CleanTechies Podcast
#184 Plastic Replacement, Natural Fibers, Drop-In Materials, Toll Mills & More w/ Jesse Henry (Heartland Industries)

#184 Plastic Replacement, Natural Fibers, Drop-In Materials, Toll Mills & More w/ Jesse Henry (Heartland Industries)

Making Plastic Lighter, Stronger, and More Sustainable Using Hemp Fiber Pellets and How They Produce Huge Volumes Without Owning a Facility

🎵 Don’t Worry — Be Hemp-y 🎵

🌎 Welcome back to CleanTechies! This is a Founder edition.

If you’re new (or forgot), we are The #1 Podcast For ClimateTech entrepreneurs.

Each week, we publish 2 (usually) ~1 hour-long conversations with leading Founders, Investors, Operators, and Thinkers in ClimateTech to share their insights and tips for others building in the space.

On top of that, we publish other written content like our Companies to Watch series we’ve been putting out recently.

So—if you’re a ClimateTech Entrepreneur (or at least an aspiring one), this is the place for you. Subscribe today.

Today, we are talking to Jesse Henry from Heartland Industries

Manufacturers everywhere are trying to decarbonize their supply chains. Some want to get a higher ESG score and some want to get access to IRA incentives.

This includes goods made of plastic. Heartland Industries helps those manufacturers.

But they do more than just make their products more sustainable.

They also help them improve strength, reduce weight, and save costs. It’s a quadruple whammy.

Today, Jesse told us his story, how they started, and he unpacked…

  • How they utilized wood pellet mills to produce their goods without building a facility while also adding revenue to the bottom line of those mills

  • The importance of choosing the right Corporate Venture Capital partner (and how to know who is a good partner)

  • How several years of entrepreneurship is far more valuable than working for someone else

It’s a great show — enjoy! 🍿

📺 Watch on YouTube | 🍎 Apple Podcasts | 🎧 Spotify | 🗣️ Join the Slack Channel

🚨Attention! 🚨 We interrupt your regular programming for an important message.

ClimateTech founders are taking on a huge challenge. Building a climate startup is highly complex but also SO NECESSARY if we are going to save the climate. Founders not only you need to understand how to build a startup, but you also need to understand how to deal with hardware, have a strong handle on climate policy, know how to fundraise from diverse investors types, etc. etc. etc…

It’s a lot.

That’s why we make CleanTechies. The #1 Podcast for ClimateTech Entrepreneurs.

In addition to our jobs, we devote ~20 hours a week to producing this podcast for you. This way, you can learn from others who have walked the path you’re on now, learn from their mistakes, and gain insights on navigating this complex world.

If this mission resonates with you, we ask for your financial support of this project. It takes a lot of effort, and it’s not free. Your willingness to contribute on a monthly or yearly basis helps us keep this going.

If you’re already a subscriber and want to contribute financially, click “Upgrade to Paid” at the top right of your screen.

If not, follow the steps once you click “Subscribe Now” below to help us out. Thanks for helping us help all the climate entrepreneurs like you. 🙏 🌎

The Guest: Jesse Henry

  • As a kid, Jesse was entrepreneurial, but he doubted he had what it took. Eventually, through university, he decided to take the leap and build Heartland Industries.

  • This journey wasn’t without mistakes, though. Through trial and error, he and his co-founder learned the importance of fitting into existing manufacturing processes.

  • After a big pivot, they found the right way to approach it.

  • Today, it’s fitting that Jesse is working in the fibers industry. His dad and grandpa have been in the fibers industry in different capacities.

The Company: Heartland Industries

One Liner: Making hemp-fiber pellets to improve the carbon footprint of plastic products, as well as make them stronger, lighter, and save the manufacters money.

Taking Hemp Fiber, a huge carbon sink, they originally tested out producing powder that would be sold to plastic goods manufacteres.

After realizing this would require a huge change in the handling and processing of plastics, they decided to make pellets instead.

Through their partnership with Toyota, they were pointed in the direction of utilizing existing mills to produce their pellets. Producing their hemp-fiber pellets during down time allows them to fill up deadspace, pad the bottom line, and it helps Heartland produce goods without ever needing to build a factory.

Doing all this allows them to deliver large quantities to their customers.

With the recent investment from BASF, they are well positioned for the future.

Do you have suggestions on future guests or topics? Leave a comment!

Leave a comment

Unable to support financially but still want to help? Share this post w/ 3 ClimateTech entrepreneurs (or aspiring entrepreneurs). Sharing is super helpful to us, and it costs you nothing.


📝 Show Notes:


  • 2:15 Intro

  • 2:55 Jesse's Background & Heartland's Mission

  • 10:06 The Challenge of Developing Reliable Supply Chains

  • 13:33 From Powder to Pellets

  • 16:47 What it Means to be a ClimateTech Entrepreneur Today

  • 22:03 Partnering with Wood Pellet Mills for Scale and Cost Reduction

  • 28:34 Run Jesse's Playbook

  • 31:16 The Finance of Materials Companies

  • 34:00 The Power of CVCs

  • 41:10 Opportunities in B2B Marketplaces

  • 43:27 How to Pick the Right CVCs

  • 47:02 Next Steps for Heartland  

  • 54:58 Process Technologies and Software Solutions

  • 56:11 Focusing Beyond Carbon

  • 57:46 Takeaway

  • 54:51 Using Infrastructure to Skip Building

  • 56:16 Reducing Risk with Each Fundraising Round


Asks 👋

👉 Listeners Survey

  • We would love to hear how we can improve the show and what you like most.

Take the Listeners Survey

👉 Fundraising for Founders

  • If founders are looking for funding in the ClimateTech space, reach out & schedule a chat here!

👉 Early-Stage Founders Hiring

  • Silas just started his own recruitment consultancy tailor-made for early-stage ClimateTech startups. He does this by offering heavily discounted headhunting services for companies at Pre-Seed, Seed, and Series A companies. If you need a hand finding the best talent on the market, and you don’t want to sell your kidney to pay for it, let’s chat. (booking here)

Get Hiring

👉 Meet Top Founders

  • Interested in getting in front of hundreds of ClimateTech VCs and Founders each month, reach out to to learn more about becoming a sponsor.

If you couldn’t already tell, we care a lot about ClimateTech founders 😂

🙏🏽 Thanks for tuning in, and see y’all next episode!

CleanTechies Podcast
We are CleanTechies, the #1 Podcast for ClimateTech Entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an active ClimateTech entrepreneur, an aspiring one, an investor, a service provider…anything that touches supporting early stage climate tech, this is the place for you.
Each week, we publish two interviews with leading experts in the field telling their stories, insights, and advice to help ClimateTech Entrepreneurs like you be inspired by their successes and learn from their mistakes.