Young Guns: A Startup Cutting Carbon Using Waste

Jason Aramburu is a 25-year-old entrepreneur with a lot more on his mind than most guys his age.

“Right now humans put out about 16 billion tons of CO2 each year and that’s expected to rise significantly,” said Aramburu. “ Bio-char is a way for us to permanently sequester that carbon in the ground.”

Don’t worry. It’s okay if you just said “What?”

Aramburu is talking about bio-char. It’s made from natural waste, capturing the carbon from the wood, seed husks and other agricultural leftovers and transforms it into a charcoal substance put into soil to make it healthier. Aramburu knows the idea is a lot to swallow at once, but he’s confident that re-char, his green tech company that makes the product, will be able to capitalize on bio-char’s benefits soon.

That’s because he hopes this idea, which probably seems obscure to most, won’t stay obscure for much longer. And this Princeton grad’s dream might very well become a reality. Notable people, including billionaire Richard Branson, are advocating the eco-friendly bio-char, and Aramburu himself has already gotten recognition from The Economist Magazine’s Carbon Economy conference and Echoing Green, a non-profit that funds startups they see as social visionaries.

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Six Shooter Q&A with Jason Aramburu of re-char

1. Where were you when you thought of the idea?

I was in Panama doing soil science and climate change research. That is where I learned about the concept of Terra Preta practiced by farmers in the Amazon about 2,000 years ago. Terra Preta means "Black Earth," and was an ancient precursor to modern biochar. It was a very compelling idea, one that I felt could be a weapon in the fight against climate change and generate a massive market opportunity for carbon sequestration where none previously existed.

2. What are your three biggest tips to entrepreneurs?

1) Chasing investors is like herding cats. Focus on executing your business plan, iterating your technology and generating sales. Investors will flock to you if you're successful.

2) Always be aware of and respect your competition. If you have no competition, you are likely not looking hard enough.

3) Speak slowly and confidently when describing your venture. If you can't effectively communicate your venture to a novice, find someone who can and hire them.

3. As a young entrepreneur, how do you get others to take you seriously? Is it ever hard because of your age?

Experience is invaluable in business. I've learned to always be respectful of people with more experience. If you are not being taken seriously, you're likely doing something wrong.

4. In three words, how would others describe you?

calm, cool and creative

5. What is the future for re-char?

We seek to make a gigaton-scale impact on carbon emissions in the next decade. That means 1 billion tons of carbon taken out of the atmosphere and put in the soil.

6. What is the future for Jason Aramburu?

Writing business plans has taught me it's rather difficult to project beyond 5 years in the future. That said, I'd like to one day be in a position where I can enable (and hopefully fund) other entrepreneurs to execute and build their ideas into viable companies.

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