Making it Rain | Rainmaker

Episode 30 of S³

The future is ours to build and there are few startups going after it as audaciously as Rainmaker is. Episode 30 of S³ is all about chemistry, cloud seeding, and making it rain with CEO and Founder, Augusts Doricko.

What’s up with cloud seeding?

Cloud seeding has long been debated as being helpful or even real. For example, during lunch at work, I mentioned I was editing an S³ episode about cloud seeding which caused my coworker’s left eyebrow to shoot up. “Hasn’t it been proven that cloud seeding doesn’t work?” he asked.

Cloud seeding was first proposed in 1891 when Louis Gathmann suggested deploying liquid C02 into rain clouds to induce rain. 50 years later, it was tested and proved by Vincent Schaefer, Irving Langmuir, and Bernard Vonnegut whom Augustus has a posted print of in Rainmaker’s El Segundo, HQ.

Since then, cloud seeding has been used around the world by various companies and governments where by flying a small, manned aircraft and triggering an array of silver iodide cloud-seeding flares can induce certain clouds to rain. Rainmaker wants to make this process faster and more efficient by:

  1. Developing better radar for best-case cloud seeding conditions — allowing Rainmaker deployments to have higher chances of making it rain

  2. Using drones for deployment instead of manned aircraft — this allows for faster and safer delivery

  3. Developing and using a new nucleation agent — because silver iodide is expensive and when used in large quantities can have negative environmental effects

  4. Testing and using new nucleation deployment methods — cloudseeding flares are expensive, heavy, and emit a ton of exogenous particulate that is less than helpful for the cloud-seeding process

For Rainmaker, there’s firstly the challenge of making it rain (replication) and, almost more importantly, proving that they in fact caused it to rain (attribution). This attribution problem was solved a few years back during the SNOWIE experiments. In fact, Rainmaker’s sci-fi-looking radar truck was the same one used by the SNOWIE team.

Rainmaker is deep-tech at its most daring

As I mentioned in the outro of this episode, there are two major opinions on how one should approach deep tech:

  1. Have every part of the R&D worked out, scale the business quickly to create a moat

  2. Have a lot of R&D to create a large technical moat

People have different opinions on this, but what I love about Rainmaker is the boldness they have in facing a variety of challenging R&D efforts.

Filming with Augustus and learning about their approach inspired a lot of confidence in me: here is a young founder with a young team tackling replication, attribution, and R&D challenges in parallel while pushing hard, seemingly unphased by fear.

Thanks for reading, watching, and listening. I can’t believe that we’ve made it to episode 30 of S³!

Keep on building the future,

— Jason