In today’s installment of Bright Founders Talk from Temy, we are thrilled to bring you an intimate conversation with Robert Schmitt, Co-founder and now Advisor at Toucan, a company focused on driving sustainability. From working in Agrotech to the tokenization of carbon credits, Robert has been an integral part of several groundbreaking initiatives in the tech and sustainability space.
As he takes a brief hiatus after an intense seven-year journey, Robert shares insights into his sabbatical, where he balances advisory roles with training for an Ironman—a demanding feat that requires 20+ hours of physical training each week. Not one to stay idle, Robert also contemplates stepping into the realm of sustainable sports nutrition.
While his focus has shifted to personal development and well-being, his passion for entrepreneurship is as robust as ever. Join us to explore what drives this ‘builder’ at heart, and how he manages to stay engaged while also taking time to recharge. Whether you are a startup founder, an investor, or simply intrigued by the intersection of tech and sustainability, this interview promises valuable insights.
From Startups to Ironman: Robert Schmitt Finds His Sweet Spot in the Marathon of Life
“Guys, can you imagine sprinting a business marathon and then casually saying, ‘Oh, I’m training for an Ironman on the side?’ Sounds bananas, right? But Robert Schmitt does just that. After years of flexing his startup muscles in spaces like Agrotech and carbon credit tokenization, Robert decided it was time for a pit stop. Now he’s on what he calls a ‘sabbatical,’ but honestly, it seems like his rest days are as charged as his workdays. A sabbatical that involves Ironman training? That’s Robert for you!”
So what’s a day in the life of this modern-day Renaissance man? Well, “It’s like 20 plus hours of training per week,” he says. But don’t be fooled; Robert’s far from throwing in the towel on the startup world. He’s juggling advisory roles, especially for—you guessed it—sustainability startups. Ah, once an eco-warrior, always an eco-warrior! In his own words, “I discovered that this lifestyle’s… I’m meant to build things.”
If you’re scratching your head wondering, “How does he even manage all this?” You’re not alone. Let’s not forget, he’s still considering diving headlong into the realm of sustainable sports nutrition. It’s as if his sabbatical is just a reset button for another sprint in the startup marathon. When asked how he manages to take a step back from work, Robert says it’s all about perspective. “Sometimes you need that break away to realize actually what you need.” A bit of wisdom from a guy who’s consistently on the move, both physically and entrepreneurially.
Robert Schmitt on the Emotional Tug-of-War of Startups and the ‘Building Blocks’ of Sustainable Finance
“I became really attached, like just like your life is attached to your work,” Robert Schmitt confesses, letting us in on the emotional rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship. Those lines between work and life? They get super blurry when you’re all-in on a startup. It’s not all fun and games when you realize that the business you built has, for better or worse, become a limb you can’t easily amputate.
But let’s pivot real quick to the game-changing project, “Toucan,” that Robert’s been a part of. Imagine a world where smart contracts not only handle your transactions but also take care of the planet while they’re at it. That’s where Toucan comes in. The project initially started as a missing “building block” in the sustainable economy. “We had to tokenize carbon credits; once we did, it enabled a whole lot of innovation,” Robert reveals. In layman’s terms? They built the Lego piece that was missing, and now everyone can play in the eco-friendly sandbox.
So, why the deep dive into sustainable finance in the first place? Is it all about the Benjamins—or should I say, the greenbacks of a different kind? Well, it turns out, it’s a mix of both. “Our core idea was that if we create this new building block, we can create a new ecosystem in regenerative finance,” says Robert. So, there you have it. It’s not just a passion project; it’s also about filling a gap the world didn’t know it had but now can’t ignore. The dream wasn’t born overnight, but when it did take root, it became a mission to make the world a little greener, one digital transaction at a time.
Robert Schmitt on Finding the Sweet Spot Between Ironman and Startups: It’s All in Your Head
You ever hit the gym and think, “Geez, I need a break”? Imagine trading that treadmill for training for an Ironman. Now, mix in the chaos of running a startup. Yep, Robert Schmitt is no stranger to a little thing called ‘endurance,’ both mental and physical. “I think it’s really an education in understanding yourself, your motivation, and your ability to persevere through difficult situations,” he says. Startup life, meet Ironman; turns out, they’re long-lost siblings.
For Robert, this Ironman stuff isn’t just a cool anecdote to impress your Tinder date. Nah, it’s more like grad school for the soul. “It’s really quite a mental challenge more than a physical one,” Robert admits. That rings true for startups, too. There are the ups, sure, but it’s the downs—the ones that make you wanna hurl—that test your mettle. “You’re trying to put as much stress on your body as possible to create these adaptations and then try to recover from it without getting burnt out,” he elaborates.
Now, let’s dial it back. How did Robert find his groove in both extreme sports and startups? He talks about being a finance geek pumped about decentralized finance, and how he once got his hands dirty with sustainable fertilization using satellite data. And let’s not forget those carbon credits. “We really made the most liquid market for carbon credits in the world,” he beams. From the soil to DeFi to literally swimming, biking, and running through life, Robert’s got the kind of balanced equation that makes you rethink your life choices.
From Ironman Dreams to Startup Reality: How Robert Learned to Hustle in Both Worlds
Robert doesn’t play by the book. When told he couldn’t possibly train for an Ironman race in such a short period while holding down a startup, he didn’t just smile and agree. He geared up and went for it. “I have a lot to build in a short amount of time,” he says. His training journey might’ve been labelled ‘a really bad idea’ by coaches, but Robert sees it as an exercise in understanding how his body and mind respond to stress—a learning he finds equally crucial in the adrenaline-pumping world of startups.
“The more mistakes you go through, the more scars you have, the better you will be at continuing to do it,” Robert says, a lesson he learned the hard way since launching his first venture at 18. Though he admits to many early-stage blunders, he views each as a stepping stone in his personal and professional development. If you’re a young and aspiring founder, Robert insists you’ve got to be in it for the lessons, not just the endgame.
So what does Robert recommend to the entrepreneurial youth? Lean into the challenge. “It’s hard, but if you like hard things and those types of challenges, it’s the perfect environment,” he asserts. So whether you’re dreaming of crossing the finish line in Kona or getting your startup off the ground, Robert’s story teaches us one thing: Don’t listen to the naysayers. Turn that ‘really bad idea’ into your personal triumph.