, that are market-ready. And then we invest the majority of the capital aggregated in our growth equity fund, in accelerating the deployment of their technology worldwide. They have this dedicated funding vehicle, that pretty much turns them into a franchise, where we can just stamp them out as if we’re their master franchisee, and our market for that franchisee agreement is planet Earth, and then we get to stamp them out as fast as possible.

We have public equity funds as well that are directing capital in at that level to the right companies where we’re just like this multi-asset brand that are all directed towards something that we invented locally called CROI 20, carbon return on investment in the first 20 years, which is something that we use as our guide for picking stocks, technologies, investments, etc. 

Because once you do that, every dollar being put into space at any asset class towards any problem, whether it’s social or environmental, is being used in its most effective direction.

I’m super proud of that model. Because I get to know as an entrepreneur and an investor, our north star is always efficacy, right? I get to know that I’m not just doing something that feels good, I get to do something that is good, that actually is going to create real results in the real world, as opposed to making me feel like I’m creating real results in the real world. And those are two distinctive things.

How to Make a Difference? Invest, Vote & Eat With the Whole In Mind

…look at the whole, not just that what’s convenient for you to look at.

There’s a big difference between making money and ignoring something and then making money while you have full visibility into it. And I think that we’re in a time where we can’t just decide to look where we want to look and ignore what we want to ignore.

That’s what got us here in the first place. We’ve been ignoring parts of how we make money for so long, that we’re literally putting the habitability of the only planet that can house us in jeopardy. So that’s one thing I would tell people is, look at the whole, not just that what’s convenient for you to look at. 

The other thing I would say is don’t buy into any narrative that says that by doing well, you have to compromise returns. That’s just not true. It’s not true in my personal portfolio. In fact, green energy companies over the last decade have outperformed the oil and gas industry by four times.

On a personal basis, when people ask me what I should do, I always tell them to vote for people who are qualified and knowledgeable, not people who just say things that they want to hear. Look at their background and track record. If they don’t have a climate agenda, if they don’t have a background for actually representing you — this is representative democracy — in a world that’s more and more technology-driven, then they really shouldn’t be representing you, and they should go find another career. Voting makes the biggest difference because governments have to come together to create solutions for climate change.

As well as eat less beef in your diet. I’m not saying you have to go vegan, or go or become a vegetarian. But eating less meat and dairy. It has such a massive carbon footprint that it would be so helpful if we just slowly step back away from this, you know, heart disease-inducing hormone-filled, delicious, I admit, piece of our diet so we can cut back on it to help our planet.

The Transcript: Episode 145 with Ibrahim AlHusseini

This transcript has been lightly edited.

Host Raj Daniels 01:21

If you were asked to share something interesting about yourself, what would it be?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 01:30

I wonder, a lot, what forms us? How do we turn into the people that we are? and I think it has to do with you know, I’m sure some part of it is nature, which I can’t speak to because you know, I can’t dig into my own genome and figure out what makes me me. But I can definitely speak to the nurture part, which is my unique life path. 

Of course, all of us have a unique life path. But, I get asked questions all the time, why did I choose this line of work, for example, which is, climate change? Why do I care about the things that I care about? 

I think it has to do with just growing up as the son of refugees in a host country and watching the precarious position that my parents found themselves in, having been Palestinian refugees, having to raise their kids in a place that was, you know, semi-hospitable, and allow us to build a new life, but also with the fear and wonder that if things change geopolitically, we’d have nowhere to go. 

That insecurity formed my view of the world in a positive way, in the sense, you know, not everything is a curse, right? There are two sides to every coin, so things that usually occur can also be a blessing, and how it’s been a blessing for me. It’s allowed me to be a more sensitive person and a more holistic thinker. I don’t look at the world with blinders on. I look at how everything is inextricably connected, and how, one butterfly effect in one place in the world can have effects across the board. 

We now know this on a global level, right? An individual coughs halfway across the world at a wet market, and the whole world shuts down. So that’s been my experience all the time. How does this piece of injustice affect all of us? How does this piece of environmental irresponsibility affect all of us? How does this economic policy affect all of us? So I grew up with this view of the world, mostly informed of because of my upbringing.

Host Raj Daniels 04:05

So that is interesting. And a couple of things you said, I want to point out first, regarding, not every curse is a curse. With the benefit of time, I often look back and think to myself, some of the hardest times that I’ve had, I now value those experiences and learn from them was able to make different choices going forward. 

I remember during the 2008 2010 financial crisis, the I think the sentence went something like you know, when America coughs, the rest of the world catches the flu. And now it’s in reverse, almost. So it is interesting. One thing I do want to ask you about that I thought you might point out, but I’m gonna ask you anyway. Tell me about the long hair, the Kurt Cobain time, and how you started your entrepreneurial journey.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 04:53

That’s a funny story, actually. Because of my upbringing in a host country, I was eager to move somewhere and start a life that felt more at home. Pre Trump, America’s image in the world was a very hospitable place, right? A very welcoming place, a place that to whatever degree, it is imperfect still is a place that looks at everyone based on their ability to contribute compared to their skin color, name, or religion, obviously, for somebody with my name 9/11 was a little bit difficult. And then the Trump years made it even more difficult. 

But before all of that, you’re talking about the early 90s, I was a 17-year-old boy eager to apply for colleges. And I apply to universities in Washington, without realizing that there is a Washington State and a Washington, DC. And instead of being where a lot of my friends were in DC, I ended up accidentally in Seattle. 

That changed the trajectory of my life because it was the grunge scene and Kurt Cobain and growing my hair long, and jumping in mosh pits that had me one day start a business, not because I eagerly wanted to start a business it was because I desperately didn’t want to go through the awkward hair growing phase again because if I had gone back home, I would have had to get a haircut. And the rest is history.

Host Raj Daniels 06:28

And I guess that’s another example of the idea of two Washington’s, of a curse that worked out for you.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 06:34

Completely. It was jarring, right? Here I am coming from the Middle East where you know, it barely rains, and it’s always sunny and warm to a place that is dreary and wet all the time. I don’t know anybody. I’m on the furthest part of the continental United States. And I could be from the Middle East and trying to keep this mistake from my parents because they were kind enough to help me with my college tuition. I didn’t have the heart to tell them, hey, I did so little research about where I was headed, and so eager to come to America that I ended up on the wrong coast. 

So I just kept it to myself and kept my head down. Because of that mistake, as you said, I started a business and that business took off. And I started another business and that other business took off. I became a serial entrepreneur, I became an investor, and really changed the trajectory of my life. So don’t curse situations lest they proved to be a blessing.

Host Raj Daniels 07:42

So before we get to your current organization, just for a moment, take me back to that time, when you realize that you had made that mistake where you were already here, then were you and route. When was that?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 07:54

Funny. It was in a Delta flight in Atlanta, where we’re supposed to connect between London and this town that I had never heard of that I thought was pronounced cetyl. And that I thought was a college town somewhere around Washington, DC because this was pre-internet. 

So I looked in a National Geographic map that my dad had in the middle of one of his National Geographic magazines, couldn’t find it on the map around DC, and figured it was too small to make the map. But so be it. I’ll just see my friends on the weekend or whatever it may be. 

When I connected on that Delta flight in Atlanta, and they announced the movie, I thought to myself, hmm, how is it that there’s enough time between Atlanta and DC to play a movie? And I asked the flight attendant, and she told me where we were headed. And I think I was a deer in the headlights from that conversation forward for about three weeks.

Host Raj Daniels 08:50

Wow. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. What was the movie?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 08:53

I don’t remember, actually. I don’t remember.

Host Raj Daniels 08:57

It would be funny if it was Sleepless in Seattle, wouldn’t it?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 08:59

I was gonna say that. It feels like it could have been and it might have been. But I didn’t want to say that. You know, lest that just be like a mental Association given the name. But if the timelines match, and I guess I can look now and see could very well be anyway.

Host Raj Daniels 09:18

Interesting. So let’s fast forward. Can you give the audience an overview of FullCycle and your role at the organization?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 09:26

You bet. Can I give a little bit of kind of pre-FullCycle context for why that whole thing happened?

Host Raj Daniels 09:31

Absolutely.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 09:33

So what happened with me is we talked about being a serial entrepreneur, becoming a general technology investor, starting a family office, doing really well in fiber optics, and fiber optic switches, and all these fantastic technologies that kind of underpin the world today. 

I would go home and visit my family, and I’d scuba dive in the Red Sea in the same spot time and time again. So I had the displeasure of seeing the degradation of the quality of marine life over time. And it opened my eyes to something that I didn’t realize was happening, which is biospheric collapse. 

Because most people don’t realize that climate change, this thing that we talk about so frequently today, the symptoms of it were happening underneath the surface of the waterway before they showed up in the ways that are obvious today as these big forest fires. And the droughts and the floods and all these extreme weather patterns and the once-in-a-century weather events that seem to happen on a yearly basis now. 

Before all of that, it was all happening underneath the surface of the ocean. So I got to see my favorite ecosystem completely collapse, go from vivid to barren, full of plastic in about a decade. And this was 2003. 

So I went back home and hired every single climatologist and environmentalist that could take my money to educate me about the climate math on this closed sphere in the middle of space. And I realized very simply that the earth is like a miracle upon miracles, in its capacity to contain life and so many beautiful expressions of life. That is an extreme rarity in the universe. And that we were messing with its life support system by releasing all these greenhouse gas emissions, and you know, and changing the chemical balance of our oceans and our atmosphere. 

So obviously, it didn’t make sense to continue to accumulate personal wealth on a planet that was dying. Wanting to be the richest guy in the cemetery seems stupid. But I also wasn’t a government, and it wasn’t an NGO. So I didn’t have faculty in those domains. But I did have faculty in being an entrepreneur and an investor. So I decided to direct my capital from that point forward to cleantech. 

I realized over 17 years of investing in cleantech, that just investing in the right companies is helpful. But given climate timelines, they don’t actually play enough of a role in accelerating the deployment of climate critical technologies. And that’s when the model of FullCycle came into being.

Host Raj Daniels 12:31

So can you define the model of FullCycle?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 12:35

So here’s a statistic that most people don’t realize. In Los Angeles, if you stop at any traffic light, you’re bound to see a Tesla. A Model Y, a Model S, and Model X, a Model 3, some sort of Tesla. So, you know, I’m sure in San Francisco, New York, and other major cities, Berlin, etc. that’s the same case. But if you really look, the company 17 and a half years later and Tesla’s on the road make up 1/3 of 1% of all cars on the road 17 and a half years later. That’s probably the biggest, most obvious perceived climate success story out there. 

In fact, electric vehicles are helpful, but the underpinnings of modern civilization, the things that allow us to do the things that we do, that we take for granted are actually much bigger systems like energy systems, and water and waste and food systems. And that’s where the majority of the discrepancy between emissions that we produce as a civilization and what the earth can absorb. 

If we think about something as simple as $100,000, a $50,000 car, taking this long to create penetration in the market. Now think about how long it would take to replace all these big systems from their 19th and 20th-century technologies to their 21st-century counterparts. We’re talking about a very, very long time. And these are much more carbon-intensive applications, like take something like 550,000 combustion engine cars, moving to EV’s to equal unplugging one coal plant from the energy grid. We need these big systems. And then we need to calculate their rollout against climate timelines, right? 

Because it’s not like we have all the time in the world. We’re literally 40 years late to address the problem. And something about climate tech is it doesn’t benefit from Moore’s Law. These big systems don’t double in efficiency every 18 months. Solar was invented in the 50s, commercialized in the 70s. And it had a 15% efficiency back then from converting sunlight into energy and 50 years later, it’s now up to 25%. 

This isn’t a matter of technology coming to save us. We have to invest a lot into replacing all these old dirty pieces of infrastructure into their new clean versions. So if you look at the math, and the timelines, it doesn’t work. You need a new model to accelerate the deployment of climate critical technologies. 

So that’s when I invented this model, and my team rallied around it. And now we have this beautiful model that is purpose-built to address climate change from the private sector, by first choosing the technologies that are market-ready meaning no early-stage stuff. Because like I said, it takes a long time for, these things to get commercialized. 

If your house is on fire, you don’t go invent firefighting technology, right? You accelerate the deployment of buckets and hoses. 

So the first thing is to identify the market-ready technologies that are climate critical. And for us, climate critical literally boils down to the nuance of which molecule it is addressing. Because even though we hear a lot about CO2 emissions, CO2 is the weakest greenhouse gas. 

If you look at the other greenhouse gases, some of them are anywhere from 86 times more heat-trapping, than CO2, like methane to 13,000 times more heat trapping than CO2, like refrigerants. So the first thing you have to do is you have to pick the ones that are going to slow down this warming cycle as much as possible by replacing these molecules that are extremely destructive to the Earth’s cycle, and to the Earth’s atmosphere and warming cycle. And then as you remove these from the equation, we can start focusing more and more of our dollars on the areas that emit CO2. 

So we created this interesting model that identifies these technologies that are climate critical, that are market-ready. And then we invest the majority of the capital aggregated in our growth equity fund, in accelerating the deployment of their technology worldwide. They have this dedicated funding vehicle, that pretty much turns them into a franchise, where we can just stamp them out as if we’re their master franchisee, and our market for that franchisee agreement is planet Earth, and then we get to stamp them out as fast as possible. 

I’m super proud of that model. Because I get to know as an entrepreneur and an investor, our north star is always efficacy, right? I get to know that I’m not just doing something that feels good, I get to do something that is good, that actually is going to create real results in the real world, as opposed to making me feel like I’m creating real results in the real world. And those are two distinctive things.

Host Raj Daniels 18:21

They really are. And can you give an example of a market rate technology that you’ve invested in?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 18:27

Sure. So far, we’ve identified three. Every single one of them has a minimum of one gigatone or more of climate abatement capacity. And the discrepancy between what modern civilization produces and what the earth can absorb is 51 or so gigatones per year. 

So every single one of these technologies can abate a minimum of one we found some that can abate up to four, sometimes five. And what I’m going to mention to you is super interesting, because 10 years ago, waste wasn’t even part of the climate conversation, just to give you an idea of how quickly the space is evolving. In 2019, NASA flew a satellite over California to identify methane leaks in the natural gas pipeline infrastructure. They found three and fix them. But one of the things that really shocked them was that they found that 41% of the fugitive methane coming from our state was coming from landfills. 

Remember I mentioned earlier, methane is at six times more heat trapping than CO2 in the first 20 years of the molecules existence. That was extremely shocking because, in the developed world, waste is usually put in what’s called sanitary sealed landfills. 

But that quote, unquote, sealed technology is obviously breaking down. And all of that methane is seeping into our atmosphere, which is a massive problem, especially if you look at it globally. Because 70% of the world doesn’t even have sealed sanitary landfills, they have big open pits that they dump waste in. And it just breaks down into methane, and goes up into the atmosphere or breaks down into a toxic sludge that goes into our groundwater. 

We found a technology that can take omnivorous waste without having to clean it, and turn it into value, whether that value is energy, whether that value is renewable natural gas, whether that value, which we’re most focused on is the building blocks of materials. So it actually is the closest technology we have found for circularity because we hear a lot about the circular economy, which is what we need to get to which mimics nature. 

Because nature doesn’t have waste. The waste from one system is the food of the next system. So this technology allows us to take in banana peels mixed with paper mixed with plastic mixed with agricultural waste, and without having to clean it, which costs money and time, turns it into building blocks of new material in a perpetual closed-loop cycle. And those are economics that works not just for rich cities like Berlin and San Francisco. It can do it for Jakarta, and Kinshasa, and Cairo, and Mexico, and any economy in the world. So that, of course, drives more capital to it and has the potential reality of transforming our relationship to our waste. 

So that technology is a Dutch technology developed that the energy center of the Netherlands, and commercialize through an American company called SYNOVATECH.

Host Raj Daniels 21:55

Listening to you speak reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday, you mentioned methane specifically, I was talking to a CEO of a company whose company actually helps infrastructure companies ensure that and it sounds and I was joking with him, I said, you know, it sounds really boring on the surface. But it’s super interesting to ensure that flanges in pipelines are sealed correctly to prevent methane leaks.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 22:22

God bless this guy. And by the way, this is not a small thing that they’re doing. In fact, for those who are, who read up on the American Jobs Act, and they know that part of the transition of a lot of people who are going to lose out from the oil and gas industry is massive employment opportunities in sealing all of these wells all over the United States. And there are hundreds of 1000s I’ve read millions of them have been abandoned and are just leaking methane into the atmosphere. Those jobs are going to be resilient for decades to come just sealing all those leaking landfill natural gas and fracked mines all over America.

Host Raj Daniels 23:16

I think the last number I heard was about three million wells abandoned.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 23:21

Yeah, I read the same. I can’t believe we have to fix that many of them.

Host Raj Daniels 23:26

They just walk away from them. I can’t believe it. I mean, you know, a whole other conversation around externalities, but I mean, it’s just hard to believe.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 23:37

There’s so much noise in politics, right? The sides just say things because, you know, the media picks him up and regurgitates it and half their audience just parrots it around all over the place, and nobody actually does any research. The American Jobs Act is very thoughtful and very effective. And, you know, I really hope you know, anybody who doubts that just takes the time to go read up on it. I really was surprised. Usually, the government does an okay job, but this is beyond just okay. It’s very impressive.

Host Raj Daniels 24:10

You know, it’s funny, you mentioned the media because I recently read a quote, that said something along the lines of the beginning of TV was the beginning of pseudo-knowledge. So let’s go back to investing for a minute.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 24:24

You reminded me of some may make you laugh, it may not. I read a tweet today I’m active on Twitter. Let me read it to you just made me laugh. It said 19. Scientists cloned sheep landed robots on the moon. Scientists today are screaming “for the last time, the earth is round!”

Host Raj Daniels 24:54

It’s amazing, right? Amazing.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 24:55

Amazing. It’s amazing how much we’ve regressed.

Host Raj Daniels 24:59

Let’s go back to the investing portion for a minute. While this show does not give financial advice, it’s, you know, easy or easier for funds of a certain size to get involved in this movement. But retail investors that are perhaps reviewing their portfolios are considering or thinking about investing in this sector. What would you say to them?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 25:22

Well, for one thing, I would say to them, and there are so many of them who are going to be disappointed to hear this and hate me for saying it. But if you care about the environment, the footprint of mining cryptocurrencies or NFT’s is massive. Just reconciling the blockchain for Bitcoin right now is equivalent to all the emissions coming out of a small country like Argentina, Pakistan, or Sweden. So until we find a solution to that, you know, it’s a little disingenuous to say that this, this technology is quote, unquote, going to change the world for the better, if it is literally sucking up all the new renewable energy capacity that we’re generating, and not allowing us to even break into the old dirty capacity that we’re trying to replace. 

So that’s one thing and I’m sorry to be the bearer of this news. I know a lot of young people are very, very bullish. But there’s a big difference between making money and ignoring something and then making money while you have full visibility into it. And I think that we’re in a time where we can’t just decide to look where we want to look and ignore what we want to ignore. 

That’s what got us here in the first place. We’ve been ignoring parts of how we make money for so long, that we’re literally putting the habitability of the only planet that can house us in jeopardy. So that’s one thing I would tell people is, look, look at the whole, not just that what’s convenient for you to look at. The other thing I would say is don’t buy into any narrative that says that by doing well, you have to compromise returns. That’s just not true. It’s not true in my personal portfolio. In fact, green energy companies over the last decade have outperformed the oil and gas industry by four times. 

Back in 2013, the biggest company in the world was Exxon Mobil. Now, it’s not even top 40 companies. So I know that doesn’t answer your question directly. Because I don’t want to direct anybody to specific companies and specific stocks. But I just want to say that the future of the world is going to be green. So that includes EVs. That includes solar, that includes wind. 

That includes all kinds of new technologies, even things like Zoom. Zoom has done more to help the climate than many other stocks because we don’t have to fly around in jets for meetings anymore to the extent that we used to, and that has a massive carbon footprint that we no longer have to exert as much as we did in the past. So think about these things before you make financial decisions. 

And on a personal basis, when people ask me what I should do, I always tell them to vote for people who are qualified and knowledgeable, not people who just say things that you want to hear. Look at their background and track record, if they don’t have a climate agenda. If they don’t have a background for actually representing you — this is representative democracy — in a world that’s more and more technology-driven, then they really shouldn’t be representing you, and they should go find another career. Voting makes the biggest difference because governments have to come together to create solutions for climate change. 

As well as eat less beef in your diet. I’m not saying you have to go vegan, or go or become a vegetarian. But eating less meat and dairy. Don’t eat it three times a day, it’s not even healthy for you to eat it three times a day. If you’re used to eating it three times a day, eat twice a day. If you’re used to eating it five times a week, cut it back to three times a week. It has such a massive carbon footprint that it would be so helpful if we just slowly step back away from this, you know, heart disease-inducing hormone-filled, delicious, I admit, piece of our diet so we can cut back on it to help our planet.

Host Raj Daniels 29:35

Well said and to add to those investors that might be considering reviewing their portfolios or investments. I recently heard of an organization called asyousow.org. And I’ll put a link to in the show notes that you can actually go to that site and evaluate your investment portfolios to see how you know where the investments are, whether they’re in fossil fuels or green tech, cleantech, etc.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 30:00

For those of you who are listening, who are big asset holders or asset allocators, I want to make a point about different asset classes. Like I said earlier, the venture is too early to actually combat climate change. And public equities, actually, very little of that money goes towards building new infrastructure in the ground that we need it. Just like when I buy a public stock, I’m literally buying it from another investor. So we’re shuffling paper from each other, which is fine, I’d rather the money go from things that represent the past that we don’t want and represent the future that we do. 

But for those of you with big check riding capacity, private equity, and growth, equity is where your dollars are going into new infrastructure on the ground, that is replacing old dirty infrastructure. So that is the asset class that you need to focus on. Assuming that the entities behind it have some real credibility in history into where they’re deploying your capital and not just throwing the name, sustainability, or climate into the name of their new fund, because they know you’re interested. They need a nuanced prioritized strategic approach. That’s my little pitch for private equity and my pitch for FullCycle.

Host Raj Daniels 31:22

But I appreciate both. And we’ll switch gears here to get to the crux of our conversation, and you kind of touched on that before about swimming in the Red Sea and seeing the natural landscape or habitat disappear. But the question I want to get to the bottom of is, you know, the why behind what you do, you mentioned your earlier successes in entrepreneurship, you know, potentially, you could have gone a different direction. But what brought you specifically to this? I appreciate the diving story, but there’s got to be more to it.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 31:56

We are all moved by what we’re moved by. And for me, like I am moved by those whose voice is compromised, those that don’t have a seat at the table. Who doesn’t have a seat at the table of deciding where humanity goes — the poor, and the natural world. There are 10 million expressions of life on this planet. And all of them deserve to live in thrive just like us, we can’t just be a virus and just keep hopping from one ecosystem exploding all its resources and jumping to the next and exploiting all these resources and jumping to the next we’ve run out of hosts to occupy as a species. 

So being a Palestinian refugee, with nowhere to go, I’m built to with a little bit enough of heartbreak, to be able to see through that heartbreak onto those affected by the decisions made by all the power brokers sitting around the table that are dragging everybody else with them, whether they are positively or negatively affected. And as we know, it’s usually negatively affected. The Global South exploited nature, exploited the poor, exploited. 

It’s time for us to transition from exploitive capitalism to a more regenerative, inclusive capitalism. That’s not hard to do. If we just invite more voices to the table and to sit around the table. And I’m heartened to see it happening on the social justice end of the spectrum. Now we need to incorporate nature into it as well. 

I know that’s a kind of weird way to answer your question, but I want to represent the whales and the hummingbirds and the world’s poor, and the trees, and the refugees. And everybody else who doesn’t get a voice at the table. Because that’s how I grew up. I grew up compromised, insecure, and dragged around by the power structures of the time, and I want to represent those that are being dragged around today. And hopefully, stop this behavior.

Host Raj Daniels 34:37

To roughly quote Jaws, you’re gonna need a big table.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 34:42

Good. I’d love to.

Host Raj Daniels 34:46

So, your journey, it’s been circuitous, it’s been adventurous. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about yourself on your journey?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 34:55

The most valuable lesson is I’m grateful to my parents, for raising me, protecting me in such a way that I have a strong emotional constitution. That gift that they gave me I get to use, you know, in the ways that I mentioned on this call, because capacity, emotional psychological capacity is really a gift. And, you know, it can be born from different circumstances. 

Some people have horrible upbringings, and that forces them to have a strong constitution because they had to deal with so much adversity. I have the other. I have a very loving, nurturing protective set of parents that allowed me to become to whatever degree I am an emotionally healthy human being and use that for the greater good. 

My biggest lesson is to remember how powerful that is, and how parenting can play such an important role in turning the world around because it raises generations of healthy human beings who are not living in a scarcity conversation in their head, worrying about, you know, grabbing what the resources and money and sex and whatever else they want to grab for their own good at the expense of the whole because they grew up in some environment that taught them that are built them up to be that and just come from a more abundant standpoint and a more harmonious standpoint, where they understand that there is no individual on a closed sphere in the middle of space. 

There is no lane specifically for somebody to exploit personally, at the expense of the whole. We’re all in this together. We’re all in this together. There’s no lane for the economy, there’s no specific lane for health, there’s no individual lane for climate. It’s all connected. So let’s be really good parents.

Host Raj Daniels 37:14

You know, it reminds me of that, John Muir quote, something along the lines of when you pull on one thread, you realize it’s all connected.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 37:22

You’re good at these quotes, I’m impressed. I’m gonna subscribe to your Instagram and read your daily quotes.

Host Raj Daniels 37:32

I appreciate it. So let’s move into the future. It’s 2030, magic wand, what does the future hold for FullCycle?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 37:42

Gosh, so one thing I would want, personally is, you know, for FullCycle to become such a trusted brand in the Eco PE space, that we have not just a fun two and a fun three for climate, but also a specific fund for water. A specific fund, even for early-stage perceivably intractable problems that we have to address at some point with technology. We have public equity funds as well that are directing capital in at that level to the right companies where we’re just like this, you know, multi-asset brand that are all directed towards something that we invented locally called CROI 20, carbon return on investment in the first 20 years, which is something that we use as our guide for picking stocks, technologies, investments, etc. Because once you do that, every dollar being put into space at any asset class towards any problem, whether it’s social or environmental, is being used in its most effective direction. 

So that’s my vision for 2030 is that we become that trusted known brand. And personally, you know, that the company expands way, way, way beyond myself, such that my daily participation is unnecessary and I can step back and maybe just become a board member with a much more expanded board that includes all kinds of different stakeholders, and be able to spend more time with my wife, maybe even think about having children and spend a little bit of time with those parents that I mentioned as they grow older and enjoy them in their twilight years. That would be fantastic. I’d love that.

Host Raj Daniels 39:57

I like the idea of extended shareholders and mornings lucidity harkens back to the comment you made around, you know, building that table. So you mentioned good parenting. Last question. If you could share some advice or words of wisdom with the audience, what would it be? And it could be professional or personal.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 40:17

21 years ago, I saw two friends of mine have an argument. They were a couple and their version of an argument was one of the more respectful, balanced healthy conversations I’ve seen between two people. And that did not resemble what was an argument in my world. 

I asked them how they were so evolved around their, their version of communication, and they said, they took a course from an organization called Landmark. And that organization, I ended up signing up for and taking a bunch of courses, and it really planted the seeds of being 100% responsible for the world as it is. 

That is such a healthy way to look at things, because it’s a very empowered way to look at things, right. If we’re responsible for the world, and we’re responsible for our life, that gives us power to do something about it. If our relationship to it is that we are just the victim, and we are stuck in this in the river moving us wherever it chooses, we cannot stop, and get on solid ground and start pulling people up with us. 

Every life is different, everybody has had to carry some sort of burden. And some of it is extreme compared to others. And if we can begin, no matter how extreme our burden has been in our life path has been and find some power around, hey, you know what, what happened, happened. I can’t go back in time and change it. I can look to the future and do something about it. The first thing we need to do is just take responsibility for that piece, and for our life. 

So we can start getting kind of into the driver’s seat, instead of just assuming that we’re going to be a perpetual passenger. I guess that’s my piece of advice to everybody is, no matter what happened, no matter what is currently going on, if you can find a way to own it, and find your way and your personal responsibility in it, then you can be in a place of changing it. You can have that be on the micro level your individual life or as big a macro as you choose to take on.

Host Raj Daniels 43:08

So did you choose vanilla? In the Landmark Forum?

Ibrahim AlHusseini 43:11

Oh, Landmark Forum. That’s right. The chocolate vanilla choose. Yes,

Host Raj Daniels 43:16

That’s right. Chocolate vanilla choose. Get vanilla.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 43:22

The point is I learned to choose, right. You know, just like, Hey, you know, Is it this? Or is it that? Whatever, give me vanilla.

Host Raj Daniels 43:30

That’s right. Yeah. Yep. I remember that weekend course I took that 20 years ago.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 43:36

I love that. I love that you took that. It was so transformative.

Host Raj Daniels 43:40

It really was I did, I did the weekend. And then I did the follow-up, I think six or 12-week program after that. And it was life-changing.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 43:50

Gosh, I feel a kinship, my friend. It’s a transformative thing. And I hope their courses become more accessible for more people.

Host Raj Daniels 44:00

I agree. And I’m going to end on this quote. And hopefully, I’ve got the right one here. “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out, do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” Carl Sagan, which I believe is one of your favorite quotes.

Ibrahim AlHusseini 44:23

So much what a brilliant human being if we only listened to him in the 70s we would be in a very different place today. Let’s listen to our smart people and the ones that care. It really will make a difference for us. 50 years from now we’ll be in a different place if we listen to the right people.


Before we go, I’m excited to share that we’ve launched the Bigger Than Us comic strip, The Adventures of Mira and Nexi.

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If there’s a subject or topic you’d like to hear about, send Raj Daniels an email at BTU@NexusPMG.com or contact me via our website, NexusPMG.com. While you’re there, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter where we share what we’re reading and thinking about in the cleantech green tech sectors.

Raj Daniels

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