Everyone has heard of Patagonia – the down-to-earth, stylish brand is not only a household name but also a company that fulfills all outdoor clothing and gear needs. However, I only recently heard about Tin Shed Ventures, Patagonia’s corporate venture capital fund. I should’ve known that a company completely built upon a basis of sustainability would have a separate entity solely for investing in environmental start-ups, but alas.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Liliana Bettolo, a member of Patagonia’s broader corporate development team, whose work is often in regard to Tin Shed Ventures. Bettolo is a chemical engineer by training but said that her role at Patagonia is fluid and often comprises a variety of tasks. Some days, she leads technical due diligence for the company’s inbound investment opportunities, while other days, she focuses on the post investment side, which means acting as project manager for the implementation of a new technology or innovation into a Patagonia product or supply chain.
“We work with our supply chain partners to say, ‘Okay, if you need a recycled polyester chip, what sort of grade would that look like?’ And we can get that information and give it to the startups,” said Bettolo. “For a young startup with a new technology, those specifications can sometimes be challenging. Helping guide them and finding solutions with them is a goal of mine and something I do regularly.”
Bettolo also spoke to the concept of a circular economy, which is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and continually reusing resources by repairing them or transforming them into something else.
“If a startup is taking waste and adding value to it, those are going to be the innovations and technologies that withstand climate change and future crises that are coming down the road,” said Bettolo. “I challenge people who say circular economy to not let that block out more of an open loop where a material doesn’t have to be converted into the exact same product.”
Clean Tech Summit Internship 2020