This episode’s guest is Max Nova, founder of SilviaTerra: a company that uses technology and big data to improve forest management. Max describes how he wound up in this unexpected, but extremely rewarding, career and how his mathematical background prepared him for the challenges of devising new and innovative methods of gathering data about and quantitatively analyzing complex ecosystems. He also discusses the challenges of getting such a groundbreaking company off the ground.

You’ll hear about Max’s early experiences attending prestigious summer programs like Math Path and RSI, including the story of why he chose Keanu Reeves as a role model. He describes his time studying computer science at Yale, why his plans to become a radiologist wound up not panning out, and how the School of Forestry’s reputation for throwing great parties led to Max discovering an exciting new career path.

Max also talks with Richard about what it was like founding a company while he was still in college. He and his co-founder, Zack Parisa, recognized the opportunity for biometrics, remote-sensing, and big data to revolutionize forest management, but finding clients willing to put their tools to the test required a great deal of legwork and salesmanship. Max explains how his team uses technology to collect data and construct statistical models that help people make better decisions regarding forest inventory and sustainability.

Max also shares his insights into how to successfully run a company and to network with potential clients and business partners. He describes how he employs his love of reading ‚Äď Max reads and reviews 100 books a year ‚Äď to his advantage, using his book reviews to grab people‚Äôs interest and attention.

You can learn more about SilviaTerra at their website, and you can read some of Max’s book reviews here. Microsoft’s AI for Good Initiative has made a video about SilviaTerra’s work, which can be viewed here.

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