Aaron Perry


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Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 119 - Richard Hardiman, Founder & CEO, RanMarine Technology

[Got Waste Shark?] Richard Hardiman, Founder and CEO of Netherlands-based RanMarine Technology, discusses his innovative approach to cleaning up water born plastics. The “Waste Shark” is an autonomous water vessel that gobbles up unwanted contamination from the surface of oceanic, river, lake, and marina waters.


Richard, whose father is an engineer and whose mother is an artist, embodies the combination of creativity and technical precision that is so essential to innovating solutions for ecosystem restoration, environmental clean-up, and planetary healing. In addition to collecting and consolidating plastics for proper disposal, the Waste Shark is also capable of collecting unwanted algal blooms as well as critical environmental data from the marine environments it patrols (turbidity, acidity, oxygenation, etc.). With cellular, GPS, satellite connectivity and top-mounted LIDAR imaging technology capable of capturing images in 360 degrees around the vessel, the Waste Shark is also an important autonomous data gathering node in the global webwork of environmental monitoring devices. The technology can also be used in the vicinity of wind farms and other offshore energy infrastructure to monitor for a variety of environmental impacts.

Under Richard’s leadership, RanMarine is developing a larger Mega Shark device, and is also developing oil-spill cleanup capabilities for its robots. The company provides its technology solutions to municipalities, state departments, hotels and golf courses, and even customers like Disney and Universal in Orlando, Florida to help clean up the debris from their daily fireworks shows.

And, speaking of Florida, the technology is also useful in the cleanup of hurricane aftermath and other environmental catastrophes that release even greater amounts of plastics and other pollution into the world’s rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Richard Hardiman is the founder and CEO of RanMarine Technology, a Netherlands based USV (Unmanned Surface Vessels) company. A graduate of the GSB, Cape Town, Richard has been involved in a number of businesses, both as startups and scale ups since graduating in 2009.  In 2016 Richard embarked on his most ambitious project yet, developing a water-borne drone that harvest plastic waste from the world’s ports, harbors, rivers and marinas in an effort to reduce the effects of plastic pollution on the Earth’s oceans.

Richard’s company, based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands now produces the WasteShark, which has been exported globally to USA, UAE, India, Germany and South Africa. Added to the WasteShark’s ability to collect waste, RanMarine has now also pioneered the collection of live data from water-borne drones, to measure water heath quality.   

Not only has RanMarine Technology been able to disrupt the largely staid and closed environment of Maritime industry and has been able to use its technology to increase awareness around data in the sector. While it has by no means been a linear journey to success, Richard and his team have managed to create a business around new environmental innovation and at the same time be both commercially and environmentally successful; Richard believes this is one of the team’s greatest achievements, commercial success based on doing good for the environment globally.  

Richard divides his time between Cape Town, South Africa and Rotterdam, The Netherlands as the business expands into new markets.

Richard is a former journalist, broadcaster and Tedx speaker. Recently Richard became the recipient of the international AACSB Business Schools most Influential Leaders Honoree award in the category of CSR and Sustainability.


Podcast Episode #94 – Tom Chi, At One Ventures

Podcast Episode #65 – Eric Lombardi, Social Enterprise & Protecting the Commons

Podcast Episode #52 – Emilie McGlone, Peace Boat US

Richard on TedX Capetown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raYsXOJf8fc


LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/ranmarine/

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/RanMarineTechnology

Twitter – https://twitter.com/RanMarineTech

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ranmarinetechnology/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUggTYkPKwEaKKbC_IE8iTw







(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes – grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YonEarth Community Podcast. I’m your host, Aaron William Perry, and today

we’re visiting with the founder and CEO of Rand Marine Technology, Richard Hardiman.

Hi, Richard, how you doing?

I’m really well, Aaron. Thanks for having me on.

Yeah, it’s a pleasure. I’m really looking forward to talking with you about your company

and your technology and how it’s really critical technology for helping to clean up a lot

of our waterways.

Yeah, I think I’m looking forward to hopefully explaining how it all works and how we can

help them all a little better.

Wonderful. Richard Hardiman is the founder and CEO of Rand Marine Technology. Another

Irland’s-based U.S.P. or Unman’s Surface Vessels Company. A graduate of the GSB Cape Town,

Richard has been involved in a number of businesses, both as startups and scale-ups since

graduating in 2009. In 2016, Richard embarked on his most ambitious project yet, developing

a waterborne drone that harvests plastic waste from the world’s ports, harbors, rivers

and marinas in an effort to reduce the effects of plastic pollution on the Earth’s oceans.

Richard’s company, based in Rotterdam, now produces the waste shark, which has been exported

globally to the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, Germany, and South Africa.

Added to the waste shark’s ability to collect waste, Rand Marine has now also pioneered

the collection of live data from waterborne drones to measure water health quality.

Richard is a former journalist, broadcaster and TEDx speaker. Recently, he became the recipient

of the International AACSB Business School’s Most Influential Leaders Honorary Award in

the category of CSR and Sustainability. That’s corporate social responsibility, CSR.

He, Richard, divides his time between Cape Town, South Africa and Rotterdam and is traveling

further as the business expands into new markets. Richard, it’s such a pleasure to connect

with you today and especially given some of what we’re seeing around the world with devastating

storms and hurricanes. I was thinking we might just dive right into that as a way to kind

of take off our discussion to help us understand your technology and what’s so important right

now in the world. Sure, I think it’s completely relevant right now. So what we do is, as you

said, create USVs, which are technically little robots for water, and our particular USVs

are rumbers for water, clean up waste out of water, but they do it electronically, they

do it with no emissions, and they do it robotically, so you can send them out, they scout around

for trash or for vial gear in the water, and they bring it back to shore to our users.

So, for instance, now with sort of, I’ve been seeing the pictures come in from Florida

up to Hurricane E, and I mean, it’s crazy, but you need, you know, that water needs to be cleaned

up again, you know, it has commercial usage, it needs to be potable, it needs to be cleaned,

and sometimes there’s just not enough manpower to do that. Sometimes there’s not enough

labor to do it, and this is anywhere around the world, but I think in an instance of

a flood or a hurricane, it is particularly more relevant, that, you know, you need more people,

or you need more labor to clean that up, but if you have robots, technology can help clean that

up pretty quickly. So we’re not looking to replace people’s jobs, we’re just trying to look

to clean water up quicker, there’s kind of pollution that we’re having around the world now

the last 20 years, plastic pollution that kind of thing more needs to be done, and my idea

at the beginning of this whole adventure was to create a robot to do that. I don’t think,

you know, humans are creating the waste, but it’s not always the humans job to clean it up.

We can do better things, so why not let robots do it?

So interesting, and so describe for us, and we’ll include some photos and links, obviously,

for folks to get more information and see some of the visuals for themselves, but describe

for us what this looks like when one of your robots is moving around on the water.

Yeah, it’s kind of a typical way sharp, which is our principle product, it’s the size of a coffee

table. Forgive me for quoting this in metric and not Imperial, I can’t do the

competition in my head, but it’s about one and a half meters long by a meter wide,

two and a half foot, three foot in depth, and it skims the surface of the water.

So it doesn’t go too far deep, but you can’t at least at the top two feet of what’s in there,

and when you look at it, I suppose you look at a sort of a small craft, a catamaran vessel

with a basket in between. It looks kind of futuristic, I like to think, it’s got a kind of

cool tech look to it, but all it’s doing is sailing through the water and scooping up whatever

is in front of it, and at the same time, as you mentioned earlier, picking up the data in the

water as well, and sending that back online. So with the skimming capability, it makes me

think about oil spills and some of those other liquid contamination issues, is the technology

able to help with that as well? Yeah, absolutely, so we’re one of the cool things about starting off

with having a robot that sort of swims around in water. We’ve in the last year sort of started

going, I could, what else can we do with this platform? And as long as it’s caught to our technology

of harvesting stuff out of water, oil is a big play in that. So we recently built what we call

an oil shock that skims oil out of the water, puts water back into the water that keeps the oil

trapped in, brings that back to short, which I’m hoping in the next three to five years,

we’ll scale up into something that’s big enough to handle larger oil spills. There’s something like

you know, the last 10 years in the Gulf region where these big sort of oil spills help,

I just see robots going in as first responders there and just starting to eat at that oil

before it starts going back to short. We’ve got a small one at the moment, it’s in trials,

but I’m hoping in the next three to five years, we’ll have something to deploy off shore as well.

And does it, I’m suddenly thinking about the huge plastic vortex in the Pacific Ocean,

I know it’s found in some other oceans as well. Would this technology help with that kind of

plastics accumulation out there in the middle of the ocean? So it does help, but it doesn’t help

in those giants. So what we, as a company, sort of set up to do is to stop that flow of plastic

into the ocean. So we work with ports and marinas and municipalities and state departments

that have plastic problems in their rivers or their canal systems that leak out into the ocean,

all our, all our sort of way sharks are deployed in those areas to catch their waste before it

goes out. So we’re trying to sort of mitigate the problem. We’ve looked at sort of going out there

and helping with what’s been done out there, but there’s plenty of really solid, good companies

solving that problem at the moment. So we thought we’d rather get involved in the earlier stage

at source before it gets any worse. Yeah, okay, that’s great to hear. You know, this

opportunity and all of the innovation happening around drones, autonomous and semi-autonomous

vehicles for a variety of environmental cleanup and restoration needs. You know, I’m thinking

about our colleague, Tom Chi, with at-one ventures who was on our podcast a while back episode

94 and he shared with us some of the robotic technologies he’s working with that can, for example,

plant massive amounts of baby coral in any given day to help clean that up. Another

technology he’s part of is planting from aerial drones, huge quantities of specially coated

seeds to help reforestation in certain regions of the world. And I’ve just, I’m struck that,

you know, on the one hand, the human connection with nature obviously is a really important piece

to this whole pickle and puzzle that we’re facing together. But on the other hand,

using these technologies to help expand our ability to heal and restore the planet is so compelling.

And I have to ask, you know, with a background in journalism, how did you get into robotics

and technology? Can you describe, like, what was that leap in process? Like, where are you?

I think I’ve always been an inventor and a tinkerer, I guess, even playing with Legos when I was

a kid. I always say this and forgive me if you’ve heard it before, but my father is an engineer

and my mother’s an artist. So two people that probably shouldn’t be together, but I’m the result of it.

So I always had critical thinking and trying to solve efficiency problems, but at the same time,

I’m a bit of a dreamer. So I had, you know, luckily, I kind of, I saw a problem and you’re quite

right. I mean, why, why be solving something that is, you know, so beautiful as our planet and

its problems with technology, which is kind of weird, you know, I mean, the humans should be going

back and sort of solving environmental. We’re part of the environment. We should be solving this.

And, you know, I think my thinking was we’ve got to do it quite quickly. And we as humans don’t

have the ability to operate 24 seven and robots do. And it’s as simple as that. Robots can simply

do more. I’m not, I’m not for this AI future of, you know, where we’ll be sort of hanging around with

robots and having coffee and they’ll be more smarter than us. I see robots as they’re capable of

doing a job by rote and they’ll do it over and over and over again and they won’t complain.

So, I mean, you example of the planting of seeds. I mean, it would take us days to plant what,

how, you know, what a drone probably can plant in an hour, you know, and we just simply don’t have

the time to catch up with the mess that we’ve created. So from my point of view, you know, robots

and technology are kind of the savior and that respect. It’s an odd dichotomy, but you know,

we’re a paradigm for all of it, but it is what it is. You know, we need to solve this problem.

We’ve accelerated this problem and now we actually need something to accelerate it and reverse.

Yeah, yeah, no doubt about it. Can you give us an idea of what kinds of plastics, what sizes,

plastics, your robots are able to clean up, say, in a marina or a reverse?

Yeah, so we go down to about three millimeters and again, forgive the, forgive the, the metrics,

but yeah, three more, so this is quite small. But typically, if we’re on a day out, you know,

and we’re collecting, it’s strange what gets into our system, but it’s balloons and plastic balls

and flip-flops, you know what I mean? I know what you call them, a sandwich, flip-flops, yeah.

I mean, all the time, I would probably add about top 10, you know, balloons and flip-flops

are what we’re taking out of the water. You would have thought it like cigarette bats or plastic

bottles, that kind of thing, but it’s, and then they are there, but in the majority, it’s just

stuff that we wouldn’t even think about it gets into our system. So we can collect anything from,

yeah, down to three mill, or up to the size of a, I think of the biggest thing we’ve caught,

you know, like a tire, I suppose, like, you know, a car tie would be that kind of, and those are

basically, we have a larger one coming in now called a mega shock, which will do, you know,

it should be able to pick up fridges refrigerators and that kind of thing. But, yeah, it’s very weird

what humans end up putting in the water either, you know, accidentally or in purpose.

Give us an idea of your customers and stakeholders. Who’s buying these and how are they getting

deployed all around the world? So we’re manufacturing them here in Rotterdam in the Netherlands,

but we’re hoping in office quite soon in the US where we’ll do assembly as well. The typical

customer is a city manager or a state department that has authority over a large area of water.

And I know typically sort of combined with an innovation department, so they’re looking for new

solutions. And we tend to sell, yeah, to the city management or a state department that is looking

for, if lower, for instance, to solve algae problems. And so we’re taking out algae and we’re

taking out all biomass and plastics. They’re looking to rehabilitate a water space. At the same time

is cleaning it. They want the data that comes out of it. So we also do measurement of data,

the temperature of the water, the pH levels, the temperature, the oxygenation of it.

You know, to see what it looks like over time. And because we’re little robots and we swim around

everything is GPS, TAG, and it’s time stamp. So you get just really sort of beautiful picture

over a period of time of how that water body changes, which is particularly useful, I think,

to a lot of government departments. But then we have really cool clients like Disney and

Universal in Orlando who use those because Disney might be firing up shell casings every single

life for fireworks and they need to clean that up the water. All they have algae problems because

it’s Florida and there’s a lot of nitrate in that water. So we have anything from hotels and

golf courses looking to clean up their water spaces. Typically though we find it’s people who are

looking for a new way of doing things. And normally emissions free. So obviously there are both

who can go out and, you know, but they’re using diesel engines and there’s a lot of maintenance

on those things. This is purely, you know, you pick up your rumble, your way shark and you throw it

in the water that it brings everything back to shore. So I think people are looking for a

cheaper but faster way of doing it, you know, and we provide that.

It’s amazing. So what do you anticipate over the next couple of years in terms of your

scale up and the number of these drones that you anticipate deploying? I imagine that the

demand for these could be astronomical as different potential users catch on to the opportunity.

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of our biggest problems is we’re well kept secret at the moment.

So in 2023 we plan to go very big and sort of marketing and getting out there.

The future is quite bright because it just, you know, the more of these that you have in the

water, the more data you’re collecting, the more you understand what’s going on in the water.

And we can start correlating that data quite nicely worldwide. We want to put around 200

into the into the into water next year. We’ve done 50 so far, but we’ve got quite a big

ambition for next year to really deploy quite a few mainly in North America. It’s a sort of

bigger market at the moment. America tends to be really early adopters on this kind of innovation.

Oddly enough, the bigger problems are Asian regions, Malaysia, India, Africa.

But we’re providing a technology that right now is not so affordable to everybody.

So we’re trying to get those numbers up so we can use that to create smaller and more cheaper

units to supply to places where they actually need it. So yeah, we’re looking to put 200 in

the market next year. And I think we’ll probably be on track for that. And then we go bigger.

As I said, we’re bringing up bigger versions now for to collect more trash. We would like to go

offshore and do environmental monitoring of oil rigs and wind farms. Wind farms have been

particularly quite big out here in Europe. And we’re teaming up with a large company out here

that owns wind farms that wants to environmentally monitor the below and above the surface of what’s

going on in those particular environments where they, you know, you can imagine that they’re

sticking these huge structures up in the middle of nowhere that has to have some effect even on

that sort of cold ocean environments. You know, there’s new crustaceans coming in all this scouring

at the bottom of the of the of the pylons or there’s I don’t know what it was happening.

It was a trash screen collected or is it killing birds, you know, so they want to monitor those

more effectively. We believe we can do that with autonomous flights and send in information

back to them quite effectively. So the future is quite exciting. It’s like a weird sort of space

that robotics and waste management, but you know, it’s not very sexy, but it’s quite fun for us.

Yeah, who knows? Maybe for some it is it is sexy. Yeah, I’m curious just to geek out a little bit

on this. So how does the navigation system work, especially when it’s out in the open ocean,

can you describe that for us? Yeah, so, so kind of ensure and just off coast we use 4G and 5G

technology. Predominantly, 4G has got a longer range, but it’s we built them. So, you know, coming

from Africa, I’ve seen everything that goes there needs to be very simple, robust and easy to use,

and if it breaks down, it needs to be repaired quite easily. So the actual hardware itself is just

two thrusters, you know, on and off and that kind of gives you direction as well, but the internal

side of it is where we’ve done the heavy lifting. So our main employment basis is kind of

mechatronics and robotics guys. When you get your drone, you literally hit a button, it turns on,

connects with satellites above it, like a cell phone would do, and all the comms go through that.

It has a lidar on top, so it’s got a 360 degree kind of eye of what’s going on around it.

You can set the path with waypoints, so literally plot and plan where you want to go,

because generally our customers know where the trash is. So there’s no point in going right across

all the water that you just go for the areas where you know, it accumulates. That lidar,

though, gives it a sense of collision avoidance, so something moves in front of it rather quickly,

it can stop and go, okay, I’ll just wait for that to move out, or if there’s a boat or something

that it wasn’t on the map, it’ll kind of work its way around it and carry on its path. So it’s

fairly intelligent. We’re just building a, what we call a shark, you’ll notice we use shark a lot,

but it’s kind of a main thing. We just built what we call a shark pod, which is a docking station

for five drones, and we’re writing now over the next years of more software that’ll let those

drones talk to each other and become more efficient as they get deployed. So if you can imagine

the shark going up, there’s five drones that connect to it, they’re going out 24-7, and they’ll

begin to realize that in corner X on a Wednesday when the wind’s blowing in a particular direction,

that’s where most of the trash goes, and they’ll be able to say to the buddies, hey, there’s a lot

of trash out here who can come and help me, and drawing one will say, look, I’ve got not enough

battery to get through on two full. I’m on my way, I’m drawing three, you’ll sound too far away

to help out, but let me know as I come back in, if you still need help, and they’ll still start,

you know, then they’ll start learning their environment so they’ll become more and more efficient,

and the whole aim there is to just collect as much trash while it’s on the surface before it

falls to the bottom. Once it’s at the bottom, it’s very difficult to get, very difficult to

reach out, and that’s where it starts breaking up and becomes microplastic, it becomes fish food

essentially. So the more that we can clear off the top focus on the surface, get it back to

shore before it breaks down, the better it is to recycle, but also the better it is for our own

health, because there’s so much of this microplacix breaking down there where what it gets down into

the ocean, it’s algae-arbonation, or seaweed naturally attaches to it, and it begins to smell and

look like the fish is food, you know, that they look at it and they don’t see plastic, they say,

hey, that’s not like my kind of thing, and they’ll smash that, eat it, we catch the fish,

bring it back to shore, and we end up ingesting the very plastic we threw into the water, so

the faster you get to the stuff, the better, and that comes down to efficiency, and how quickly

you can clean, you know, and that’s so, yeah, so the future is quite exciting, you can gig up for

years, you know, it’s the more ever these things to come, the better we do, you know.

How long, I know I’m asking you to make sort of a generalization or an averaging statement,

but how long generally do we have if plastic is first getting into a waterway before it sinks to

the bottom? It’s so tricky, because there’s so many different times of plastic,

and what form that plastic takes, so I mean a plastic bag can get to the bottom quite quickly,

because it’s once the air’s out of it, it becomes fairly heavy, and it’ll just sort of start

sinking to the bottom, then a good laden down in mud, and then it’ll sit there and stop breaking up,

but I mean that breaking up here, it takes, I mean that takes 10, 20, 30 years, you know, out in

the ocean, with wind, sunlight, and wave action, bottles, those kind of things they break down

quite fast, and bite fast, I mean, one to two years, but you know, when you’re a single bottle

floating right the way through the Pacific, one to two years is not a hell of a lot of time,

and there’s a lot of plastic out there. So yeah, it really depends on what plastic it is,

and where it is as well, you know, if there’s a lot of waves, a lot of wind,

probably breaks down far faster, a plastic bag will sink to the bottom fairly faster,

you know, if it’s weighted down it, yeah, and then sit there and there’s nothing you can do about it,

you know, other than diving and getting it out, I guess.

Right, yeah, you know I’m imagining I’m picturing here a bunch of the major river deltas

around the world, knowing that a whole lot of the plastic pollution is coming into ocean from

from rivers, from farther inland, and I imagine you could have an entire fleet of these

shark drones right at a mouth of a river in 24-7, basically cleaning that up, is that is that part

of the vision? Absolutely, I think that’s and there’s a few other solutions that are sort of

working in the same direction, you know, I don’t for one minute believe we’re the silver bullet,

but I think there’s enough solutions out there that all paired together could do, you know,

it’s really healthy damage. The rivers are interesting, we were in Thailand just before 2009

or in 2019, and they’re rivers and it’s full of rubbish, but it’s not anyone’s fault because

that’s there, they don’t have it, they don’t have a waste management system like we do in the West,

you know, where garbage truck comes around, picks up your trash and takes it away, you know,

they’re removal systems, they don’t want to live amongst trashes, it’s a river, you know,

that’s they put in the trash and the trash is gone, sorry, they put the trash in the water and

the trash is gone, so that’s where this massive accumulation of plastic comes, especially in

the Asian regions where you’re just having these these very poor countries dumping trash in

the rivers, and then it disappears, but obviously doesn’t disappear, it ends up in our in our ocean,

so yeah, I think the Delta is kind of the strategic point, so I can say you don’t have to cover

all the water, you have to go where the trash collects, and yeah, you get that right, and

I think it’ll be fairly effective over the next few years. Yeah, I’m imagining that the United

Nations Sustainable Development Goals obviously clean water is one of the 17 goals, and I’m curious

working and living in Europe and the EU, what is the environment like there for environmentally

oriented startups and growth phase companies that are addressing these very important environmental

issues, is this, I mean in the US, right, we have a good number of venture capital firms that are

helping to seed and provide early stage funding for a lot of these emerging technologies,

there’s some, and thankfully there’s an increasing support coming from certain sectors of the

government as well, especially around regenerative agriculture right now. I’m curious, what does

that landscape look like from your perspective working there in Europe? I would say that we might

be slightly ahead in the US, the US ahead is far more ahead on VC funding, and on your right there’s

a lot of them shifting into some more ESG kind of sustainability focus. I think the government here

as an EU overall, the grant funding here is insane, I mean we’ve got given two million

euros to go and develop one of our products from the government with no expectations of return

on investment or anything, which is, we like what you’re doing and they’re like the innovation.

So I think the process to get a more sustainable startup going, I don’t travel backwards

forward in here in the States, but anecdotally it feels easier to start a more sustainable

startup in Europe. I think the focus is quite strong here on that, but then to get VC finance

in the States for a more sustainable startup might be easier than getting a chair, because when

the VC landscape here is harder, your ticket size is a little smaller and a lot of it as well,

what was your revenue last year or based on your money as well going to bank sometimes.

But that kind of early stage finance has taken care of by grants, by grant funding, and a lot of

that is focused on innovation, sustainability, circular, it’s all kind of focused on that side.

For me, if you were going to start a company, I mean I bought this company off from South Africa

to here because I really like the innovation and sustainability landscape. For me it was quite

easy to do, you know, it was, and there’s no, there’s very few barriers to entry, which is great.

That’s so interesting. So, you know, without divulging anything that might be proprietary,

what, as a CEO and founder, what does your projection look like in the next year or two in terms

of the various sources of needed capital that you’re working on right now?

So we’re actually in the process of, I don’t know if I can say that sort of again,

we’re looking at a listing next year. I think that’s a kind of a process at the moment.

And it’s, although we might seem a little bit early stage to do that, we’ve always had this

peculiar sort of like issue of, we’re a software company, but we’re also a hardware company,

and we’re, you know, involved in sustainability in ESG. So that fit is not right for all VCs.

We fit one side of it, we don’t fit the other side. And we made this decision earlier this year

to just go to the kind of the listing route. Raise the capital we need. We see a very clear

future of how we’re going to evolve, but we need a lot of capital to do that because of the

hardware, the hardware side. So that is our current sort of focus. We might, you know, if we get to

the right VC before that stage, you know, maybe, maybe we take a short left as we say and so

that forget, but you know, at the moment that is kind of our view is that we want to get big,

very fast and we’ve got a lot of ambition. So we need the capital to kind of grow.

I got to ask another kind of nerdy business question. So what are some of the biggest

bottlenecks you’re facing? Setting aside, you know, capital, what does it look like scaling up

the manufacturing? Do you have the personnel, you know, readily available? What are some of the

I would say our biggest barrier to entry right now is that we’re not selling a ubiquitous product.

You know, it has to be explained every time it has to be, you can’t compare it to anything.

I always call it a rumble for water, but you know, it’s not that easy. We operate in a

four to five billion dollar market. So it’s not that we’re not swimming around in a small pond, but

you know, there are other products that are sort of aged out now that do the job. We’ve got to

go, hey, we’ve got a robot that kind of does what you’re doing right now and it’s going to be cheaper

than this. And it’s a very difficult step, especially in the marine specimen we work in to convince

people who are older that this technology is actually better. And I don’t mean that I’m not

calling out sort of the older generation, but it’s a big switch, you know, from taking diesel engine

motors and high power kind of collecting vessels into going, okay, let’s use little robots.

So there’s a big jump there. So that from a traction point of view has always been harder. So our

sales cycles are three to six months. It’s slow. From a scalability find it’s actually fairly easy.

We, you know, it’s as easy as it can be for anybody trying to scale manufacturing. But we’ve

got it done to quite a finer fine process now. We would like to manufacture in a cheaper space. It’s

not cheaper to it’s not cheap to to manufacture in the EU, certainly where we are in the EU.

So some of some offshore manufacturing would would be nice because over bring the cost down and

also make it more accessible for some customers. Staff, I’m hoping that it’s a short bump in the

road, but I think everyone is struggling to get the right kind of human capital at the moment.

You know, it’s even done to sales. It’s very difficult to, people, I don’t know where they all

went. Aaron, I don’t know what’s happened the last 18 months. I know we had the pandemic and I know

we had issues, but we’re still the same amount of people. But I think people have just,

yeah, I don’t know, gone and found things that they really love to do and I’m not worried about

the money anymore. One thing we do have on our side, I must admit that everyone that’s come in,

we have a very low attrition rate because everyone that’s come in is a robotics guy who love,

or girl who loves, who loves sustainability. And that’s a very hard fit for some people to find.

You know, you can go and build autonomous cars, but it’s not necessarily giving back to the

environment where we’ve got a particular kind of target of people that like us and stay with

us fortunately. But finding them is becoming difficult, I must say. I’ve noticed that in the last

24 months easily. Yeah, you know, this is this is a theme that’s been coming up in many different

conversations that were part of just recently we interviewed Miguel Gil, the CEO of organic India,

the T and supplements company with global supply chains. And he had some similar comments.

And I’m really curious because we’ve been looking at several innovative models around the world,

like the Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Here in the US, B corps are a big

deal in certain sectors that are exhibiting, demonstrating deep commitments and quantitative

commitments to various social and environmental goals and targets, including for their

employees and teams. And I’m curious is that is that kind are those kinds of mechanisms also robust

in Europe? And does that help with the attracting and retaining talent? I think it does. We haven’t

gone as big on the B corps side as the US have. And that to me impresses me endlessly. I’m

trying to convince our guys for our US company to start as a B corp, but there’s a few hurdles to jump

through. But I don’t think I don’t think it’s as strong. I think it’s more innate. It’s more about

the person here. So so kind of that will more gravitate to a company they feel is more environmentally

friendly and sort of kind of on the on the same track, but we don’t we don’t have necessarily a

word for it or like, you know, just a B corp company. So you know, I think that that again,

it’s anecdotal, but I think that particularly in in in in Netherlands that there is a a wish to

work for something that is good rather than just getting paid. And it’s certainly in the

democratic graphics I find between the sort of 20 and 32 year olds for some reason is that kind

of either guys have been in big corporates and I want to give back. We have a particular thing here

where you know, it’s not it’s not abnormal to work for three days for one company and two days for

another company. In fact, one of our roboticists, I’m sure you won’t mind. It’s telling you,

I’m just the other day is look, I love working for you guys, but I want to scale it back to four days

because a friend of mine just started this really cool environmental company that does something

in coffee and he’s asked me if I can code for him and I wouldn’t mind doing that. And that’s cool

because like we’re getting the best of Dennis every day, but he’s also fulfilling other things in

other environmental spaces that he wants to be involved in. And I I kind of respect that. So I

I think here it’s kind of a sounds, sounds very, sounds very liberal and very kind of

airy fairy, but it works. You know, people get paid well, but they also get to do what they want.

And they have the space to do it. And I think that sort of it keeps people involved, you know,

keeps people sort of with you, which is great. Yeah, we just want to fly more of them.

Yeah, that’s so that’s so interesting, Richard. And I come to mind for me right now is a discussion

we had a while back with our colleague Eric Lombardi, who’s very engaged in the social enterprise

movement, which actually seems to be more robust in Europe so far than here in North America.

And yeah, it’s this attraction and retention of talent vis-a-vis, you know, so-called competitive

advantage as we move more and more into the 21st century. It’s a very interesting topic

to consider and to navigate. It’s hard to get your head rounded as well, especially when you’re

running the company that some guy wants to go and work for another company for one day.

But you see the value in it, that they’re so fulfilled, you know, that you just get more back, you know,

it’s a kind of win-win, you know, I think it was Finland who was trialing out Finland or

Denmark, we’re trialing out sort of four day weeks. And I kind of looked at that and I thought, well,

you know, that’s probably not, I would like to do that because we don’t necessarily,

the US is an exception, I’m sure you know, when you guys just work and work.

But here, you know, a four day week works because, you know, you’re going to get the value out of

your employee and they’re going to appreciate that that that one day often. Everything else is

pretty much, you know, health-guest, technical care, all that kind of thing. So that kind of that worry

is removed. And again, I’m coming from Africa, so we just worked our asses off, you know, kind of

there was no, there was no sort of safety that you just had to, had to work. So to come from that

to the Netherlands, which is kind of on a, there’s a lot more socialists, I guess, you know,

kind of in a democratic, a democratic social way. Getting used to that kind of, it’s okay to

offer your employees 30 days a year holidays. And that’s where we start, you know, they have a

guaranteed 30 days and some guys go higher than that. You can work three days or you can work five

days or you can work four days, that’s okay. But I don’t see any loss of anything to my company

because of that. And that’s, that’s what I’d be looking out for. I’d be looking to hang on

with these guys who work three days a week and I’m, you know, my company’s suffering. If

anything but that is probably a absolute purpose. Yeah, it’s very much a matter of the quality of

value contribution over quantumity or whatever metric there might be. No, absolutely.

So everything, let me find our audience. This is the YonEarth community podcast. I’m your

host, Aaron William Perry. Today we’re speaking with Richard Hardeman, the founder and CEO of

Rand Marine Technology. And you can find Rand Marine at RandMarine.io. And on Twitter, it’s at

RandMarine Tech Instagram, you can find Richard Hardeman. And we’re also going to include a link to

Richard’s TEDx talk and his AASCV award information as well. Want to give a quick shout out to

a few of our partners and sponsors. This includes Puriam, the organic superfoods company. And you

can get discounts and join the Puriam family at www.unner.org slash Puriam. Of course,

Weyley Waters, the hemp infused aroma therapy soaking salts. You can join our monthly giving

program and receive monthly shipments of the Weyley Waters at varying levels. You’ll find that

on both the YonEarth.org website and the Weyley Waters.com website. And organic India just

mentioned them earlier, providing wonderful organic and fair trade, Tulsi and other herbal tea

and supplements products. And of course, got to mention my new novel VeridiTos. The great healing

is within our power. It’s VeridiTos book.com. If you want to get a copy and learn more about this

novel in which the healing of our planet and our culture is a central theme. And Richard, it’s

so fun and so interesting talking with you about your technology. I want to turn just a little bit

here and ask you a little more on the personal front. You know, you were sharing with me before,

we started recording that you’re married. You have three children. What’s family life like? And

how do you maintain the so-called work life balance with everything that you’ve got going on with

ran marine? Yeah, it is tricky. I think anyone who started a business and kind of like try to

grow. It knows that it becomes your, it probably becomes your other wife or your other husband

or your other partner and tends to dominate. I think in the early days it was really tough.

You know, we took a risk and started the business with, we were the first movers in the market,

not always a good thing. Everyone would tell you it’s a good thing, but it’s not always

like that business is where we move first and it was completely the wrong time. But in this

particular case, it was, it was something that once it got going and people started talking about,

I knew, you know, it wasn’t about making money necessarily. I mean, I mean,

that we make goes back into creating new cool products, which is, which is quite exciting.

But it was more like, I’m onto something here. This is something that can actually make a

difference. I, in a TEDx talk, I was talking about being an accidental environmentalist. I

was pretty blinded to, you know, I kind of understood that we environmental problems,

a climate change would be doing a lot of damage, but I wasn’t aware of the plastics problem,

for instance. My whole journey started because I watched two guys take up plastic out of water

and approach using a net, you know, I thought, hell, then there must be another way of doing that.

And that’s where I started coming up with robots, you know, and I made that, took that idea

and made that into a prototype, and took that prototype into a business, and we agree from there.

But it was purely accidental. But that was a hot period. I would say, first two or three years,

I was flying between San Africa and the Netherlands every two weeks, and not great for the environment.

I’m absolutely wet. But, you know, I had no, I had a safety net in San Africa. My wife was working,

my kids were at school, they were safe. And I wasn’t sure how this business was going to go.

And I didn’t want to move us to a completely foreign country and then have that business bomb,

and we’d be stuck there. So for the first three years, it was tough. But when I got here,

oddly enough, it got easier. Again, because the Dutch way or the kind of this European way of life

of kind of not having is about work, I still push myself quite hard, but to soft-noon three o’clock,

I was taking my son to tennis lessons, because you’re allowed to do that as a father here,

you know, no one, no one from Hansenji. In fact, my kids reminded me yesterday, Wednesday is here,

kids at junior school get out at, they get out early. And the whole point of that, the government

implemented it so that fathers would take the afternoon off and take their kids to a sports

thing or kind of take them out to the park. My kids reminded me that I hadn’t done that recently.

So, you know, I could, it gets quite entrenched. I, I, I, as you grow, I think a new employee,

I’m all about employing people who are better than you. And, and once you employ the right

key people and they start taking pressure off and you can trust that process, that you, you start

to become a little bit more relaxed. I’m always worried about your babies for the growing,

but, but you know that the key people are sort of in place to do things better than you would have

done. And I think over the past maybe 18 months or so that I’ve got a lot more comfortable in

the fact that there are more clever people doing the stuff they should be doing. I’m allowed to

focus on strategy and new products and sort of growth. So, I’m probably more relaxed and I used to be.

But there were, there were points where I was absolutely, I mean, we could have gone under two or three

times, you know, we were close to bankruptcy a number of times. Couldn’t see ways out, went through

depression, went, you know, all that kind of there’s wonderful rollercoaster riders that come with

those entrepreneur journeys. But I would like to say 60 of later we’re kind of in a, or I’m in a

better space and a better head space, which is, which is nice, you know, to be able to come through

that, be able to spend time with my family, have my great little business up the road that’s

hopefully going to explore quite soon. Yeah, it’s exciting. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s really exciting.

Yeah, my kids have been through a bit of the same witnessing over the years and you know,

it’s really, it’s neat because my minor now in their 20s and they, I think, have a real

appreciation and a healthy respect for what the entrepreneurial journey means and can look like

at times, those higher stress points at times, you know. My kids are a bit younger, they look younger

than me, but I’m obviously started late. But I’m hoping that it does rub off and that they will see,

I look at my dad and he was a hard worker and he always worked for one company for years and years,

engineer, head down and I always respected that worth it, work ethic. I’m pushing, I think I

probably had too much ADHD to kind of like have the same concentration as him, but it did rub off

for me, you know, and I kind of learned later on in life that I didn’t see him because he was

working and, you know, kind of that was, he was doing the best he could for us. I kind of hope

that that translates to my kids as well. You’ve written a book, I don’t know, is that your first book?

No, it can’t be, how many books? No, we’ve got, I’ve written several including a nonfiction book

called YonEarth that provides the confidence of foundation for the work that we’re doing through

the YonEarth community. I mean, to me, for anybody, I have three novels that are half written

and are completely rubbed, but that’s all I kind of want to do. So when you hold a book up that

size, I’m like, man, that’s, that’s, it’s just like kind of, it’s gold. I mean, to be able to do that

and have that ability, but not just write something, but to also end it and have it in your hand.

It’s so impressive, man. It’s quite, it’s quite beautiful to see the fact you’ve done more

once is just, yeah, it makes me extremely jealous. Well, it’s, I appreciate you saying that, and as

you can, I’m sure imagine, it requires a lot of discipline and a whole lot of the processes

less than pleasant, really, when you’re, when you’re in the thick of the editing, it’s, you know,

there are some similarities to starting and running businesses. Absolutely. Yeah, you hit the day

of AMC, you don’t know how to go, where to go next, or you’re doing the right thing, you’re doing

the wrong thing, it’s a block going in the right direction, business and in books. Yeah, it’s,

it’s not easy, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Well, this will be fun to take up this thread and maybe even some of

the behind the scenes, rollercoaster up and downsides that you’ve experienced will be our,

our behind the scenes short segment for our ambassador network in just a few minutes. And

it’s been such a joy having this opportunity to visit with you today, Richard, and into

here about the wonderful work that you’re doing with RAM marine technology and that the

technology you’ve developed and are continuing to develop can really help the cleaning up

and the healing of our world. And before we sign off with our podcast interview, I just want to

open the floor back to you to see if there’s anything else you’d like to share with our audience,

anything else you’d like to share about your company before closing. Yeah, I think this was a,

I’ve always said it’s a happy mistake and I’m an accidentally environmentalist, but I’m very

glad it went that way. And you know, I know there are people out there with ideas because I’m like,

you know, people have these ideas that just don’t action them. And there are people out there with

some amazing ideas of what if I just did this, you know, and I kind of, I would just, if you’re

listening now and you have that idea, I would just push it and go and do execute it because

an idea is great, but it’s not worth very much. But there’s so many good ideas out there that are

fundamentally able to change our current situation in the world. That that actually might be the

way you’re supposed to go and you’re sitting at your desk going, you know, this is what I’m doing

because I need that salary check. I’m not for one instant saying quit your job, but it’s not working

on that idea and making a reality because it took me too long. I’m probably five years. It’s

the right time I’m where I’m supposed to be, but I should have actually, I had the idea five years

before I actually started doing it. And I regret that because I think we could have made an impact

to we were five years ahead of where we are right now. So yeah, don’t sit on the ideas, make them

happen. Beautiful. We’ll leave it with that. Thanks so much Richard. It’s wonderful talking with you.

Aaron, thank you. I really appreciate the time and thanks for the platform.

The YonEarth Community Stewardship and Sustainability podcast series is hosted by

Aaron William Perry, author, thought leader, and executive consultant. The podcast and video

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