‘Keeping it Clean’ with Riccardo Segat, CEO and Founder of ReGen Future Capital
Riccardo’s story is incredible, it’s moving and it’s inspirational.
It started with him sharing some incredibly personal and traumatic details, how he reached rock bottom and then rose back from that. How he turned fear into success and overcame the odds to build a hugely successful business; a business which my instinct tells me will have a dramatic impact on so many people in this world and the planet as a whole.
I feel lucky to have met Riccardo and privileged that he is allowing me to share his story with you.
For those of you who are not familiar with Riccardo Segat, he is the CEO and Founder of ReGen Future Capital, a developer of climate change solutions. For over 2 decades prior to this, he launched, developed and sold successful multinational environmental businesses across wind, solar and water treatment under Amplio Group which he founded in 2003.
During these Amplio years, he became truly conscious and his life’s mission started to become progressively clear. Between 2003 and 2018 he built and sold a portfolio of Amplio businesses, creating a financial foundation for the next level stage of his evolution; the creation of ReGen Future Capital.
Firstly, how would you describe yourself?
An innovator in terms of defining a new way to do business. Defining a new model for business. A leader within my field as a result of 18 years’ experience in creating and developing business for the environment.
A learner in the sense that even within my own business I keep learning from the people around me every day. I don’t think I know everything, success comes from the team, and the collective knowledge. In all the businesses I’ve started, I learn, I change and I progressively adapt my business model. Having the capacity to adapt to what is in front of you and continue to learn is crucial in business.
From a personal perspective I am someone who is conscious. I realise what the world needs is a new business model that takes care of people and planet, and not just profit. I realised this because of my personal experiences.
Let’s discuss the personal experiences first, and how they have impacted the professional side of your life.
I went through a transformational experience in my life.
I grew up in Italy and throughout my life I’ve had great professional experience, 10 years of corporate America, then 18 years of developing business in the environmental sector. I was very driven by money and wanted to succeed because I was motivated by creating personal financial stability. That motivation was driven by fear, fear of not having enough, fear of not succeeding, which stems from a being a very traumatised child.
I lost my parents when I was very young, so everything I did from when I was a teenage boy was driven by seeking external validation. It defined who I was and everything I did. It led to me becoming an overachiever, chasing money and professional success. This was done at the expense of a spiritual and emotional growth that lagged behind during this period.
Professional achievement and money were important to me, but I realised that when I got there, with money in the bank and sitting on a yacht in Monaco, that I still had a huge sense of emptiness inside of me, a total lack of fulfilment, and a disconnection which really broke me.
How did you turn it all around?
It was actually this breakdown that allowed me to get to a breakthrough in my life. I began progressively adopting a new way of life, and I say progressively because it certainly does not happen overnight.
I started replacing fear with love. That love is what bought me to a new level of consciousness, a new way of life and a new business model.
What I realised in recovery is that I needed to adopt the principles in every aspect of my life and not just my personal life. This led me to the question ‘how in the heck am I going to make money with love?’. I still thought that I needed to be a hard-nosed businessman, whilst being a ‘nice guy’ in my personal life, but that just doesn’t work. When I started adopting these principles in my business, I started realising that recovery on a personal basis would lead to regeneration on a professional basis.
Regeneration is clearly at the heart of what you do, but what does it mean in this context?
Regeneration is what we are giving back to nature. As a principle of recovery, one of the things we always state is that we need to give back to other people and unfortunately it is a principle that is missed by many.
Giving back creates a circle, taking away from mother nature without giving back is linear. The lack on instinctual ‘giving ‘back’ in business leads to disconnection. Understanding the need for business to be circular led to be developing the ‘regeneration loop’ on which the entire ReGen Future Capital business is built.
Change is key. How can we spread this desire to change?
The fundamental message is that change can come from anyone. This change came from me. I’m a pretty ‘normal’ person who went through a lot of changes, in fact I went to hell and back. I certainly still have limitations and make mistakes but recovery has allowed me to produce the best version of myself. It can happen to any of us and this process has allowed me to discover my purpose and to live my purpose. Today my business and personal life are fully integrated, they are the same thing.
We generally feel powerless about creating the change that is needed, but actually we are very powerful in the sense that what made this happen is the sum of all individual action. If we undertake this together we will make it happen. Every small action is important, we just need to a global shift of mindset from powerless to powerful.
I know you have 3 kids; how do you juggle everything?
I co-parent my 3 boys, who are 8,15 and 18 with my ex-wife, so life can be pretty busy! I have a huge commitment to ensuring I am involved in all aspects of raising them, from bedtime stories to teaching them about triangles to making sure I give each of them the support and encouragement they need every single day. I am very conscious to give the 3 aspects of my life; my kids, my recovery and my business the time and space they each need.
I fully live my purpose and the kids live it with me. The kids all participate in my business whilst also discovering their own talents. Alessandro is very passionate about fashion, he’s studying at the London College of Fashion and will soon launch a sustainable fashion brand. Fillipo will be more of an Engineer or Mathematician and has his own photography businesses. He spends time working with me every summer whilst progressively finding out what his talent is and how to put it to work. Tommaso is 8 and loves trains and space rockets! Only time will tell what he will grow to become. I love spending time with my kids and supporting them in identifying their talents. I also love them to be exactly who they are.
You clearly saw the power of green investments before the masses, and that ‘green industries were the future’, was there a defining moment?
I knew that nothing in life happens by mistake, so I must take this realisation and find a way of giving back that works. I began with a focus on solar energy, since energy was 25% of the total carbon emissions, and we needed to move towards renewable energy sources. Now, renewable energy is competitive with coal, gas and oil. Battery storage is also becoming more affordable and within this energy mix everything is moving in the right direction. What isn’t working is the 25% of Green House Gas which come from soil, farming and deforestation issues.
Can you share some insight into these areas?
Intensive farming is causing the desertification of farmland. The use of chemical pesticides and genetically modified seeds are having a massive detrimental impact. In the beginning when the soil is healthy it leads to a good yield per hectare. The farming industry today however is struggling. Having introduced stronger chemicals to kill weeds the soil is dying before our eyes. The desertification rate in the US is going through the roof which has led to a massive social problem for farmers. They are seeing their farms literally dying, and these are often farms that have been handed down for generations. There comes a point that the last farmer in the chain watches their farm go bankrupt. It’s not surprising that there is an increase in the suicide rate for farmers.
The environmental impacts of farming create a huge structural problem with no money available to address the issue. This is why our first investment loop is about solar energy contributing to soil regeneration. How this works is that if we have investors who are happy with minimum returns we can allocate the extra return to regenerate soil. It’s a model that is very much in it’s infancy; there aren’t yet any major big investors that are looking to do that. There are few investors in farming, even fewer taking on regenerative processes. We find farms to move towards regenerative farming through a mix of grants and loans. The carbon credits can then be shared between the investor and the farmers in a way we believe is economically balanced. The carbon credit we receive goes into our blockchain platform, sold to generate liquidity and returned to the investment loop.
The ‘investment loop’; what is it and how does it work?
I describe this as conscious investment for structural change. We are totally re-thinking ‘business-as-usual’ and reconnecting humanity with nature to restore our critical natural ecosystems at scale.
We now have 3 investment loops, but there could be as many as you want there to be. It’s a way of thinking, a way to give back!
Solar energy regenerating soil reflects the way nature thinks on a connected basis and not a linear basis on which most businesses operate. The disconnect which evolves through not giving back to nature is the source of the climate change crisis. Simply put, climate change is a symptom of the disconnect between humanity and nature.
Having been a disconnected individual I applied the same principle of reconnection, giving back, connecting the dots between personal and professional experience and came out with this new connected business model which continuously gives back to nature. To me recovery and regeneration go hand in hand; recovery is the personal version to the professional regeneration.
How does the soil, farming, deforestation space ecosystem differ from that of renewable energy?
Renewable energy has an enormous amount of money going into it, and after Covid I can only see this increasing more, especially in solar energy. There is less investment in regenerative farming practices and reforestation; the focus of many Non-Governmental Organisations. The largest such as WWF and Conservation International are focused on protecting species and forestation, but the rest of the ecosystems tend to be supported by much smaller NGOs where funding is extremely volatile. There must be stability of funding and a long-term focus in order to impact structural change.
The beauty of the investment loop is that a portion of the dividends are there for 20 years, which provides the basis of a long-term business with its aim to protect nature and regenerate resources. We work in partnership with NGOs alongside the communities and tribes in the regions we invest. We leverage each other’s strengths and as a result create a team which regenerates ecosystems. When needed we provide the business skills and capability of attracting significant capital and as a result leading regeneration effort into those ecosystems. We reconnect this financial capital with natural capital to connect the loop, reconnecting humanity with nature. We do this progressively, one hectare at a time, one day at a time.
Can you tell me more about the investment strategy?
We work with investors and people to contribute to achieving Drawdown together. That’s the first thing but in order to do that we need to take a long-term view. Rather than focusing on the next quarter’s profits we focus on what needs to be done as well as long-term profitability.
Our approach to investment must be holistic, it’s carbon, it’s solar, soil, conservation of forests, ocean regulation — nature isn’t just one thing — it’s a harmonious portfolio of natural assets. There is no silver bullet for tackling climate change.
How can your business model filter into wider society?
We are in the process of developing a retail strategy and an app for people to measure their own carbon footprint to get to a point they are neutral or positive. We will also provide them with the solutions; how to dispose of waste, the impact of buying carbon credits and small ways they can make big impacts. We want to empower people to take their own action and give them the information to make the best and most informed decisions. Without the support of others we are nothing. We must do this together. The social part of this is very important; we are launching a number of educationally led campaigns for young people.
You talk a lot about purpose, what does this really mean to you?
Once you discover your purpose you discover that you’re here to serve. The Universe is the boss. Once you know and understand this flow, and begin to acquire conscious principles, everything becomes easier.
I believe you should always be yourself — the best expression of yourself. The best expression of myself is pretty colourful — me past, me now and me future. I always wanted to show that I was worth more than what I really was, but today I’m more ‘it is what is it is’. I’m honest with myself and I follow what is in front of me rather than trying to be someone I’m not.
What impact do you want to leave on the world?
The reason why we are doing all of this is for the younger generation. We are trying to create a better place than the one that we found, and somehow if we manage to do that then I will feel very fulfilled.
Riccardo, I want to wholeheartedly thank you for sharing your story. What you do and how you got there should be an inspiration to all.