I’ll admit it. A few weeks ago, when Pratexo’s lead investor, @BCP Ventures, first proposed to that I come to the annual World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland, I was pretty skeptical. I occasionally enjoy a corporate boondoggle as much as the next person, but I don’t currently have either the time or the desire to spend the money on one, and Davos felt to me like the ultimate one. My company and I are WAY too busy working to electrify the world with the help of great partners like @ABB and @Cognizant.
To twist my arm, I was promised a studio interview in the glass-walled Impact Studio on the main street in Davos, where I would be able to tell the Pratexo story. My ‘marketing brain’ was attracted to this idea, and I believe it went off fairly well (despite 3 hours of sleep the night before).
That, alone, would not be enough to justify the time and money. But I took a chance, and off I went.
You can probably guess where I am going with this: It turns out that I’m truly glad I did!
Why? Two reasons:
First, I have never experienced such an intense congregation of so many smart, caring people who are entirely open to meaningful conversations, all in one, confined location.
Davos is generally known for attracting billionaires, heads-of-state, and other famous people because that is what the press picks up on. And I did get a chance to rub elbows with the likes of John Kerry, Chef José Andrés, Al Gore, Joe Manchin, and Marc Benioff up close and personal, which would rarely be possible elsewhere – at least not for a guy like me. Sometimes it felt like I was sitting in a personal studio recording of my favorite show, Fareed Zaharia GPS. (Unfortunately, he was one person I did not run across in Davos this year – one more item still on the bucket list!)
But, of course, the vast majority of attendees are not like those people. Instead, they are founders and innovators and investors and big thinkers and simply people who are trying to figure out how to do some little part to help change the world for the better. And it doesn’t matter who you are or who they are, almost everyone comes here with a willingness to learn and an openness to share their experience, knowledge, and ideas.
So the quality and engagement of the people here is reason one. The second reason is the way you are forced to think outside of the box.
If you are reading this, you are probably already aware that Pratexo’s mission is to use edge-to-cloud technologies to help electrify the world and, in doing so, reduce carbon emissions that are driving climate change.
All good, yet my time in Davos gave me the opportunity to consider even wider possibilities:
- That habitat and biodiversity loss are just as critical issues as climate change – and sometimes the solutions to address one can work against another.
- That the circular economy involves both biological and technical components. (Special thanks to @Handshake, who hosted a dinner featuring renowned architect and sustainability guru Bill McDonough, where I was actually one of the few guests invited to stand up and say a few words about my company and its mission.)
- That blockchain technology will certainly become a critical component of future sustainability-related solutions – inspiring me to consider how Pratexo’s decentralized systems can better integrate and accelerate such technologies. (Special thanks to @Cathy Mulligan and @Tobias Huber for furthering my education and inspiration on this topic.)
- That the ‘energy transition’ we are now undertaking is as much about energy security and resilience as it is about decarbonization. (This insight was the result of an incredible executive session hosted by @Michael Perkinson from Guggenheim Partners, which also happened to share the chalet that was our offline work and meeting space on the Davos Promenade.)
- That ‘Catalytic Capital’ is the way to describe early investment money that actually moves the needle in meaningful companies. (Thanks to all my existing investors for thinking about Pratexo in these terms.)
These, along with many others ideas that I have been discussing and considering over the course of this week, will definitely have long-lasting impacts on both Pratexo’s strategy and on my personal outlook.
It’s easy to forget how important it is to have some time “away from the fray” of daily challenges and tasks to think and learn outside the box. That is a big part of what my time in Davos gave me this week.
Thank you to @Brynne Kennedy and @Roger Lang from BCP Ventures for ‘forcing’ me to go. ;-)
To @JR (Happy Birthday!), @Anne, @Andrew, and the entire team at ‘influence agency’ Handshake for hosting me during the week.
To my new friends, @Alexandra Rasch Castillo, the super-driven, rockstar CEO of future unicorn Caban Systems; @Tyson Butler, CFO and GM at Elite Measurement, who was my true co-conspirator nearly 24×7 at Davos; @Harvey Floyd II, VC at Inspiration Ventures, universally respected as both the nicest and wisest guy in our lodge; and, finally @Monette Stephens, my former business partner and now Partner at SF Growth Capital and who was in my Davos group by pure coincidence (which happens frequently at Davos). This great group of people were my roomies at our far-too-tiny shared chalet in the mountains.
Finally, a special shout-out to my good friend @Abe Smith, the Head of International at a small company you might have heard about called Zoom. He is a Davos regular who took me under his wing in my first few hours on the ground to give me the tips that would help make the week successful.
And thank you to everyone else who made this an enjoyable and worthwhile trip. I left Davos more convinced than ever that Pratexo is on the right course and that the world will find ways past its many challenges.
Do I plan on going to Davos again? You bet.