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From Electrical Engineer to Climate Tech Pioneer

Kimeshan Naidoo


Powered By:

hsbcinnovationbanking logo

From Electrical Engineer to Climate Tech Pioneer

Kimeshan Naidoo



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Kimeshan Naidoo BX
Full transcript here

About Kimeshan Naidoo

Episode 152: Amardeep Parmar from The BAE HQ  welcomes Kimeshan Naidoo, CTO at BX

This podcast episode discusses the urgent need to address climate change, highlighting agriculture as the primary contributor to emissions. Kimeshan Naidoo, CTO at BX, shares his journey from electrical engineering in South Africa to founding Unibuddy and eventually working in climate tech, emphasising the importance of sustainable farming practices to combat climate change.

Kimeshan Naidoo


Show Notes

00:00: Intro 

01:27 - Kimeshan’s early life and interests in South Africa

02:27 - Transition from sports to tech and choosing electrical engineering

05:09 - Moving to London and studying computer science

09:00 - Founding Unibuddy and its initial challenges

12:00 - Pivoting business models and finding success with universities

15:45 - Hiring challenges and building a team

20:15 - Equity distribution and cultural differences

22:00 - Growth and milestones at Unibuddy

24:18 - Decision to step away from Unibuddy

25:54 - Transition to BX and the focus on climate tech

29:53 - BX’s mission to make agriculture more sustainable

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Kimeshan Naidoo Full Transcript

Kimeshan Naidoo: 0:00

So if everyone drove an electric car tomorrow, you only solve 5% of the problem. Climate is the one that has a very, very fast ticking clock. Agriculture is the biggest single contributor to emissions. Why? Because everyone eats. For us to solve climate tech, we have to solve agriculture. The problem we solve is really to help farmers to make money by becoming more sustainable. Currently have tens of thousands of acres on the platform, but we want that to be hundreds of thousands of acres and ideally millions of acres, because the product is very much driven by the science and the platform is really just a tool of how we implement the science and help farmers to implement it. If we have lots of companies that do this across all the industries, that's how we eventually bring emissions to zero.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:45

Today on the podcast we have Kimeshan Naidoo, who's a CTO at BX and was also a founder of Unibuddy. Kimeshan grew up in South Africa where he studied electrical engineering. Then he realized he really had a passion for computers. He then moved to London to study and it's here that he met his co-founder and they just thought there's a huge problem within the university system about students when they're trying to access the people already at the university they're going to go to and how to make that contact and to have that support system in place. This company's grown significantly and he then moved on to the board and then now he decided it was time for him to leave that company although they've already raised a Series B and they're doing very well to then go and do something which he really cared about at BX, which is working in the climate tech space.

Amardeep Parmar: 1:27

I hope you enjoy this episode. I'm Amar from the BAE HQ and this podcast is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. So thanks so much for coming here today. We want to go right back to the very beginning of before Unibuddy, before BX, before what you done now. What do you want to be as a kid? What was that dream?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 1:46

It's great to be here and thinking back to when I was a kid. It feels like another life. I grew up in South Africa on the East Coast, in a town close to Durban. It's actually a big Asian community on the East Coast of South Africa, so 3 million people in Durban, a million of them of Asian, majority Indian origin. So growing up I actually didn't really have any interest in tech. In the first 10 years I was really into sport, played a lot of cricket and probably if you asked me back then, I would have wanted to become a cricket player.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:26

Did you pursue that at all? Did did you try?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 2:27

So I I played a lot in high school, um, and then once I turned like 13 years old, that's when I started to learn how to code and started to build things and I realized that's what I wanted to get into or that's what I really enjoyed. It was the first thing. I felt like I was really absorbed in it and really interested in it. So I feel like then, once I got to high school, cricket and sports started to drop off and I became more interested in in tech and and computers.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:56

And then what did you go on to study at university?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 2:58

Ironically at the time. So this was, um, you know, finished, finished high school in 2008 and Facebook had just started. The internet was just kind of taking up, especially taking off, especially in South Africa, where you know more, even like smartphones weren't that common at the time, um, so when I was deciding what to do, a lot of people were like, you know, don't do tech or computer science, you there's like no jobs in there, there's like nothing you can do with it. So that's the big irony and that's why I ended up choosing something a little bit more traditional, which was still STEM related, but it was more traditional engineering. So I studied electrical and electronic engineering, which was more power, electronics, heavy and light, current networking, things like that. So that was my undergrad, electrical engineering and still did a bit of computer science, but it wasn't my focus.

Amardeep Parmar: 3:48

And did you enjoy it when you did that?

Amardeep Parmar: 3:50

Was it? Did you feel like a good path?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 3:51

I think I'm glad I did it because it exposed me a lot to hardware and the more, I guess, fundamental side of tech, like the bits and bytes, the hardware you know current. But I didn't like it as much as as creating software, um, and writing code. So it gave me a good kind of sometimes you got to try something. You know what you don't like, um, and and so that you know what you do like is actually the thing for you. And that's why it highlighted to me that actually software encoding is what I really like and and I want to then shift from electrical into into more computer science.

Amardeep Parmar: 4:30

How did you make that shift from electrical more to computer science?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 4:33

Yeah, so luckily they. It's not a huge jump, um, because you know, I think in a way stem subjects there's a lot of related logic and thinking. So, whether you're doing maths, science, technology, engineering, um, there you know, you can with, with there's a lot of transferable skills in that um. So, after working for a couple of years in industry as an electrical engineer, I essentially, um, you know, decided to to go back to school and study a master's in computer science, and that was kind of my way of transitioning.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:07

And that's when you came to London right as well.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 5:09

Yeah, so 2015, moved to London and started my master's at UCL.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:14

So what made you decide to move here?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 5:16

During 2015,. This was before the pandemic, so everything was still quite centralized. There wasn't much remote work, so it was either in the US Silicon Valley or, if it was looking in Europe, it was London. And, looking at Silicon Valley, it was a lot more difficult to get there. Universities are also a lot more expensive and there's not as many universities in California itself as there is in the entire US and London just felt a bit more, I guess, culturally similar to South Africa and more approachable, and it felt like a nice place to start as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:59

So what's interesting in Grasse is that we call ourselves British Asian but in reality it's more Asians than Britain Because British doesn't have the same pun right. So that's why we've call ourselves British Asian. And obviously that's a huge deal about a lot of people who are successful founders often have had that in the background where they move countries and because obviously it's risk-taking behavior. You've got to uproot. It's showcasing that you can start somewhere fresh and build relations, build a new network, build it from scratch and is that something you struggled when you first arrived here? To like build that network, to understand, like the differences in culture I think, as well.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 6:33

Yeah, it's a great question and actually it kind of reminds me, though I the leap I took was a lot smaller than the one like my great-great-great-grandfather took, right. So a lot of the history behind Indians and Asians in South Africa is indentured laborers that came from India, and my dad always told me a story when he was alive about my great-grandfather who came from India and he was basically herding cows on a farm and at the time, the British were bringing laborers from India to South Africa to work on the sugarcane fields and they were basically going around the village, just like you know, shouting out ship to South Africa, great work on the sugarcane fields. And he just left the cows and jumped onto the ship without telling anyone. So his family, his parents, didn't even know where he went and he went to South Africa. There was no mobile phones at the time, there was no WhatsApp groups to update, and he wrote a letter to them months later to say oh, I just jumped on a ship, I'm in South Africa, I'm working here and I wanted to do that.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 7:40

So, yeah, I think it's a big transition, but then I think, as you say, I think it's not a new phenomenon that Asians all over the world have made that leap and adapted to new cultures and been courageous enough to just jump into a ship and go to a new country, and it's just that.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 8:02

Today I guess we have a a bit more. It's a lot more accessible and communication is much better. But yeah, I mean going back to the question, I think definitely that there are cultural differences coming from South Africa to the UK. But being in London helped a lot because it's a very international city, so I never felt like like I was coming to a place um with with foreigners or people that weren't like me. You look around, whether you're sitting on the tube or walking through London, there are people that look like you, um, and there's a lot of things you still share in common, um as well. So so it it felt more like home than other places. You know, when I go to other places and visit where sometimes you look around and it just looks completely foreign, whereas London didn't have that, you still felt at home.

Amardeep Parmar: 8:52

And with the preparing to move as well. Right, isn't that one of the reasons behind Unibuddy is, like, how to understand the system here when you're coming from a different background?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 9:00

Yeah, yeah, 100%. And so you know, unibuddy was came from my co-founder and I solving our own problem. So we both moved to London to study from different countries he moved from France, I moved from South Africa and we realized we didn't know anyone here. We didn't know what to expect at a university, whether we should even be studying what we chose at that university, how to adapt, how to find accommodation, all of those things. And that's when we decided to build a platform where students going to university could talk and chat to students at university. And that's a basic premise that we started with. And still, you know the foundation of the company. Today it's just grown a lot bigger and we've had a lot of students using the platform.

Amardeep Parmar: 9:50

So obviously you were students yourself at that time, right? Yeah how did you find that? Well, I guess, what were your ambitions when you started it? Did you think it would ever get to where it did today? Or was it more kind of a fun side project? What? How was that initial conversation?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 10:02

Yeah, definitely more of an initial side project, um, I think while I was a student, um, and when I met my co-founder, I started building it during my master's and it actually ended up being my master's dissertation project.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 10:17

Two birds with one stone, yeah exactly so convenient that way, but I didn't know at the time whether it could be commercializable, whether we'd find a business model and whether it's something I would then end up doing full time, but that all of those pieces came together in those like three or four months really. Once we built it, launch it, we saw the usage, we managed to validate it. We then started to find a business model, sell it to universities, and and then, you know, we realized that, hey, we're onto something here. And you know, I think, in a way, being able to raise money for your company is good validation as well, because it means that someone else also thinks it's a good idea, not just you, which is why I always advise people yes, it's good to bootstrap and put money in your own company, but it's also good to have someone else validate your idea and also want to put money in um as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 11:14

How did you find that business model?

Amardeep Parmar: 11:16

what was that initial business model that was gonna make this something which you could take full time?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 11:19

Yeah. So we tried a couple of business models, um, and we had to pivot because they failed. So the natural one was okay, we're like, we're making a platform, it's b2c, um, it's for students, um in high school usually who are applying to university, um. So we our initial model, we launched it in that way and we had some. It was a freemium model so you could use it for the first 10 minutes for free. You get 10 minutes to chat and after that you would have to pay, um. No surprise, that didn't work. Um, students in high school they don't have money, or if they do have money, they're would have to pay. No surprise, that didn't work. Students in high school they don't have money, or if they do have money, they're not going to pay for that. They want to obviously buy other things with the money. So that doesn't work.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 12:00

And we also pivoted to high schools. So we thought, okay, maybe we could sell the product to high schools because it's useful for them for, like, their kind of career counseling and helping their students get into university. Um, that kind of started to work. They were definitely like especially private schools and schools with good kind of budgets. For that they were willing to pay. But we realized the high school market is very fragmented. Um, there's, like you know, tiny ones, there's huge ones, and pricing is difficult. Some have counselors, some don't. Um, it's a much more fragmented model and you'd need tens of thousands of high schools to make it into a big business.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 12:37

And that's when our final pivot came, and it was either this pivot working or we wouldn't have been able to find a business model and we would have to shut down. But we pivoted to universities, which was the last kind of, you know, out of the three students, high schools and universities, that was the last stakeholder that could pay. And that's where it clicked Because we realized, actually, universities were getting a lot of value from it because they were trying to engage with students, often using like their website or post or email, and these things weren't what 17 year olds were actually using. They just wanted to chat and they're on, you know, they're on instagram and whatsapp and tiktok all day.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 13:20

Um, so that's when the b2b model, um, came in and we realized we could price it about 10 000 pounds a year for universities starting off. And we realized we could price it about 10,000 pounds a year for universities starting off. And we realized then it's quite scalable because you don't need you know 10,000 universities like we would for high schools, but we could scale that there's only about. You know less than 200 universities in the UK itself and we could then look at how we capture that market.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:47

And then looking at what you said about getting funding as well and getting that validation. What made you decide to go for funding or how did you even because I remember as a student myself, I had no idea about the venture capital ecosystem and going for funding and anything like that yeah what made you decide to go down that route and how did you kind of build that initial network as a student?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 14:04

Yeah, I think I also had no idea about funding, right, um, and we definitely couldn't raise VC money. It was extremely early stage, so it was very much. You know. Luckily, my co founder had a good network. He originally grew up in Switzerland and you know there's lots of kind of angels, high net worths, for example in Geneva where he grew up, and we basically tapped into that network and in the beginning it was basically just the two of us, so we didn't need a lot of money. We just needed to kind of pay ourselves something and pay for the tech and the basic infrastructure.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 14:46

So I think the first check you know we raised was 150. And that was that was great to get us started and, you know, would have given us like a year's year worth of runway. And that's the nice thing about being small. In the beginning I also I was building the product myself, so we didn't have to hire a big team of engineers. So I think having a technical co-founder can mean you need less money if you're building a tech product as well, and that's something I always advise people, because a lot of people have an idea and they're like okay, I need money to hire an engineering team somewhere and you can actually, you know it could be better to have a technical co-founder. Yes, you might own less of be better to have a technical co-founder yes, you might own less of the company, but also having a co-founder is really useful and being a solo founder is really tough and whenever I speak to solo founders you know they're always kind of looking for a co-founder.

Amardeep Parmar: 15:45

I guess on that point as well, is that obviously I see the same thing right, we get a ton of decks in, we have solo founders who don't have a technical expertise, who are then looking to get money to hire somebody to build the product. And I think the thing I always think about from my own tech background as well is that if you don't understand the tech yourself, when you hire people, you have no idea if they're doing a good job or not. Right. And even if you're going to scale your own team, when you're hiring people, you can at least check their work and check that there when they give requirements or they give estimations of. I was going to take this long you can send check.

Amardeep Parmar: 16:18

Is that realistic or not? And obviously helps so much when you've got equity in the company because you're incentivized to make sure you give advice, because it's your own money too, right. But whenever you're an advisor, you can like well if I say it's easier or it's harder than is you always have that buffer right. And when you start to grow the team out because obviously if you're building all the project itself at the beginning, we now start to hire people to help you do that. How's that experience for you?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 16:40

Yeah, so yeah, I definitely agree. I think another risk of kind of hiring engineering team to do it is it's always going to be slower, because one is they just want to be paid and get the project over with. They don't have that incentive to understand the problem and really want to understand the pains of the customer and build a product. And it's slower because you're trying to communicate all of this to them, whereas I could just sit down and build the things with my co-founder as he was getting data from customers and you can iterate really fast and in an early stage startup, that feedback loop is the main currency. The faster that feedback loop is, the faster you're going to get to product market fit and win. So I think speed is also something people don't realize. It's not as simple as just hiring a team to build your vision. There's a lot of communication and iteration that's going to go on in order to build the right thing and you're going to be changing it a lot.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 17:41

I think hiring a team was a huge learning experience for me. I've never done it before. I never hired anyone, nevermind software engineers. So it was. It was a complete you know, figuring out from scratch. What should the interview process be how do we source people? And at the beginning it was really just figuring out through through, through the network, getting referrals in.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 18:07

We didn't, we couldn't like really afford recruiters At the time. The market was crazy and recruiters were like they wanted like 15% 20% as their fee. So it was really really expensive and we had to figure out how to do it just using our own networks and LinkedIn and then bringing in talent at an affordable rate. Offering equity helped. So our early engineers we couldn't pay their market rate because again, with the 150 check it only goes so long. But they got kind of really good equity. You know like 1%, 2% and that's something if you're willing to give people equity. You know a lot of successful engineers who maybe made some money elsewhere. They'll be willing to take below market to have that ownership in the company and they're going to be much more bought in and put in that extra effort as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 19:06

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 hsbcinnovationbankingcom.

Amardeep Parmar: 19:43

People often say that with the equity side of things, that the UK, the startup scene tends to do that a lot less than, say, san Francisco, and in Silicon Valley it's more common for early employees to get a bit of equity, whereas here people are much more protected by the equity. What made you decide to like? What was behind your logic there? Because obviously some people listening right now hey, it was time for founders who don't have a product yet, who are very like holding on to equity really tightly. It's like, well, if you never build, never build the product this, you've got 100 of nothing right. So what made you decide to go that path?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 20:15

I think you need to surround yourself with the right people. Um, and yeah, I agree, I think the mentality sometimes in europe and here is more we're hiring people to do this for us. Why do we need to give them equity? But we, we had advisors who had built successful companies in the us and they, you know they would be like yeah, you need to. If you want top engineering talent, you want top talent, general.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 20:41

Um, you know, having them with, with equity and owning a part of the company is is how you build a team that's really, really incentivized to make it bigger. And, as you say, it's about making the pie bigger and we all make more in that way, versus trying to own more of a smaller pie. So I think we always had the mentality that everyone who joins should have equity. What we realized as we grew, especially past 20 people, is not everyone came in with the mentality of understanding equity and valuing it. So I think maybe that's the other side of the coin.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 21:16

In the uk, a lot of people don't actually value equity because they're more of the mindset is more of the mindset I'm going to work and I want my salary and then and go home and equity is almost they don't understand it or it's too risky, um, and a lot of people would rather take the higher salary than, um, you know, get more equity, whereas in the us I feel like maybe there's a bit more of an attitude towards taking higher risk, um, and people might take a lower salary for for more equity. So there's a bit of a cultural thing, but it is changing, yeah, as people are valuing, you know, valuing that ownership more.

Amardeep Parmar: 21:51

You mentioned about scaling beyond 20 people as well. So by the time you eventually left Unibuddy, where had the company scaled to? What kind of milestones had you reached?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 22:00

Yeah. So it was a long journey. I feel like the first couple of years doing those pivots, building the product, finding product to market fit. The team was small and we didn't grow much. Once we got to a point where we were ready to raise a Series A. That was around 2019.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 22:18

And we raised a Series A. That's where things really started to take off because you could really scale your sales team. So, you know, we went very quickly from 20 universities to 100 universities and then it was a matter of how do we get from 100 to 200 and 400. Do we get from 100 to 200 and 400? And at the time you know, we were our. Our goal was to grow 50 to 100 percent every year. Um, and we, we did that pretty much every year. We had at least 50 percent growth. Um, you know, in the we raised a series series b of 20 million. So in total we raised 32 million over seed series a, series b. The team had grown to 120 um at the point where, you know, I thought that the company was in a place where it could run itself and that's when, um I decided to to move to the um to be a pure board member and not be operational in the company.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 23:27

I hired a vp of engineering who basically took over my cto role. Um, and today, um, we're. We continue to add universities and optimize. We've've had about 3.5 million students now that have used the platform, and we're mainly focused on the US now, just because of the number of universities there there's over 3,000 in the US and only 150 in the UK and we captured the UK market pretty early on, so it's still growing. But we're getting to the point where, um, yeah, we, we want to really, um, you know, focus on our niche in the us and we're focusing on profitability right now, like a lot of companies, because of the investment climate as well. That's what people want to see is profitability versus growth at a high cost was it hard for me to make that decision to step away?

Amardeep Parmar: 24:18

Because you said there obviously the company had done very well, you've been growing very well, but it's obviously part of it as your baby, right? So stepping away from the operational role, was it something you just felt at the right time or was it quite a difficult decision?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 24:32

It was difficult because again, as you said, it is kind of your baby.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 24:37

But I feel I realized I like the stage of growth where you're growing at 50 to 100% a year and that kind of scale up where I felt at a certain point we got to a stage where it was more about optimizing and it was a bit slower growth, but really kind of finding the right levers to tweak, cutting costs, finding a new pricing strategy.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 25:05

It's almost like the kind of MBA problems which there's a lot of people that love doing and are good at, and I felt that it wasn't really what I was interested in and where my strengths are. I think my strengths are in the kind of zero to one was interested in and where my strengths are, I think my strengths are in the kind of zero to one. How do you take something from an idea to, you know, making it a to finding product market fit, to then scaling that to a certain point. But then, once it became more of an optimization problem and less of a we need to build new products problem, I felt like I'd rather let people who are good at the optimization do it and I want to start thinking about what I do next. So I think it just depends about your strengths and what you're interested in, because different people right like different stages of a company so obviously you now you're at bx and doing incredible work there.

Amardeep Parmar: 25:54

What track did you do to bx? What was it about that company that made you decide that's where you want to go to?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 25:59

yeah, I started with the problem. So, you know, unibuddy, we were essentially in edtech and my I had a kind of soft spot for edtech because my, my dad, was a school principal. Um, I have a lot of like family in education and I think education is a billion person problem, um, and it affects pretty much everything and there's so many problems in it to solve. When I left Unibuddy, though, I was excited to explore a different space and I looked at what are the other big problems out there, and I think if you're looking at the other billion person problems, you're essentially looking at ed tech. So you know, health tech, anything related to the NHS, for example in the UK, fintech, of course, because you know banking and money affects everyone.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 26:48

And the last one, and I think what drove it home for me, was probably the most urgent billion person problem, which is climate. So I started with those four kind of very broad spaces and I spoke to founders in each space and I looked at companies in each of those spaces. I think what drove me to climate was just because, out of those four problems, climate is the one that has a very, very fast ticking clock, and I wanted to get into the space, at least understand it and try to solve a problem in it. So so that's what drove me, you know, into into climate specifically and then what about the particular company?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 27:25

yeah. So you know, bx, I think within, I think, yeah, again, within climate tech, there's so many different spaces you get into right, it's almost like there's a completely different industries within it. Um, what I liked about bx is, firstly, it's founded by um, again in a similar to how we found Unibody, based on our own problem. It was founded by someone who was solving their own problem. So BX solves a problem for farmers and it was founded by my CEO, ben, who is the second, who was the second biggest um Apple farmer in the UK. The UK Sold the farm and then started BX to solve problems that he experienced himself as a farmer.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 28:06

And I think what really excited me again was, if you look at climate, the more exciting and sexy problems which are in the news all the time and like Elon Musk is solving with electric cars, et cetera, that's actually quite a small percentage of emissions. So if everyone drove an electric car tomorrow, you only solve five percent of the problem. That still leaves 95 of emissions and we basically would still be heading towards catastrophe, right? Whereas if you look at agriculture, agriculture is the biggest single contributor to emissions. Why? Because everyone eats, right, everyone needs fruit and vegetables and livestock, everyone buys groceries, everyone needs to eat.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 28:50

So I felt like you know, if we solve for us to solve climate tech, we have to solve agriculture. It doesn't matter if we solve electric cars and solar panels and all of that, and that's why, you know, even though it's quite an old industry and there's a lot of room for disruption. It was really interesting for me because it's clearly the biggest part of climate change and the problem we solve is really to help farmers to make money by becoming more sustainable. So that means the fruit and vegetables we eat will be better for the environment, also be healthier for us, and farmers make more money, which is the real problem to solve as well. It's very easy to be sustainable, but if it's more expensive, um, it doesn't help, ui, because people are already struggling to you know to with the cost of living and the price of groceries, and then farmers already on really tight and um and thin margins. So it was really about solving a really difficult problem in agriculture.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:53

That I liked about bx and it being founded by a farmer who really understood the problem in the industry as well I think it's interesting because I think so many people, like I said, they'll follow the headlines rather than the actual data obviously shows that agriculture is a huge area for people to work on but, maybe it doesn't attract enough people to work on that space that it should do.

Amardeep Parmar: 30:10

And how's that journey been so far? Because obviously you had the uni but experience where you were able to grow it very quickly, and then now you come to a new environment and it's obviously gonna be a completely new test and it's almost you're not starting from scratch, but you're starting from that same position of can we go, as I said, 100, 50 per year yeah.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 30:27

So I was nervous about that because you know it was my first time. Um, in a way it's it's another first because it's your first time starting a second company or joining an early stage company, whereas the first time I started an early stage company everything was new. I knew nothing. Now I was joining an early stage company as a very, very early employee. I knew what had to be done but I didn't know how I would do it. And I think the best way to describe it is you panic a lot less.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 31:05

I think at Unibuddy in the early days. You know, if you're in a, you would know you've started a community, you've started a startup, but there's always fires, there's every day there will be a fire to put out. And I think during Unibuddy because I wasn't kind of in the startup world I would be like, oh my gosh, there's a fire to put out and I would struggle to sleep at night or just keep thinking about it. But then at some point you realize actually there's always gonna be fires and you actually can't put out all the fires, but you need to focus on the biggest fire at any one point and you sometimes you need to ignore the rest. So, going to bx.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 31:42

It's been much easier, because when things go wrong, when the fires come up, I'm like you expect it. So I think expecting things to be on fire and things to go wrong helps a lot, and then you know how to deal with it. You're like, okay, um, yes, there's all these fires, but I'm going to focus on this one and I and and I don't need to be, you know tossing and turning in bed thinking about how I solve this problem, because there's always going to be problems and all you can do is work through it one by one. So I think it's just made me a bit more stoic, like I'm a big fan of stoicism as well. I think it's just about understanding that nothing will go the way you plan.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 32:16

You know, that was my big learning from seven years at unibody nothing ever goes the way you plan it. Um, every time we put a deck in front of investors and we were like, okay, we're raising five million pounds, here's what we're going to build in 18 months. If you look 18 months later, it was never what we told them we'd built. We made progress and we grew at 100 or whatever, but what actually happened and what we built was totally different, because things change you, you have to adapt and fires come up that you don't expect right. So I think that's the biggest learning for me is yeah, don't expect things to go according to plan and you need to adapt. Like adaption is a key skill in an early-stage startup.

Amardeep Parmar: 32:50

Looking to the future, what are you most excited about? What's exciting about the journey at BX?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 33:02

I think what's most exciting is how big an impact it can have. So there's a lot of farmland in the world. We currently have, you know, tens of thousands of acres on the platform, but we want that to be hundreds of thousands of acres and ideally millions of acres, and there's a lot of carbon and emissions that we can reduce in terms of, you know, if you look at the emissions per acre. So the different projects we're enabling farmers to do, like biochar or soil sequestration, where you improve the soil and more carbon is sequestered in the soil.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 33:37

We have an environmental science team. So we're kind of half a science company and half a tech company, because I have my tech team. But then nothing works without the environmental science team, because the product is very much driven by the science and the platform is really just a tool of how we implement the science and help farmers to implement it. So I'm just really excited about how many tons of carbon we can avoid and remove from the atmosphere and that's really exciting because it's a tangible difference If in two years time, we could say you know, we've avoided, you know this, many thousand or tens of thousands of tons of CO2 from being in the atmosphere. I think if, if we have lots of companies that do this across all the industries, that's how we eventually bring emissions to zero um around the world that's amazing.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:26

Well, hopefully in two years time you can say that as well yeah, definitely so we're going to move to quick five questions now because of time. So first question is who are three british asians or asians in in Britain you think are doing incredible work and you love to chat them out for the audience?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 34:40

Yeah, sure, so many. But if I had to pick three, I'd say one of my close friends who I've known for a long time, almost since I moved to London, Vignesh. He is currently at Isomorphic, which is a company kind of spun out of Google DeepMind by Dennis, and Isomorphic is working on essentially using AI in drug discovery and I think what we're going to see coming out of Isomorphic in the next couple of years is going to be absolutely world-changing and it's going to solve some big problems in healthcare and cure potentially a lot of diseases. So he's, he, he's he's essentially um, a product manager there and the. I'm really excited about the work he's doing there and the problem problem he's solving. So that's one I'd shout out um, I think AI and drug discovery, that's a space to watch, I'd say.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 35:43

Second is I really like what Jay Radia is doing. So he's, yeah, I'm more of an acquaintance, met him a few times but he's kind of a serial entrepreneur. He's founded a few SaaS companies. B ut I also really like that he's started a kind of incubator. Bliss Growth I think it's called and that's really good because we need more you know, British Asians that are also investing and helping entrepreneurs create more companies as well, and I think it's important to have that diversity from a perspective of who's investing the money and these incubators that are choosing entrepreneurs or incubating companies. So those are the two.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 36:35

If I had to pick one more, I would say Nadiim Nadiim Domun. He is so, yeah, has a PhD in, like, material sciences, recently just moved to Bentley Motors and doing some really cool things in material science in terms of, like looking at what materials can be used in the cars to basically make it faster, so like testing it in a wind tunnel, so, you know, kind of getting to the. Eventually. That kind of thing can filter down to Formula One and, eventually, road cars as well. So, yeah, quite a big diversity of different things there, but I think it's really cool when you see people push the boundary, whether it's in AI for drug discovery, whether it's materials for cars or it's, like you know, incubating startups.

Amardeep Parmar: 37:28

Yeah, like you said, it's really interesting how different they all are, but all quite cool different things they're trying out there and the next question is if they want to find out more about you, more about what you're up to, where should they go to?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 37:39

Yeah, so I write sometimes on ido notes. com, which is, you know, you know my blog and I want to write more, I think. Actually, speaking to you, you inspired me with your story, so hopefully I can make some time to write more. Otherwise, yeah, I still use X. Um. Maybe one of the few people who still use X or twitter formally twitter, um but I still find um value from it.

Kimeshan Naidoo: 38:05

Maybe it's the people I follow on the platform, so you can also find me there.

Amardeep Parmar: 38:09

And then, if people can help you right now who are listening in the audience, what could they help you with?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 38:13

Yeah, so I I think at BX you know we're looking for people that are really two things. One is has a lot of knowledge around the environmental science in regenerative agriculture, as well as carbon credits, specifically in perennial fruits, so like apples, pears and, and that farming segment, um. And two is, um, yeah, funding wise, like everyone right now, um mark is not too great. So if anyone's yeah, interested in the space or knows investors interested in this very specific ag tech, climate tech, space, um, yeah, intros will be really useful over there as well.

Amardeep Parmar: 38:59

Awesome, so thanks so much for coming on today.

Amardeep Parmar: 39:00

Have you got any final words?

Kimeshan Naidoo: 39:02

Yeah, I think just to people looking to to do something. Um, you know we were speaking earlier, but the best thing to do is to start. Um, don't overthink it and don't try to plan out the next five years because, as I mentioned, nothing goes according to plan. Just start and adapt to what happens and you don't have to see the whole staircase to take the first step. You know, and I think sometimes it's, it's tough to do that, but just take the first step and you'll find that the rest of the staircase you'll make it up as you go.

Amardeep Parmar: 39:37

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

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