Mike Francis, CEO and Co-Founder of Nanotech, joins the pod to talk about his cutting edge climate conscious technology and the all-Texas round recently raised by NanoTech. Through an innovative roof coating, NanoTech can reduce lost heat and limit CO2 emissions from heating and HVAC in businesses and homes. Talking points include saving lives through climate tech patents, transitioning from intrapreneur to entrepreneur, and looking towards Houston’s bright startup future.

Timecoded Guide: [00:00] Podcast begins – Meet the Climate Tech Startup That Breaks the Mold

[01:35] Forming an innovation intrapreneurship program at NOV

[05:22] Taking the red pill of entrepreneurship for his family

[13:42] Unexpected collisions that led to NanoTech’s success

[20:45] Building a chemical materials company with an all-star team

[23:25] Raising an entire funding round in Austin and Houston

How did your experience as an intrapreneur prepare you for entrepreneurship?

Working in the corporate space before striking out on his own had a massive benefit for Mike— he was able to hone his innovation skills as an intrapreneur. An intrapreneur innovates within a corporate company and in Mike’s case, he was able to propose and lead a global innovation initiative at National Oilwell Varco. This gave Mike the confidence to take the red pill because he already knew what skills he needed to develop and sell his own ideas.

“I think that’s a great spot for entrepreneurs to start within the corporate world to get the experience of being an intrapreneur because you do still have to sell your idea, you have to get momentum for your idea. It builds a skill set that is very transferable once you go on your own.”

What was your “why” for leaving corporate and becoming an entrepreneur?

NOV gave Mike amazing opportunities to learn and lead in intrapreneurship, but the corporate work schedule was taking away from essential time with his wife and children. Although becoming an entrepreneur can be extremely time-consuming work, Mike believes his decision to dive into the startup world has shown him his “why.” Being there for his family and inspiring his children motivates Mike to manage his time at work while leading NanoTech to success.

“I encourage entrepreneurs to find their why. My why was I love to work, but I like to be in control of my time. As I started my first company, the time I was spending was more meaningful with my kids. I was able to shut off certain periods of time, so I could be there for them.”

How important is culture for your team at NanoTech?

Mike is transparent about his lack of chemistry expertise, but he’s quick to give credit to the team of talented scientists working at NanoTech to make this innovative climate technology possible. With their leak-resistant and CO2 limiting coating, NanoTech has the capacity to change the world, but Mike knows that won’t happen without the right people. Building a strong culture with hardworking individuals at each level in the company is a huge priority for Mike.

“You can have the best technology on the planet, it will sit on the shelf if you don’t have the right people behind it. At Nanotech, we feel that we can make our thumbprint on the world. We’re reducing CO2 emissions. We’re saving lives.”

What lessons did you learn raising capital as a Houston startup?

Raising capital is a full-time job on top of leading a company, but Mike says that focusing in on Texas was a huge benefit for Nanotech. Leveraging pre-established connections and collaborating with local investors, NanoTech was able to raise all its funds from Texas-based operations during their latest round. While this took a lot of work to execute, Mike believes this is a sign that Houston is officially coming into its own as a startup city.

“We had an all Texas round with the majority of it coming from Houston, and it’s just a testament to where Houston is going. I always tell people Houston is on the rise and I really, really believe Houston will be a top five startup city before the decade is over.”