Great to chat with Matthew Plante, President and Co-Founder at Voltus! Voltus is a distributed energy platform that accelerates the energy transition! We discussed bringing renewables online to prevent massive blackouts and reduce energy consumption, wholesale trade energy markets, opportunities for startups in the energy space, the importance of building a world class team and more!
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The unedited podcast transcript is below
James McWalter: Hello today we’re speaking with Matt Plante president and co-founder at Voltus welcome to podcast Matt, brilliant I suppose to start with. Could you tell us a little bit about Voltus?
Matt Plante: Thanks for having me.
Matt Plante: Voltus is a distributed energy resources platform. Our job is to help make electric grids modernized which means they’re decarbonized. They’re reliable and they’re cost-effective and we do that by. Bringing to the electric grid resources typically customers who reduce their consumption of electricity when the grid needs them to.
James McWalter: And what are some examples of those distributed energy resources.
Matt Plante: We help monetize resources everything from a smart thermostat to an electrical vehicle charging station to a wastewater treatment plant to a big industrial Factory Steel Mill. For example, a paper Mill For example.
James McWalter: That fascinating and we can use the term the Er So just for the audience. The ers are kind of distributed energy resources. We’ll probably use that phrase as we go along and it’s basically just the kind of items that matches outlined and I guess kind of going back to the beginning. You know what drove the initial decision to start Voltus.
Matt Plante: My cofounder and I spent ten years together building Enerno which was sort of a version 1 point zero in the demand response space 10 years later the need for distributed energy resources has grown considerably. The market. Has grown considerably. You can monetize these resources in many more ways than you could ten years ago and so the market was growing at a time when we felt like the competition wasn’t doing exactly what we thought they should be doing and so that was the perfect combination starter business. Growing market and no 1 taking advantage of it.
James McWalter: And so you already had that kind of existing relationship with your kind of cofounder. You know you decided this is the big problem to kind of tackle for the next decade or multi-decades. What are the kind of first like six months those early days look like.
Matt Plante: We got really lucky so partly because of the work that we had done in a similar space for a long time when we hung up our shingle a week later we were reached out to by an entity that needed our help and so right off the bat.
James McWalter: So.
Matt Plante: We had a four hundred thousand dollars contract that we did not expect we said holy cow this is really really nice apart from that you know you’re hustling your we had spent time with customers making sure that our solution was 1 that they wanted and needed.
Matt Plante: But you’re hustling you know you’re doing everything you can to get the business up as running as soon as possible and we were determined from day 1 to get to profitability as quickly as possible I think there have been I used to pay attention to an event call that. National town meeting on Demand response. It isn’t since merged with a solar meeting but it’s still held in this was in 16 when we started the business if you looked at all the companies that had presented at the national town meeting on Demand response. 80 percent of them were no longer in business so you had these companies with great ideas. But who never found the right business model to allow them to survive to allow them to actually deliver on what they were trying to deliver on so from day 1 We were very very determined to make the business model work straight away. And so most of our early efforts were around making sure that we could do that as quickly as possible.
James McWalter: And so those other 80 percent. You know what are the number 1 or number 2 things that like stops people getting up and running I know from my own research having looked and you know, starting at the early stages of looking at yeah, clean energy startup on my own side. It is could be a very difficult industry to break into. Um, they’re you know the graves of many many companies. Many startups are kind of strewn about um but it’s such a big massive industry. The opportunities are so large the shift in energy consumption is so large so there’s yeah lots of dollars there. Um, you know I Guess how do you think those companies could have kind of pivoted or you know made a better ch. Yeah, had better odds of success.
Matt Plante: I Think it is paying attention to the business side and creating a long-term sustainable competitive advantage that’ll allow you to be a healthy financial business and the good of our industry is that there are so many mission- driven people. We’re trying to solve climate change which as far as I’m concerned is the challenge of our time we’re trying to solve this big meaty Problem. So The wonderful part about that is that our industry is full of mission driven people that doesn’t always equate to people who are hardcore capitalists.
James McWalter: Sure.
Matt Plante: And Greg and I are hardcore capitalists. We understand that our business won’t be able to attract the investment we need unless we create a very financially sound business. That’s going to make our investors a lot of money.
James McWalter: And so you have on the business side. You know that that kind of core focus in terms of the product side. You know what are the earliest version of that product look like and what are the kind of pivots that you kind of went through to get to where you are now.
Matt Plante: I Think the question is can I rephrase your question.
James McWalter: Please.
Matt Plante: When we when this industry first started largely as a result of the northeast blackout of 2003 we were asking commercial and industrial customers to reduce their consumption of electricity in order to prevent the next big Blackout. We had a peak demand problem fifteen years later than that the need for distributed energy resource was was entirely different. We’re no longer simply preventing Blackouts from happening though that certainly is a part of our business with whether it’s. Wildfired driven Blackouts in California or ice storm-d driven blackouts in texas or polar vortex driven Blackouts in Michigan that’s still a part of our business but increasingly our resources are used by grid operators to balance the grid. Having to do with bringing renewables online and so when that’s the case we’re no longer used 1 or 2 times every year to prevent a blackout rather we are called upon dozens and dozens and dozens of times a year to reduce our energy consumption oftentimes for very quick periods of time to help balance the grid when a power plant both thermal and renewable trip offline and so in connection with that change. You need to move the. Industry from largely manual based asking people to shut things down to a much more automated process where we are paid to quickly bring resources offline to keep the grid balanced and so now we saw these changes coming and. Invested in day 1 in a lot of product. There hadn’t been a company in the space where product was the competitive advantage previous I think to voltus it was largely marketing and sales and sometimes first mover advantage that created a competitive advantage. But. Said look when we want to think long term and here’s what is coming down the road here’s what we’re going to actually get paid for product needs to be the competitive advantage.
James McWalter: And so that product just how is your product. You know that kind of next step on picking the kind of demand response space I Guess you mentioned there is this kind of ah you know low-tech you know, pen and paper type approach. How does Volt How is voltus kind of virtually different.
Matt Plante: In 2 big ways. The first way is that we wanted to be able to provide these resources across all markets. Lots of people had entered pgm in a manual way we wanted to enter not just pgm but.
James McWalter: Okay.
Matt Plante: Each of the other 8 wholesale markets in North america that hadn’t been done before no 1 had entered the southwest power pool. No 1 had entered myso which is the second largest electric grid in North america and so we actually started there. Started in peoria illinois to bring resources to myso for the first time so that was 1 big way and the second way was being able to integrate with and automate lots and lots and lots of. Types of loads so that the types of loads we support and bring into these markets is very different than what was done 10 years ago we can support smaller loads via integrating with a ah building automation system. We can support residential loads through integrating with. Partners who manufacture Smart thermotats for example. Ah.
James McWalter: And and so I suppose in practice. Let’s say you know I’m managing a ah you know, kind of a commercial building. Um, and I’ve you know, signed up for voltus. You know what? what is that kind of I suppose process like and what are the benefits to me as that building owner or building operator.
Matt Plante: The benefit to you is cash. That’s an easy question. The answer we are paying our customers for the right to help them reduce their electricity consumption a certain number of times per year the process is we. We understand what assets that commercial real estate owner has that will allow us to affect its consumption of electricity and by learning about that building. We can say aha here’s how we’ll monetize it. So we may go to Manhattan in 1 building they have the ability to reduce their energy consumption for several hours at a time great then we can monetize that in a certain program in New York city the building across the Street. Doesn’t have the ability to reduce consumption for hours at a time but can reduce energy consumption very quickly dozens of times a year great we’ll monetize that in a different way. So we learn about the building’s capabilities and then we say how do we optimize the amount of money that the customer can earn by taking a certain action. And then we put those practices into place.
James McWalter: And so then I suppose the money then for you that comes from basically these kind of wholesale traded energy markets of various types who are the other players in those markets.
Matt Plante: Ah, so yes, that’s correct and the other players in those markets we compete sometimes with other curtailment services Providers. So Annell X C power. Sometimes there are regional players Texas has. Regional players California has regional players those are main competitors.
James McWalter: And so you mentioned a little bit earlier that you know 1015 years ago there were actually more limited ways to monetize these types of resources I guess what changed like was it regulation was it. The tech has improved combination something else.
Matt Plante: The tech has definitely Improved. We’re able to serve smaller loads than we were a dozen years Ago. Regulation has changed dramatically and that’s been a big theme throughout my career is that there’s always. Lots and lots of money to be made in advance of or right on the heels of regulatory changes and so part of these ferc certainly has been involved in helping accelerate. The ability of companies like ours to participate in Wholesale markets to bring demand side resources to wholesale markets and have those resources be paid similar to how supply side resources are paid. That was a big regulatory change. Ferc recently issued an order call but that we call 2 by four ferc 2 2 2 2 which is almost a final barrier to unlock distributed energy resources. It’ll allow ders of all types to participate in all Wholesale Markets. And that’s going to unleash the resources we need in order to fully transition the electric grid to renewable energy to create the electric grid we want which again is is decarbonized resilience and cost.
James McWalter: Yeah, ferc is this kind of fascinating organization which I just kind of got to know in the last few months you know this is the kind of federal energy regulatory commission I actually reached out to a few of their economists who worked on 44 I managed to give 1 of them on the phone.
Matt Plante: Active.
James McWalter: And I straight up was like what are the kind of opportunities for startups in the space. What is the opportunity like basically what do you want to see happen. Um, and what he said to me was we you know have obviously goals like we want to completely have these things open up in ways that you know a thousand new companies are started um but he also was like. May well just be that it’s a kind of a nationalized version of what’s happening in California you know some states that are already kind of moved along to this kind of more giving the ers a little bit more access to wholesale markets I guess yeah when you yeah and I guess the book because they have to be written. But how do you think? just because the regulation I guess has started to move in that direction. Um, how it’s actually executed across these regions I guess a so little open question. So how are you thinking about that?
Matt Plante: 1 of the statistics that we pay a lot of attention to is the fact that most electric grids in the United States haven’t seen load growth for a very long time. But if you look at projections. We expect to add about forty percent. The total demand of this country over the next 30 years and there are four big drivers of that. It’s electric vehicles number 1 it’s the electrification of the home number 2 as heralded by organizations such as rewiring America it’s vertical farms. Number 3 and then its data centers connected to everything from google to bitcoin and so when you consider what everyone expects to be a huge growth. For the demand of electricity. We’ve got to figure out how to get supply to match that demand the combined capacity from all lithium-ion batteries. That will exist in electric vehicles by the year twenty thirty is forecast even by the most conservative forecasts for ev penetration to be 2 times that of existing power plants currently in the United States so take every nuclear plant. Every gas plant every coal plant every central power plant multiply that by 2 and that’s the estimate for the combined capacity of batteries driving around in electric vehicles. You have to figure out then how do we use these. Evs to help be a supply resource to the grid. It’s going to be a huge challenge. Everyone talks about the energy transition. It will not be smooth all the time there will certainly be bumps in this energy transition.
James McWalter: No, that’s fascinating I guess you know 1 of the aspects of the energy system which you only really getting a sense of in the last little while is this kind of you know, big gap that sometimes called the duck curve between net load in the middle of the day when there was a ton of solar and you know the reasonable amount of wind. And then kind of early afternoon or sorry late afternoon early evening when everybody goes home turns on their air conditioners and so on and the sun isn’t shining it in the evening and definitely not shining at night and so you have this massive kind of dropoff and so that dropoff I guess to the listener is the reason why we have to keep. Dirty. You know gas and coal power stations longer than we would like right because you know building kind of solar and solar but solar doesn’t replace the type of energy we need at that point and batteries I guess are this kind of fascinating potential alternative. Um. But you have I guess 2 directions you could go with a theboan Batteries. You could have what they call utility scale where you’re building. You know, kind of shipping containers worth of batteries in the yeah, the desert somewhere and that’s your kind of way to balance the grid at that time of the day or the evs which which you mentioned and I guess if you think about evs you know there’s certain parts of. Country is still figuring out even to allow what they call ev to grid is it even going to be Allowed. How do you think about like that that transition you mentioned it’s going to be bumpy but I guess like what are the first steps you’re going you see as kind of emergent as we make that transition.
Matt Plante: Um, reliability has to be job number 1 and that’s not lost on us and I and I think sometimes it’s easy to ah to excoriate the. The coal miners and the coal plants I think it’s helpful instead to understand that our economy and our way of life was built on the backs of those coal miners and that we have the luxuries we have today. Because of fossil fuels and I think it’s a really helpful framing. We do need to transition to a fully decarbonized grid. We can’t sacrifice reliability to do that. So when we think about how to get there 1 ah. 1 thing we look at is Australia fifteen years ago Australia had a very peaky electrical grid system and it slowly began to bring on new resources and it slowly began to decarbonize its grid and it slowly began to add renewables and renewables and renewables and. Now the problems in Australia are not so much peak demand related but they’re intermittent related and so they’re 1 step ahead of the United States in terms of integrating renewal resources and figuring out how to not compromise reliability while you do that and batteries are certainly part of the solution. There. Distributed energy resources will be a big big part of the solution here.
James McWalter: And so what the other kind of implications of of this shift is you know we have these physical assets out there batteries you mentioned or we talked about you know Smart thermostats and all those kind of things you know, solar plus a battery you know something like a powerwall maybe in the home and so. When you have all these different types of distributed resources. There’s different ways you could aggregate them right to have these positive effects in the grid and and also to make money of course and in theory things like fork twenty Two twenty 2 you know offers people the chance to make money off these things in new ways. Um I guess 1 question I think about in terms of like. What the landscape looks like from an innovation point of view is you know? will there be kind of mom and pop. Yeah know the er aggregators who can actually you know engage in the wholesale markets or are we going to see you know a dozen you know vol deceptures 1 but. The dozen or so kind of fairly large vertically integrated companies who kind of dominate in the space.
Matt Plante: Probably the latter but it’ll be fun to say you know there are certainly economies of of scale. Ah, and I think there aren’t many barriers to entry but there are barriers to scale and so I think that.
James McWalter: Now.
Matt Plante: It’s likely that ah there will be a few large winners in the space.
James McWalter: Yeah I actually agree and yeah you start with 20 then there’s some m and a activity and that’s a and then we have those 30 years going ahead.
Matt Plante: Her You do part of the benefit of being an aggregator is exactly that the more resources that you have as an aggregator. The.
James McWalter: Five here.
Matt Plante: Larger the value to the grid from that aggregation. The risk of your portfolio sort of mathematically decreases as you add 1 more resource. Ah so that lends itself to a few large players winning.
James McWalter: So when you mentioned the barriers for entry are not that high I Guess again as a outsider looking in I’ve actually talked to a ton of you know, smart software people Typical Silicon Valley type starter startup kind of person and a lot of them looked at clean energy and they like oh like there is a lot of opportunity here.
Matt Plante: We’ll see.
James McWalter: And we’ll do a deep dive for a month or so and then a lot will just kind of turn away because when you start digging in to all the different regulation in particular but also um, yeah, some of the kind of challenges we were talked about it can be quite difficult and so how do you think about that piece. You know what are the I guess as a general question like what are the opportunities that. You know, smart people either within or outside the industry should be kind of taking advantage of over the next few years
Matt Plante: I think 1 of the particularities of the energy grid is that there is no standard market design across the wholesale markets that exist in the United States for example, the rules that pertain to the Texas energy market and. How you participate in that market are very different than the rules that pertain to the new England energy market we call them Balkan eyes but there’s no so 1 standard market design. So for voltis our software has to act and look. Differently depending upon which market we’re talking about that’s a cost a real cost to us and so that is a barrier of entry in a way because you can’t simply build software that works for. 1 sort of code that works everywhere for all programs for all customers. But it allows for really deep specialization and I think if I am a software engineer or a company getting off the ground. There is an opportunity to focus on a particular niche and do that niche very very very well and that’s going to have value to somebody.
James McWalter: That fascinating. So you know there’s a ev charging ah battery management for school buses right? something relatively niche that that might be something that somebody could tackle and actually I think there’s a company called proterra that’s doing something similar. Ah, excellent and.
Matt Plante: I Think that’s a good example.
James McWalter: Believe you had a reasonably large raise earlier in the year and you know that I guess always when I’ve or I’ve been involved in in those kind of processes. It always like that very much kind of concentrates the mind on like the kind of near future and the the kind of medium term milestones. Are we thinking about you know what? Volt like the next steps revolt is.
Matt Plante: We spent the first five years really building the foundation and that means a couple of things it means creating a product advantage. So we we say internally that it’s technology to make your life easier but there are. Very concrete ways in which our technology helps our customers do things they couldn’t do before and can’t do with others and the second foundational piece to us was existing in each and every market so that when we approach a national account. We are the ones who can serve them across North america that foundation is now set and so now it’s about really pouring fuel on the fire and so much of our rays is dedicated to growing the. Go-to-market team and allowing us to bring on many many more customers than than we than we have currentlyle in an effort to scale. So we’re looking forward to that. It’s a huge part of what we’re doing the second part of what we’re doing is accelerating our product roadma roadmap with regard to international efforts.
James McWalter: And that’s kind of secondary piece. Ah yeah, in the same way that the us has a dozen different ways or more of um, you know selling and buying electricity depending on on where you are. I’m from ireland originally ireland has a very different structure to the United kingdom which has a different 1 to france and and so on around the world. Um, how are you thinking about that internationalization piece and I guess what have you learned from the you know navigating so many different jurisdictions in the us that kind of gives. A insight into how to expand internationally.
Matt Plante: It’s a good question. It’s not entering a place like Ireland or the uk or Japan or Korea or or south africa isn’t that different than how we think about entering Ontario or California. There may be a language difference obviously but the market works differently. In fact, the market in Japan may resemble texas more closely than the market in California resembles texas so in some ways we’re very prepared to enter these markets because we’re used to them being different I think. That with international expansion. There’s always the question of how do you do it right? Do we acquire local talent to help us grow. Do. We replicate the success we had here and and move those teams somewhere else to do it all over again and that answer will probably. Look different depending upon where we’re talking about.
James McWalter: And fascinating and you mentioned earlier. Yeah, these kind of the need or the how the energy grid itself is going to I think you said something like forty percent over the next Decade or so um through the kind of different aspects. You mentioned you mentioned vertical farming you mentioned some other aspects and then there’s also the. Ones that you didn’t mention which I Also think you know are more maybe kind of moonshots but things like direct our capture. Um, you know, carbon sequestration The cost of that is very much a function of cheap electricity things like long duration storage in the form of hydrogen through electrolysis or some other kind of processes are also very dependent on. Ubiquitous, clean electricity and so I guess you know 1 of the tensions in the energy space is a lot of these things have to get energy to such a level of cheapness to enable these other aspects and so near your but definition that’s squeezing margins elsewhere. How do you think about the business model and business case for the need for these, you know this kind of ubiquitous cheap electricity but also potentially squeezing margins for the actual energy managers aggregators and producers and.
Matt Plante: I’m not sure that it affects my business but it certainly affects the ecosystem writ large 1 of the reasons we started voltage and that 1 of the reasons we do what we do is because we can have. Impact now we have in 1 of our markets 1 percent of system peak enrolled in a quick response program where we are called to reduce our energy consumption when. Thermal power plants trip offline that has removed the need for 2 peaking power plants in the region. It has helped make the grid cleaner while suppressing prices that are. Passed on to a commercial industrial customer so it makes the whole region more cost competitiveive. There’s no subsidies involved. There’s no need for the cost drivers down that business exists right now today and so that’s why we chose voltta when when we think about the ecosystem. If you look at wind batteries solar all these costs have come down much more than was anticipated ten years ago and so there is a sort of a learning curve. Before you can get to the point where those costs come down but they are coming down dramatically you know there is a reason that 80 percent of all new capacity in the united states last year was renewable. It has nothing to do with subsidies. It has everything to do with the fact that the economics of wind and solar are better than the economics of thermal generation right now and so you know ultimately, it’s going to be. This is an economic driven decision. We’re going to get to a 100 percent renewable energy ecosystem not because of regulation but because that’s the cost effective way to build a grid.
James McWalter: It right? and it’s really just you know is it a like 25 year project or 50 year project right? You know regulation can help at the margin sometimes it will often hinder at the margin. But yeah I mean when ah ah we I think we both seen the same charts where you know, very smart people. Predicted lithyyon. Ion battery prices or solar pat prices and they were way off in terms of how much cheaper they got like by a factor of tanoff I was 1 of the aspects that kind of underly this and you mentioned at the beginning as ah, kind of very core to the missionion of voltus is a.
Matt Plante: That’s right.
James McWalter: You know, zero carbon the carbonized grid. How do you kind of look at that or track that internally are you having a sense. You know you mentioned 2 specific peaker plants. But you have a sense of like you dont have to give specific numbers but you do you have a sense of the amount of carbon that’s being saved by Voltus yeah voltus expanding out.
Matt Plante: Of course so that figure is important to our our teammates. It’s important to our investors who whose mandates are to invest in decarbonizing solutions and increasingly it’s important to our customers. Who fact of the Matt Plante:er have larger esg goals than they had 10 years ago. So it’s a really important metric for us to track for those 3 reasons.
James McWalter: And for you I Just personally you know you you’ve been in the industry a while um I guess you know that now Voltis and and the kind of Eu success that Voltus is having what is the kind of biggest thing you’ve learned at voltus that was kind of new to you relative to your kind of previous experience.
Matt Plante: Everyone ah I think I’ve known for a long time that the importance of team and to surround yourself with great people. But I think that message has been hammered home and voltage more so than anywhere else I’ve been where. We are a more ambitious company today than when we started 5 years ago and that’s not because greg and I suddenly found drive that we didn’t have but it’s because our teammates have delivered. Think more than we thought we were capable of doing in a short period of time and they have lifted up the ambitions ah of the company. They’ve shown us that we can do more than we were capable of they act with an urgency in order to solve climate change that’s inspiring to everybody. And as we continue to hire and bring people onto the team who feel this way. It becomes a force multiplier and so I I didn’t anticipate that happening but it’s probably the most wonderful feeling I’ve had in in business.
James McWalter: Yeah I Really do think that this kind of talent issue is going to become ever harder for you. Just even non. You know, not dirty, not clean, but just kind of in the middle type industries or companies people. Yeah the best talent want to. You know, wake up feel very very proud of what they’re doing every day. Um, you know we all we all deceive ourselves to a certain extent right? But ah, it’s very easy if you have like a big number on the dashboard up there with yeah carbon prevented or carbon sucked out of the atmosphere. Whatever it may be you I guess have more of a skip to your step kind of going in. And you’re more likely to tell your friends who are also you know potentially very very talented additions to the team as well.
Matt Plante: Absolutely we most of our folks are hired actually from referrals and it’s easier for us to hire now than it was 2 years ago partly that’s because of the network effect and so each of our. Teammates now has a network that they can call on part of it’s due to this fact that we’re having some success but most of it is due to the fact that increasingly everyone and maybe it’s this pandemic. But. Everyone wants to feel a great connection to their work. Everyone wants to have great purpose. So we’re seeing a lot of flight from traditional tech companies into voltus and we would have had a hard time attracting that talent.
James McWalter: And and absolutely.
Matt Plante: Just even a couple of years ago.
James McWalter: And it’s fascinating even when I talk to you know people the fang and like the big tech companies. Those tech companies are now starting to have you know climate-related perks to try to keep those people and you know they’re potentially you know installing Smart thermostats at at their at their employees’ homes. Ah, in a way which you know is also like a ne net net positive for the lexa voltas.
Matt Plante: I Would tell those people there’s a more direct way to to work on that.
James McWalter: I no absolutely um and let’s say I was you know a young person I’m yeah, 20 year old maybe I went to college. Maybe I didn’t and I’m wanting to have a big effect. You know what kind of advice would you give to that person to try to get involved. Ah. You know in the kind kind of climate in a positive way.
Matt Plante: Couple things come to mind jump in. However, you can. And develop some deep subject Matter Expertise I Think because of because there are so many niches it’s easy in a sense for it’s it’s possible in a sense through hard work to develop. Skills and know how that that aren’t common.
James McWalter: And yeah, I definitely can echo that I think especially when we have so many emergent new industries right? and so ev charging infrastructure. There’s absolutely to too many you know, maybe a couple thousand single digit thousand experts on that in the world today. There’ll be 1 hundred thousand of those right in the next five to 10 years but you could kind of be you know a top ten percent in the world person just by dint of there’s ah not that many people pretty quickly in some of these spaces and so there was a friend of mine came up with this idea of um, you know, climate madlibs. You know come up with a emergent industry. Like a region of the world and a basic concept of making money and just like read aton talk to a ton of people and in six months you’re kind of a world expert not not in everything but in a lot of these areas. There is that potential.
Matt Plante: I subscribe to that thinking very much so traditionally the way of hiring is yeah who has done this job before and has the person demonstrated the ability to do do the Job. We don’t hire that way at All. We hire for potential. Partly because we’re in an industry that’t hasn’t existed before. So No 1 has had this Expertise. No 1 has actually done this job before and so we don’t look for experience doing the job we look for what we call break reading good and there are sub bullets that under pin those words. But it’s not experience that is going to move the needle here.
James McWalter: So yeah, I’d love to hear a little bit more about that phrase you? What are the kind of some of those bullet points that you look out for.
Matt Plante: We look for people who are nimble and creative. We look for people with intellectual curiosity I think when I think about our engineering team I’ve been on very talented engineering teams but the. This 1 is different because our engineering team they see the forest for the trees. They understand how what they do contributes to why we win they’re connected to our our mission very much. So. And that’s due to their intellectual curiosity to understand the space to understand our position in that space again to understand how we win. Ah we look for folks who are man eyefully self-initiated. We look for people who like to win as a team who are Supportive. Who are loving in an effort to at the end of the day create an atmosphere that allows people to do their best to do their best work.
James McWalter: No Absolutely and I think those are just you know, phenomenal ways to kind of build a team. You know the best teams are those greater than some of their parts where everybody is not just kind of pulling together but like they feel great right? and I guess 1 thing that I think a lot about when have managed teams that. Like I’ve been incredibly proud of you know, like just they’re they’re surprising every day right? They’re just bringing something.. It’s like oh I would have done it something way different, but what they bring bring to you is like way better than what you ever could have come up with yourself.
Matt Plante: So I think that’s the absolute best part about being a founder because in the early days right? going back to the early days where you asked me about you had a say in every single decision. The color of your logo to what market you entered right? There was nothing that escaped you.
James McWalter: And.
Matt Plante: And then over time you sort of seed some things and then when you start to have some success. There are things that happen that you had absolutely nothing to do with and that’s the best failing in the world.
James McWalter: Yeah, yeah, and absolutely will echo that Matt this has been really great. You know I really enjoyed the conversation I suppose before you finish up is there anything I should have asked you about but did not.
Matt Plante: You know we didn’t talk I’ll say 2 things. The first is that it we do feel an increased urgency to act. Um, partly because. Of real world events like the wildfires in California like increased hurricanes like what happens in new orleans and so that makes us want to move very very quickly to solve some of these things but the other. What else is happening is that we have bipartisan support to actually act and do things that’s rare. We have corporations with esg girlss who also are thinking about their company’s resilience. And so we have right now an incredible amount of tailwind that isn’t always the case in business. In fact, you’re often swimming upstream but when the opposite happens which is happening right now. That’s when you have to go you got a poor fuel on the fire you have to take advantage of that and so that’s what we’re looking to do it. And volt is in connection with that we are hiring across all functions and so we certainly would love people who are committed to our cause to join us.
James McWalter: You and we include your careers page in the show notes and absolutely I think that’s phenomenal kind of I think like this is a you know once in a lifetime opportunity and obviously like a massive problem that like we all have to pull together to solve and but the opportunity level. It’s like you know it’s a trillion dollar. Ah, you know opportunity to solve across all the different parts of of industry. Sorry but ah, but across all the different parts of society because climate affects everything and so yeah I guess I’m always encouraging people I’m always envangelizing with people get involved in some ways as you’ve kind of said yourself.
Matt Plante: Thank you James! Thank you very much I enjoy this.
James McWalter: Great. Thank you so much for that.