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


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🚨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.

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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!

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📝 Show Notes:

Topics

  • 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

Links


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

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CleanTechies
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.