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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Nov 15, 2022

This is a cool episode, because Grant Canary has found a way to make money by cooling the planet—with trees! In episode 98 with Maddie Hall, we learned about how her startup, Living Carbon, is bioengineering trees to grow faster so we can reforest the planet faster. And in this 101st episode, we’ll hear about a different approach to reforestation.

Every year, millions of acres of forests in the US burn down, and the number of acres burning is increasing annually. We know that trees not only provide critical wildlife habitat, but they’re an important part of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, yet literally billions of trees burn up in wildfires each year.

Regardless of how fast those trees grow, just imagine how much time it would take to hand plant enough seeds to replace billions of burned trees. Enter Drone Seed. Founded in 2016, the company's raised well over $30 million from venture investors so far to essentially automate the reforestation process. 

Rather than planting seeds by hand or even randomly from the air, the 100-person startup’s drones survey the burned land, plan the mission, and then strategically drop pucks filled with seeds and the nutrients they’ll need to grow in the areas they’re most likely going to take root. 

The company is already selling carbon offsets to companies like Shopify, proving that sometimes it can be more profitable to grow a forest than to cut one down. 

Discussed in this episode

More about Grant Canary

Grant Canary is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DroneSeed, which reforests after wildfire using heavy lift drone swarms. It was founded to make reforestation scalable and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. It recently acquired subsidiary Silvaseed which has been expanded to be the largest private seed bank on the west coast. The company is now a one-stop-shop for reforestation providing seed, seedlings, aerial seeding, and financing via carbon credits.

Grant has focused his entire career on sustainability—working at Vestas wind energy in China, the US and Denmark, and for the US Green Building Council in its infancy.

He has had one prior acquisition. He founded Biosystems Co., in Bogotá, Colombia that utilized food waste to feed insect larvae for use as industrial fish feed— alleviating overfishing pressure and utilizing food waste. He worked with the acquirer to scale that company to a 60k sq ft insect protein factory which is going strong today.

Grant is a pacific NW native growing up in Oregon playing chess, then poker, then improv. By virtue of DroneSeed he is a Techstars Seattle Alumni ('16), Mulago Foundation Fellow, and Grist list of 50 Fixers.