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Conversation
Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Ben Christensen, CEO and Co-Founder of Cambium Carbon, a circular economy startup that makes it easy for large companies to source materials locally and use waste-to-value materials, focusing first on wood. The company has raised $5.5 million in funding to date.

Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Ben’s background growing up in New Mexico immersed in forestry and wood products, and his lifelong commitment to addressing climate change.
  • The goal of achieving global carbon negativity by 2060 and the importance of believing in and pursuing seemingly impossible problems.
  • The influence of books like “Deep Survival” by Laurence Gonzalez on Ben’s approach to startups, focusing on building mental maps and resilience in high-stress environments.
  • The role of ultra running in shaping Ben’s discipline, focus, and ability to push through challenges as a founder.
  • Cambium Carbon’s origin story and Ben’s realization of the untapped potential in urban wood waste, a 46 million ton per year problem in the US alone.
  • The company’s work with clients like Room & Board to source local, reclaimed wood and provide transparency throughout the supply chain using technology.

Actionable
Takeaways

Seek Marginal Impact in Addressing Big Problems:

When tackling massive challenges like climate change, Ben recommends focusing on what you, as an individual with a unique background and skill set, can do to make the most marginal impact. By identifying gaps and overlooked opportunities, you can carve out a niche where you can drive meaningful change.

Commit Fully to Your Vision:

Ben credits his success in pushing through the early challenges of starting Cambium Carbon to his commitment to seeing the vision through, no matter how difficult things got. Founders should strive to find a mission they believe in so deeply that they're willing to persevere even when faced with setbacks and doubts.

Build Relationships and Seek Advice in Fundraising:

As a first-time founder with limited connections in the climate tech and VC space, Ben learned the importance of building genuine relationships with investors and asking for advice rather than just money. By focusing on learning and improving his pitch, he was able to gradually gain traction and secure funding.

Triage Effectively and Commit to Great Ideas:

One of Ben's key learnings is the importance of triaging ideas and committing fully to the ones with the greatest potential, rather than trying to pursue every good idea. By focusing on a few big bets and seeing them through, founders can make more rapid progress and avoid spreading themselves too thin.

Embrace Uniqueness and Storytelling in Products:

Cambium Carbon's vision goes beyond just sourcing sustainable materials to creating products that people cherish for their uniqueness and the stories behind them. By rethinking the value of waste streams and the role of standardization in manufacturing, the company aims to foster a deeper connection between consumers and the items they use in their daily lives.

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