AI, Climate Tech, and the Business of Selling with Zain Lakhani

On the latest episode of From the Ground Up, Zain Lakhani joined in to discuss the wide world of tech, from its role in climate change to how it impacts the building of successful companies. In addition, the conversation touched on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and the challenges that come up when you are selling a company.

Zain Lakhani is an experienced engineer and entrepreneur who has worked in Silicon Valley. He is currently involved as a co-founder and partner at a consulting firm called Lightci, which, at a high level, builds products, teams, and anything else companies need.

The Evolution of AI from Supplement to Tool

As an engineer, Zain deals with AI on a regular basis. According to his observations, AI is not replacing engineers like many feared. Instead, it is becoming a valuable supplement and tool for them. Engineers can now turn to AI assistants, such as ChatGPT, to seek solutions to coding problems or ask for guidance instead of digging through online forums such as Stack Overflow.

Additionally, the accessibility has significantly increased over the past few quarters, making it more accessible to the general public and transforming it into an essential tool for various professionals, not just software engineers.

AI’s Role in Climate Change Technology

One area Zain knows extraordinarily well is climate change technology, having worked for companies like EcoCart and Cloverly. At EcoCart, he was the head of engineering and helped build a climate offset plug-in for e-commerce.

The plug-in allowed consumers to offset the carbon emissions generated by their online purchases by adding extra money to their order, which was then used to make the purchase carbon neutral. At Cloverly, Zain worked on a similar project but with a more API-driven approach, catering to clients like MX and their cardholders.

When it comes to the role of AI in climate change and climate technology, Zain explains that it’s a complex industry. While the goal is to save the planet, companies still need to make money and ensure consumer buy-in. Influencing consumer behavior in a positive way while driving business results is a challenge.

An example is carbon offsets, which can be difficult to explain to consumers, especially in the limited attention span of e-commerce. Zain believes that saving the planet is a complex question that hasn’t been fully answered with consumer-facing tech. However, there are companies working on carbon sequestration and other impactful solutions that don’t require consumer buy-in.

The Journey of Selling a Company

Another personal insight Zain shared was his experience selling a company, highlighting that it is a whirlwind process. It is not simple, linear, or straightforward. It involves emotional and mental roller coasters, along with financial considerations. Selling a company requires managing expectations and emotions, not just from the founders and CEO but also from the employees who may be affected by the sale.

Zain emphasizes the importance of finding the right buyer, both culturally and financially, and mentions that selling a company is not as glamorous as it may seem. It involves a lot of work, including due diligence and negotiations, and requires a strong support system to navigate the challenges.

To help anyone else going through or considering selling their company, Zain highlights the significance of having good people around you. Running a successful company, especially during the sale process, requires a team of talented individuals who can take the company across the finish line. Founders cannot do it alone, and having a strong team is essential for managing the day-to-day operations and ensuring optimal results.

John Boitnott is a reporter at Grit Daily on From the Ground Up and Grit Daily’s Daily Update. He is a journalist and digital strategist who has worked at TV, print, radio and Internet companies for almost 25 years. As a professional writer with a background in the newsroom, he’s advised and created content for a wide variety of companies and publishers, helping them build their popularity. He has also written for Entrepreneur, Motley Fool, Inc., BusinessInsider, Fortune, NBC, Fast Company, USA Today and Venturebeat.

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