CleanTechies Podcast
#164 Net-Zero Cement, Surviving the Startup Valley-of-Death, Timing a Pivot, & More w/ Ryan Gilliam (Fortera)

#164 Net-Zero Cement, Surviving the Startup Valley-of-Death, Timing a Pivot, & More w/ Ryan Gilliam (Fortera)



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🌎 Welcome back to the CleanTechies PodLetter, founder edition.

Today, we are talking to Ryan Gilliam from Fortera

In this conversation, we chat about…

  • How Ryan pivoted at the right time and was able to start Fortera

  • What is their Net-Zero Cement technology and how they scaled it

  • Why they are able to survive the “Startup Valley-of-Death”

And much more…

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The Guest: Ryan Gilliam

  • Ryan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Fortera, a company pioneering net-zero cement

  • He started off spending 11 years at the Calera Corporation, where he learned the fundamentals that would help him start Fortera

  • Ryan is also a Venture Partner at 1955 Capital, investing in technologies developed in the Americas and Europe that can help solve China’s and the developing world's greatest challenges in areas including energy & environment, food safety & supply, health & education, and sustainable manufacturing

The Startup: Fortera

Net-Zero CO2 Cement, Materials, Construction

One-liner: Fortera develops a turnkey bolt-on decarbonization solution that integrates into existing cement plant infrastructures to produce net-zero cement

Their process draws on 100,000+ hours of R&D, 100+ issued global and pending patents and 10+ years of real-world product demonstration.

The Silicon Valley-based company is backed by leading investors including Khosla Ventures and Temasek.

Fortera’s first low-carbon cement plant is nearing completion in Redding, Calif., and will be one of the world's largest carbon mineralization plants.

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📝 Show Notes:


  • 01:44 Intro

  • 05:08 Experience with the Cement Industry

  • 09:40 The Problem of CO2 Emissions in Cement

  • 13:34 Making the Technology Fit Within the Ecosystem

  • 19:46 Changing Customer Mindsets

  • 25:50 Integration with Cement Producers

  • 29:56 Starting Fortera and Convincing Investors

  • 33:55 Fundraising and Shifting Capital Stack

  • 37:05 Raising Early Rounds and Bringing in New Investors

  • 41:28 Transitioning to Project Financing

  • 44:07 Project Development vs Licensing IP

  • 46:28 Key Considerations for Commercial Projects

  • 48:08 Importance of Planning and Preparation

  • 48:35 Challenges in Supply Chain Management


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CleanTechies Podcast
CleanTechies is a Podcast and Newsletter where Somil & Silas interview the leading ClimateTech Founders and Investors to share their advice and journeys with other Founders and Investors to help others succeed.