What’s it all about?
Direct Air Capture, space geeks, a founders journey, the trials and tribulations of a cleantech CEO, self-awareness, new pastures and ventures, and what it really means to be successful. A fascinating and candid conversation with a founder I’ve known for many years, sharing his journey and his life beyond a cleantech CEO.
About Max Beaumont:
Max is the founder and strategic adviser to Skytree (www.skytree.eu). Before starting Skytree in 2010 (with zero experience in business until then), he was a system engineer at the European Space Agency working on CO2 removal hardware to maintain air quality for astronauts. Max is British and has a Physics degree. He is a PADI advanced diver, occasionally writes, runs a product development agency (https://numa.studio) and is the proud owner of two dogs.
About The Skytree:
Skytree develops and deploys smart technology that captures atmospheric carbon dioxide. While creating a tool to combat climate change, the company also enables the use or storage of its CO2 to aid societies and businesses around the world
- • €8M raised to date
- • €25M valuation (Q1 2023)
- • Headcount > 30 FTE incl. x4 PhD researchers
- • Deals closed with multinationals in Japan, UK, Germany & France
- • 16 patents
- • >20 prototypes
- • HQ in Amsterdam with sales offices in US and APAC
- • Spin-out from the European Space Agency
- The NUMA on Linkedin: NUMA: Overview | LinkedIn
- The Skytree on Linkedin: Skytree | We’re Hiring 🚀: Overview | LinkedIn
- The NUMA Website: Home – Numa Studio
- The Skytree Website: Skytree | Scalable Carbon Removal Solutions
- Max Beaumont LinkedIn: Max Beaumont | LinkedIn
About Hyperion Executive Search:
Hyperion are a specialist executive search firm working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy.
If you want to grow your team, or move forward your career, visit www.hyperionsearch.com, or email email@example.com
Max Beaumont on Medium: Max Beaumont – Medium
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David Hunt 0:00
Hello, I’m David Hunt CEO and founder of the Hyperion clean tech group and your host for the living cleanup Podcast. Today a slightly longer episode, because I wanted to cover two things which truly fascinate me. And the epitome of what this podcast is all about is that combination between technology and today’s guests, we’re talking about direct air capture, and the CEO and founder of their attack capture company, but also the challenges trials tribulations of being a founder and an entrepreneur. And we cover both of those topics, which is why it’s slightly longer talk to max Bowman who’s the CEO and founder of Sky Tree, who’s also now living in Ireland in Bali and doing some great other product iteration activities, and living a great life of success. And I think it was great. I wanted to share his story, as an example of just how complex it can be to build businesses and how you need to look after yourself as an individual and how you need to be very self aware to be a great founder and a great leader. I hope you enjoy the episode. Hello, Max, it’s great to have you on the leads and cleans out podcast. Good to be here, David. Good to see you. So evening time with you in embolic. keeping you from the beach.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 1:05
Indeed it is and I apologise ahead of time for any poor lighting quality on my side. But yeah, this is part of being on there on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere.
David Hunt 1:15
Yeah, yeah. Well, sadly, I mean, well, Liverpool is a great city, but it’s not very tropical at the moment. But it’s good to have have you, Max, we’ve obviously known each other for quite some time. You You are many things you’ve clearly a physicist, as space geek, a co founder, product specialists, many things, how would you describe yourself?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 1:36
Well, I would say, at heart, I’m a product person. Put it that way. So I studied, I am a scientist in the study physics have analytical mindset. However, you know, pursued that career for all of two years before starting my own company. And I can see say what gets me out of bed really is is originating product ideas. I also see myself as a writer and traveller, we can get into that later.
David Hunt 2:09
Yeah, that will do actually, I was reading one of your medium articles actually over the weekend. So that’s certainly something to touch on also. So this is yeah, this is interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about your your past them Max, as you say, a scientist, a physicist. And it would appear from stuff I’ve read, you know, a bit of a space geek with clear lens into your first company that you you founded Skytree. What What came first, well, US base geek and then a physicist or a specific physicist, and then the space freak and what led you to the creation of Skytree?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 2:43
Yeah, so space geek. And number one, front and centre, absolutely wants to be an astronaut from the age of 14. So So I was like, Yeah, either I could join the military and become a pilot. Or my only other option is to to become a scientist and, and get a PhD. So that’s essentially why I studied physics. I was really into that. Then, after about four years doing Master’s in physics, at work University, I was at the cusp of making decision of which way to go with my life. And I understood that I really wasn’t a person that lends himself well to being stuck in a lab for hours on end windlass lab at that with little social contacts, really, for the next sort of three, four years of my life, and maybe incrementally moving the needle forward on the scientific front. And normally is one that so so it really wasn’t for me, I decided, but nonetheless, I got into the space sector as a system engineer. So my first job was working on a life support project for the International Space Station at the European Space Agency. That’s what brought me to Holland. And my contract was two years long. At the end of that I had another decision point. And it was like, well, here you go, Max. Either, you could go with this, and essentially, be in a golden cage for the rest of my life, which is basically what what European Space Agency is, it’s, it’s, in a way so so for me, it would have been that. Or I could actually just move forward with what I also held as a dream from a young age to be an entrepreneur ever since reading Richard Branson’s autobiography at 16 So that was another sort of life ambition of me of mine and I thought, well, great, then then let’s do it. And I, I also had an opportunity to to get my idea funded by the European Space Agency because we leverage space tech so that was that was great and opportunities Is it odd that I am took advantage of that. And then one thing led to another and I guess, like fundamentally, the the idea of being an entrepreneur was attractive to me for the freedom that it lends not only financially, but also day to day. And secondly, just about just doing something good for society, you know, just helping things out and moving us forward in one way or another. Right. So for those two reasons, and that context, I started sketching
David Hunt 5:35
for some context for the origin scratcher many people would have would have seen because again, you’ve you’ve continued to grow the company continue to grow raise funds, but obviously, it’s involved in direct air capture of carbon, which is exceptionally important. So again, but that was specifically initially at least that’s come from removing carbon from from a space capsule, essentially, is that that the case?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 5:54
Exactly the same process? Yeah, exactly. So if you don’t do that, in the space, astronauts fix it, and they die. So it’s very important process. In fact, it was the reason for the Apollo 13, disaster. co2 scrubbers stopped working. So it’s, yeah, so I was like, Oh, well, you know, if we’ve developed this really highly effective and efficient process for space, what if we could do this for the Earth’s atmosphere? You know, because that’s a good thing. Because it’s not a silver bullet, right? It’s not the solution. But it is a solution, a tool in our toolbox that surely we should probably develop as society. If one day, we need to try and reverse climate change to a degree, no pun intended, then at least we have the technology ready to deploy. The reason for starting up? Yeah. Everybody thought we were crazy. People were like, what capturing co2 from the air. Of course, now, it’s one of the hottest industries startup.
David Hunt 6:54
But it’s really an interesting dynamic is in growth in our space capture, if you don’t capture the co2, people die. And yet, we’re quite happy to pump trillions of tonnes of co2 into our atmosphere. And not making the correlation that actually
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 7:07
there’s so many hypotheses out there that’s that suggests that it’s having a cognitive effect on us as well, higher levels of co2 in the air, you know, and certainly anything over well, if you lost like 800 ppm, you start to lose concentration, it dulls the mind slowly and has a noticeable effect on on you as a person.
David Hunt 7:29
Yeah, there’s two things I thought about that maximum in preparation for this, one of which is because I know that some of the applications that you looked at was automotive, for example, and obviously in buildings and there’s a lot of evidence that the cognitive ability of students in classrooms is impaired in the afternoon if they’ve been in, in the building and in the classroom with the doors and windows shut. And obviously there’s there’s a higher concentration of co2. And obviously, with driving again, if you’ve been driving for some time, it’s cold, young, got the windows open, you lose some cognitive ability, which is why people fall asleep in their driving unless distance right. So there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that no, it does impact on on, I should say, our faculties as humans to be breezing to higher concentration of co2
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 8:13
ever recall and early, early meeting with with Professor Klaus Lackner, who is one of the founding fathers of direct air capture industry essentially. And we were we were up there. Professor, Keith, Keith Richards was there as well, who’s the founder of carbon engineering based in Canada. They raise a few 100 million now. And a number of other people interested in the topic and just the general public was was with us. And Klaus was giving a demo of their technique of their technology, which at the time was like these, these membranes that naturally absorbs co2 from the air when exposed, and then naturally released it when basically doused with water. And so he was showing how this process works. And they thought the machine was broken, because it wasn’t showing any up like like uptaken co2 is was stuck at like 6000 ppm. And it was like, Well, surely, like it should be much lower than this. And that like I guess the device is just not working. Apparently it’s only releasing co2. And it turned out that was the level of co2 in the room. Right. And that compares to 400 PPM that you find and like just normal air. So it was like that, Oh, fair enough. Okay, we can’t run the experiment. But yeah, in enclosed environments, cars especially, but also schools, you’ll, you’ll you’ll easily in typically run into the 1000s of ppm. And as I said anything above 800 will have a cognitive cognitive effect on your performance and your ability to to Do work. So and now it’s certainly a concern. Schools reached out to us off, we talked to a number of sort of facility operators, companies building office buildings. So they’re all looking at this. And it’s a new avenue that the DEC sectors is going down as well. What if we could capture co2 Just from buildings instead? Because it’s easier because the concentration of co2 is higher? And then see what we do with it? Yeah. And so that’s a number of companies that now
David Hunt 10:31
yeah, I want to explore a bit more obviously, the AC and CCS because as you say, it’s huge topics, a lot of money being invested into that. But let’s just jump back a little bit. So your you decided you want to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got this. Obviously, the qualifications and network behind you with the European Space Agency. What was the first idea for the first product iteration, if you’d like for Skype for Skytree?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 10:52
Yeah, so the first idea was, hey, what if we could capture co2 from the M and put it underground, right and sell carbon credits. And so that was like, an ML would have like limited limitless potential in terms of the amount of carbon that could be captured as well and stored. And so that was this the hobbyist gameplay. Now, now, we see that a number of companies are pursuing this as his Skytree. But the carbon credit market now does just has completely transformed as compared to about 10 years ago. A carbon credit now, we’ll go for $200 a tonne, at least if not a lot more. And back in 2012, it was like five $10, it was just no comparison. So with the new IRA, budget in place and act, as well, as you know, things being pushed by the EU, carbon carbon credits are a lot more stable and higher valued. So I think this is interesting way to go now for debt companies. But I would suggest we still combine it with valorizing co2, and basically turning it into something that can be used for good you know, whether that is to grow plants more effectively, produce stronger and more high quality cement, produced plastics, synthetic fuels, algae biofuel, there are tonnes, literally tonnes of things that can be made from carbon in the air. And and that can be then, you know, value stacked with the carbon credits that they generate as well.
David Hunt 12:41
Yeah, I think like most technologies is the case of su se stacking the different revenue streams to make a viable business model. And obviously, carbon taxes are increasingly important, as you said legislatively becoming more strong. And once you get above $200, a tonne, as you say, that starts to make things more interesting and more viable for for predictable business. But it’s also the point I should say co2 is not in itself bad. It’s the concentration clearly it is the issue that’s causing climate change and all these other negative effects, but actually we do use co2 for and it’s naturally Of course, in the atmosphere, and part of the cycle of life.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 13:16
Absolutely. And it’s just, it’s a burgeoning industry, as well, as we know, we need to stop it moving towards becoming a circular society and start reusing the carbon in an IRA and the carbon that we emit. new industries are opening up. Those mainly includes synthetic fuel, but also the production of strongest cement, as I said, and also interesting, the even food and synthetic media requires carbon and applications. So this sequestration potential on the market potential for carbon as a feedstock easily runs into the 10s of billions of tongues. Yeah. And so if we actually need its full potential, then that will have a non negligible effects on the concentration of co2 in the air. Yeah,
David Hunt 14:04
I mean, there’s huge advances going on of course in Aqua tech and and, you know, vertical farms, all this kind of thing where, you know, the use of carbon would help with the, with the production and with with enhancing many of the things that we’re looking to do in that area. So it’s, it’s fun, those kinds of circularity, isn’t it? That is the important factor for, for us as a society and for us as purveyors of technology is how can we make no one man’s waste is another man’s feedstock kind of process and make sure there’s circularity in in the way that we do business?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 14:34
Yeah, no, exactly. I mean, another another approach is, is obviously that we we take the CF C. Approach to to to solving the problem where we just sort of like ban the emission of carbon, but unfortunately, you know, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So if we can valorize it while also removing it from the air then even better, because like ultimately Yeah, we we need Do something about it. And it’s probably ugly, much more urgent than the CFC problem was,
David Hunt 15:04
yeah, for sure. For sure. So how does how Sky Tree evolved in terms of the the AC market it? What’s the current? I know you were talking about that in a moment, you’re not directly as involved as you as you were as a CEO. But what’s the, I guess this business model now is against it around buildings and vehicles and enclosed spaces or into broader sort of atmospheric carbon capture?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 15:28
Yeah, we’ve broadened it out. And we’ve we’ve, we’re basically addressing the carbon credit market now, as well as just large scale. Carbon as a feedstock model. And our first market in that sector is going to be greenhouses and vertical farms, particularly. Okay. However, we’re looking also at moving on to water treatment, as well as fuel production, energy storage, a number of other areas. And yeah, ultimately, we see the tech is ready, and the funding is in place. So we’re moving to scale this quicker rather than sooner rather than later. But yeah, indeed, we will be kicking off with the carbon credit market plus co2 as a feedstock for greenhouses, which increase crop yields by 30, to 40%. So not only are we going to be able to do that, but we’re going to be able to provide this carbon to these greenhouses for less than what they’re paying now. more reliable, more reliably, and to high quality, so higher actual, like gas quality. So that’s, that’s something that I’m proud of. And it’s just great to see how that technology has reached stages. It’s at now.
David Hunt 16:48
Yeah, absolutely. So when did you found the business Max,
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 16:51
officially 2010 was when I kicked it off. We incorporated it as a limited entity in 2014. So, you know, we were kind of more of a research entity and project up until that point. But these are the way these things go. Like we needed time to prove the concept, it had never been done before, like people never actually captured co2 from the air using engineering means. So we were just starting from scratch and proving that at the same time, we had to show that there was a market for the for the technology and find a price point that worked for us. So that took a while. And it meant that we really had to prove the technology first, build a team of experts around us to help make that happen. And now we’ve done that, and we’re at a point where our basically our, the technology and the capability we have is, is pretty insane, actually, I think it’s it outperforms what most multinationals can do right now. And essentially, we’re able to understand the uptake of co2 in real time in terms of grammes per second of different materials in different configurations. Within like, a few hours, so we can literally test samples, characterise them and have the results ready to go in a couple of hours. So we’re able to do multiple samples in a day. So you know, it allows us to actually really understand the best way to structure materials and solid structures in a way that maximises co2 uptake and performance, as well as understand the energy requirements of of regenerating those samples and materials. And then the best way to basically model the process such that we can just maximise uptake over time as well as energy efficiency. So it’s very important that that processes, okay, sure, you can have a great capacity of your material, right in terms of amount of carbon captured per gramme of base material upon which you’re capturing it. But that process may take 24 hours, right? So if you could achieve even just a 10th of that amount in one hour instead, then you’re going to outperform that material overall, as well, as long as the energy numbers make sense. So there’s quite a bit of complexity in the way to basically engineer the the deck process and which includes indeed, like airflows, uptake, time absorption, kinetics, stability of material, as well as the energy consumption the process overall. So We take into account all those factors using our bench basically, and our laboratory setup. And as such, we’re able to stay on the cutting edge of of the sector, because we work with four or five institutions around the world, they send us samples that we test continuously. So we understand that we’re using the best process at all times for for the capturing and supply of, of carbon dioxide. There are a few new sort of processes that have been developed that are quite different and potentially game changes in the industry. So moving on from solid solvents, the use of electro swing technology, for example, where you can just stay change the charge on a conductive body to capture and released co2. So that means that you move away from heat, which is generally very energy intensive, and you go into electric power instead. And efficiency looks pretty interesting that way. Also, potentially, you using BECs, or some organic means, in a controlled way to capture co2 is pretty, pretty interesting for that. However, you know, when it comes to actual implementation, these processes still early stage, so we actually have no understanding of what the costs are for them. And generally, that’s a sign that it’s very expensive. So we’re but we were on that and where we can we test fundamentally new processes as well. And we’ve tested a number of membranes, for example, as well as in the recent in the recent past. So yeah, I’m very proud of how we’ve built the company to be really, you know, almost like on par with academic institutions in terms of testing capability that we have, as well as our ability to understand the cutting edge technologies out there for the process, and to be able to incorporate them essentially, in our products on in the short term through short product iterations. And finally, before I wrap up, one of the ways that we’re also able to do that, as opposed to maybe slightly larger scale, slightly larger scale strategies, such as carbon engineering, or climeworks are adopting is that a small scale modular units can be iterated quite quickly. So as such, we can iterate and we can integrate new technologies into those units quite quickly as well. And that leaves some adaptability manoeuvrability in the way that we approach the market, which will be certainly very interesting. Over the next few years, as that scales. Yeah.
David Hunt 22:56
Yeah. No, thanks for sharing that. And again, what you find out there, as you said, it’s incredibly complex. And there’s a lot of iteration going on. And as you say, it’s an industry which is getting a lot now of attention and funding, and obviously psychiatry have raised some funds in the not too distant past what what’s the technology readiness level for for the products? How close are you really commercialise? What’s the revenue stack for the company presently,
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 23:20
yeah, we’re at about a TRL. Seven. And we’re aiming to launch our first products this summer, so within the next six months, and if we achieve that goal, will be one of the first step companies to produce a commercially viable product that is taken up naturally by the market and is producing co2 For for its customers, most sources out there are heavily subsidised or running off investor funds. Yeah, we’re happy to say that, like, we’ll be launching a five kilo a day unit to begin with. So extremely small scale and modular, but you know, at a price point within that scale that is less than what customers are paying right now. So there should be organic uptake to the units that will then drive growth and fun to us as we move to larger scale capacities.
David Hunt 24:20
Yeah, yeah. No, it’s been quite a journey. And we’ve we’ve known each other naughty word together. During this period of time, I was trying to think actually mesh I think it was about 2017. When we first met in London, don’t you recall, it was actually a sunny day, which in London was where I remember it. We grabbed the coffee and at that time, you were clearly you’re clearly earlier in the journey, but you already had achieved many things and created the company and yet you already had in your mind a self awareness to know the complexity, not just of the technologies that you’re working with, but the I guess the challenges of growing a business and even at that time you Were mindful that at some points in the future unknown, that maybe your skill set was not necessary was was better utilised elsewhere not necessarily as the CEO of the organisation, which came to pass eventually. But it was quite a while ago that you at least had those ideas or thoughts and just keen to see how that that played out really from pure your perspective, because it’s hugely challenging doing what you’re doing from, from a scientific perspective. But actually, it’s very challenging from a, from an entrepreneurial perspective, to actually build teams build, raise money, do all the things that’s necessarily to scale a business, and jargon that I think is far more complex and difficult than most people give credit for.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 25:43
Yeah, like, I mean, in the startup journey is much of the audience will, will know and understand is, can be an incredibly tough one. And surprisingly tough, you know, and be very challenging. And, you know, I’m like, probably, if I had known what I would go through, before studying psychiatry, I might not have to be honest, like it, it would have made me think twice, you know, I was like, I’m young, I’m smart, you know, I can achieve anything, if I just put my mind to it, you know, and I’ll screw it, let’s do it. But, you know, at the same time, I did achieve a hell of a lot, I learned a hell of a lot, as well, you know, and that learning curve, and that learning opportunity that building your own business presents is, is priceless, as well. And something that you’ll rarely get if you stick to a typical nine to five, you know, and try. And so, yeah, so, so going into going into, you know, the business I was, you know, I had zero experience in business, didn’t even have a business degree or MBA, I had, you know, very little experience in the sector, we had no technology traction, and we didn’t really have a market for our technology either. And we were starting out with a solution rather than a problem, you know, it’s always more difficult, you start out with a solution, you try and find problems for it to solve, rather than, hey, here’s a problem in the market. Let’s figure out a way we can can solve this by disrupting the market disrupting the supply chain, bringing together existing technologies in new ways to produce something new. We weren’t doing that, right, we were starting with new technology that hadn’t been proven without a market. So you know, honestly, it’s just amazing how you got to where we are today. Like, it’s incredible. And so first, first off, it was very difficult, not that I was trying to crack with no experience. Second off, yeah, I mean, six, seven years in, you start getting a little tight, you know, where I was, you know, where we were six, seven years in, I’d expect it to be at, like, within a year, you know, so, so managing those expectations, and having that mismatch was kind of difficult for me to, to deal with. And so I started, you know, there were times where I just felt like, Hey, should I really be doing this? Like, should I just throw the towel in and just really quit? And if I’d done that back in 2017, there would be no Skytree today, because we just didn’t have the attraction to you to find someone to take it over essentially, right, you know, or we had no reliable revenue stream. And we were such a small team, there was too much dependence on myself, as well as the few team members that we had on board. So, you know, yeah, I grinded it out, knowing that maybe I wasn’t best suited for it. But, you know, I drank the Kool Aid, and I was like, quit, just continue, you know, whatever, whatever challenges come your way, get back up and, and never back down. And that works to a degree. If you keep that mindset for too long. However, you can kind of like dig yourself into a giant hole and burn out a little. So you do have to be careful with that. Anyway, it is what it is. And as such, we get we got to a point where we had a good good valuation, I think we’re at like, plus 15 million through our last fundraise. We had 1517 people on the team and we had multinational clients, we had a stable revenue, revenue stream of over half a million a year. And it was like, Okay, this is a company that someone is now willing to, could be willing to take over and that’s what we talked about as well. We have multiple touch points over the last five, six years and you Yeah, you one thing led to another we brought on an advisor. And he, he was a friend of a CEO candidate that we were looking at the CEO candidate turned down our offer, unfortunately, and that was really disappointing. But his meant his friend, actually his mentor came to us and said that he’d actually be interested in the job as well. So what’s even better and so, it took me about a day to decide to, to basically give give him the position of as CEO because the calibre of of, of him as a person, as well as his experience is just astounding. And I was just very impressed that he would be interested in running the company. So So yeah, but that wouldn’t have been possible in 2017. And you know, and so there is something and to at least also grinding it out and putting that effort into it well when you’re young, but looking back, you know, it was a lot of work it was tough. But it’s made me who I am today and I don’t regret it
David Hunt 31:09
Yeah, no, absolutely and I think those are I wanted to touch on this because we have a society and within the clean tech sector I guess with any tech sector to be fair but certainly it within the clean tech tracks we work with you know with with with many founders CEOs across the world and we have this fairly narrow perspective of what success looks like sometimes and it has to be the founding the grind the the first fundraise the the IPO or the you know the big exit and the Elon Musk story and stuff and you know, you got to look at people like Elon Musk and Richard Branson like naught point naught naught naught naught 1% of entrepreneurs, let alone society. So it’s, I think we have a very linear a very narrow view of what success looks like. And I think people like yourself being open and so many of them who will have joined the podcast before have, you know, embarked on this journey? Insanely. In fact, you reminded when you were talking, I spoke to Eric Nygaard, on the podcast, who was founder of lime jump, who sold out to share eventually was like, you have to be insane to do what we do. Why would you do it? If you weren’t? If you know, if you weren’t insane? Why would you do this startup journey?
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 32:12
You also have to have a massive ego. Yeah.
David Hunt 32:15
I think when you have nothing you need an ego to embark on the journey. But once you have something I think ego can then get in the way. And that’s why I think you showed great self awareness to understand there’s a there’s a point at which you’re no longer either personally offered the business in the right seat. And I think ego often hides that for many people, and they keep going to their detriment or to the business’s detriment.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 32:46
Right. Right. Yeah. No, that’s very well put, David? No, I think you’re absolutely right,
David Hunt 32:51
just on the last podcast, which was Graham Hill, who found the tree hugger.com. And we have in the conversation from his perspective is that he founded a number of organisations but and I’ve had this with other conversations with founders is, you know, some people are geared towards the nothing to, I don’t know, 1012 people or whatever it might happen to be and a few million or whatever, you know, numbers are, but that that’s creating something from nothing. And some people are suited to take in something to make it bigger. Not many people are suitable from taking it from nothing to bigger, I think and SSA sometimes unfortunately, people fail not because they’re not successful, or there’s a different wrong with them. It’s just that they’re out of their comfort zone. And going to your point, I think sometimes the ego stops them from saying, Actually, I need some help, whether that’s personally professionally or you know, as a founder, I think that applies to many of us in life. So that’s why I was really keen to talk to you, Max, because you’ve done a phenomenal job at the technology and getting into the space. Obviously, the company is still going right. So it’s still your baby. And it’s still doing good work.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 33:53
Not only that the company has actually doubled in size and tripled in value. Last right. Yeah, well, eight months when I stepped down so yeah, so it was it was a successful, financially successful decision for me personally as well. And and just generally good decision for the company, apparently. Let me respond to your your comment before as I know what you’re getting at. So, you know, I stepped down as CEO in February of 2022. I have been talking to this advisors of the CEO candidate for a few months. And he was within my circle of people in my network. And, yeah, it was a very smooth transition. And he built two companies, from a few people to over 100 employees and exited one of them NASDAQ. And he’d had tonnes of management experience where he’d been at sea level and had 1000s of people under management. So he’s just had had a lot of Experience deed, structuring organisations scaling them and building our product lines, which is, which is something I didn’t have. And, and but not only that he had the drive and the energy, you know, and there’s a time when you know also independently not only that maybe your skills aren’t best suited or maybe it’s something to do with it, that you that you trying to push the company to grow, which maybe is best suited to your skills and your capabilities that the person may be very tiring and draining. And if you keep on doing that, after a while you just like he’s like you asked yourself, Why am I doing this. And so it’s maybe at that point, that you need to be honest with yourself and think about, hey, could someone else be better suited to being CEO and by the way, doesn’t mean you need to step down, you can still retain a C level role or, you know, a in depth fake advisory sort of work for the company if you wanted to. But the, the the point is that, you know, you know it in your heart, when it’s your time to move on. And if by the way, you have moved on, and you’ve stepped away, and apparently, you were a blockage in the company, and the company is now blossoming and just going from one level to another, which is in my case, then so be it. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can adopt to see your role and scale a company to hundreds of 1000s of people in something else, and a different setting a different context or a different idea. You know, it doesn’t necessarily need to define you for the future either. And, and, yeah, and if it if it does, then then great, that’s fine, you’re founder, you’re someone that starts things and then moves them on and sells them quickly. But you know, a lot of where we are as people also depends on the environment that we place ourselves in, the opportunities that we get, and the support network that we have around us. And if some of those things were lacking in your previous work your previous company or previous startup, then then fine, right, but they may not be lacking in the next one. Yeah, yeah. And so that’s also something interesting. I think that that’s useful to keep in mind, when it comes to the decision that I made around Skytree. It’s the best decision I made in years, I feel like a different person, I’m incredibly relaxed. It’s actually been more financially rewarding for me as well, not only in the value of the of the company, but also in what I have the agreement I have with the company now and where I am. And yeah, and and you know, and when it comes to success, it, it took me to, you know, I had to move to Bali to realise that actually, no, it wasn’t all about like achieving, like, you know, success in the professional capacity and massive valuation your company and, and that recognition you have as a successful entrepreneur. I was in that world, and I couldn’t really see beyond that admittedly, and being out here is also helped me see how much more there is life, you know, and how success is so much deeper than that, you know, and it’s about quality of life. It’s about the relationships, you’re able to generate and forge it’s about experiences that you’re able to give yourself and sometimes stepping out and and just travelling can really help you see that. If it weren’t for my coach and the support network I had around me that suggested I step out for a little while, I probably would still be in Amsterdam, grinding it out either as as CEO or CTO. And I honestly I’m glad I’m not. I really am and I wish Gayatri all the best. I’m here to support them. And I am actively still. But it was time for me to move on.
David Hunt 39:04
I think that’s, I should say it’s it goes back to the point of we have such a linear perspective on what success looks like what an entrepreneur should be or what we should do with ourselves. And I think too often we’re quite cruel to ourselves in pushing sometimes when I should say sometimes it’s just a change of scene. Sometimes it’s just change of perspective. And sometimes you just need to step out but it’s having that self awareness and lack of ego to get to that point as much as he said before he goes great at times but at times it can be detrimental to you but that’s great. So now you’re at you still have this entity you’ve created which is doing great things and growing you’ve got other now going back to original point as a product person, you are the product business and and writing. So again, perhaps you can just touch on what are the aspects of your life that you’re enjoying most now and taking up your time. Aside from some time on the beach,
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 39:54
I have to say I’ve been a little bit in flux, right. So I would like to say oh yes, this and this and this Clearly, it’s just been mind blowing different. But there have been a number of things going on in my life, you know, on the relationship front and also the financial front, that have meant that I’ve been tied back home to to home for a little while still. And it’s really only last few weeks, where I felt like I’ve truly sort of landed here to be honest, and truly felt that like, Okay, I’ve made a clean cut. Like, I’m here, I’m living my life here now. And I can really embrace my experience here. It’s very easy to sort of still be sort of trapped in that old I don’t know, work ethic. And so it’s, it’s only recently where I felt like, okay, I can let go of those other things, I can let go of work. And I can just embrace my interests and my passions and, and have a bit of fun and relax a little bit. And it’s, it’s very, very difficult for me to do. I feel guilty or shamed a lot of time for not being productive for just letting things go. And I’m still learning that, but I think I have time there. Now. Just before this call, I had a two hour walk around the island I’m on right now. It’s called Gilly air, it’s just off Lombok, Indonesia. And I walked the circumference of that island. And it was just beautiful views the whole way in 30 degrees weather and met a number of people along the way, had some chats bought some things. And I felt like just gently very thin, to be honest, very, like happy to be where I am. And there is this, there would just be an insane experience that I would only have a couple of times a year at most in my old life. Yeah. And now I can have this almost every day because of the flexibility I have in my work and in, in what I do. And so, yeah, I think the biggest learning for me now is is the ability to let go of the past life of work. And now to basically just embrace what I’m passionate about, not for monetary gain, or not as part of my career, but just because I’m interested in it, you know, and just pursuing that without any hidden agenda. And that’s something that’s actually been been pretty fun, and has led me to start a product consultancy, as you mentioned. So it’s a product development agency called NUMA. And we help big tech, basically, stay at the cutting edge of their markets by developing compelling and meaningful products for them, and with them. And as I said, at the beginning of the podcasts, and I’m a product person, so just editing these concepts is something I do anyway. And I just love doing it, you know, so I’ve now sort of managed to incorporate is the theory, this, this passion into something that could earn me income in a fun way, and in a flexible way over the next few years.
David Hunt 43:11
Yeah, so awesome. It’s interesting, going back to the point of this linear view, we have a success. It’s funny that I was before Christmas, I was watching a Dickens play a Shakespeare version of Dickens. And the point is there was it was a team of an ensemble of four people. And it wasn’t the best show in the world in that they were having fun, and it was good. And I just looked at the four people that were just having the time of their lives. And the absolute definition of success, from my mind is to do to get paid to do what you love. Is it you know, so it doesn’t have to be this journey that’s prescribed by society, or we don’t have to try and follow the path of Elon Musk as much as it’s amazing and brilliant and great if you can. But success, I think as an individual is to is to basically be paid to do something you love. And clearly, I think, obviously not just yourself. But clearly many people listening to podcasts either have that or aspire to it. But I think what I wanted to share was that it doesn’t have to be prescriptive, we can hold our hands and say This shit is tough, right? It’s it’s hard work and the best you need to take some time out. And some you know whether that’s temporary. And if not, then actually sometimes it is you just need to change a scene, whatever that might be. It might be that like you say, you go back in six months you start another business, or it might be that you move to Bali, or it might be any number of things that work for you.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 44:27
I would say it is just what it is to though. And you know, there have been people that I’ve met who’ve been out here for 1015 years. Right and you can tell you can eager to really tell you know, it’s like, Huh, you know, do I really want to be that person? I’m not sure. So I would suggest that is important to to define purpose for yourself. Maybe to define a few room Eagles yourself that are flexible. You’re not afraid to pivot away from you know to give yourself that structure. And also also important to remember that a lot of these very successful people that we see are just like, moving on to next level, success and achievements should just like this crazy, right? That the success that they’ve achieved, propels them, right and motivates them. The old adage success begets success, right? And so you can understand that, like, yes, these people are very successful, and they moving forward. But they’re also like, they’re also supported. And they’re also driven by the experience and by the achievement that they’re gaining. And they’re actually probably having fun doing it, too. And a lot of them do want to do good I do. I truly do believe that Elon Musk just wants to do good for the world. And it happens to be that he’s become one of the richest man men in the world. Right? And that’s fair. I would also suggest, yes, indeed, he has no work life balance is crazy. But there is there’s the success that he’s achieved, which is just ridiculous, is partly down to that momentum that he’s been able to generate for himself. Yeah,
David Hunt 46:17
that’s it again, the the point of success is you have to define your own success, right. And for everybody, it is different. And none of that is bad, right. And that’s, that’s what I think I want to share or have come across as you’ve been phenomenally successful on any number of measures, creating a company from nothing, and, and now living the life that you lead. But everybody’s version of success can be different, right. And it’s too often I think, as I speak to so many CEOs and founders, where, you know, they’re struggling, because they, they’re following kind of the ABC path of what’s expected of them, rather than really living their true success. And there is a place of course, for grinding it. Of course, no entrepreneur, or every entrepreneur knows that, you know, the path is not easy. And sometimes you just do have to grind it out, as you did for a period of time. But at some point, you know, you have to decide what success looks like for you.
Max Beaumont – SkyTree 47:04
Yeah, exactly. No, I, I hear you there, I hear you there and that, and that’s why I would advise any new entrepreneur to as soon as possible, like, bring on a coach and bring on a support network, you know, find those people that can give you that objective perspective for what you’re doing and how you’re leading your life. Because they can bring you back a little bit. Yeah, you know, and I never give up your friendships, you know, don’t sacrifice your relationships, try not to bankrupt yourself, you know, these are all things that you feel that are okay to do, because that’s what other successful entrepreneurs have done, you know. But yeah, as you say, like, really? Do you really need to do all that? Like, is it an necessary part of your journey, and when you look at some very successful people, actually, you know, they’ve been married their entire journey and lived from outside what seems pretty happy, they’re insecure family lives, you know, and they’ve been pretty financially secure the entire time as well, and just incredibly successful. So you don’t, you don’t need to necessarily go through that struggle in order to justify to justify your success, which is, I think, what a lot of people feel they need, you know, you can just, you approach it from from the same perspective. And, and finally, you know, one thing that I see that entrepreneurs feel they need to do is they need to be everyone to all people at all times, you know, so it is terrible at saying no, and they’re terrible at delegating terrible at feeling that they need to basically just be the superhero, rather than just focusing on what they’re actually good at, and bringing people around them to do everything else. Yeah.
David Hunt 48:46
So that’s a brilliant place. To conclude, Max, I really appreciate you sharing your time, we’ll put onto the episode page a link to Sky tricks. It’s a fascinating organisation and story. So we’ll put links there, we’ll put links obviously to numerous and see what you’re doing now on the product design side, we’ll put links to your medium your writing, we didn’t get the chance to talk about but that’s I know part of your life now. And yeah, hopefully people can engage and and learn something from the journey. But I really appreciate your candid conversation. And I look forward to seeing the future of psychiatry and director capture because we need Eric we need to throw everything at this problem we have from climate change perspective and companies you build things like yourself is is awesome. So stay with us for a moment but for the audience. Thanks very much indeed for joining us hope that’s been a worthwhile conversation for you. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to the YouTube channel or on your podcast platform of choice. As we say we’re sending them links to to max and the the organisations he’s created and works for. But for now, thanks so much and I hope you enjoyed the episode.