Bigger Than Us
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Bigger Than Us

#175 Sunny Sanwar, Founder & CEO of Dynamhex

Sunny Sanwar is an engineer and entrepreneur who lived through cleantech 1.0 and is building the rails on which climatetech can thrive. He was formerly co-founder and CTO at Verd2GO, an energy storage startup. Currently he is Founder and CEO of Dynamhex, Inc — an intelligence platform for climate action planning for organizations. Sunny holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Masters's degree in Public Policy, and a Ph.D. based on the clean economy, and was on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2019.

Bigger Than Us #175

This transcript has been lightly edited.

Host Raj Daniels 00:45

Sunny, how are you doing today?

Sunny Sanwar 01:24

Doing well, Raj, great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Host Raj Daniels 01:27

Sunny, thank you for joining. Before we dig into Dynamhex, I want to ask a personal question. How do you graduate four years of high school in eight months?

Sunny Sanwar 01:38

Yeah, so interesting. So you know, a little bit of background, I’m originally from Bangladesh, born and raised for the most part. So when I first came to the US, the education systems are a little different. They did an assessment test to figure out if I should go in the ninth grade, or the 10th grade, because of, you know, my age, I was 15. And based on the credits and the school district I was in, they placed me in the 10th grade, because I had like three years of calculus and like two years of physics, so they had to put me in the 12th grade. There was an article at some point that said, you know, in September, when I first you know, walked into school, I was in the ninth grade, and then by May, I graduated high school the following year. So that’s what you’re seeing in terms of going through ninth to 12th, in just a matter of nine months.

Host Raj Daniels 02:33

But I think you’re being a little humble, which I appreciate. But then I’m reading the Wikipedia article, then it goes on to say that you were teaching college at the age of 18.

Sunny Sanwar 02:43

Yeah, so again, I graduated, you know, at 16, from undergrad. I graduated from college in three years and sort of four. As a senior, I actually accepted a position to teach AC and DC circuits back in Bangladesh, in the computer science and electrical engineering department within North South University.

I was almost 19 when I joined as a faculty teaching a few undergraduate courses. That brings back memories. It’s all linked, you know, like, you graduate high school a little early, you get to finish college a little early. And then the next thing is you get to kind of do something a little earlier than you probably would have done later in life. So that’s the background. That’s the history,

Host Raj Daniels 03:35

And not to embarrass you any further. But at the end of the article also says: A list of child prodigies. How does that make you feel?

Sunny Sanwar 03:44

I guess, as a child is kind of cool. As an adult, it’s kind of interesting to know that, you know, the child version of you will remain a little bit more front and center than the adult version. But it feels nice, I guess, being recognized early on, but it’s semi also pressure, right, like, as an adulthood, what have you done? I think it’s, overall a good feeling. Slightly embarrassing. And slightly interesting. Now that I have a child of my Would I want my child to go through a similar process? And, you know, maybe not in certain ways, right? Like, maybe I do want her to kind of have a normal — not normal, but more what the average 18-year-old goes through or an average 16-year-old goes through. I think I might go into it myself. I might want my child to have something maybe a little different than what I had. So it’s an interesting feeling for sure.

Host Raj Daniels 04:42

Well, apparently you’re no slacker as an adult, either. Another one of my research pulled up Forbes 30, under 30 in 2019. And now the CEO of Dynamhex, so apparently, it’s still in your blood.

Sunny Sanwar 04:55

Hopefully. Yeah that was a really of experience I had with my earlier venture called Verd2GO for which I got on the 2019 list. So that kind of all kind of connects from the circuit course that I talked about that I taught at 18. You know, those were the times where energy storage was becoming very interesting sort of space as an emerging space late 2008, early 2009. I knew that Battery Management Systems was going to be, you know, the brains behind charging discharging was going to be the next big thing, compilers, debuggers, for energy. And at Verd2GO, what we did was we sort of autonomised how certain battery system should charge and discharge.

So we would kind of teach it, hey, in this equipment, the low profile follows this type of a kind of graph, right at 2pm, there’s going to be a lot of consumption, so charge up before then. So we would train a battery and the charge control system to do that for each industrial application. And now it’s kind of common knowledge, you have a lot of energy storage companies, they’re they’re trying out different battery chemistries, but our main approach was, okay, well, given the battery chemistry and given an application, how best can we have this provide value behind the meter. So I sold that in 2016, to a manufacturer, who integrated the basic, you know, the firmware on the architecture to their commercial products. So that was those learning experience really, you know, like coming from a purely technical background, knowing nothing about commercializing technology, or even knowing how a technology fits into a product.

That was an eye-opening moment, and, as you mentioned, couldn’t stop. I started Dynamhex in 2018, have taken some learnings from Verd2GO, and, you know, onward and upward.

Sunny Sanwar 05:20

So speaking of Dynamhex, and onward and upward, can you give the audience an overview of dynamics and your role at the organization?

Sunny Sanwar 07:06

Yeah, happy to. I’m Chief Executive at Dynamhex and the founder. Founded at the end of 2018. Dynamhex is really an interactive platform for you to set and meet your net zero or emission reductions target. So we help enterprises like H&R Block, and others who have assets all over America, to really understand what their baseline scope one, two and three missions are.

And then more importantly, what can they do within the next 24 to 48 months to verifiably reduce it towards some sort of science-based target? So we do it at the asset level, we take a corporate goal and we kind of break it down at the asset level, and then figure out given the asset, what types of interventions would best help them be low carbon. So we help enterprises like H&R Block. We help utilities like Duke and others.

We also help city governments set community-wide climate action plans, kind of through this underlying product that we’re calling decarbonization as a service. We believe that it shouldn’t be so hard to do the right thing for climate, and companies providing the technology to make it simpler for people to just do the right thing.

Host Raj Daniels 08:18

So let’s break down three things that you said there. First of all, what is an interactive platform? How is it an interactive platform?

Sunny Sanwar 08:25

Yeah, absolutely. So think about, you know, traditionally, you know, like, when I when I first came to the US, we would still see a lot of people traveling and going on road trips with a map, right? Like this giant pamphlets and books where you’d manually kind of look at. Okay, where am I at? And figure it out and try to pick the right exit, try to get there on time, make sure there’s no construction.

So dynamic platform for us, and interactive platform for us means that once you set a goal, like a destination for your operations, or to be as a company, or just broader organization, or even a government, we want you to interact with all the pathways that can help you get there. So you can almost see like different destination, hey, this one is two minutes faster. This is eight minutes slower, don’t go here. There’s a, you know, an accident or something. And it’s going to slow down your progress.

We want everybody, users of Dhynamex, to be able to interactively see these roadmaps. So if you if you want to be let’s say by 2030, you want to be 80% Less submitting than you are today. But that doesn’t mean much at the broader kind of corporate level, right? It could come from half of your electric fleet being electric. It could come from all your energy being when they could come from all your waste. I

mean, there’s so many different permutations on how you can meet that 2030 target. So when we say interactive, we want the decision-maker to visualize where the emissions coming from almost like a map and then understand the connection. Different pathways, so they could rank order and prioritize based on what they want to do, what is cost-effective? What is feasible? And then set a climate action target that they can evaluate next quarter next year. So that’s what we mean by interactive platform for climate action planning.

Host Raj Daniels 10:19

And you mentioned assets. And you mentioned H&R Block. So buildings, vehicles, can you expand on what assets are?

Sunny Sanwar 10:27

Assets typically are anything that consumes resources, and as a result, have a emissions footprint. So the typical way of looking at it the macro level, we have, you know, buildings, and residential and commercial buildings more broadly. We have industrial facilities and factories. We have different forms of transportation, from flights to passenger vehicles, to ships and other things. So, so these four classes, almost, you know, like kind of groupings represent majority of the emission sources that most governments or companies track. So, at COP, you know, a lot of countries are looking at it from that same level of breakdown, that would break down the entire economy into those four primary sectors.

If you’re a corporation, like, let’s say, H&R Block, you’re mostly in commercial buildings, and maybe some transportation. So most of your leased and owned assets, your corporate HQ, your your branches, franchisees, those are all commercial building. And it’s grouped by that. And then you might have some fleet vehicles, you might have company cars, you know, stuff that you own or lease, and then you have, you know, maybe employee commuting, which is assets owned by your employees, but not directly by the company. And then you have travel, which is flights, that you obviously use a third party, unless it’s like a private jet or something like that. So that is what asset means. So we can kind of break down a country or city, even to these atomic assets, every home, every building, every factory, every vehicle, every flight or every plane. And then we do it over time.

So each year, we can break down an entire regions, emissions to the assets. And then at the asset level, we get to say, we do what if scenarios. So for building, electrify your heating, and then decarbonize the power that you use. Those are the two major levers, you can pull out a home. But you know, you can’t do that, you know, with a car, you can’t say my car is 100%, clean energy, because it’s gasoline, even if it’s electric, it’s whatever you charge it with. So depending on the asset, home office car, your pathways are fairly different. And so that’s why it’s important to not just speak from a sectoral perspective, which is helpful, because you’re aggregating things, but all decisions actually happen down at the asset level. So it’s important to have both that micro and macro framework talk to each other. So that’s broadly what we mean by asset.

Host Raj Daniels 13:09

And you mentioned scope, one, two and three emissions. Can you share what those are?

Sunny Sanwar 13:14

Absolutely. So scope one is typically stuff you control. So anything that you burn in your equipment, like mobile combustion, or stationary kind of combustion, like natural gas generator, at your location, that’s scope, one. You emit, and you control the equipment that emits or the asset that emits and you have some sort of control on the fuel resource that is used to transform. That’s scope one.

Scope two are things that you might have the equipment that you own, but the actual source of the primary fuel comes from someone else. So electric utilities are a great example. If you’re a homeowner, your electricity consumption is actually a scope too, since you’re purchasing power from your utility company who’s maybe buying it from someone else, or who’s burning their own generation.

And then scope three typically is a catch all for things that are more downstream or fairly upstream, that you don’t have a whole lot of visibility or control. Or even just a catch-all of other things that you hadn’t considered in scope one and scope two. So for companies, it’s like I said, employee commuting, business travel, waste. In the case of a lot of companies, it’s actually your downstream emissions, it is the emissions of your products and services that your customers use. So for utility companies, all their customers, overall emissions, in certain cases, can be classified as a utility company scope three. The same way for bank, financed emissions or debt that they give out to other entities or even residential mortgages of homes could be a bank, scope three emissions because they’re financing and their customers that have taken up their products are using it to do activities that ultimately emit.

So it’s a web, really. If someone’s scope three, someone’s scope two and someone else is scope one. And and it seems complicated, you know, as an accounting problem, but from a technical perspective, there’s also a lot of synergy, because one intervention could potentially help out two different entities if it’s linked the right way. So if utility does something on the grid side, typically, utility customer benefits because their, their power just got cleaner without them having to invest in a rooftop solar, or something like that. Right. So scope, one, two, and three is just the classification of how you look at emissions and and how you sort of understand what levers to maybe pull to reduce emissions.

Host Raj Daniels 15:55

Well, to your point about it being linked, I think it’d be fascinating to see it visualized.

Sunny Sanwar 16:00

Absolutely. And going back to the interactive platform, that’s the goal. We want to show that. There’s a lot like, like I said, a lot of permutations for the roadmap on how you get to your goals. But it’s not all you. Sometimes, for better or for worse, there are others who could help or hinder your journey. And with, you know, things happening at COP, or just overall, climate action becoming a very pervasive topic. Hopefully, the barriers that exist are easy to visualize and remove.

And then, you know, collaboration with folks that could help you out can happen at a faster scale. So your utility could be working with you more directly on cleaning the grid. They could also be helping deploy EV stations in places where there’s the most need auto companies can, you know, do better on miles per gallon rating for every vehicle or the proportion of their sales coming from EV. So there’s a lot of synergy that we can have. It’s just linking it all together so that we can visualize this complex web in a more simple way.

Host Raj Daniels 17:08

No, going back to assets for a moment, how do you gather the data on the assets of your clients?

Sunny Sanwar 17:15

We did almost la two year exercise. And then you know, we’re serving right now the US market only. So we went through all 3200 counties tax lot. We automated, we made a master database, basically to classify each property, each physical property within the US soil as one of those three kinds of emission standards. Residential, commercial, industrial transportation. Of course, there’s like power and oil and gas, you know, type stuff, but we’ve classified every asset as one of those things.

And then we linked it back to how the US as a nation thinks about its sectoral emissions. And then we’ve obviously broken it down by who owns or leases or uses those assets. So in residential homes, we know which ones are residential home, you know, single-family homes, multifamily homes, owners and tenants, fairly simple. And we kind of create bottom up models on what their emissions are given their occupancy, climate zone, you know, location, etc.

And then on commercial, industrial, we actually know who is the owner of the of these assets. And, you know, what are they reporting for their scope, one, two, and three. So, if a company has 700 buildings across 30 states, and it has disclosed a scope to a mission, that’s like, half a million tons, you can mathematically you know, accounting for error, you can mathematically ascribe those 700 assets, and the contribution each of them are making to that scope to permission.

So we ran this giant model for every asset on one end, and then every publicly traded company on the other. And then using that we created this left order of magnitude model that, hey, you should do this in this community, because you’re 8% of their emissions. Or hey, you know, the utility here is emitting less today than they were last year. And let’s extend out the trend to see what it would be in 2025 and then report that to the city, hey, the city doing nothing, you know, the grid is getting cleaner.

So as the grid gets cleaner, and maybe you can work on electrification of end use, or electrification of industry or transportation. You could kind of divide and conquer on your climate roadmap once you have these asset level data points.

Host Raj Daniels 19:45

So let’s talk about climate roadmaps for a minute. Are you seeing more interest from companies right now or cities and local governments?

Sunny Sanwar 19:55

I think we’re seeing interest in two different — I think we’re seeing heightened interest. I mean, you can argue which one is more or less. But I think we’re seeing it for two different reasons.

One, you know, I’ll start with enterprise first. I think one is the focus on sort of reputational harm, more so than the conversation on facilities or operational data, which is the case for cities. Cities want more and better operational data, so they can make long term planning decisions. You know, they’re looking at climate risk models to figure out if their revenue sources, which are property tax is going to take a hit. Have the city or have the commercial districts underwater in the next five to 10 years. So while cities are looking at roadmapping, more of as a planning exercise, we’ve seen a lot of corporations look at it more from, are we going to have a bad kind of reputational view because we are two standard deviations higher on emissions per unit revenue than three of our closest competitors?

That’s a problem. And we want to know, our emissions. But we want to have that added context to know, is this good or bad? Is this too bad? Is this was this bad last year, but now it’s good — they want it to be a little bit more nuanced when it comes to how they’re perceived.

And we saw that with the recent, you know, open SEC letter on what common disclosures ought to look like. So that’s on everyone’s mind, right? Is this rea? Am I going to be expected to share these types of data and formats that people understand I can compare us to? And if that’s the case, which it’s looking more and more like it will happen in some way, shape, or form, what do I have to do to be proactive? How can I get in front of this transition, and really understand what my data liabilities or environmental liabilities might be? Right. So that’s something we’re definitely seeing on the enterprise side.

Host Raj Daniels 21:56

Now, earlier, you mentioned you ingested the data, I think you said 3200 counties, you’ve classified all the different properties. Unlike some residential, which can be you know, very cookie cutter, commercial buildings, a very unique one off. How do you know, which buildings are perhaps like LEED certified? Which ones are more efficient? What utility profile looks like? Etc.

Sunny Sanwar 22:18

Yeah, absolutely. So for commercial, we’re overall in from a philosophical standpoint, we within the team, we love to not reinvent the wheel unless we absolutely have to suffer certain things, we build things that was absolutely needed on others, we relied on sort of tangential industry standards. So we really took a look at assessment in private property tax methodologies, and also commercial real estate, on how things are zoned, and how they’re occupied and how they act. So in the land use code, there’s an activity code based on what is happening. So you can have a residential home that serves food, for instance. It kind of acts as a food sales, kind of commercial entity. You can have a university, which is which typically would be classified as, as education, but it’s like a lab.

So it’s almost like almost industrial. So we have to grapple with different competing classifications, and depending on if you’re using it for ownership, we would look at, you know, the ownership tag versus if it’s used for, for modeling, like the energy consumption, at which point, you know, we would use what would fit the operational characteristics of a building. So we’ve come across like mixed use properties, you know, it’s the first two floors are commercial. And the commercial half is food, the other half is like bank office. And then the top three are residential apartments. So there’s obviously a lot of those types of buildings that exist where you have to kind of grapple with competing models on how to you know, classify it, but like what level of factors to attribute.

So for those, we do have special models where we prorate by square footage. And so when it comes to ownership, you know, it is business parks and others, we do have a one to many relationship, one building too many company. And we would prorate it as well, if Company A is like 25% of the square foot and company B is 50 and 25 and so on, we would break down the building model down to those constituent sort of company profiles, which is you know, which is an added step complexity, but it’s also kind of going back to that synergy comment at the building level if you change a boiler, technically, I mean, theoretically, five different tenants could benefit from that scope to emission reductions, right? If you if you do some sort of, you know LED lighting or a retrofit or retro-commissioning of a commercial building, you know, you’re doing it at the building level you’re taking a one time risk on the investment and, you know, kind of savings over time.

But each one of those companies that are headquartered there, whatever, you know, have operations there, they could claim that reduction prorated on their scope two emissions outlook. So it’s I think there’s still, you know, there’s obviously still challenges and complexities on what we do. But the hope is that with technology addressing these challenges, we can make it simpler for folks who want to reduce their emissions to synergize across their peers or across other entities that might share similarities.

And maybe even the building owner knowing that there are five tenants in their building, all with ESG, and net zero targets could prioritize that retro-commissioning project a little bit better, right. So that’s a really good point, I think we’re going to be with prop tech, and you know, all these, you know, newer emerging spaces, there’ll be a lot more data, a lot more best practices, a lot more interoperability for us to really solve this problem at scale.

Host Raj Daniels 26:07

So speaking of solving problems, what inspired you motivated you to start Dynamhex?

Sunny Sanwar 26:14

I was actually thinking about it, like, over the pandemic, it’s the best time to think about things. So thinking about things at 3am. So, you know, thinking about kind of what were the contributing factors that led me to take this head on. So one of them was my last company where we were, you know, our proposal generation actually looked at, you know, building-level profiles. So we would look, we would kind of know, which buildings in any given market probably had a lot of peaks, we would know, the demand charges, we’d know, overall kind of rate structure.

And it was a very long manual process, we would figure out, Okay, how many, how many buildings there might be here? Which one of them could be kind of scope out a proposal for? And you know, how could we look at putting together the demand charge reduction on the batteries, but also maybe on-site or rooftop solar? Do we do efficiency first? And do we do the other. So I was doing it on a fairly daily basis. And having, you know, some technical background, I hate doing things manually, when I know, you could automate processes.

So we wrote a script in Python, where we would standardize all the building data. And then we would manually loop through it and run an energy storage, only model, energy storage with solar model, energy storage, plus solar plus energy efficiency models. So we would do this so that all the outputs were things we could just layer on the proposals. So I did that. So that was part of it. I mean, it was a necessary yet not sufficient condition for starting your own business. So that happened.

And then I actually spent a year as a data scientist in local government. So I was at Jackson County, in the abatement assessment office. So we would run models on property taxes based on, you know, permit data, MLS sales comps, overall kind of market conditions, school districts, all that.

And when I was doing that, I had an understanding very kind of in-depth understanding of the standardization of American real estate. So combining what I did Verd2GO for energy projects, to how regions overall look at economic activity, I was like, well, if the US needs to meet a sort of net-zero target, the quickest thing to do is not manually go to these meetings and kind of talk about rhetorical stuff, it would be to do a bottom-up sort of looped estimate, on how many solutions could we fit in how many buildings and in what order?

So those two things together, really, and you know, I’ve been waiting for something like Dynamhex myself. And after waiting three years, you’re like, you know what, well, it’s not gonna come out on its own. Maybe I should start myself. And that’s what drove us to productize this process, the process that everyone has to do, but hates. How could we do that with a better user experience at scale? So it doesn’t matter if you’re in Louisiana or Juneau, Alaska, your climate journey could be significantly made better by a service like Dhynamex. So that’s what those two things got me to really think about it this way.

Host Raj Daniels 29:36

But you know, as well as anyone how difficult it is to start a company, and I see the commercial opportunities there. But what about the why? Why did this particular area look attractive to you? What about it? What about climate change, perhaps, drives you?

Sunny Sanwar 29:52

So going back, I was born in Bangladesh, I grew up in Dhaka, which is the capital. In 1998, we had one of the biggest floods 67% of the country was underwater. And I remember that was right after summer vacation. And when first started, I was kind of happy that we didn’t have to go back to school because like August or September. But then you know, really quickly, it was extremely scary, especially to an eight-year-old.

It’s the late 90s. So you obviously, like saw on TV that it was kind of concentrated only with us, and had cousins like in the US and they visited and knew that it was only a Bangladesh thing, you know, the world wasn’t underwater, it was just mostly us. So that got me to thinking sort of subconsciously, like, well, this kind of sucks, right? Like, it’s a pretty horrific thing that happens, and what is causing it? How can we make sure this didn’t happen next year, when I’m nine years old? You start thinking with a kid about some of these things. And that subconsciously really drove me to think about solutions to climate. So you know, if you think starting a business, you have to be driven by the commercial upside. But as an entrepreneur, sometimes it’s what would you rather be doing? Right?

So from the climate perspective, growing up, I think this whole nagging I — I’d rather work a 60-hour a week trying to figure out how we could solve climate — like that really invigorates me — rather than kind optimize, what’s the max I could earn for 40 hour weeks? I always had that, in the back of my head starting, you know, Verd2GO, early on. I was 22. I could have taken two job offers that were fairly lucrative for 22 year old, but ended up starting something that a lot of people were like, well, I don’t know if you need to do this. But that was interesting, I’d rather spend my time creating something that I have a very strong conviction for. And there’s a feedback loop of I’m getting closer, you know, than just doing the next best thing.

And with Dynamhex, that was the same thing. You know, the upsides were obviously massive, especially now. Like a year after we started this company, you know, we started getting more and more people setting that their targets, and then the feds moved, and now the world hopefully moves. So things are getting better. But the reason why I personally started is I really couldn’t see myself doing anything other than trying to solve for the root cause of that flood back in 98.

Host Raj Daniels 32:31

Well, speaking of the world moving right now, as we speak, COP 26 is going on. What are some of your views as to some of the conversations that have been going on for the past 10 days?

Sunny Sanwar 32:42

Yeah, I mean, I think I understand why, but some things that, you know, for me who kind of my personality is like, let’s kind of go out and do it kind of a personality. For me, a lot of it has been stating and restating the problem without actually, you know, kind of looking and recording solution. So a lot of the sessions that have joined and kind of done I mean, there’s obviously a lot of insightful things people are saying, but a lot of it has been re-problematizing the issue. And if he had one week to solve something, we’re already on Thursday, and we haven’t gotten to solutions, yet. We’ve spent four, three and a half days talking about the problem. So a lot of it has been sort of helpful for people to be brought up to speed.

But if the goal was to really commit and have mechanisms to enforce commitments, I think there could have been a lot more done around that. I mean, understanding that bilateral, you know, kind of transnational agreements are not something you could do over two weeks, and completely understand that, but how best could we sync up what we’ve already been doing?

So if we had climate targets at the city, state, corporate region level, how could we already integrate them and create a consortium that is more trackable? Right, like how could we make a, you know, kind of data-backed, almost like a stock market of emission reduction targets and progress that way we could the same way we would look at Dow, we could qualitatively know, are we headed the right direction? If so, in which sector, which timeframe? Something like that would move the conversations that are closer to where we want it to be. Versus just restarting, hey, 445 ppms in a 1.5-degree pathway. We got that, like, we’ve been talking about this since I was in high school. Why are we still talking about that? We know, I think everyone who needs to act very know the underlying issues.

What they’re not clear about is the incentives and you know, is it a compliance-driven thing? If so, what does that look like? Is that going to change the cost effective test for a lot of folks who are waiting to set or reduce emissions? Those are the open questions that I think are important. And while there has been some conversations on that, I don’t want to say nothing has happened. There does need to be something that has more teeth. If this is our Manhattan Project, the urgency doesn’t really feel as pressing, I guess.

So I think it’s a long way of answering your question. I think it’s a mixed signal. I think the conversations happening need to happen. But we shouldn’t shy away from more ambitious conversations, more committed roadmaps than we have, as of today.

Host Raj Daniels 35:34

Well, speaking of ambitious conversations, you’ve mentioned three different startups, we kind of went over your bio, what are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about yourself and your journey?

Sunny Sanwar 35:48

I think the most valuable lessons have to be around which which aspects of your goals, hypothesis, you know, ambitiousness, or whatever it is, for your venture, and for yourself, which one of them should be non-negotiable, and which one of them which ones once need to be flexible? And that’s, that’s an understanding that you should happen on day one, day zero as an entrepreneur.

I don’t think there’s any problem or any kind of solution to put out in the market that doesn’t require you to really go through a stressful kind of internal stage of kind of soul searching. Is this what I ultimately want this solution to do? If you’re faced with adversity, which I guarantee you will, having that clear, internal thesis of, okay, I’m solving for this, for this reason. If that is clear, everything else falls in place fairly, fairly simply, versus if you’re trying to go after a big market, there’s so many things that will stand in the way and so many different versions of the same goal, that it will be very exhausting for you. But you know, what’s equally, maybe damaging is it’ll be confusing for your team and for your company.

So if you’re the one who started this, and like it or not, you imprinted yourself on the company, having that guiding star, and being very clear about that guiding star, helps that expectations reduce lack of cohesion among team members, you know, let’s people who are coming in looking from the outside, align more with your mission, and really understand what the vision of what they’re building is. It isn’t just, you know, software. We’re not using Blockchain. You know, those things are helpful. But that is just a means to an end. What is the end? Don’t build things for the sake of building things. You have to build because that’s in your opinion, the only way of getting to that goal state. And that goal state should be important enough, at least to you that it’s worth going through every, every “no,” going through years of no traction, or really taking a bet that’s unpopular, based on obviously metrics, but also that feeling that you can stick with what you’re doing for a lot longer than anyone else, in your sector, or maybe arguably, in the world.

So I think those are the things that really opened my eyes. Started scaling a company through the pandemic was, you know, challenging, but you would, you can live through some of those challenges if your guiding stars there. If it isn’t there, then you’re just you know, as a rational person, you wouldn’t push as hard on certain things, even though you might need to push fairly hard as an entrepreneur. So I don’t know if that’s helpful. But I think it’s all I’m saying is being clear and honest with yourself about what you’re building. Why and how, how far are you willing to take? Those are the things that, you know, for each venture, like those are the unifying things that I get to learn about myself.

Host Raj Daniels 38:56

Absolutely. And speaking of goal state, let’s move into the future. It’s 2034. Forbes is going to write another article about you specifically about Dhynamex. Would you like that headline to read?

Sunny Sanwar 39:11

For Dynamex and for the world, at that point, net zero will be a thing. You know, the goal of trying to get to net zero is a thing that we’ve accomplished, it’s a thing of the past. It’s like ozone, right? Like, we don’t talk about it because we’ve actually kind of gotten to that level as society. So by 2030, I think they will write one paragraph about how we started, when we started and why, and then it’ll talk about the services that we’re providing then, which would be more around sustainable finance. It will be more about actually making sure that the pounds of emissions or pounds of any naturally degrading compound, whether it be pollutants, toxins, and you know anything emissions is tied more to investments.

So, you know, we are looking forward into the future, we think the newer versions of ESG and green bonds, climate notes, you know, we’re going to have almost a payment processing level understanding of every negative impact that our economic activity has. So while we’re starting with climate today, and in five years we’re gonna solve it. And the 10 year mark, it’s going to be a protocol-level service, much like PayPal or Google AdWords that you don’t really think about. You just consume, knowing that the positive outcomes are, are happening somewhere else. You’re deriving environmental value from our services, much how you do economic value today from some of the big tech folks,

Host Raj Daniels 40:43

That’s a beautiful vision, I look forward to seeing come to fruition.

Sunny Sanwar 40:46

I do, too.

Host Raj Daniels 40:48

So, last question, and you kind of tied this in already a little earlier, when I asked you the question of what you’ve learned about yourself if you could share some specific advice, words of wisdom with the audience, it could be for entrepreneurs, it could be for personal professional, what would it be?

Sunny Sanwar 41:02

For entrepreneurs, you know, the one thing I would, you know, want people to take away is that you know, 30, under 30, stuff for kind of overall, like youth level stuff, don’t let that create this urgency of you have to pick what you want to do for the next 10 years before the end of the month. That creates an external pressure that I don’t feel like needs to be there.

I think, you know, take your time really understanding what you’re good at, obviously, in what you want to do. But what value do you kind of take pride in doing? I could do a lot of things. If you do a lot of things, there are certain things I enjoy, there are certain things I don’t enjoy. But then there are certain things that I look back and I value. Figure out what that aspect is, it could be thematic, it could be good at product dev. It could be kind of a functional area, right? It could be industry space, hey, I’m pretty good at buying low selling high, I don’t know if that’s helpful, but that’s what I’m good at, it’s for the enjoy. So going through that process early on, either as an entrepreneur or as a professional overall, take your time in understanding that.

And don’t let kind of arbitrary requirements stress you out that you’re not where you want to be. Don’t think that it is that one thing that you’re good at, and you know, you’re gonna ignore everything else. Sometimes you’re good at two, three things that have nothing to do with each other. But if early on, you say no to paths two, and three, you kind of miss out on the future, that could have been if you kept those other things that you enjoy as part of your toolkit.

And the last thing, I think, maybe not so popular is, you know, I think everyone wants to be good at a lot of things. And I think that’s kind of almost the human psychology that I want to be good at four or five different skill sets, because they’re all equally good. And I think that makes sense. And that’s there’s some merit, but find what you’re really, really good at and be even better at that one thing. Because, you know, at the end of the day, you have you know, mathematically have two choices, you could be a generalist at a few things or a specialist at one thing.

So what it might seem antithetical to what I said earlier, picking two-three things that you’re really good at, you know, it, you believe it, you’ve tested yourself out in very high-stress situations, highly dynamic environments, and try to hone in skills for those specific things. Because that is the contribution that others in society needs you need. People need somebody who could really do a couple of things really well, that hundreds of people that could do 100 things sort of well. Because there’s no differentiation between 100 people trying to do this 100 thing.

So for professionals and for entrepreneurs, kind of being honest about what role you play, what really liked to play, and what role has the most value. Take your time and really understand how those things come together. And don’t be be under a time crunch or some sort of arbitrary requirement to just pick one and then commit to 10 years of doing that, because oftentimes, you don’t have all the information yet to make that kind of long term stance on something.

Host Raj Daniels 44:25

I love the idea of not letting arbitrary requirements stress you out. Sunny, I really appreciate your time today. And I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Sunny Sanwar 44:34

Absolutely, Raj, anytime. Thanks again for having me. This was this is great.

Host Raj Daniels 44:38

Thank you, Sunny.

Thank you for listening. If you like our show, please give us a rating and review on iTunes. And you can show your support by sharing our show with a friend or reach out to us on social media, where you’ll find us under our Nexus PMG handle. If there’s a subject or topic you’d like to hear about, send me an email at BTU@nexuspmg.com, or contact me via our website, nexuspmg.com. And while you’re there, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter where we share what we’re reading and thinking about in the cleantech, green tech sectors. Bigger than us is a Nexus PMG production.

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Bigger Than Us is a publication where sustainability-focused industry leaders and entrepreneurs share their stories.

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