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Playing with Fire: How Tech is Changing Wildfire Management

Playing with Fire: How Tech is Changing Wildfire Management

MCJ Startup Series with Pano and Convective Capital

Today, we have two guests, Sonia Kastner, Founder and CEO at Pano, and Bill Clerico, Founder and Managing Partner at Convective Capital

Both Sonia and Bill are keynotes in the emerging category of fire tech and in the subcategory of climate tech that's referred to as adaptation solutions, technologies that can help deliver resiliency in the face of an increasingly unstable planet. At Pano, Sonia is developing technology that creates actionable intelligence for wildfire management. They're deploying a network of high-definition cameras across our forests to help generate faster and more informed fire response.

At Convective Capital, Bill is investing in technology startups that are solving the problem of extreme wildfires, including Pano. Cody, Sonia, and Bill dive into the issue of wildfires, how and why they've grown in severity, the traditional response mechanisms that fire agencies have used and how that's changing, what types of technologies are being developed to support their efforts, and of course, some details about Pano's product offering. We also touch on the talent that's flowing into fire tech and how critical it is for us to continue to fund and develop new ways to adapt to a changing planet, try as we might in parallel to reign in the emissions and trapped heat that are causing climate change. 

🎧 Listen on Spotify

In this episode, we cover: 

  • [3:00] Sonia's background and catalyst for working in climate adaptation at Pano 

  • [5:05] Bill's background in FinTech and inspiration to start Convective Capital 

  • [7:33] The mega wildfire crisis today and trends over the last two decades 

  • [11:54] Universal factors contributing to wildfires across different geographies 

  • [14:28] Solutions to wildfires including Pano's technology

  • [16:49] An overview of firefighting today, early detection, and rapid initial attack 

  • [21:09] How suppression efforts could change based on fire characteristics and the need for collaboration 

  • [24:58] Challenges of building a tech company in the wilderness

  • [27:37] How Pano is leveraging Starlink to create solutions for their customers

  • [29:14] An overview of the company's physical product and buyers 

  • [31:52] How Convective Capital approaches companies like Pano who sell primarily to fire agencies 

  • [34:27] How organizations like CAL FIRE are changing their approach to work with tech companies 

  • [36:19] Skills needed and where talent is coming from 

  • [38:40] What's next for Pano and Convective Capital

Visit our website for a full transcript of this episode.

Get connected: 
Cody Simms Twitter / LinkedIn
Sonia Kastner / Pano
Bill Clerico / Convective Capital
MCJ Podcast / Collective

*You can also reach us via email at, where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded on January 12, 2023. 

MCJ Collective Newsletter
My Climate Journey
A growing body of knowledge about climate change and potential solutions. This series traverses disciplines, industries, and opinions with hundreds of deep-dive conversations with science, technology, and climate leaders.