Next up in our roundup of Rubicon’s rad dads is Michael Allegretti, our Senior Vice President of Policy & Strategic Initiatives. Bringing tech innovation to urban areas is Michael’s M.O., so it’s no wonder he heads up our Rubicon Smart City offering. With technology partnerships currently underway in the City of Atlanta, Santa Fe and others, Michael shared with us tips for success as a hard-working dad in the big bad city.
From Uber to Rubicon, you’ve tackled public policy issues and battled large incumbents for some of the nation’s hottest startups. Any tips for entrepreneurs trying to break into or ‘disrupt’ a traditional industry or business model?
Michael: Keep your focus. In the case of Rubicon, that means a relentless focus on keeping materials out of landfills and improving the efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of the waste and recycling industry. It doesn’t mean going to war with government and other partners, as we’ve seen some other startups do. Sometimes people take their eyes off the prize. My tip is to focus on continual improvement and put all of your resources toward it.
As soon as you think you’ve ‘nailed it,’ that probably means there’s more to be done, more ways to look at the issue, and it’s time to expand the field. That’s what we’re doing at Rubicon. We began by changing the way commercial waste and recycling was picked up and reused. Fast forward to today and we’re nailing that and so much more. From thinking about how to remove waste from space, to developing technology that help cities run more efficiently and effectively – we’re still laser focused on keeping materials out of landfills and improving efficiency, transparency and effectiveness – but we’re just expanding the frontier.
NYC + kids + startup jobs. You can handle some seriously fast-paced environments. What’s your secret to juggling it all and loving it?
Michael: A wonderful life partner in my wife, Paula. A good airline partner in Delta. Tech that talks to one another. I love my iPhone and my MacBook Air. And outdoor exercise. When I’m in New York, I enjoy running along the Hudson River or in Central Park. When I’m in Atlanta, a run around Piedmont Park or on the Beltline are my faves.
So you’re a waste expert now. Why waste? What inspires you about the work you’re doing?
Michael: I’m driven to solve problems that are omnipresent and that exist across all economic, racial and geographic lines or spectrums.
At Uber it was about getting from Point A to Point B, which is something that all people everywhere face every day, and my work was making that easier for them. Here at Rubicon it’s about taking out the trash but so much more, and that’s what drives me to be here.
How do you take something that until now has been viewed as a liability – one’s garbage – and turn it into an economic asset? And use that as a teachable moment upon which communities can continuously improve? How do you teach someone that the way waste management exists today doesn’t have to be how it exists tomorrow? That small changes made household by household, person by person can lead to seismic shifts in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the communities in which we live, work and play? That’s what inspires me to do the work I’m doing.
Give us your best ‘Dad Advice.’
Michael: That’s a very emotional question…hmmm. Patience. That’s it. Patience. Be patient and kind. And know that your children are always listening. From the moment they’re born until they’re adults, deep into their life, they’re always listening, always learning. Be patient. Be kind. Be careful.