Jan. 19, 2023

How to Implement Innovative Carbon Removal Projects with Matthias Rettenbacher of Carbony

How to Implement Innovative Carbon Removal Projects with Matthias Rettenbacher of Carbony
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Matthias Rettenbacher is the founder of Carbony - a European marketplace for high quality carbon removal projects. In this conversation, he shares his passion of reversing climate change through biochar and enhanced weathering technology. We also discuss his preference for dinner with Gary Vee over $50,000 cash and he shares an amazing gift he received from a friend who was like a father figure to him. 

Matthias’ goal is to neutralize 500 million tons of emissions by 2040. He recently retired from his regular job to focus full-time on this project and has gained knowledge on the latest regulations and publications from the European Union on Zones. Projects typically last one or two days once research and preparation work are done. 

The volcano rocks or ash used in projects are sourced within a radius of 100-150 kilometers from quarries located in Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Matthias is also working with an Austrian university based in Vienna to conduct research on the nutrients trees get, their survival rate, growth rate, and carbon sequestration.


Do you wish to connect with our special guest?

Visit Carbony’s website: www.carbony.eu

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Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Irina Obushtarova, Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.


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Past Guests:
Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.
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#50 V...


There is around 35 billion metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere each year. And as more carbon dioxide is released, this causes global temperatures to rise. While my guest today is the founder of Carbony, a carbon removal startup and their mission is to become the go-to European marketplace for high quality. Carbon removal projects like a forestation and sustainable agriculture.

Biochar. BioCar. Anyway, welcome to this show, . Biochar. Welcome to this show, Maiers. How you doing, buddy? Thanks a lot for having me. I'm doing great. How are you doing? I'm doing good. All right, well, let's dive into it. Get to know your personality a little bit. First question for you, would you rather have $50,000 cash or dairy or dinner with Gary V?

Dinner with Gary? We okay. Hundred percent. Gary. Yeah, he's a cool guy. I mean, sometimes I think he's on drugs, but Cool guy. Yeah. He's just full of nonstop energy. I don't think he ever slows down that guy. I don't know how, how he does it, but , yeah, I l I learned a lot of him, to be honest. Yeah. All right.

Favorite TV show that you can watch again and again? Matt Simpsons. Simpson. That's a classic. Yeah. I don't even know. I don't even know. Do they release new episodes of The Simpsons? I, I don't think they do, but maybe I'm wrong in my world. They stopped at some point. But yeah, Simpsons is something that I like a lot.

I like how they, how they reference society. They make jokes about all the things, so, yeah. Yeah, and I, and I grew up with it in the nineties, so it's kind of a good memory. Okay. Next question for you. An amazing gift. That was either given to you or, or you gave to somebody else? A friend of mine gave me his last will and he put me there as his air, right.

This is how you say it. Like, yeah, when he turned 60 and three months later he died, which was very upsetting and sad, but I thought, wow, he kind of knew. So, and this was an amazing gift. Not about all the things that I got, but just, you know, someone. to think of it that early and EZ was a great gift. I will honor it forever.

Yeah. That must have been a good friendship. I mean, rather than giving it to family or other close friends that he, he may have had throughout his life, you said he was 60. I'm thinking there's a big age gap there if there isn't. I need to know the kind of shampoo and skin lotion that you use, Matt, because you're, you look, you look quite young here.

Yeah. Yeah, no, that was quite an age gap. He was like almost like a father figure for me because I lost my father quite early and you know, he took this role for me very early on and supported me when I was studying and because be. In my formal life, I wanted to become a writer and artist. And he was always very supportive of those kind of things.

And yeah, it developed over the years, a great and deep friendship. And he died three years ago. And now, now I, I, I come to realization what, what this friendship meant and how deep was to love, you know, and you know, how I miss it, to have a, this deep connection with someone and, and what he did for me. Yeah, it's not so much about the question.

Do you recall some of the best advice he ever gave you? Man, be brave. He always told me, be brave. You know, because life is so short and, and you, you worry about things turning out and you could fail. And he always said, you know, just, just go for it and, and then follow your dreams. And then, you know, eventually when you start doing something and focus on one thing.

Great things will happen. You know, maybe it won't be that like you imagined before, but doors will open the way along. Of course there will be setbacks, but, you know, just be brave and, and believe in yourself. The way he believed in me is something that is stuck to my mind. . Yeah, no, it sounds like a great mentor.

Very, very young. Yeah. Very good mentor. Okay, let's see here. Another question for you. What is something that you are weirdly good at? Something that you just are very good at? Probably better than a lot of other people out there smelling, smell . No, really, man. I think I'm kind of a, a cross breed between a dog and a human.

There's two separate patients that , that you could guys be doing like, like people who make perfumes, right. Or a chef, because I think they got a good, I I can appreciate a lot, to be honest. I love to cook. I love to eat and also I love perfumes and the, the. Not so much the business side about it, but the, the, the, the, the artis behind it, you know, the of how combining it and that you have a, a headnote and the hard note, this is something that gets me, gets me creative, you know, sometimes I think I should design my, my own scent or scented candles.

I can really appreciate those kind of. No, and, and sometimes, you know, I'm, I'm so crazy because I, I walk around the streets and then I pick up a smell from, from the past. And somehow the Smelling center and the, the Center for Memory and the Brain are very closely connected. Then, for example, a girl walks by and she smells exactly like my first girlfriend and boom, it takes me back, you know, to, to do it when I was 17 years old and, and older emotions.

It's, it's, it's in there and it's beautiful that a scent as simple as that can do it. Yeah. You know what I love about this the most is that you have these positive stories or thoughts. These great sense that, that you're seeing because you just told me you have a newborn and you've got another young child.

Right? And so that when you said you have, you've got a good sense of smell. The first thing I thought of, oh, Matt can really eat very quickly and easily detect when his baby is pooped, has got a dirty diaper. But you don't say anything about that. No. You're talking about regret. First girlfriend ? No. That things you strict because there, for me, there are no bad smells per se, because Okay, baby poop could be smelly a little bit, but if you put it in a different context, for example, French cheese, you know, really exquisite French cheese.

It doesn't smell good, but somehow we learned culturally, ah, that this is something exquisite that we are ought to like. Right. And so it's not about the smell, per se, being disgusting in other contexts. It could be very, you know, well perceived. It could be like something even luxurious. So, yeah. All right.

With humans, funny creatures. All right. All right. Okay. Well, let's get into it. Tell us what Carbon E is and how did you first get the idea for it, Matt? Well, so basically our big mission at Carbon E, we want to reverse climate change. Okay. It's quite a bold statement, but what is actually behind it is that one and a half years ago, me and Silan sat down during summer, as we do every year when I'm there for my summer holidays in Bulgaria, and I always thought, man, I would like to do something with this guy because he's like such a, Tech genius has so many cool ideas, inventions, stuff like this, I thought always would be cool if we could start off something together.

And anyhow, back in my, in my old work, I was already starting to be a little frustrated about not being my own company, being nine to five, being in a field that is not, you know, it's not fulfilling me and it's not giving me the feeling that I'm doing something that is helping the, the. In a deeper sense.

And so Silan came up to me and told me about those technologies that are able to suck back the, the co2, the carbon, the dioxide from the atmosphere, and store it back away for a long time. And therefore reversing climate change. So for example, which, which kind of technology for, for example, biochar, or, there's another cool thing called enhanced weathering where you basically crush volcanic stones, for example, Passal.

This, you increase the, the surface area, and then once it's interacting with rain, it starts to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it away. Okay. Never heard of that for, for this approach, but it sounds very innovative. Yeah, it's very cool. It's very technical there, of course, a lot of details you need to consider and, and first and foremost also the logistics that are involved because you need to get the stones from somewhere, produce it, distribute them.

So it's not an easy endeavor. But nonetheless, this is what is interesting because it's very much in the, in the cross section of engineering, bio-engineering, natural processes. So, and this is kind of what, what is most fun for me, this hand, hands-on aspect. You know that we don't, we are not a company that talk and only consult other companies, but we want to really.

Run the projects and do the stuff on our own and get our hands dirty. It's like complete the opposite of what I did before because I was working in online marketing in a digital field and yeah, it's a lot about computer work and yeah. So, alright, let's take a break. Better proposals. What are those sounds like how to pop the big question.

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But my favorite thing is just how good these documents look. They're so visually impressive, and as you know, first impressions means a. So make it a good one. Learn how better proposals can streamline your sales process@betterproposals.io. Well, how did you, you and your, your, your co-worker, your co-partner, excuse me, get this idea off the ground and start getting your first trial, your first clients.

Well, basically we, we just worked our asses off. We, we took the, the phone in our hands. We wrote a lot of emails. We got in contact with as many potential customers as possible and just, you know, pitch them the ideas, pitch them what we want to do, why could be relevant for them. Once, once we could deliver all those things.

And, you know, I, we. Basically the, at the beginning, the founders need to do those, those and learn those hard lessons of doing the sales on their own and being in contact with the customer. It's just that you know what's going on. You cannot hire right away the, the sales people and, and let them do the work.

You need to, you need to get a feeling for your customers, for your business, and for your product. And then, you know, do a lot of iterations and, and improve it all the time until someone, and I don't never forget the fir the moment when we first sold, I was standing at the beach in Bulgaria, being on the phone with an Austrian customer and he basically gave me to go there and I was so happy.

So, . Yeah. So, okay, so what does a project look like? Like walk us through the experience of what, of what this looks like for, for a client or a company that wants to participate. So basically we are going to customers asking them, hopefully you would already have a, a carbon footprint, right? And the reduction strategy.

And then no matter what is your reduction strategy, since your company who is producing most likely a product, you will never get to net zero. Because you're producing something, you have an a certain percentage of unavoidable emissions just as you as a human, because you breathe, you eat, you know you travel.

You always have a certain carbon footprint. And exactly for those unavoidable emissions, we offer those companies projects, for example, biochar or enhanced sweatering, to neutralize those remaining emission. Okay, so this is the site facing towards the customer. And then on the other side, we search for project partners.

Could be farmers, could be land owners, could be forest owners, and tell them, okay guys, we have here a buyer for our credits that will finance the material, the logistics, the distribution, and so on. You give us access to your plots. Okay, let's say 50 acres of. We distribute the stuff for you, we validate everything.

We issue the credits, and then you participate in the sales process. Okay. So they have a very external motivation of, wow, this could be an, an additional income source for my forest that is just standing around doing nothing, right? Yeah. So yes, it's a win-win situation on both sides. And you know, our goal is by 2040 we want to neutralize 500 million tons and we cannot do this on our own because we are very restricted by now in our resources.

And also, even if we would grow, it's very hard to perform those many projects on the own. So our idea. To have a snowball effect. The more, let's say, plot owners, farmers learn about this and learn that this is an additional income source for them doing something great for the environment. Yeah. They start that they want to join.

Right? Say, Hey, where, where can I join? Why can I get my piece of the cake? By the, by this we want to grow, grow, grow, and grow. Yeah. It's kind of, yeah. Where are some of the locations where you currently have implemented some of these projects? Are they mostly like around Vienna? Are they they like out No.

Right now for, for 2023, we are kicking off big research project together with an Austrian university based in Vienna that is working with, it's for soil sci, soil sciences, and tree sciences. Okay. They're top-notch university for those kind of things, and we are doing a research project where we scientifically observe what are the co-benefits combining this Baals stone powder with already existing forests.

Okay? What kind of nutrients do the tree get? Do they have a higher survival rate? Do they grow faster? Can they sequester store more carbon? Then usually if they wouldn't get this, this basal stone powder. Okay. And where we want to really observe this in a scientific manner. And then, so this is more happening on the countryside where there there's a lot of forests.

And in 2023 we are also gonna kick off first projects in the agricultural space in Bulgaria. All right. Close to Sofia though, because this is where Silan, my co-founder is. . Yeah. Now there's a lot of cool things going on in Bulgaria when you drive around the countryside. There you just see nothing but wind farms.

More. I've saw more wind turbines than I think I've ever seen anywhere else traveling through Spain or even here in Romania. There's just so many in Bulgaria. So you and your coworker keep, keep saying coworker, I dunno why you and your partner have been at this a few years, but you were working at the same time.

Is that correct? Until. Yeah, yeah, we were working at the same time. So basically we, we started off as a site project, although it's, you know, pretty quickly turned out to me that this will be my, my main hassle and I reduced work hours at my regular work, and since two weeks I'm basically completely retired, , and now I'm a, a full-time founder just because, you know, having.

Having two jobs. It's, it's kind of hardcore. And, and I just thought, you know, as I said before, from my man to be brave, now it's, I, I just could feel it. Now. It's the time to, to go all in and to, to work fully on this and see where it's gonna take us. Because if you never give it your all and your best, you know, it has no, never the chance to take off.

Yeah. So what is the worst thing that could happen? No, that's great to hear. That's great to hear Matt. So, juggling kids in a couple of different projects or work in a site hustle. So I, I know all about that, where time is everything and yeah, you just don't have the luxury of wasting time here. Okay, so what's something that.

You realize, God, I wasted a lot of time on that effort, and if I could go back in time, I would've either done this differently or tried something else. You mentioned that there was a lot of code calls, a lot of code emailing and and other initiatives that you did, but what's one of the mistakes that you learned from?

To be honest, it's all about the. The confidence that you have in your own product. You know, and especially at the beginning, you are very new to a field and you, you think, you talk to experts on the other side and you, you try to belittle yourself and to, I don't know, ironically, make your product smaller and and worse that it actually is because you know, in the end it's a great idea and the more I talk to people, I learned that also for all those sustainability managers in the companies.

It's a damn new field as well. And I understood with every call more and more that man, we have something to offer here. First of all, we have great knowledge because we have really attentively followed all the latest regulations, all the latest publications from the European Union on Zone. So we have a knowledge there.

We have something to give. And on top of this, you know, we are doing our products with the. With great decency. You know, we don't want to sell any bullshit, sorry, my my French, but you know, we really want to come up with a great product that has real value and that really helps the cost that really stores away carbon for a long time and therefore fights climate change.

This is our benchmark and you know, we wouldn't sell anything that we wouldn't, we don't stand. You know, fully behind this product. So I feel now that, that learning those lessons, it's really important that you believe in yourself and that you are confident in what you're doing and what you have to offer.

And this is what's now companies feel. You know, when we, when we have a call or when we have I meeting, they immediately can see, okay, wow, those guys, they know what they're talking about. I trust them. I feel them. Yeah. Let's go on. Very cool. What, how long does a typical project last? Well, depending on the technologies and the techniques we are using, the project itself are quite fast.

Once you have done the, the research and the, and the, the preparation work, meaning sourcing the materials, crushing the materials, distributing the materials, then this is actually happening in one or two days, and then basically you're just waiting until it starts to rain. And those, you know, stone powder is, is getting drawn into the.

Where is measurement? Where is that volcano, rocks, or ash coming from? Where are you sourcing that from? Well, it always depends on where will be the location of distribution, because what is very crucial to us is for every project we need to do a lifecycle assessments, meaning everything that we do in the project, the logistics, the material processing it is, has also a certain creation of carbon dioxide.

Right? It has a f. And to balance out and to get in the end of a clear idea of what are we saving with this project, we need to first know what will we produce while doing the project. Right? Yeah. So for us, it's always essential that we stay within the radios of 100 to 150 kilometers. So depending on where are the quarries and there are a lot of quarries, for example, in Australia, some Bulgaria even more, and also in Hungary.

And then we search, okay, where can we run a find project partners close to those quarries, for example? Okay. This is the kind of nature gives us the idea of where we need to search for our next partner. That's so fascinating. Okay, so what's what's, what's exciting for you in the next 12 months? I mean, both, both personally.

Obviously you got a newborn, so over the next 12 months you're gonna have your hands for, with, with the baby number two, but also for Carboning. What are you excited about? Well, definitely that we gonna run this such project just because I'm so interested in also those results, you know, and what it could.

Doing four, the trees out there and to, you know, have this, see this with your own eyes. This would be great because we have now a test blood also here in the sh city where I live called , where we've already seen the seedlings, you know, and now we will, in next spring, we will distribute the rock powder. So I'm just curious to see it and, you know, be myself on the field.

This is just a, a great thing. Yeah, obviously also in the next year we're trying to to get in some SIE investing rounds, so yeah, this is what I'm excited about. All right, Mattias, where can people learn more about you in Carboning? Mostly on our website, carbon e.eu. And definitely on LinkedIn. This is where we are most active.

On LinkedIn. We have a carbon, we have a company channel, carbon E, and also definitely people can connect with me there. Every once in a while we are posting about projects, progresses, events that we are participating on. So yeah, this is definitely our main channel, but we also, on Instagram, we are all on the social media channels, but LinkedIn is basically our go-to.

Fantastic. Okay. I'll include Leaks two at Carbon E, and also Matt's LinkedIn profile in the show notes. If you haven't already, feel free to sign up for the I C O newsletter. You can just go to innovators can laugh.com and you'll see takeaways and other insights from my interviews and other projects that I'm working on.

Hey Matt, thanks for being on the show. This was a pleasure. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and off to a 2023. Fantastic year. Same to you, Eric. Merry Christmas. Thanks for having me, and yes, my pleasure. Hope to meet you soon in person. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, cheers. Cheers.

Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed it, I'd really appreciate it if you could give us a review and star rating. Also, don't forget to sign up for the ICO newsletter@innovatorskalaugh.com where you can get the bio and details of each guest. Thanks.