The below is an interview I conducted with Zoheb Davar, co-founder of Cleantech Rising on behalf of Katerva where I am volunteering as Director of Awards Program.
Dear Zoheb, thank you very much for your time. As soon as I had a look at your website and read that Cleantech Rising mission is to “… shed light on the world’s greatest environmental issues and the advanced technology to solve them. We make these technical innovations easy to understand and enjoyable to read.” I felt that kindred spirits had met. Tell me a bit more about how Cleantech Rising came about and where the idea came from.
Cameron and I went to college together and gravitated towards each other because of our mutual adoration for the written word. We met up at his parents’ restaurant and talked about how we could use our writing to fuel a positive impact. That’s when we uncovered our shared passion for sustainability, technology, and imagining how the future will unfold. We wanted to get others as excited as we were
about clean technologies that could save the world! Within the next couple weeks, we developed Cleantech Rising and decided we’d only write in a positive and light-hearted tone.
Clearly, it is a lot of work putting such newsletters together! What do you aim to achieve and why are you doing it?
True. We love to write, so that helps make the work feel enjoyable. We intend to make people (including ourselves) aware of all the harmful effects deriving from business as usual activities and to highlight the amazing people who develop innovative solutions to make positive change.
Everything has to become more sustainable, from cars, to food, to energy. With that massive shift, numerous opportunities await. We want to bring Cleantech Rising readers to the forefront of the clean future where they can take advantage of those opportunities rising on the horizon.
Where and how do you find / identify the content of your newsletters?
We find inspiration from various sources – from a book we’re currently reading, to a startup we come across on Facebook, to someone who tells us a story over a beer. That’s probably my favorite part of Cleantech Rising. Getting hit with a flash of inspiration, understanding the ins and outs of the problem and potential solution, then weaving a storyline throughout a compelling newsletter.
What are topics that you are personally most interest in and passionate about?
I’ve always been an energy person. I get most stoked when I hear about new renewable energy production or a new method of sustainable transportation. As a lifelong surfer, Cameron appreciates everything that helps restore the oceans and preserve water. He also epitomises a futurist and loves envisioning how the clean future will pan out.
Are there some developments / organisations that you are particularly excited about? Why?
Living in California, we’re both totally supportive and excited to see the progress that Elon Musk has been making with Tesla. He’s not only single-handedly accelerating our transition to sustainability, he’s doing it in style and maintaining a light-hearted air along the way. He’s pretty much the closest thing we have to a real life superhero.
Who is your readers, and how do they find you?
The first Cleantech Rising readers were our friends and families. We sought out their feedback and made iterations on our newsletters to hone in on our target audience. We put all our newsletters on our Medium publication and now our readers come to us from all sorts of sources. We’re extremely motivated to see new subscribers every week who came across our content per the recommendation of their friends and colleagues.
What is the most challenging aspect of running Cleantech Rising?
Two main things:
1. Staying motivated to write these newsletters. Having a fantastic partner to bounce ideas off of and to help foster inspiration has been the key.
2. Understanding what type of content people enjoy reading. We’re constantly trying to get feedback from our readers in order to better tailor our writing to our audience.
I am sure lots of readers are one way to motivate – so here to read one of Cleantech Rising’s newsletters – it IS a coincidence that it is on The Ocean CleanUp who were also the 2015 Katerva Grand Prize Winner … and here to subscribe to their newsletter! You can also follow them on Twitter: twitter.com/CleantechRising.
Dear Zoheb, thank you very much for your time.