As a part of my series about “Ideas That Might Change The World” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Cann, head of Design and Development for Cryo Energy. Cryo Energy is a company that condenses the air that surrounds us all into a liquid for use as quick refueling zero emissions transportation power and low-cost large scale energy storage.
Can you tell us about your “Idea That Might Change The World”?
We condense the air that we all breathe into a liquid form of energy storage which can then power many of our critical transportation needs and assist our electrical grids to function efficiently. The liquid form is essential because it opens the door for portable power use such as delivery trucks, farming equipment, and construction equipment. You can triple or quadruple the energy storage capacity with less upfront capital by utilizing our designs with electrical grids.
How do you think this will change the world?
Before Cryo Energy, there isn’t a single technology that can simultaneously provide zero local emissions for transportation, low upfront cost, low operating costs and still be able to provide all the convenience of hydrocarbon fuels (e.g., gasoline, diesel).
Our material is unlimited (it’s just air), we can scale our technology without any resource limitations. No group or country has control over the feedstock material — air is available anywhere on the planet, so there are no scarcity concerns.
In terms of impact, Cryo Energy is not just a technology. We are creating a method to democratize energy by providing low cost, large scale energy transfer process, providing the highest possible value with the lowest possible price.
Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?
The current geopolitical structure is based on energy markets so the democratization of energy will undoubtedly change geopolitics dramatically. That part is known, but the unintended consequences are what happens after the change in geopolitical structure takes place. There’s no way to predict what the response will be in the countries where the government budgets are based on the physical extraction of materials. How do the constituents respond when that source of revenue vanishes?
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
Condensing air into a liquid is a mature process that dates back over 120 years. It’s as common as electricity itself. However, until recently, the process was considered applicable for large industrial needs only. Our modular approach and unique designs have opened the door for many new exciting use cases (such transportation and other portable power needs) while also driving down component cost which then opens the door for even more use cases. Companies that are interested in zero emissions transportation technology that has a lower upfront cost and lower operating cost than the alternatives while still retaining the convenience of 5-minute quick refueling should be open-minded to solutions such as Cryo Energy. The economics will speak for themselves so its a matter of having people embrace a technology that has already been proven in other industries and is now used in a method that is slightly different than what people may be familiar with. In other words, awareness is important right now.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
How about we do “5 things that are underappreciated or under-discussed regarding entrepreneurship in general.” That should be more helpful to most people. In no particular order:
1. The “next big thing” is usually something other than what the consensus or current narrative suggests it might be. A couple of examples, Yahoo was considered the next big thing until it turned out to be Google. MySpace was also considered to be the next big thing until it turned out to be Facebook. There is a long history in various industries where something that was overlooked goes on to become the majority of the market, so keep an eye open for other possibilities. It’s well worth the effort.
2. Know basic accounting. Seriously. The number one reason that businesses fail is that they run out of cash. How can you properly manage cash flow without understanding what cash flow is?
3. The single most important investment you will ever make is yourself. Skills last a lifetime to invest in yourself by building a knowledge base that carries over to multiple industries or businesses.
4. Get used to hearing and saying the word “no” quite often. Always be courteous about it when it happens.
5. This is the most under-appreciated and under-discussed topic: Opportunity lies at the intersection of contradictions. The reason technology can be so powerful is because many solutions require a different perspective or point of view rather than a brand new invention. Companies and individuals that are capable of providing unique solutions will dismiss them if a contradiction to an existing solution or business happens to appear. What solutions have other companies passed on or left behind? There is your opportunity. This sounds a lot like the topic listed under number one, and that’s because the two are inherently related.
The future of work is a common theme. What can one do to “future proof” their career?
There are a few different thoughts out there on this topic. Some people believe that machines will take most of the jobs in the future, but history proves otherwise. Technology breeds new opportunities, and those opportunities create new jobs. Not sure that anything is really “future proof.”
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
Our design philosophy is based on two distinct principles. First, there’s always a better way. Regardless of the circumstances or the narrative, there will always be better ways to accomplish a goal. Second, we strive for our designs to have a multiplier effect, which allows a solution to benefit various groups simultaneously. The misallocation of resources can slow progress, so we’re strategic with our decisions.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
After having conversations with people wanting to be entrepreneurs, there’s a common theme that has emerged, with that being a total lack of pragmatism. It’s great that so many people have the desire to start a company, but at times it feels a bit like telling an adult to believe in the tooth fairy. Someone recently asked for advice with turning an idea into a company and my response was, “are you willing to sacrifice the next ten years of your life to try and make this happen?” The silence was deafening. It’s not doing anyone a favor to highlight the possible positives but ignore the obvious downsides. People need to be aware that to build anything from scratch you need to be fully committed for a minimum of 10 years. There’s no shortcuts to gaining experience but learning from other’s mistakes is as close as you will probably get to find one. Try to find someone that is willing to share their mistakes and how those mistakes came about in the first place.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say?
Energy is not usually a good match for VCs with a background in software as the difference between dealing with 0s and 1s to dealing with molecules is tremendous. Potential partners need to be familiar with thermodynamics as well as exponential growth markets. The solutions sell themselves once people take a step back to view the simplicity of the proprietary process. Our technology requires no toxic materials, has a closed loop life-cycle, scales infinitely, operates in a market with never-ending demand, has zero scarcity concerns, is derived from proven existing technology, has lower upfront cost than alternatives, has lower operating cost than alternatives, is more convenient than alternatives, compliments existing infrastructure, plus as a bonus, we also purify the local air. Who isn’t interested in all those benefits?
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Not a participant in the Matrix, but people can learn about our technology at www.CryoEnergy.Tech
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.