A conversation with Gregory Constantine, Co-Founder of Air Company, and The Canvas
Briefly share the formative years of Air Company
After an early career at one of the world's largest alcohol companies, I met Dr. Stafford Sheehan, my now-partner and co-founder, on a Forbes alumni trip. We quickly noticed that we shared many similar values and realized that my prior experience in business and brand innovation in the alcohol industry and his discovery of the ability to convert CO2 into alcohols would mesh very well together.
In the first two years of the company, we focused primarily on R&D and explored all of the potential pathways for our technology. The initial focus was modifying current spirit and alcohol production methods, which led to our proof of concept product, Air Vodka. This initial product has since paved the way for us to expand and continue to evolve our product portfolio.
There are two distinct verticals of products for Air Company: “Now” and “Future,” can you speak to the differences and varied target audiences for each vertical?
We use “Now” and “Future" to represent what our current and maximum potential is. Within the climate space, circumstances are ever-changing and we have to be adaptable. What remains consistent is the need to remove as much CO2 from the atmosphere and that will be our priority now and in the future.
Our target audience currently spans across different verticals, from technology and business enthusiasts to trendsetters and climate-conscious consumers, and even members of the scientific community. This has been, and will remain, consistent as we grow and scale our technology for future product offerings and global expansion. We imagine our target audience will only expand as a result of growing interest among consumers to make sustainable decisions in the future.
Air Company clearly prioritizes design — across branded assets, from product, to packaging and the customer experience. Could you share when/how design became a core asset to the business?
Design is one of the main pillars of our brand and our strategy. Our goal is to show the world that you don’t have to compromise on quality in order to purchase sustainably. We also use design as a primary education and communication tool to bridge the gap between consumers and climate change.
With all of our products, we design them in a minimalist manner. We’ve always sought to use responsible design principles wherever possible in order to not waste materials and offer products that are intended for a second life after their initial use.
Is there an eco-friendly methodological process internally with iterations of product development and prototyping?
Sustainability really sits at the heart of all of the decisions we make as a company. We are always iterating and innovating to produce the highest quality, most sustainable products that, in turn, clean the air we breathe. From a technical standpoint, our hydrogen and CO2 conversion processes both run on renewable energy, allowing for an overall net-negative process. Our technology is also source-agnostic, meaning it can use any supply of CO2 and, we uniquely utilize 100% of the captured CO2 supply. This shows how we work to mitigate emissions wherever possible through our product development process.
What are a couple of your most recent projects?
Air Eau de Parfum is one of our most recent projects. A genderless and carbon-negative fragrance that is made from CO2, this product marked our transition into the beauty industry, an industry that is a massive contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Many beauty products are also highly ethanol intensive—ethanol is the most prominent ingredient in fragrance and so we felt there was a critical opportunity to innovate this product category. The base of Air Eau de Parfum is made using our carbon conversion technology that utilizes captured CO2 and transforms it into impurity-free alcohols. The CO2 and hydrogen that we produce on site are fed into our Carbon Conversion Reactor, where a proprietary reaction occurs, resulting in the creation of ethanol. We then formulate the ethanol with water and a variety of scents to ultimately create the final fragrance.
Additionally, on the commercial side of things, we’re being supported by NASA in our endeavors to create glucose and proteins from CO2 and identify other applications of our technology in outer space.
We’ve read of a new, significantly larger facility under construction in Brooklyn, is there new verticals or technology planned with the larger facility footprint providing more R&D capabilities?
Yes, it is underway! The goal for Air Factory 1 is not only to continue our R&D efforts but to rapidly scale our output to meet intermediate product demands. Once completed, it will be the facility where all of our production happens. Our newest piece of technology that will be housed there operates at a much higher capacity than our pilot system, with 10x the output. This will really allow us to increase our supply to meet current consumer demand for our products. Air Factory 1 will provide us the opportunity to continue our journey toward world-scale production.
How can the general public help Air Company?
Education and climate communication are incredibly important to us. In order to encourage the general public to contribute to climate action, we have to overcome that hurdle and gap in knowledge.
Our website and social media platforms are massive educational tools for us. We try to break our technology and climate change down to a rudimentary level across both platforms. That way, when our consumers purchase sustainable products, it allows them to understand how shifting behavior drives change. We’d love to see the public continue to support us and other emerging climate tech companies to drive a more significant movement toward climate-positive living.
What is next for Air Company?
We’ll continue working to disrupt the entire consumer goods ecosystem, educating our consumers on carbon technologies along the way, and beginning our transition into the industrial sector. Deploying our technology globally for commercial applications is our ultimate goal so we can demonstrate that a decarbonized economy is possible.
If there’s a brand you could collaborate with, who would it be?
There are so many! We have already established a host of partnerships, with more in our pipeline. You can definitely expect to see these partnerships and activations with companies that share our same world vision. We’ll be announcing significant plans and partners this year which we’re really excited about.