Published in


Rayyan Islam_E19: An Avenger of Industry [11/23/2020]

Rayyan Islam, a Founder and Impact Investor at Emergence Industries, and VC at Romulus Capital, called in from Dallas [11/23/2020]


Note: References with links are listed at the end of the show notes.


1:00 Shares professional backstory, growing up in Dallas TX. And spent a lot of time in Bangladesh. Talks about power, water, and recycling juxtaposition from upbringings in Texas, and difference when visiting abroad.

3:00 Shares inspiration from Muhammad Yunus, who won a Nobel Prize for microloans to women in rural areas starting businesses — launched from Bangladesh. Rayyan discusses his first startup, an electronic hukkah. Talks about dropping out of university to scale up the business. Realized he’s a true entrepreneur.

5:00 Talks about experience with Spotify in NY as a Product Manager. Then transition to Romulus Capital since 2014.

SECTION1: Originate

7:30 Shares story of growing up ‘different’, in a predominantly white neighborhood. Talks about the hustling bustling Bangladeshi experience he had. Talks about the extreme poverty, and the disparity between the two worlds he grew up in. Realized how lucky he was, and what this luck meant — how his father’s choice to move to the US completely changed his life. Ties in the example of climate change, and the example of Southern Bangladesh — and the impact of an overlapping refugee crisis.

14:22 Talks about social impact of approaching lending on a village by village basis, used in Yunus’ work. We discuss some of the broader problems of micro-finance tying into economic sustainability, and economic infrastructure. Rayyan sees the real way for economic mobility made by infrastructure that can democratize creation of opportunity.

SECTION2: Emerge

15:00 Abstracts conversation into the importance of infrastructure. Highlights the importance of asking how things interconnect, and work. Finding innovation, is led by thinking like this. Talks about how he gravitated away from software.

19:00 Talks about the historic centralization of infrastructure. And how electricity, waste, and waste removal is being decentralized. Uses analogy of software being decentralized. Shares knowledge about Community Solar, and the maturing of the industry. Highlights how solar wasn’t mature enough to develop projects a couple decades back. Now utility scale projects are attainable. Industrial and Commercial Solar then got adopted, and now Residential Solar is scalable.

30:00 Shares what is being reimagined with synthetic biology, including emissions, and waste. Also points to synthetic bio as a cheaper option. We discuss ammonia and green hydrogen opportunities. Talks about the power-mix and decarbonization. Shares how pipelines in the US can acta as a bridge to a low carbon economy.

36:00 Talks about time with Ross Perot Family Office. Also shares how family offices think proactively about impact in their businesses. Emergence works with 12 family offices, and bridges interests in industrial investments.

SECTION3: Romulus

41:00 Talks about the Romulus Team. Talks about the high concentration high conviction strategy, and the hybrid venture studio approach they take. Spun out of MIT lab.

43:00 Fund’s focus: Circles of Innovation, Crispr, Electric Aviation, Industrial. They work backwards, by speaking to people in industry, in finding what they should be looking for.

45:00 Have had excitement at Seed stage with some CVCs, who start as customers, and later may invest.


-Rayyan Islam [Twitter]: https://twitter.com/RayyanIslam1

-Emergence Industries: https://www.emergenceindustries.com/

-Rayyan Islam [LinkedIn]: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayyanislam/

-Romulus Capital: https://romuluscap.com/

-The Emergence Initiative [Newsletter]: https://emergenceinitiative.substack.com/

-Cox’s Bazar Beach, in Bangladesh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cox%27s_Bazar_Beach

-Climate Refugees in Bangladesh [Doc]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co5uywe-1Z8

-An Inconvenient Truth, with Al Gore [Full Movie]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZUoYGAI5i0

-UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): https://cdm.unfccc.int/about/index.html

-Carbon Rights/Credits and Kyoto Protocol history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npS3fRXQu0c&feature=emb_title

-SEIA Community Solar: https://www.seia.org/initiatives/community-solar#:~:text=Community%20solar%20refers%20to%20local,is%20being%20rapidly%20adopted%20nationwide.

-America’s Electric Cooperatives: https://www.electric.coop/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NCS-2815_Co-op-Facts-and-Figures-Packet_Individual-Letter-Sheets.pdf

-Synthetic Bio [w/Slack]: http://synbio.info/

-Synthetic Bio [Genome.gov]: https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/policy-issues/Synthetic-Biology#:~:text=Synthetic%20biology%20is%20a%20field,in%20medicine%2C%20manufacturing%20and%20agriculture

-Cargill Bio Industrial Products: https://www.cargill.com/bioindustrial

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Song Credit: The Croft — By Joakim Karud

[ No Copyright on Music and Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 ]



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


A Community focused on Venture Scale Positive Impacts. Produced by Zecca Lehn. On Twitter @posi2ive.