Shrina Kurani
IMPACT INVESTING

Shrina Kurani

#165

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Engineer investing in climate solutions

The importance of teamwork – Shrina Kurani

“It’s about having gratitude for experiences and staying authentic.”

ABOUT

Shrina Kurani is an engineer, entrepreneur, and fact-based problem solver. The daughter of Indian immigrants who sought the American Dream, she has focused her career on building businesses that reduce waste and create quality jobs. Now, Shrina is helping candidates like her run for office and innovators get the support they need to build a more sustainable future.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Shrina Kurani

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to Impact Investing, brought to you by the Supporters Fund from the city with the only castle in North America, Toronto, Canada. I’m your host, Jeffrey JP Potvin. And let’s please welcome from sunny Riverside, California, United States, Serena Courante from snowcat. Welcome, Serena. It’s a real pleasure having you join us today.

Shrina: Thank you so much for having me, Jeff. I really appreciate and appreciate all the work you’re doing to talk about all of the world of impact investing.

Jeffery: I love it. Well, I’m excited because to get the opportunity to chat with you and share a bit of your story, and the reason really dives down to it is that I don’t think I’ve actually got to interview a person that went for Congress, and that to me is exciting. But more exciting is the way you took what you did in working and in approaching Congress. And that’s what I want to dive into because one, you’re an entrepreneur, two, you invest in companies, and three, you have that same mindset of an entrepreneur and how you approach Congress. And that’s pretty cool, because I could tell you every day I look at how people operate in big government, and I think, why do they not think like entrepreneurs? Why don’t they shape everything they do around thinking like they are going to die tomorrow if they don’t work this better, or they don’t find better money or find cleaner ways to do things. And I think you probably found that entire approach. And maybe somewhere we got to print this into a big presentation or a book or something, but I’d be excited to explore this. So but the way we like to start our show off before we do is we want to hear all about you. So if you could share one thing about you that nobody, nobody would know, and then dive a bit into your background from the education all the way forward, and we’ll go from there, of course.

Shrina: Yeah. Well, let’s say something that people wouldn’t know. I think the biggest one might be, when this sort of combines my passion for music and dance and the time that I’ve spent abroad. When I was doing my master’s in Lund, Sweden, which is in southern Sweden, I actually got involved with a lot of different organizations that were putting together and trying to bring forth, amazing artists and local artists and especially female artists. And I actually ran an underground hip hop club in southern Sweden. So I think there is it’s not exactly a secret, but I don’t think it’s something that a lot of people know about me. I think it’s actually a good place to start with my, my background as well. So, my background is as a mechanical engineer, I’m born and raised in Riverside, California and initially got my career started, looking at how to make things work better. That’s always been something that I’ve been interested in is like taking a problem with, like, okay, this doesn’t really make sense. Why do we do it this way? How do we make this work better? So my first, like, engineering project was actually with NASA, working on a lunar outpost, to be able to create a shirt sleeve environment. So that was my, my first thing. I was like, okay, how do we make it so that people can actually hang out on the moon for extended periods of time and do research? I realized that I wanted to work on problems a little bit closer to home. And so I, was actually working on energy efficiency for Southern California, trying to get large natural gas, customers for anywhere from Chipotle is right on the commercial side, all the way through to large manufacturers. To actually move off of natural gas and to electrify is a very, very slow and arduous process. And I have to admit, not particularly successful. And so I wanted to learn about the bigger picture. And there was the sense of, look, we only have so much natural gas left, in Southern California, in terms of what we can tap into, what’s economical to have so much of our economy and society relies on natural gas. What are all the different pieces that are at play, like how do we make that work better? And so I started looking at different programs and ended up in Sweden, which is, for as many people might be aware, really doing a lot in terms of sustainability from the research perspective, in terms of policy, in terms of implementation and sort of just societal awareness. And so I did my master’s there, and that during that time also ran an underground hip hop club and realized that there was a lot more to the sustainability picture than just engineering. Right? There is the technology, but there’s the uptake of technology, there’s the various business models that can be deployed. And so I really wanted to understand and once again, like how to how do we make things work better. So I started on the nature based solution side. So was working with the European Union on climate change mitigation as well as adaptation, across in various case studies, across the EU. And as someone in your early 20s, while I, as you shared earlier, while I did end up running for Congress, or last cycle, at that time, working in government is not exactly the most exciting thing. And so I got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Started a couple of companies really deploying my engineering background to actually solving these problems. And, ended up helping build a couple of companies, most of which failed. But then the last one, we were able to sell, and that’s when I got into the investing side. So that’s sort of been my journey, as you know, as an engineer, sort of trying to apply that as a founder. And then recognizing that there were a lot of gaps in the investment space of looking at certain types of problems, figuring out how to get the right types of investors to understand what those problems were and how to actually support and, think through some of these timelines for this technology development. And, that’s sort of been guiding for the most part, my investment career, which started in about 20 1718, in terms of how do we understand the problems that need to be solved, how do we how do we determine the investors that, can actually assess the technology that can help it become successful itself? And how do we ensure that we’re actually making the change in the world that we need to see just because we’re we’re resource constrained, right. So how do we ensure that future, how we do that from a technology and investment perspective? So, spent the past few years, working on the sustainability thesis for a fund out of the Bay area called Better Ventures. Went on to build out an