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From Mathematics Enthusiast to Championing Climate Tech Startups

Nishul Saperia

Colbridge Ventures

Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Mathematics Enthusiast to Championing Climate Tech Startups

Nishul Saperia


Colbridge Ventures

Watch this episode on SpotifyWatch onListen on YouTube
Nishul Saperia Colbridge Ventures
Full transcript here

About Nishul Saperia

Episode 130: Amardeep Parmar from The BAE HQ welcomes Nishul Saperia, fractional CCO for Climate Tech Startups with Colbridge Ventures.

In this podcast episode, Nishal Saperia shares his journey from mechanical engineering to banking, and eventually founding and advising climate tech startups, emphasising his passion for addressing climate change and biodiversity through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Nishul Saperia

Colbridge Ventures

Show Notes

00:00 - Intro

01:32 -  Early ambitions discussed, decision to pursue mechanical engineering, and the perceived versatility of engineering skills.

02:13 - Transition to the workforce, highlighting the value of engineering skills across various sectors.

04:14 - Shift to banking career, influenced by an interest in equity research and derivatives.

06:20 - Focus post-traveling and early involvement with Markit.

07:07 - Professional and personal challenges at Markit, including leadership roles and expansion efforts.

09:34 - Discussion on founding Beach fix, subsequent climate tech advisory roles, and founding of Sequestrate.

11:16 - Early days at Markit, hands-on approach, and transition from data analysis to commercial roles.

12:26 - Creation and impact of Markit in the credit derivative market explained.

15:17 - Motivations for leaving Markit, family circumstances, and impact of the 2009 financial crisis.

16:23 - Lessons learned from Markit during the financial crisis and the importance of data.

18:08 - Period post-Market, exploring new ventures, learning to code, and inception of Beach fix.

20:54 - Pivot towards climate tech and biodiversity, fueled by personal passion for coral reefs.

23:01 - Operational challenges and learning experiences from Beach fix, complexity of travel discovery startups.

24:55 - Reflections on transitioning from B2B to B2C startups and personal alignment with B2B models.

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Nishul Saperia Full Transcript

End of 2019, 2020, I started to realize that really what I wanted to work on was climate and biodiversity. I still remember it now, this Telegraph article I read when I was younger which said if you want to be wealthy, you need to own a stake in a business, and I don't know. That article stayed with me forever, bc telling me he's never seen many B2B founders turn into good B2C founders. And well, in my experience he was right. So I work with Carbon13, which is a venture builder which actually is in the business of bringing people together to help pair them up or into groups of three even and build co-founding teams to build climate tech startups.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:40

Today on the podcast we have Nishul Saperia, who's a serial entrepreneur and a climate tech advisor. We look at his story from growing up, going into mechanical engineering, ending up in banking before taking a bit of a break and then becoming a founding member, team member at Market, which went on to become a multi-billion dollar company. And we look at his journey whilst at the nine years that he was there, how different personal circumstances affected that, what he then did after that, where he founded Beachfix and doing lots of different mentorship roles and advisory roles before finding Sequestrate. And we find out what happened to those companies and the real vulnerable side of that too, which we really appreciate. I'm Amr and this is the BAE HQ and we're powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So, Nishal, great to have you on today and amazing to see your journey and the different things you've done. But when you were a kid growing up, what did you want to be? What were your ambitions?

Nishul Saperia: 1:32

I have to say that I didn't really know. My only one memory of actually knowing what I wanted to do was when I was 15 and I thought I wanted to be a journalist. But I do remember I enjoyed maths, I enjoyed science and I enjoyed other subjects too. I enjoyed English to some extent, and I always thought something that incorporates those subjects would be good, which is why I ended up doing a mechanical engineering degree. One of the other reasons I chose mechanical engineering was that I was told that by careers advice and I still remember this conversation, even where I was sitting was that if you go and do engineering at a good university, you'll have a good chance of having options because engineers are in demand in other careers. So I felt that felt like a good choice. I was interested in it, but I could.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:16

I think what's interesting too is I did economics uni and what I saw I'd say consulting firms, banking firms a lot of the time. Lot of the time they're hiring engineers and in my head I'm like, well, my degree is way more relevant to this, but, as you said, mechanical engineering, it's problem-solving skills, all of those kinds of things too, and when you were at university, did you actually enjoy that subject? Did you feel like you made the right choice?

Nishul Saperia: 2:37

You say that I don't think I made the wrong choice. I did go to university and I wouldn't say I applied myself in the way I could have. I went. It's the first time I was living away from home. I was very much enjoying it. I probably more did what I needed to do to get through the degree rather than really thrive in it. My first three months, my first set of exams, were very good results. But then after that I do remember a slight downward trend and then in my second year I came back determined to do well. But then I was president of some society and we had a show very early on and I had to spend a lot of time on that and that meant missing a lot of lectures and then by the time that was finished I was like way behind and so it was always a bit of an uphill struggle. But I definitely love science still.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:22

What kind of show was it?

Nishul Saperia: 3:23

So I was president of the Indian Society. We were hosting a show called East Meets West, so we had performances where people from both the Eastern and Western cultures would come in and perform.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:35

It's interesting because I think a lot of people when they do organisation things at university it does kind of lend itself into entrepreneurship and projects in the future, because it shows you'd like to build something from scratch or take on roles like that. Because obviously a lot of people wouldn't take on that extra responsibility whilst doing their grades and maybe that's good for their grades, but that extra responsibility to take on the side probably helped you out in the future.

Nishul Saperia: 3:56

I think there's probably something in that.

Nishul Saperia: 3:58

Definitely, I mean, one of the things that organising that show definitely had in common with being an entrepreneur is the amount of different things you have to handle and there's a lot of task switching, a lot of context switching and many, many things demanding your attention.

Nishul Saperia: 4:14

And in that context yes, very much so, and I think, yes, absolutely creating something where you know you've got this blank sheet of paper and you don't know what that vision looks like day one. It can be very daunting. Now I think organizing that show was maybe not quite as challenging as starting a business, I think because A it had been done before and I participated in the show the previous year, so I had a sense of what it would be like. And day one there's also lots of people involved. Like the society had a committee. I was actually joint president, so there was someone by my side as well, and so I think that feels less daunting than when you're actually a founder and you're starting, and especially if you're a solo founder, that's especially difficult. But yeah, I think there's a lot of truth in that.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:00

So you said you didn't take the studying side seriously as much. But then, when it came to careers, that so you said you didn't take the studying side seriously as much, but then, when it came to careers, did you have a good idea of what you wanted to apply to, what you wanted to do next, or was that something which was a bit of a struggle too?

Nishul Saperia: 5:10

I think definitely I had not a certain idea. I graduated, and I remember in 2000, the year I graduated, equity research was very much in demand and I like doing analysis work, like I was was at university people call me the analyzer and I love working with numbers and I felt like equity research would be a great fit for me, and especially at that time this is the year 2000. Equity research was getting paid and a lot of profile because they were being used as lead gen for banks to source customers who are doing IPOs in the first wave of the tech boom. That changed quite quickly after, so I'm almost maybe I dodged a bullet a little bit, but I didn't end up getting any roles in that and so I kind of decided I wanted to go into banking, partly because I learned about derivatives while I was studying.

Nishul Saperia: 5:59

I thought this is interesting. Derivatives are very mathematical as well. I also like the fact that I mean banking is a bit more london oriented versus engineering, which I went to meet with a few engineering firms. They're all out of town and I'm very much a city person and um, and then also the fact that you know they paid more also didn't didn't hurt, right.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:20

Was it?

Nishul Saperia: 6:20

It's interesting. I mean when I graduated I went into banking and I was actually doing kind of roles which were I put off my full-time what I was doing because I decided I want to go traveling. So for 18 months I worked in banks, I did a data analysis role, um I had a job at the back office at Lehman, I did a week logging all the it equipment at Deutsche Bank. So it's a bit of a bit of a hodgepodge, but the debt analysis role was for a year and that was actually really quite important for what happened afterwards in my career. But then I went traveling and then I thought, ok, I'm going to come back and then I'm going to really focus on my career.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:55

How was it going traveling at that point? Because I'm guessing the people around you must have thought you were crazy, leaving a banking role or was something just quite accepted in your like friendship circle and your family. But they're like, yeah, go traveling always. Like what are you doing?

Nishul Saperia: 7:07

I think in terms of friends and wider network, it was definitely becoming a thing like going backpacking for a while. Um, and also, I raised, I saved some money. My mom, on the other hand now she was very much against it for a while. Um, she, she, she. I remember I remember one evening I came home and she was cooking and she said no, you're not going to get a full time job, you're going to get married. She was, she really wanted me to get married. Her and dad were actually always really good to me in terms of giving me the freedom to make my own decisions. I always felt that, even if they didn't agree with it, and so they still supported me in the end.

Amardeep Parmar: 7:39

How long did you go traveling for again?

Nishul Saperia: 7:51

It was about a year. Amardeep Parmar: And was it hard at the end of that year to come back to reality? Not as hard as I thought it would be. I I have a very distinct memory of sitting on a beach in Indonesia, maybe about nine months in. So it's just under a year. It's about nine months in and I was starting to think okay, I, I, I need to get going with my life, my work. I feel, I feel like I've done this. I've traveled a lot, I've explored a lot of places. It was great, I really enjoyed it, but at the same time, I felt like the itching me to get moving forward with the wider part of my life was starting to grow in me. So actually coming back was not as difficult as I imagined it would be.

Amardeep Parmar: 8:19

And what did you come back into? Did your thoughts about career change while you're away, or was it the same kind of path?

Nishul Saperia: 8:25

Yeah, I wasn't really thinking about career much while I was away. The only thing I was thinking about was hoping to do some banking work in Sydney and I do remember actually, agencies were telling me you get a job. But then the IPO tech boom faded. But yeah, when I came back my thoughts were the same. I knew I wanted to go into banking. I wasn't very clear exactly what that would be, but hopefully something that required you know working with numbers and doing. You know data and mathematical something mathematical, yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: 8:53

And is this when you joined market around that time?

Nishul Saperia: 8:55

Yes, absolutely. So I'd been back a little while, starting to get quite a few interviews, and I got introduced to Tom and, and I remember going in and um, I just I looked at the profile of the team I mean it's very early on and, Tom, you know, when I, when I, when I went for the interview, he said to me very clearly, like we may not exist in a year. How do you feel about that? And I was like, well, I don't have a job now anyway. Um, so in that respect and I was very lucky, I mean I think you know a lot of people. They talk about the help you get in your life I knew I could be at home and I knew that my parents would support me. So that gave me a little bit of freedom not to take the very first job, although I did. I was working.

Nishul Saperia: 9:34

I remember I was actually when I got when I heard about market, I was driving a hospital bus back and forth between two hospitals all day just to earn some money. And so just to earn some money. That's how I got connected to market and I thought that these guys are very senior, very experienced. I get exposure to people, to them in a very small company. In a way, I just want at a bank where there'll be like two or three layers between me and them. So I felt like, at the very least, I'm going to learn a lot, and that was actually one of the key drivers in terms of making my decisions early on.

Nishul Saperia: 10:01

And then another one was you know, even though I hadn't really thought too much about startups in my career, I still remember it now this Telegraph article I read when I was younger, which said if you want to be wealthy, you need to own a stake in a business. And you know that article stayed with me forever and I thought okay, this is a startup, I've got a chance potentially to get some equity in the company.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:28

Nishul Saperia: Obviously they didn't give it to me day one, um, but I mean, we didn't. We hadn't even actually incorporated when I joined um. But yeah, that was a, that was another thought in my head. But at that point, when you joined, right, so market, the idea of what was going to be must have been there. But who else was part of the team at that point? Was it just the founders and you, or how did that work?

Nishul Saperia: 10:37

Yeah, so I was um. So Lance had recruited his four seasoned senior guys a CFO, my boss, Tom Mcnerney, Kevin, who was the head of sales, and Mike Bedford, CTO. Um, he had a PA, there was a couple of programmers in there and it was another analyst, so there was about I was about eight or nine, nine, tenth person into the company.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:55

Yeah, it's quite incredible now to think about they only incorporated after having that many people on the team, because I think today there's so many people worry about different things and it's interesting's interesting to see, like in those early days, how much scrappiness there was. I guess right and was it a joke to the system? Working for a small company like that after having worked at the big banks and did you enjoy that environment to begin with?

Nishul Saperia: 11:16

I've got to say I loved it, right, I came in. I was really hungry at that moment, right, and I actually remember I didn't have a car and we went based in St. Albans and I was living in Harrow and they wanted me to come in at 7 30 every other day because we had data to work through, right, which come in overnight, and I had to leave my house at quarter to six in the morning. Um, that wasn't easy, but I got a car soon after that and it was a 30 minute drive so I could leave at seven. So it wasn't too bad, but I just I I knew was I wanted to really make a good fist of this and if I think this was the first time maybe in a while, like you know, I'd been dedicated for periods at university and in my previous roles I'd been dedicated, but there were also temporary roles where you're not going to give maybe the same commitment as you would.

Nishul Saperia: 11:59

Whereas this, like they told me at the end of the first week, they told me what the standards they were expecting were and they said they mentioned bonuses and equities, bonuses and equity, and I and I was like, okay, I'm ready to do this. And I gave it my all and and you know once more, they were very supportive. Like once I started doing good work, the feedback was really positive and that also encourages you to go in and work harder.

Amardeep Parmar: 12:22

So people, people who don't know as well what does market actually do? What did it do at that point?

Nishul Saperia: 12:26

Sure, so market was founded because in the credit derivative market was very young at that time. Now credit derivative market is an OTC market, so you might know stocks and shares trade on an exchange, very transparent. Every single time there's a trade it's reported on the exchange. Credit derivative market, back in those days the traders would call each other up, they'd agree a trade and then they'd tell their back office. The back office would fax back and forth an agreement, they'd sign it and no one would ever know, outside the two people who did the trade, where that trade was done. So there's very little transparency about where things were trading.

Nishul Saperia: 13:03

Now that was a problem for the banks who were doing the trades, because when you have a derivative trade, it sits your book for a while, the trade, the price changes and you need to know what your profit and loss is, and you know you need to.

Nishul Saperia: 13:08

You need to report that, and the quality of the data used to verify what your profit and loss is determines also how much capital you need to put aside against those trades. And so the heads of trading all the banks, real were aware that the lack of good data was meaning that they had to put a lot of capital against their trades, which was hindering the amount of good data, was meaning that they had to put a lot of capital against their trades, which was hindering the amount of trading they could do and hindering their profitability. So that we were solving that problem. And then that transparency also was important for hedge funds and other people to come in and trade as well, because if you're an investment committee, if you're an investor, you want to know, you want to be able to know where your position is marked, is marked, and if you can't do that, you're hesitant to get into that market.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:47

So I've said at the beginning that you came at quite an entry level. But how did that role adapt over time? How did you grow the company?

Nishul Saperia: 13:54

Sure. I think I was lucky. I mean the company was growing and the opportunities to take more responsibility kept coming my way and I think if you're in a fast-growing company like that, you want to go and get more and more responsibility, and if you do good work it comes your way. So I worked hard. I also started to realize I worked well with the sales team and with customers as well, and that actually was. I remember one of my early lessons. They tried to actually move me to the sales team. I resisted because I never wanted to be just a full-on salesperson.

Nishul Saperia: 14:26

I actually started becoming an expert on credit derivatives, our product. I was the person wheeled out to explain the product to customers. After two years we decided we can open an office in New York and I was asked if I wanted to go with Kevin, who was number two in the company, to open it, and so I took that on board and then my role changed. So I was doing definitely still a lot of number crunching and data analysis, a bit even programming to test our algorithms. I also remember in the early days, like our batch, our overnight calculations would often fall over and when it was happening a lot we would have to take turns to stay up, you know, between 2 to 5 am to watch it. And then Lance's sister, who was in Canada at the time, got tasked to actually monitor it and call us if there was a problem. So that was fun stuff.

Nishul Saperia: 15:17

But after a couple of years I moved out to New York and I became a bit more of a product manager, started running some of the initiatives that we had out there and became much more business development.

Nishul Saperia: 15:34

I remember when I got out to New York, Kevin said to me one of the first things he said he wanted me to go and build relationships with all the heads of operations at all of the Wall Street banks in credit derivatives and that was really important and alongside the role I had which was running these indices which were very central to how that market function, those two things really held me in good stead and taught me the importance of relationships because we became quite central to a lot of the conversations that came up when the market needed to evolve. I mean, the market was still quite immature even when I went out there and it kept getting hit by challenges and we were the first to hear about those challenges and in the conversation when the Wall Street banks got together to discuss them, and that was really important in us helping to think about OK, we know what this problem is. How can we help them solve it?

Amardeep Parmar: 16:21

And obviously, how long were you there for in total?

Nishul Saperia: 16:23

Just under nine years.

Amardeep Parmar: 16:25

So how was, by the time you left there, right? What was behind the decision to leave at the point you did, because obviously you'd grown so far with them. You've been there from the early days. What was the motivation or what was the? absolutely?

Nishul Saperia: 16:35

Absolutely, so 2009? Um, I'd been in Newy ork for five years. In that time, my mom passed away and so was thinking what am I going to do now? And it was a wrench to leave New York to come back to London, but I chose to do that. But market didn't particularly want me to do that. I had a lot of responsibilities and the credit of Market Center of Gravity had definitely shifted to New York in the time I was there.

Nishul Saperia: 16:57

I came back, but I had to leave a lot of responsibilities behind and start a bit again from scratch, and the opportunity set had changed as well, because the financial crisis, credit derivatives were definitely going to be not maybe growing as fast as much as they had been, and I was very much what I would have.

Nishul Saperia: 17:15

I think I would have considered myself a credit derivative expert at that time, very much tied to the fortunes of that market, and so I had to reinvent myself and I came back after a couple of years of starting to think well, there is market. By this point was one and a half thousand people. I was trying to look at new initiatives which I felt it was difficult to do, things which were on the scale of what I'd worked on before and the market in in 2011 for the first time, I think they they went and did some volunteer. They started thinking about um their first trimming and I was offered. I was offered redundancy and um I thought maybe this is time to take it so I took it. Amardeep Parmar: And what's interesting about the financial crisis too,

Amardeep Parmar: 17:57

you must have had to deal with so many different crises during the period you were there, and what are some of the things that you learned in that process that maybe have helped you later on in your career as well? What was the lessons you took from those harsh environments?

Nishul Saperia: 18:08

Oh, the lessons from the financial crisis itself. Um, one was that, even in the, even in those situations, as opportunity in 2008 personally, for me, it was actually a really great year because I happened to launch two new businesses um, well, we launched two new businesses. I was running them, yes, and they were um very much in demand in that moment. So we said there's a there's still opportunity and that those opportunities can need to be urgently taken advantage of. I think, um, some of the others were that data becomes more and more in demand in when the markets are fluctuating.

Nishul Saperia: 18:46

A lot right, which they were and we, we, in that time, we had a couple of our couple of, I mean, market was, um, after 12 months, we had 13 investment banks buying to our business and two of them went bust in the financial crisis. Well, one of them went bust Lehman, and the other merged into another Merrill Lynch went and turned into Bank of America, and we thought, wow, that's two major customers owners gone. But overall, our business kept still doing okay because we were finding services at the heart of the infrastructure of that market. I mean, we were way more than just data at that point. We had expanded into so many other things and beyond credit derivatives, but I think that was one of the other things is that you know data is really important when there is times of crisis.

Amardeep Parmar: 19:34

We hope you're enjoying the episode so far. We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, HSBC Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or you're talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what it is you've been trying to do. HSBC have got the team they've built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out hsbcinnovationbanking.com.

Amardeep Parmar: 20:11

You also mentioned as well about your mum passing away at the end. I don't know if you know about when I had my dad a couple years ago. That's a big reason why I'm doing what I'm doing today, and I think it's really important for people listening as well to realize that sometimes you look at somebody's career on paper, you don't necessarily realize why they made different decisions and it can be quite easy to think somebody just does a business, but there are all these family decisions as well that become part of it. So thank you for sharing that as well, because I know there's a lot of people listening who maybe are in that situation but won't talk about it or won't let anybody know, and then it's hard for them to see examples like them, to get like what do they do and how do they prioritize things Absolutely. And so once you took that voluntary redundancy, did you take a bit of a break for a while? What was the now thinking of? What should I do next?

Nishul Saperia: 20:54

I took a little bit of break, that's for sure. And then I think I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I thought I should start a new business. In fact, actually, I was initially thinking I would go and go and just join another startup. And then I sat down with Lance after I, after I left, and he said no, you're ready to go and do your own thing. I wonder how ready I was at the time. I think there's still a lot I had to learn, but I thought let me go and explore. And so one of the first things I did was actually get involved with jealous. So jealous sweets is a is a plant-based sweets business which still continues today.

Nishul Saperia: 21:32

Um, and I thought this is this is something totally different started by a couple of friends, it's a branding business, it's fmcg. I'm going to learn things which I which are very different from the kind of things that you have to care about at market. So that's one of the things I did. And then I started also mentoring, and Seacamp was one of the first places where that happened and was the first place, and that was a great opportunity for me to go and test whether I'd learned things which were useful to other founders, and I don't know if you know Seacamp, but they're now really a fund, but they were at that time what was more known as an accelerator, and they would bring together people who were mentors and founders to meet and help make connections and also go through the journey of understanding which companies they should invest in, and that was really gratifying. I mean, being a mentor was one of the things that I thought okay, I want to do more of this, right, and help me, help me understand what I know a little bit better. But also, when you go and meet a founder and you're going to help them out to, the first thing you need to do is really understand their business and understand their industry, and that means you learn a lot yourself as well, right, and you make some good people and it's really gratifying when, um, you know, you sit with a founder for an hour and and sometimes, sometimes, they just need therapy, to be honest as well, right, I'm sure you relate, I relate. It's uh, yeah, it's a very um, it's a very satisfying thing. So that's one of the first things, things I did.

Nishul Saperia: 23:01

And then I went and taught myself to code. I thought I always wanted to do that I've done a bit of coding at market and I think, looking back, actually there was a bit of a sliding doors moment. I thought, shall I go and do AI or shall I go and teach myself to do websites? And this is 2013, 2014. I made the wrong mistake. I did websites, partly because I also had an idea of, in my head around, a beach search engine where, um, we would help you figure out where to go on holiday and you know, after a bit of I mean, I can talk about that a little bit now, if you want um we, we, um, we, we wanted to.

Nishul Saperia: 23:35

I'll go and ask people do you find it's? You know it's a too long a process to figure out where you want to go. You go to booking.com and expedia. The first question they ask is where do you want to go? And they don't try and help you and and I do remember actually I mean people I would speak to would tell me discovery is a very difficult space in travel. But I thought, you know, maybe I'm focused on beaches, maybe, let's, I'll give it a go right. And so I taught myself to code. I built the back end, hired a couple people, worked on it for about a couple of years, but at the end of that I think they were right.

Nishul Saperia: 24:06

Discovery is difficult. People tell you what they want, but it doesn't mean necessarily that's actually what they want. You know, people tell me they want to pick a beach holiday quicker, but also they do want to do the discovery work. They want to go and look around, they want to do the comparison and, you know, doing something like my website, which would I mean I had made so that you would tell me I want to go on a holiday in May where it's at least 27 degrees where it's no more than six hours flight. Which is you? You know the parameters, which often people. And then you you tell me you want nightlife, or you want good restaurants, or you want a quiet beach, soft sand, really clear water, calm water, or you want big waves I love big waves. Like I don't know if you like swimming in the ocean when there's big waves getting tossed around by them right but a lot of lessons from that one is one was definitely.

Nishul Saperia: 24:55

I still remember uh vc telling me he's never seen many b2c b2b founders turn into good b2c founders.

Amardeep Parmar: 25:01

And well, in my experience he was right, because I'm not a b2c founder, I really I'm a b2b founder, and so I've kind of stuck to that since it's interesting too, because you think about the beach side of things that sometimes people enjoy the looking around absolutely and it's almost like a hobby for a lot of people of just looking through travel websites and looking through different review sites where, even though you're solving their problem, it's actually they enjoy having the problem. Yeah, yeah, absolutely it's an odd kind of problem, I guess yeah, yeah yeah, was it hard for you?

Amardeep Parmar: 25:29

I said, having been part of the massive success of market and then going through beach fix and not quite working out how you wanted it to, was that quite a hard adjustment for you? Or is it just like, okay, that's just the way it is and you could move on?

Nishul Saperia: 25:40

Yeah, I think a couple of things. One is it's definitely challenging at times, but the overall experience I got from Beach Fix was actually really great. The connections I made, the people I met. I felt at the end of Beach Fix in a much better place, of beach fix in a much better place.

Nishul Saperia: 26:05

Um, like my network had been definitely more finance oriented before I started that and I'd done a bit of, I started doing a bit of angel investing, but it was more investor oriented and I and I I I can't say I ever really felt like investors were my tribe right. But when I got into founder communities, I felt like this is my tribe right and so I just got so much out of it, um, and I felt I had enough. Um, I had some success behind me. I could, I could take this one on the chin. Yeah, in fact, I wrote a blog post about what happened at beach fix and and why it failed.

Nishul Saperia: 26:36

Um, so I felt and I actually I learned that from one of the previous founders I'd invested in and he'd done the same and and that was actually really, um, interesting. I realized that founders are surrounded by so much press about this person's raised this and this this company's doing really well and it's so lonely. And when you read about some of the challenges that other people have makes you feel less alone and it helps you also, maybe, avoid making the same mistakes. What would you say from that blog post some of the biggest that other people have makes you feel less alone and it helps you also, maybe, avoid making the same mistakes.

Amardeep Parmar: 27:01

What would you say from that blog post are some of the biggest lessons that people listening now could learn from Ooh wow, I should read that blog post again. It doesn't have to be in the blog post, I guess right, but anything from Beach Fix Time that you realised like. Oh, I wish I knew that before I started it.

Nishul Saperia: 27:15

Yeah, I wish I'd known travel discovery was so difficult. And the reason discovery is so difficult is because, as you said, people want to do the discovery. There's a reason why there's so much travel content, right, so that's possibly the reason, even though people tell me but sometimes you've got to go and find out for yourself.

Amardeep Parmar: 27:35

It is interesting. Sometimes people do that market research. Where are people spending time on this problem or not, is what the question was as well. Right, because if people say they want something, but they're not actually trying to look for a solution for it, how much they really want it and that's. It's a really hard adjustment to make, especially get excited by something, right, absolutely. And then after that, you went into your continuing mentoring work and advisory work. And how was that period? So when did that end? So it was about 2017, is that correct?

Nishul Saperia: 28:04

Yeah, so, yeah, 2017 was when we shut Beach Fix down and I actually just decided to take a bit of time out.

Nishul Saperia: 28:12

I went and played a bit of golf and then I was thinking about what I was going to be doing next towards the end of that year. But then in early 2018, my dad got diagnosed with cancer and that actually went ended up being quite a tumultuous year. And while I was still looking, I mean, I remember talking to a professor at Cambridge about some cyber security startup and I met, I spoke to a few other people, but it just nothing really kind of took hold and, if I'm honest, I think around this time I was starting to be a little bit uncertain about what I really. I was again uncertain about what I wanted to do and it was, you know and so I ended up focusing on my dad. He unfortunately passed away mid-2019, um, and then the pandemic came, but around that time end of 2019, 2020 I I started to realize that really what I wanted to work on was climate and biodiversity. That's absolutely and that's what I've focused on ever since.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:06

And then obviously you did go and start another company, right, and could you tell us about that company? Sequestrate, yeah absolutely so.

Nishul Saperia: 29:13

I give credit to Steve and Jerry for actually starting it. So they're two chemical engineers and they developed a process which is called mineralization to store CO2. And, as everyone knows, we need to decarbonize the world and we also need to remove. You might've heard about carbon removals, dac, direct air capture, and some of the things that are out there are really hard to decarbonize. And then, even when, and those companies that are doing DAC, direct air capture, they also need somewhere to put the co2. So carbon storage, or carbon sequestration, is a major challenge because, um, you've got to find somewhere to put it and you've got to put it so it's permanent. Now, often people talk about planting trees, and planting trees is a great thing to do, but that tree may die in 10 years, right, and a lot of the stuff that's happened around carbon credits and forestation. You know, doing monoculture trees, susceptible to disease. You also have challenges around um it not it's necessarily been good for biodiversity. So I'm not saying it's a bad thing to do. It's a good thing to do, but we's a good thing to do. But we need longer-term storage solutions. And so you look at cement and steel. They inherently produce CO2 as part of the process. Even if you switch to 100% renewable energy, they're still going to emit CO2. And there's a lot of other industrial processes. So they developed this process where you could take CO2, store it in rocks and it turns into a compound carbonate which it stays there like that for thousands of years. It's well established and it's actually a process which happens in the Earth's slow carbon cycle. So they were looking for a commercial founder. I met with them. I thought, in terms of the scientific profile, their very experience of both like ex-oil and gas engineers both had 30 years experience each and the kind of industrial experience you need to scale these kinds of solutions is exactly what the experience they have. So I thought it'd be great to work with them. I really liked them and so I got going with them and you know, I mean I'm happy to tell you where it's at today it's.

Nishul Saperia: 31:19

Unfortunately, we've decided not to continue. I mean a variety of things challenging. Firstly, one thing which you know Steve and Jerry in Malaysia right, so they're British, but they're in Malaysia and you know I got on board and I thought, okay, let's see how this long-term, this long-distance thing works. And actually we made it work, I think quite well. Well, we had a commitment to being on calls for a certain amount of time each week, um, and we're all three of us a bit more later in our careers, so we didn't need any direction, um, but that, I think, was definitely a challenge when it came to getting vc funding at a time when vcs themselves were also finding it difficult. Right now, I mean, a lot of them are struggling to raise and climate tech funding dropped last year, even though it's still an early market. There's a lot of them are struggling to raise and climate tech funding dropped last year, even though it's still an early market. There's a lot of hype around it and then, um, so that was one thing. I think. Another challenge was that, because the tech was in malaysia, it was difficult for us to get access to the grant funding, because that money needs to be spent in the uk. And then, obviously, the mistakes that maybe we made along the way, of course, which we, you know, we made, um, but I mean, you know it was a great. It was a great experience because we, we, we got to a point where we had a lot of traction.

Nishul Saperia: 32:22

Unfortunately, jerry decided that it wasn't. He didn't want to continue for personal reasons and, um, I mean, there's a chance we may, we may revive it if we can find a replacement, but it's, uh, it's not straight. That's not necessarily a straightforward thing. To replace someone who's got, who's as skilled, um, as jerry, and also, you know, finding a co-founders. It's like a marriage, right? Um, I'm sure you've heard this and, uh, you know it's not. It takes time to develop that relationship, and and so we'll see what happens just going to that relationship part.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:50

There as well, there's gonna be people listening and maybe they're not sure what to build, but they would love to like join a company as a co-founder. How did you work out that these were the right people that you wanted to work with? What kind of process did you go through there?

Nishul Saperia: 33:02

Good question. I can't say I was that scientific about it, right. So I work with Carbon13, which is a venture builder, which actually is in the business of bringing people together to help pair them up, or into groups of three even, and build co-founding teams to build climate tech startups, and so I actually was lucky to have had some experience of seeing some of that. And they actually have this questionnaire 50 questions to ask your co-founder where you dig into each other and get to know each other and you understand each other's values. Um, now also, we started working together but we didn't do the paperwork right away, right, so that meant there was optionality a little bit and we see how do we deal with challenges and when it's difficult is when you really see the character of people and um, but I felt we could talk through things in a in a really mature and and calm way, and I think I think actually really important was I don't think either of us three really brought our egos too much into it.

Nishul Saperia: 34:02

We were both happy. All three of us were happy to be wrong, and Steve and Jerry were very happy to defer to me on the commercial side of the business, but also I 100% deferred to them on the science right, and that was very important. That trust also from that was very important. So it wasn't't I can't say it was, I can't say it was a scientific process. Um, and I'm sure, looking back, you know, I think if I'd known how difficult um raising funding for that remote team and it's not just even if us three worked like when we start hiring more people, then it becomes, I imagine I can imagine if I'm a vc, I'm thinking when there's 50 people and they're distributed it's challenging, right. I think at some point we decided jerry was gonna have to move to london. I'm sure that was possibly one of the things which you know he's got.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:48

Family might have been thinking, thinking about um like not necessarily being an easy thing to do, right, um, so yeah, and you mentioned as well about climate tech, and making a difference as a plant is a big passion of yours now and with sequestrate maybe not going ahead in the way you hoped it would be, what do you hope to do? What's the future look like for you?

Nishul Saperia: 35:09

absolutely. I'm definitely staying in climate tech or biodiverse. I mean, it actually all started out because after beach fix, I worked with a career coach and literally the the thing she just said to me over and over again is go and do something for coral reefs, right, because I was a scuba diver. I love there's nothing like scuba diving and so I know that that's a passion of mine. But also, fortunately, it happens to be one of the biggest business transitions the business transitions in the way that business works in the history of our planet possibly, and so there's a lot of opportunity there, I hope and I can.

Nishul Saperia: 35:42

You know I'm now getting a bit more experience. I've worked with all kinds of startups in the space, from carbon 13 and outside, and I definitely want to go and work in that space and continue to do that. So I'm either going to maybe join another startup um or I'm also talking to some people about maybe doing some fractional work where I um, like you know, with the experience I have, hopefully in two days I can have a lot of impact um for the same price of someone who's more junior, full-time. But you know, the relationship and the networks and experience I've got can be, you know help be really transformative for for companies so thanks for sharing your story today.

Amardeep Parmar: 36:13

We're gonna forget some quick fire questions now, sure time. So first one who are three British Asians that you think are doing incredible work and you'd love to shout them out?

Nishul Saperia: 36:23

Sure. Sure. Okay. So I think, first I'd say, um, I actually just met with him today, Andrew Shebbearie of Counteract, I think he's. He was our board member throughout the time. Um, we're doing Cquestr8 and I mean I would say Steve and Jerry too, because they were fantastic. I really have huge respect and time for them. But, um, I think Andrew always struck me as very thoughtful. They're really getting into the science of it all and they're really committed to supporting the environment and they were really supportive of us quite straight throughout, right and did some things at VCs that wouldn't always do very practical. So a lot of respect for him.

Nishul Saperia: 36:54

Maybe second, Lara, Lara Naqushbandi I think I'm pronouncing her name right. She's the reason I'm here and I remember reaching out into a, uh, a group, that um, kind of founders group I'm in and she she just came back with some fantastic intros, really great, like like one of those people who gives first. So, and again, she's the one who introduced us. And then last, um, I'll give a shout out to I mentioned jealous Taz, Taz and Imran, who founded that business. You know it's been going for a long time and it's been a lot of ups and downs and I think it's taken a lot of resilience for them to get here. And I mean, Imran stepped away but Taz still going at it and I know he's had a tough, tough year last year, not just work wise but even some personal stuff, but he's, you know, he keeps going. So, yeah, shout out to him as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 37:42

So I think Lara was actually the first person on this podcast to use a table layout when we swapped, so thanks to Lara as well for being the guinea pig for this new layout too. So next question is how can we find out more about you, what you're up to?

Nishul Saperia: 37:53

sure, um, I mean I'm going to publish I'm looking to publish some um a story about sequester eight so people can understand a little bit more about the journey and hopefully people who are in the carbon removal space can see more about that. I do need to be posting more on LinkedIn about the things I see. That's probably the best place to see what I'm up to, and maybe occasionally on Twitter, but I don't post on there much nowadays. I am going to put a website together. I'm sure I'll post about that, about that on LinkedIn at some point and is there anything the audience can help you?

Nishul Saperia: 38:21

with today. I mean, I love to meet climate tech founders who want help figuring out fundraising commercial. As long as you're doing something that's like going to have an impact on that space, I'm definitely up for having a chat awesome, so thanks so much for coming on today.

Amardeep Parmar: 38:38

Have you got any final words?

Nishul Saperia: 38:40

No, I guess just thank you for having me. It's great to see the work you're doing and hopefully the readers and the listeners even will take away some interesting and useful things from the chat today.

Amardeep Parmar: 38:54

Thank you for watching. Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.

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