Updated: Apr 24

The world generates over 2 billion tons of waste annually. The process of transporting that waste from consumers and businesses to disposal and reclamation centers is highly inefficient. With 9 out of 10 trash bins being picked up too early or too late, resources including time, fuel, and money are being misspent. WasteHero is using sensors and software to create a highly efficient operating system for the waste management industry.

WasteHero solves waste collection by monitoring the fill-level of trash bins and creating optimized collection routes. Its predictive algorithm provides detailed insights into waste streams to ensure that collections are mapped to trash bins that are detected as full. Beyond saving resources for collectors in cities, fewer pick-ups result in reduced traffic congestion, unwanted noise, and CO2 emissions.

The idea for WasteHero started when the CEO and co-founder Hussam Mansour noticed that the bins at Aarhus University in Denmark were often emptied half-full. Hussam decided to build an IoT-based dynamic waste collection system and was able to convince local officials to adopt it. The goal was simple — eliminate as many unnecessary pickups as possible, while saving cost and decreasing pollution.

The project was highly successful, showing 71% annual savings of the total collection cost. This led local officials to scale the project up to all 412 local bins. Soon after, WasteHero was funded by the highly sought Danish incubator program InnoFounder for a full year.

Hussam Mansour later joined forces with current CTO and co-founder Khaled Saied, determined to bring sustainable waste collection to every corner of the world. Like Hussam Mansour, Khaled Saied has a passion for environmental and technology-driven business models, and a strong engineering background within IoT and machine learning.

The company just announced their $1.2M seed round to accelerate growth and expand operations internationally. They are working with state and local governments, sanitation companies, and property managers. Their pace of innovation and sales growth have been fantastic. I’m excited to support the team in their efforts to make the world a cleaner place!

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According to a 2019 poll conducted by Pew, one in 10 Americans doesn’t have home internet access. Given the new paradigm of working and learning from home, this puts a portion of our population at a distinct disadvantage, commonly referred to as the “digital divide”. Cities, communities and school districts are searching for a solution to bridge this gap and an innovative Chicago based startup has emerged to help.

Mesh++ provides hardware and software that can cover entire cities with wifi without the need to run power or ethernet cables. From a single backhaul point, Mesh++ can blanket entire cities with wifi using their ruggedized hardware that needs only access to sunlight for power. Best of all, the network is self-healing and can be set up by virtually anyone that can follow simple instructions provided by the app.

Founder Danny Gardner has been in and around the antennae space for the last 7 years. He’s hired a strong team of industry veterans from Open-Mesh (acquired by Datto), Ubiquiti, Motorola, and others to provide new and more accessible connectivity solutions to the world. They’ve built an impressive patent portfolio covering the novel aspects of their solution. Most recently the team has been focused on helping underserved communities who are struggling due to the pandemic.

Per the CEO… “When COVID-19 first hit, we knew we had to help. So many people across the country, now working from home, have inadequate connectivity. Multiple new US bills carrying billions in funding for broadband access have been pushed through congress like never before, to be distributed as soon as Q4 2020. In the meantime, we loaned 50 Mesh++ nodes for 6-month to Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago, Mayor Suarez of Miami, and Mayor Cantrell of New Orleans for use in underserved communities. These three cities have been incredibly grateful and helpful in pushing through the approval process to get nodes up in all three cities in a matter of months. Mesh++ nodes are being installed in schools, parks, and affordable housing communities. Mesh++ was the only access solution that Mayor Lightfoot mentioned in the days following the announcement of a $50M fund for connectivity in partnership with the Obama Foundation.”

Internationally, Mesh ++ provides internet access to over 250 acres of land in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The final installation will bring the internet to all outdoor areas of a city of 2 million people. It is scheduled for completion in mid-2022, and the company is in discussion with several emerging international cities for similar contracts.

For those of you wondering if Elon will make Mesh ++ obsolete with Starlink, the answer is no. When Elon introduces Starlink, which supports 670 high-speed connections per satellite, Mesh++ will be able to extend each satellite terminal’s single connection to entire communities anywhere in the world. The satellites still require ground transceivers to transmit signals to, and getting from that point to homes/devices is what’s commonly referred to as the ‘last mile problem’. Mesh ++ has the ability to solve this by significantly increasing the radius that each transceiver can cover with minimal additional infrastructure costs. I’m incredibly excited to work with the team and help them realize their goal of providing affordable internet access to the world.

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Updated: Apr 24

As a VC, part of my job is researching industries that present an opportunity for disruption. Once identified, understanding the competitive landscape helps me decide where to focus. Often times when being pitched, this analysis is provided to me by founders in the form of a four-quadrant graph with their company conveniently positioned in the upper right quadrant. The purpose of this post is to provide founders with an investor perspective on competitive analysis and hopefully offer a few useful tips.

  1. Focus on your strengths: Be careful not to spend to much time focusing on your competitors even at the request of an investor. You only have a finite amount of time to pitch, if they decide to move forward it’s because you’ve convinced them you’re uniquely positioned to succeed, not that the competition is weak. This is perhaps the most important tip.

  2. Be careful: Similar to the previous point, you never know how the VC you’re speaking to feels about the competition. I once had a founder take 10 out of our 50 minute call explaining how a competitor was destined for failure. I not only disagreed but had a personal relationship with the CEO of that competitor and highly regarded her startup.

  3. Unfair comparisons: Comparing a yet to be released product with a competitor’s shipping product is not a fair comparison. If a competitor is shipping, and you’re in the design and planning stage, your comparison is inaccurate unless you have insight into their product roadmap. See point one for a better strategy.

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