Content, Community & Capital for Climate With Jason Jacobs, Founder of My Climate Journey

A path toward purpose is a flywheel for the change you wish to see.

Jason Jacobs is a longtime entrepreneur, most recently as the founder of Runkeeper, one of the largest fitness apps, which was acquired by ASICS in 2016. He felt compelled to make his next chapter about purpose and is over 2 years into focusing on helping address climate change full-time, via a podcast called My Climate Journey (MCJ), a vibrant community of thousands of members that formed organically around the podcast, and a fund that backs several new climate tech startups every quarter, across many geographies and sectors.

Take me to the podcast.

Content, Community & Capital for Climate

Jason’s journey started with a curiosity about climate and has evolved into climate-focused content, community, and capital. He swapped places behind the mic and discussed his path toward purpose with host Raj Daniels on the Bigger Than Us podcast. Listen to hear what he’s learned along the way, what the future of My Climate Journey might look like, and how to get involved in the MCJ community.

The Beginning of Jason’s Climate Journey

First, I just needed to rest and recover. But then when I started thinking about what’s next, I said I want to work on something really purposeful. And so I was looking at climate. And as I looked at it, I really didn’t know a lot about it. And I didn’t really understand the problem, I didn’t really understand the best ways to address it. I certainly didn’t know how my skills would be transferable.

I want to work on something really purposeful.

I talked myself into trying to build another consumer company. I had a market I was looking at. I convinced myself It had a purposeful angle, but I think that was not necessarily true. And I had a few VCs that I’d known a long time, that kind of heard rumblings that I had a market I was getting excited about. So they convinced me to take a little bit of money, just almost not a company, just like an expedition with a bank account, essentially, and got the co-founding team from Runkeeper back together.

We got a few months in, and we were looking at different areas where we could anchor, and it was actually pretty fertile ground. I think my two co-founders were pretty excited to get to work building in any one of these areas. And what I realized was that the purpose element was really lacking for me that the area we were looking at everything except purpose, but that purpose was really paramount for me.

And it was during that time that the IPCC, one and a half degree report came out. And Trump took steps to try to withdraw us from Paris. And the scientific community was foaming at the mouth, no one was listening symptoms were becoming more visible and obvious. And so increasingly, my co-founders were getting impatient to get to building and I wasn’t greenlighting anything. And all I wanted to do was go walk in the woods and like, find my purpose. And I was in this financial position where I have the flexibility to work on anything I wanted.

Somehow I found myself building another vapid consumer company. So back in December of 2018, I still had almost all of that money in the bank. Just a little bit of capital that we raised, but I had more than 90% of it and just returned that to the venture investors and all those relationships are intact.

But that was not an easy thing to do and came back into climate with all the same concerns about where I would fit, but a lot more determined to figure it out. Started just by reading and talking to lots of people, experts trying to learn. People that were had been worked on it a long time were hitting it from different angles. And those experts said, you know, we’re glad that new blood is coming in. We’re excited to see how your journey progresses. Keep me posted.

The Part Where Content Comes In

So once a month, I started sending a monthly email just saying, here’s the ground I covered since last month. Here’s my learning so far, here’s some of the things I’m wrestling with. Here’s some of the areas I’m tackling next. And I’ll get introduced to a bunch more people.

Then the distribution list for this newsletter started to grow. And after a few months of that, some people from my old Silicon Valley life started increasingly raising their hands and saying they felt similarly and didn’t know what to do or where to start. And I said, well, I don’t know what you should do, or I’d be doing it. But I wish you could be a fly on the wall for all these great discussions I’m having all day every day. So the podcast is essentially just a way to stick mics in the hands of the people I was already learning from to build a knowledge repository for those that came after me.

I started recording those episodes and publishing them every week. I think it might have even been two a weak and got a few months into that. And my inbox started filling up with people who were bingeing on the podcast. They were really engaged, really grateful that the pod existed, they were really strategic. And they came from really diverse places. So I thought that was an interesting signal. I knew about them, but they didn’t know about each other.

The Part Where Community Comes In

So I set up a Slack community just as a way to stick them all in the same digital room and see what happened. And that community has now taken on a life of its own where there’s more than 1,200 members. There’s some modest dues associated with it. Members need to apply for membership. It’s not an exclusive thing. But it’s just to keep the caliber high and make sure there’s a kind of mission alignment.

I knew about them, but they didn’t know about each other.

There’s a number of great things that have come out of that community. There’s a number of founding teams that met in that Slack room. There’s a bunch of nonprofits that have been started in out of discussions that started in there, there’s a bunch of hiring that’s been done. There’s a bunch of companies that have raised money. There’s funds that have gotten LPs, and there there’s a bunch of events and programming by members and for members. There’s a number of open source projects that are getting actively worked on.

The Part Where Capital Comes In

And along the way initially, for me, there was kind of content and there was community. And I started investing in climate-focused companies just as another way to get closer to the action. Intentionally small checks. So I could be high rep when I found just teams that felt like the real deal that we’re focused on areas that could be big potential levers for decarbonization, that had some smart institutional money either in there or coming alongside.

I started writing these little checks when I found companies that fit these criteria. I did probably 15 of those. Some of those companies started raising follow on, started pulling together some SPVs to take bigger allocations in subsequent rounds, and then eventually raise the fund.

Content, Community & Capital

So now we have content, community, and capital. And each of those is going to expand independently, but also the kind of feed each other and hopefully create a self-reinforcing flywheel.

Why Climate?

I felt like this is an existential problem. And there’s bold action that’s required and it seems like the scientific community seems to know what needs to be done, but as a global society, we are in our own way, and we seem incapable or unwilling of doing the things that need to be done in the timeframes that they need to be done to avoid a whole bunch of catastrophic suffering and irreparable damages.

Lessons Learned

…it matters much less where you start. It matters much more that you just start.

I need to start with a problem and then work backward to the best way to address it.

I do think it’s important that people are honest with themselves about identifying what is the most natural path for them.

The Full Transcript

This transcript has been lightly edited.

Host Raj Daniels 01:26

Jason, I like to open the show by asking my guest the following question. If you were asked to share something interesting about yourself, what would it be?

Jason Jacobs 01:38

Well, that’s a hard thing to answer. Because honestly, I don’t think I’m that interesting. I mean, I work a lot. It’s a huge part of my being. My wife makes fun that when I left my last company that I was working on for almost a decade, I had nothing to do after being so overworked for so long. And so I actively stressed about wellness and, and living a less stressful existence and integrative medicine and meditation and exercise and hydration and eating right. And so it’s kind of, I think, pretty high strung and that’s kind of work and it’s fitness. And it’s family. And, you know, occasionally friends. But, yeah, probably a pretty complicated guy. But pretty simple in terms of my portfolio of interests, which makes me feel like I’m not that interesting.

Host Raj Daniels 02:34

Well, in my research, I think it’s pretty interesting the journey you’ve taken to get where you are. For the audience, if you don’t mind, just sharing briefly that journey, so they can kind of get a hold of who you are.

Jason Jacobs 02:47

Where do you want me to start?

Host Raj Daniels 02:49

You know, if you want to start 10 years ago, when you took off with Runkeeper?

Jason Jacobs 02:56

The climate stuff I’ve been working on now is kind of at what I would call the third act of my career. First, I was a liberal arts undergrad and kind of fell into small, high-growth, venture-backed startups. It’s the only kind of company I’ve ever worked in and around. Growing up professionally here in the Boston area, a lot of those startups for infrastructure software, like selling the plumbing of the internet, data storage, and optical network and stuff like that to big banks and health systems.

So, love the sport of business. Loved the competitive nature. Working with great people. Serving customers, growing revenues, profits, winning. But really didn’t personally relate to the widget ever. And because I’m not trained as an engineer, I didn’t think I’d ever work in a technology company where I related to the widget and didn’t really think that mattered. And I always aspired to start a company. But I didn’t think the widget mattered. So I was just looking at areas that I knew versus areas I was passionate about. And it felt forced. Something was holding me back.

For years, I was foaming at the mouth to go and do this. And I just wasn’t pulling the trigger. I was starting to have self-doubt about whether I was really cut out to be an entrepreneur. And finally, I forced my hand said, I’m going to quit my job when I get my once-a-year bonus. And I’m going to figure it out with the hourglass of my life savings turned upside down.

During that time, biding my time for the bonus, I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out what kind of company to start. So I started training for my first marathon. And during that training uncovered, not only a hypothesis of building this fitness technology company but also that I was passionate about something besides building technology companies. It was fitness. And that fitness was a huge part of my life. So I have this hypothesis for where to start.

But even if I was wrong, I was prepared to say that I was going to spend the next decade or however long it took building a big fitness technology company. I won’t share all the gory details, but that was an almost decade journey. Raised close to $20 million in equity financing plus a little bit of debt. Had a bumpy ride and, you know, the company had a near-death experience in the middle there, which was pretty gory. But we ended up riding the ship and getting healthy and getting profitable.

But in order to get there cutting a third of the team and rebuilding the leadership team excited about a more narrow, focused profitable path. And getting, you know, healthy getting our narrative back, and ultimately getting acquired for what was a very good outcome by one of the big sneaker companies. Stayed on ran digital there for a couple of years and, and then left. So the first wave was about, like, you know, building technology companies without caring about the widget in functional roles.

The next wave was my entrepreneurial beginnings, but also the beginnings of working in a domain that I loved. And when I left there, I kind of had this like wave of survivor guilt where I felt that there was so much luck and privilege and timing that went into having the outcome we had, and I wasn’t worthy, and that I owed it to society to make my next chapter about purpose and work on something really important. Since I was in such a fortunate position that I didn’t feel like I deserve to be in. And that’s when I landed on focusing on climate.

So I can go into that, but I’ll just kind of take a breath and see if you have any questions here before I just keep blabbering?

Host Raj Daniels 06:35

Well, a couple of different things. First of all, for the audience that’s wondering sneaker company, it was Asics, I believe, is that correct?

Jason Jacobs 06:41

It was, yeah.

Host Raj Daniels 06:42

Alrighty. And I love that image of the hourglass of life savings. And I’m asking for selfish reasons, because I too, am a liberal arts guy and had a SaaS company for a short while. Do you think having a liberal arts background helped you in your technology company?

Jason Jacobs 07:08

One of the things that I have big regrets about actually is that I was kind of a total screw-up when I was younger. I mean, I skated through high school and really wasn’t a good student, and I ended up going to a pretty good college, but I kind of didn’t deserve to be there. I chose it knowing I wasn’t gonna like it, because I, you know, could, you know because there was a chance I could get in because I played a sport. And then I kind of half-assed it through college as well, and really wasn’t passionate about the things I was learning about. So I don’t know that there was necessarily classroom learning that helped me.

But what I do think, though, is that there was certainly a misconception when I was growing up in these technology companies that, that everyone needed to write code. And that, you know, if you didn’t write code, there really wasn’t any place for you. And I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Host Raj Daniels 08:09

I agree with you wholeheartedly. So switching gears here, you know, you mentioned the climate part. You are now the host of My Climate Journey podcast, and so much more. Can you share with the audience? Why that podcast? You kind of mentioned how you kind of got interested in it, but the start of that podcast and where you’re going with it?

Jason Jacobs 08:28

When I was having that survivor guilt, I guess, just to pick up the story, where we left off.

First, I just needed to rest and recover. But then when I started thinking about what’s next, I said I want to work on something really purposeful. And so I was looking at climate. And as I looked at it, I really didn’t know a lot about it. And I didn’t really understand the problem, I didn’t really understand the best ways to address it. I certainly didn’t know how my skills would be transferable.

I talked myself into trying to build another consumer company. I had a market I was looking at. I convinced myself It had a purposeful angle, but I think that was not necessarily true. And I had a few VCs that I’d known a long time, that kind of heard rumblings that I had a market I was getting excited about. So they convinced me to take a little bit of money, just almost not a company, just like an expedition with a bank account, essentially, and got the co-founding team from Runkeeper back together.

We got a few months in, and we were looking at different areas where we could anchor, and it was actually pretty fertile ground. I think my two co-founders were pretty excited to get to work building in any one of these areas. And what I realized was that the purpose element was really lacking for me that the area we were looking at everything except purpose, but that purpose was really paramount for me.

And it was during that time that the IPCC, one and a half degree report came out. And Trump took steps to try to withdraw us from Paris. And the scientific community was foaming at the mouth, no one was listening symptoms were becoming more visible and obvious. And so increasingly, my co-founders were getting impatient to get to building and I wasn’t greenlighting anything. And all I wanted to do was go walk in the woods and like, find my purpose. And I was in this financial position where I have the flexibility to work on anything I wanted.

Somehow I found myself building another vapid consumer company. So back in December of 2018, I still had almost all of that money in the bank. Just a little bit of capital that we raised, but I had more than 90% of it and just returned that to the venture investors and all those relationships are intact.

But that was not an easy thing to do and came back into climate with all the same concerns about where I would fit, but a lot more determined to figure it out. Started just by reading and talking to lots of people, experts trying to learn. People that were had been worked on it a long time were hitting it from different angles. And those experts said, you know, we’re glad that new blood is coming in. We’re excited to see how your journey progresses. Keep me posted. So once a month, I started sending a monthly email just saying, here’s the ground I covered since last month. Here’s my learning so far, here’s some of the things I’m wrestling with. Here’s some of the areas I’m tackling next. And I’ll get introduced to a bunch more people.

Then the distribution list for this newsletter started to grow. And after a few months of that, some people from my old Silicon Valley life started increasingly raising their hands and saying they felt similarly and didn’t know what to do or where to start. And I said, well, I don’t know what you should do, or I’d be doing it. But I wish you could be a fly on the wall for all these great discussions I’m having all day every day. So the podcast is essentially just a way to stick mics in the hands of the people I was already learning from to build a knowledge repository for those that came after me.

I started recording those episodes and publishing them every week. I think it might have even been two a weak and got a few months into that. And my inbox started filling up with people who were bingeing on the podcast. They were really engaged, really grateful that the pod existed, they were really strategic. And they came from really diverse places. So I thought that was an interesting signal. I knew about them, but they didn’t know about each other.

So I set up a Slack community just as a way to stick them all in the same digital room and see what happened. And that community has now taken on a life of its own where there’s more than 1,200 members. There’s some modest dues associated with it. Members need to apply for membership. It’s not an exclusive thing. But it’s just to keep the caliber high and make sure there’s a kind of mission alignment. And I can talk about those criteria if you’re curious.

There’s a number of great things that have come out of that community. There’s a number of founding teams that met in that Slack room. There’s a bunch of nonprofits that have been started in out of discussions that started in there, there’s a bunch of hiring that’s been done. There’s a bunch of companies that have raised money. There’s funds that have gotten LPs, and there there’s a bunch of events and programming by members and for members. There’s a number of open source projects that are getting actively worked on.

And along the way initially, for me, there was kind of content and there was community. And I started investing in climate-focused companies just as another way to get closer to the action. Intentionally small checks. So I could be high rep when I found just teams that felt like the real deal that we’re focused on areas that could be big potential levers for decarbonization, that had some smart institutional money either in there or coming alongside. And I started writing these little checks when I found companies that fit these criteria. I did probably 15 of those. Some of those companies started raising follow on, started pulling together some SPVs to take bigger allocations in subsequent rounds, and then eventually raise the fund.

So now we have content, community, and capital. And each of those is going to expand independently, but also the kind of feed each other and hopefully create a self-reinforcing flywheel.

Host Raj Daniels 14:13

Well, as a member of that Slack group, I can tell you that you’re absolutely right regarding the high caliber. I will put a link into the information regarding the Slack group in the show notes. A couple of questions from what you said there. Number one, you mentioned the IPCC report. What if anything specific regarding that report struck you at that time?

Jason Jacobs 14:32

Mostly I just felt despair. I felt like this is an existential problem. And there’s bold action that’s required and it seems like the scientific community seems to know what needs to be done, but as a global society, we are in our own way, and we seem incapable or unwilling of doing the things that need to be done in the timeframes that they need to be done to avoid a whole bunch of catastrophic suffering and irreparable damages.

So that was how I was feeling. And so it made it very hard, for example, to get excited about what the next generation of shopping looks like, or doing something in fitness again when I just couldn’t help but feel like if we didn’t get a handle on this big systemic crisis that was in front of us, then it would just be a catalyst in a bad way it would. It would accentuate every other problem that we had as a society. It would be like a, like the waterline rising in the, you know, in the basement of a boat kind of thing, Where, where, you know, it’s kind of getting close to your neck, and it keeps getting higher, and it’s not going to end well.

But you’re down there, and you’re thinking, like, did I take my vitamins today? Or did I remember to put on deodorant? It’s like, yo, if you don’t deal with water, that’s coming up, that’s gonna suffocate you soon, and you’re gonna drown, then it’s not gonna matter whether you took your vitamins or your medicine or not.

Host Raj Daniels 16:19

So I’m not going to speak for you and speak for myself. Many a time I feel like, I’m in an echo chamber, because of the people that I speak to every week, or almost every day, regarding perhaps climate change, cleantech, etc. When I step out of that, I’m surprised as to how many people still haven’t heard about climate change or aren’t concerned about it. But I’m going to ask you since you started this journey, you mentioned people that were unwilling to do anything about it. Where in that arc, do you think we are between people that are unwilling to do anything about it, and people that are now willing to at least address or talk about it?

Jason Jacobs 16:57

I don’t really think about it on an individual level. I increasingly find myself just thinking of it as an interrelated ecosystem. Almost like a rain forest or something where, like, when I first came in, my first questions I was asking people was, is it too late? Are we screwed? Should we even bother to try? And, and then I think the next wave, it was more like, oh, actually, it’s not too late.

But a lot of the quote-unquote, climate action seems like it’s noise. And there’s some, you know, if you kind of boil it down to its essence, there are a small handful of really big important levers that could be pulled that could bring about the type of big, bold system-wide change that we need. And then I started realizing that even if that might be true, in order to bring those things about, there’s a number of other things that needed to happen in parallel.

For example, you could say, well, you know, big industry is responsible for so much emissions. So it’s on big industry to change. And it’s like, well, what’s going to make big industries change? Well, for one thing, we need policy. Okay, well, what’s going to get the right policy in place? Well, we need policy, you know, we need it to be proposed and to pass in the government. Well, what’s gonna enable it to be proposed and pass in the government? Well, if we get elected officials in office who care and believe that it’s in their own self-interest to put that policy forward, or they won’t get elected? Well, how do we do that? Well, we get voters to vote and voters to care. Well, how do we do that? Well, we fix our democracy, we increase education, we run campaigns, we, you know, we foster activism. What else could get big companies to move? Well, big companies would care if like, the best employees out there didn’t stay or wouldn’t go work there if they didn’t step up their game? Well, how do we get employees to care? Oh, well, we do consumer education, and it starts in the schools and we have activist campaigns where we rally bottoms up within these companies.

So everything is interrelated. And yes, there are some outside things, some, like policy initiatives that could really move the needle or, you know, if we have a breakthrough in long-duration storage or fusion, or things like that. But at the same time, everything matters. As you said, it’s like, it’s like once you see what you can’t unsee and maybe it’s a small percentage of people that see but directionally if we did nothing else other than getting more people to see from wherever they sit, whether it’s just someone who’s going about their day who might be a voter, or who makes purchases and cares about what products they buy, or things like that, or someone who’s like the leader of the biggest country in the world, right? You know, people are people. And once they see once they care, then they want to use their platform for them from wherever they sit, to try to do their part to help. So we just need more people to care.

Host Raj Daniels 20:21

So I appreciate that. Jason, I want to switch gears here and get to the crux of our conversation. And you kind of mentioned it earlier, too. But I want to dig a little deeper regarding this purpose. And so the crux of the conversation is, you know, so you aligned, what you’re doing right now with, your purpose, your why. But this intrinsic motivation to follow your purpose. Now, where does that come from?

Jason Jacobs 20:49

I mean, I’m no psychologist, and I don’t know. I think I’m self-aware of what I need to do to feel fulfilled and live a purposeful life, but why I feel it’s so important to live a purposeful life? I don’t know that I have that level of self-awareness. But I think for me, people derive their stress and their anxiety from different places. And for me, the biggest existential things that you seemingly can’t control, when you’re just going about your day are the things that kind of get me the most. And the other thing is just from a fulfillment standpoint, I want to achieve, I want to build things I want to create, I want to make an impact, I want to use my precious time on this planet wisely.

So there’s kind of one element of just like, this is the biggest source of anxiety, one element of wanting to make my mark. And then one element of I love the process. I love the sport of it, I love the competitive nature, I love building something from nothing. I like winning. I’m a capitalist. So, I also like generating wealth. And to the extent that you can align those things around something of purpose sets, you know, something much, much greater than you. And if you can pull it off, or even, you now have a small part in moving the needle towards helping us collectively pull it off. Then that would feel pretty good. And certainly way better than if you were just chasing dollars, for example.

Host Raj Daniels 22:36

While staying on the idea of making your mark. My Climate Journey, I think you’re about 140 ish episodes into it. What are some of your I’m not gonna ask favorite guests, but what are some of your favorite perhaps conversations or technologies that you really enjoyed either speaking about or learning about?

Jason Jacobs 22:57

It’s so hard since I cover such broad topics that I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve achieved mastery anywhere. But I do think it’s fascinating to start to unpack some of these thorny things from different perspectives. So take like a price on carbon, for example. And, I mean, yes, the GOP hates all taxation, for example.

But then there’s some people on the Green New Deal side, for example, who are very progressive, who also don’t necessarily believe that we need a price on carbon. Yet most of the people I talked to think it would help, and some people think we have to have it, and other people think that, well, we don’t have to have it, but it would help. And then there’s debate about which form it should take. The price of carbon is kind of, representative of every thorny topic in this area.

I mean, you could say the same thing about, you know, the portfolio of, oh, here’s a good one. Electrify everything versus things like carbon capture carbon removal, all that kind of stuff. Or eliminating natural gas versus doing a better job of leak prevention across natural gas pipelines to avoid methane emissions. It’s like this, none of this stuff, in my mind has easy answers. And anyone that comes out so boldly, and says that this thing is the way and that thing is wrong. I just find that the answer is almost always that it’s a lot more nuanced than that, but at the same time, you know, nuances is code for, you know, for status quo and in action, so, whereas we need bold action.

So, it’s really kind of thorny and complicated to think about how to do forward. And then everything has unintended ripple effects that are negative as well. I mean, you can say, you know, we need to kill off fossil fuel, and then someone else will say, well, what about the billion people that don’t have access to basic electricity and can’t put food on the table and, and eat? Energy poverty is more important than climate change in many parts of the world. And that’s easy for you to say that it isn’t sitting in your, you know, affluent suburb, you know, as one of the biggest emitters in the world, right. I’m kind of rambling.

But I find that I’m more drawn to the system’s nature of it, and the dynamics and the interplay across all of these disparate things that are also so interrelated than I am by any one technology or sector.

Host Raj Daniels 25:51

You know, I feel the same way we too have a very broad list of guests and topics. And I look at it from a holistic perspective, also, rather than, you know, siloed effect, but I appreciate you reflecting on the different challenges within the system, and perhaps how different people do view them. So you’ve been on this journey a little over two years. What are the most valuable lessons that you say you’ve learned about yourself?

Jason Jacobs 26:21

Not to get too introspective, but I am working as hard now as I’ve ever worked. And I am not in a position financially, where that necessarily needs to be so.

So one might look at that and say you have young kids and, you know, there’s so much going wrong in the world. Why aren’t you taking more time to smell the roses? And of course, in the pandemic, you’re not going to be taking vacations and things like that. But it’s like, you know, like, just, you know, relax, sleep late. Exercise. Coach Little League. And that’s not really how I’m wired.

And so on the one hand, I’ve learned that that is a superpower in terms of achievement. I can’t help also, but sometimes think, like, how am I going to feel about that when I’m old? And am I going to, you know, be proud that I use my time in that way? Or, or am I going to wish that I used it differently? And that’s a hard one because I love both, right? They’re both so important and dear to me. And I don’t necessarily have a clear answer there. But to put that one thing is, is that I am wired that way. So you can nitpick about whether it’s healthy, that I’m wired that way. But that’s one learning is that I’m wired that way.

Another thing is that everything about this process, like when I left Runkeeper, and before I found something new, I was looking to find something to build, versus focusing on what would be fulfilling. And when I let go of focusing on the thing to build, and I just focused on what is a problem that feels worthy of solving? And then I gave myself the freedom to just investigate the problem without necessarily needing to investigate, like, what kind of company am I going to build? Does it need to be a company? Is it going to be venture scale? You know, who are my teammates going to be? And I just said, I’m just gonna learn more about this problem so I can better figure out how it needs to be addressed. And I’ll figure out where I fit later. And then everything just magically started kind of unfolding organically in this really natural, organic way that hasn’t been scripted and hasn’t been preordained. And it’s probably happening bigger and faster than if I tried to manufacture it. You know, any other thing that I might have looked at before I got to this point.

Host Raj Daniels 28:40

You know, it’s interesting. You mentioned that second part, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Avi from SparkCharge. And he said the reason he started his company was because I think it was in his sophomore year, I could be mistaken. In college anyway, a professor asked the question, what problem do you want to solve? And that was the impetus for him to start his company.

Jason Jacobs 29:03

That was what really tripped me up about the false start ahead in between Runkeeper and now is that the idea wasn’t a problem to solve. It was an emerging media format that had applications and lots of categories beyond the category that it started. And we were gonna build a studio, that experiment, and then different categories and built it and build a tech-enabled content portfolio. That was a really viable, capitalist idea. But it was a solution in search of problems in search of places to apply it.

And what I learned about myself, it’s not a judgment on people that start companies that way, but I can’t work that way. I need to start with a problem and then work backward to the best way to address it. So that was a long-winded way of helping me figure out that that’s the most important thing I learned about myself.

Host Raj Daniels 29:46

And I think it’s a great way to find out. So 10 years from now, let’s call it 2030. Magic wand. What does the My Climate Journey platform look like?

Jason Jacobs 29:57

Well, because it’s been such an organic unscripted process, I don’t know what I can really say. But I think what gets us excited is that there’s just so much possibility in front of it. You know, we have the main podcast and we have a startup series. And there’s likely another kind of content series that we’ll be launching soon. But even if you just look at content, I mean, audio is just one way that people consume information. And there’s a lot of other types of information and ways that people consume information that they would be interested in on the content side as it relates to the kinds of people we serve, and the kinds of things we’re helping them to do.

And then the same thing with the community, you know, we have a Slack room, and people before the pandemic were starting to host meetups in different cities all over the world. And there’s some digital events that they’ve been doing by members and for members. And we’ve started putting on some events and kind of convenings around like an open-source project or things like that, or a makeathon, where they all get together in little project teams and, and build stuff. But there’s a lot of possibilities both digitally and in the physical world, once we’re able to get back together again, where we could see community initiatives as well as crossover between community and content.

And on the fun side, we started with this little rolling fund. And we have these great LPs involved that can be really helpful to us and really helpful to the growing portfolio of companies. And we’re really pleased with the growing portfolio of founders and companies that we’re getting involved with, and we’re getting more and more deal flow, and we’re getting more access, and we’re able to be more and more helpful post-investment. And then some of these companies are starting to raise follow on now and we’re starting to pull together. Some SPV is beyond the fund. But directionally we could see other asset classes so that we could stay with more of these companies for the ride over time, since we’re getting in so early.

So the fund is separate and distinct from the content and community initiatives, we also see clearly how they can feed each other. And it’s important that the content and the community maintain their objectivity and don’t just become like a marketing arm of the fund. But we can see how having the fun will make the community more valuable and how having the community we’ll make them fun, more valuable. And we can also see how we can take any one of those three buckets and have a big, strong, independent company and roadmap on its own.

I think if you look at that flywheel, that’s where we really start to get excited. So I don’t really know what shape that takes over time, it just feels like it can be a shape that kind of snowballs into something much bigger and more impactful than it is today.

Host Raj Daniels 32:47

Well I love the overlap of capital, community, and content. And I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you. My last question is if you could share some advice, and you did earlier, too, regarding problem-solving, or looking for problems to solve, but if you could share some specific words of advice or wisdom with the audience, and it could be personal or professional, you sound like a very introspective gentleman. What would they be?

Jason Jacobs 33:11

People come to me for advice a lot. Not because I’m super smart in these areas, but because I’ve found a way to have impact and hopefully the beginnings of what will be a livelihood in the area that I wasn’t an expert, and came in without much foundational knowledge or connections.

So people feeling that way, what do they want, they want to talk to someone who recently made that transition successfully. And you can’t call my transition to success, but it’s, it’s like, it’s at least turned a corner into something that could grow into a success over time. They say, should I get a job? Or should I read a book? Or should I go to an event? Or? And the answer is that it matters much less where you start. It matters much more that you just start.

A lot of it comes down to you and what’s going to feel most natural to you where you are most intellectually interested. What feels less forced in terms of your ability to stick with it and experiment? Try different things, do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. And if you’re the kind of person that feels like you would be more fulfilled, to get a job and get some experience and then build from there, then do that. If you feel like you’re the kind of person that wants to just get a lay of the land and keep your job and nights and weekends, just educate yourself and start to have some discussions so you can be more informed about where to anchor before you pull the trigger on your employment, then do that.

So I think it comes down much more to the individual. And I do think it’s important that people are honest with themselves about identifying what is the most natural path for them. But they should also just kind of give themselves permission to not have to have all the answers.

Host Raj Daniels 34:54

I love that idea experiment and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers. You mentioned books. Are there any favorite books But you’ve read on climate change or in the periphery that you’d recommend?

Jason Jacobs 35:04

I haven’t had time to read that many books lately. But I can’t remember the name of it. But I might have it right here. the book by Russell Gold, Superpower. That was a pretty good one. And there was another book, I think it was called That Grid that just it was more like, everything about like how the electric grid works, and it’s so non-intuitive and, and that was pretty enlightening for me. I mean, Drawdown if you’re just looking for more kind of coffee table reading, but you want to understand some of the problem areas. There’s an organization Project Drawdown that has a book that goes through the solution areas and how much impact it can have on emissions.

Yeah, those are some of the ones that come to mind. But I have a big list of books queued up and then I keep downloading more on my Kindle, and then I keep not having time to get to any of them. So I don’t know that I’m the best person, unfortunately, to be giving book recommendations.

Host Raj Daniels 36:08

Sounds like my challenge. Just yesterday, I pre-bought the new Bill Gates book coming out in February regarding climate change. But to your point, I highly recommend Draw Down, too. I think that’s a great entry point. And both Superpower and The Grid are on my Kindle reading list too. So appreciate you sharing those Jason. Really enjoyed speaking with you. And I look forward to the continued success of My Climate Journey. And catching up with you again soon.

Jason Jacobs 36:33

Sounds great. Raj, thanks so much for having me on the show.

Host Raj Daniels 36:36

Thank you.


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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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Raj Daniels