- Climate tech startup Lord of the Trees uses drones and indigenous knowledge to plant trees.
- Based in Australia, the startup helps restore natural vegetation after natural disasters.
- After a call with Tim Draper, and 261 emails, Draper Associates led a $1.25 million pre-seed round.
After six months of trying to find investors, Aymeric Maudous landed a
call with legendary investor Tim Draper for his startup, Lord of the Trees, that uses drones to plant trees in ecosystems destroyed by natural disasters.
“As soon as we got on the Zoom call, Tim said, ‘I’m a very busy man, you only have 20 minutes,'” Maudous said.
An hour and a half later they were still on the call. “I think he was interested,” Maudous joked.
Draper put the founder in touch with Matt Harris, an investor at his venture firm Draper Associates, who negotiated the deal from the firm’s $230 million ESG fund which is focused on startups with environmental, social, and governance principles.
It still took three months and 261 back-and-forth emails with Harris before Draper Associates decided to lead the startup’s pre-seed round of $1.25 million.
“The race to net zero 2050 for all the big corporations is real,” Maudous said, referencing the United Nations’ ambitious goals to avoid climate disaster.
Corporations can gain tax breaks for projects that offset their carbon footprint, known as carbon credits – planting trees is one example. Maudous said he thinks the startup’s ability to offer carbon credits got Draper’s attention.
Lord of the Trees uses a combination of artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, and traditional Australian Aboriginal knowledge to regenerate ecosystems. Based in Australia, the company plans to expand into the US, to regrow California’s ecosystems after wildfires.
Maudous’ love for the environment has been with him since he was a child. “I knew I wanted to do something big for the environment,” he said. “My mom used to say I could grow a forest out of chopsticks.”
Before his startup, he worked at sustainability trade shows in Australia, showcasing organic food and wine, sustainable building materials, and electric cars.
“Then I did a little pause in my journey,” he said. “I went into the dark side.” He was in Airbnb real estate and worked for the marketing department of companies like Walt Disney World and Louis Vitton. “It burned my soul,” he said.
Yet he was able to develop his business skills during that time. “This allowed me to see how big corporations at that level would operate them and streamline their costs and be very efficient,” he said.
He’s now able to apply his knowledge to Lord of the Trees. For example, to save on operation costs, he rents the drones. This lets Lord of the Trees not worry about the costs of buying the technology or storing it.
Before going into affected areas, his startup reaches out to indigenous communities. “We don’t assume we know better and we don’t just go there and try to solve something,” he said.
The startup works with an organization called Fire Stick to know who to contact and then sends letters to the elders asking to work with them to speed up the ecosystem’s natural restoration process. Automated drones are then sent to the area to deploy seedlings.
“We’re just here really to give nature a hand,” he said.
Read the 12-page pitch deck that Lord of the Trees used to raise $1.25 million.