Betts on the Future: Episode 32 | Lisa Kagan | Buddy

On this week’s episode Jennifer, @MarvelousMrsMetals, is joined by Lisa Kagan from Buddy to discuss new technology in the metals industry, her views on the terminology in the industry and finding joy in your work. Produced by Recycled Media.


on a special edition of bets on the future as you can see we’re not in our normal environment we are actually in person for a very let’s call it uh live event we’re here in Las Vegas Lisa Kagan is joining us and we are in the expo hall currently in the setup phase so if you are hearing any of the noises behind us uh please bear with us I just want to give a quick thank you to Lisa and do a quick bio for you over the past 17 years Lisa has played a pivotal role in conceiving building and commercializing multiple successful Ventures her career began in corporate venturing at deoe she co-founded enless a New Zealand based metal recycling business and in 20123 she exited inlist to focus on building buddy a metal recycling Marketplace built for scrappies by scrappies she’s also currently pursuing her Masters in technological Futures a huge Thank you Lisa for coming on especially in the middle of getting your booth your business of off the ground uh during this major conference at is again thank you so much I really appreciate you taking the time so good

to be here jayen so good to meet you in real life after all this chatting online uh yes for for those who may not realize it this is our first time actually meeting we got introduced to each probably a little over a year ago at this point uh you’re based out of New Zealand that’s right Oakland New Zealand yes uh uh and I am not no so this is uh one of the the few International uh episodes of bets on the future so really appreciate you flying around the world uh appreciate it I’m I I know a little bit about your background but I I’m just very curious and want to get into how you you went from deoe to Buddy to the this the scrap world you know I gave a little brief introduction but I can you just fill in a little bit more of like how how you made that transition sure so I’m a little bit of an accidental entrepreneur um stew my my business partner and life partner was um in scrap metal for years and years and years in South Africa we immigrated to New Zealand and he

wanted to start his own metal recycling operation and I was like hold up let me look into this and see if this is a viable opportunity is there a market here etc etc and so I got really stuck in um to the business plan for that and the market validation and I was like wow this is a huge opportunity you should do this right um but he was so busy on the tools I realized really quickly that you know things were growing and he wasn’t going to be able to do all of the INF structure the digital infrastructure the back office infrastructure Etc so I thought I would just like pop in for a couple of months and help out and then I got bitten by the scrapbag um and I just thought it was a really cool industry really enjoyed it and um yeah I I spent a lot of my time on the um sort of venture creation and digital infrastructure side of the business and you know one of the pain points that that he really experienced and actually just bugged me more than him was him trading on WhatsApp at

all hours of the night every night and I was just like I’m done with this and yeah I had the idea for Buddy for for years because I was just not having that anymore but we had to do something Standalone it it wouldn’t make sense to have come out of a small metal recycling operation you know relative to the rest of the world and so yeah I was like let’s do this let’s let’s build buddy and and here we are I wouldn’t have it any other way uh it it really is incredible you know it’s 2024 uh for those that are listening in terms of the the metal supply chain explain to them Where Metal Recycling fall just to kind of give them an idea of maybe how archaic the process has been that you’re solving yes so so basically the on the supply side so the metal recyclers it’s really fragmented it’s a hyperlocal industry so there are scrapyards in every city in every town of the world right and we need to find a way to get all of that material um to the Mills and the foundaries of the world and

currently the the Tex stack is WhatsApp text message um you know um Excel spreadsheets even phone calls pieces of paper that’s part of the tech stack if you can call it that yep and and so yeah I think you know this industry it deserves better these are the hardest working never stopping people who keep the circular economy rolling and you know we need systems in this industry that are designed specifically for this industry from within this industry you know there are a lot of uh people in Tech who see this industry and see it’s very traditional and they get really excited and they want to tackle the industry but there’s so much nuance and you know it’s not something that anyone can just come in from the side and solve that’s that’s my view anyway it it really isn’t one of those industries that you can you know kind of just hop into uh I used to trade scrap metal or recycled materials uh raw materials uh we’re at I which is the Institute of scrap recycling Industries it’s the largest recycled materials conference in the world um and they are in the process

of rebranding because scrap is um a term that may not um uh be necessarily seen in a positive light to some folks and so uh it is in the process of rebranding for that but it it’s something that is necessary for raw materials for the circular economy that you you talked about and when I was trading that when I was working at Mills to melt it down you know for lower carbon emissions for making you know products in that circular economy I was using graph paper I was using I’m not even shocked I’m not even shocked I have all of my notebooks still like from all of those years I mean it’s it it was colored highlighters to know which ones were Buy sell not at a good price I mean there’s no data there right there’s no data in that and I think you know the best version of the most productive version of Jen was not that version even though it was all colorcoded and like probably beautifully written as I can only imagine and really organized notebooks they’re still notebooks right and so there’s no system of source and without a

system of source you don’t have data and without data you don’t have access to all these um new technologies you know machine learning and artificial intelligence you’ve got no data set that’s meaningless to you and so you know in this industry data matters as much to us as it does as any industry and yeah it it’s been really cool to see over the recent years companies like buddy and other companies especially at conferences like this it used to just be equipment manufacturers coming to these conferences to these Expo Halls as we’re sitting here and now there are multiple technology companies here multiple data driven companies there’s even a couple AI companies that are here like they’re finally seeing that our industry first of all is the OG on recycling oh okay like we have been here a lot longer on on that time frame and it’s really cool to see that there are people out there that are wanting to try and solve a lot of these issues and trying to increase productivity trying to improve a lot of the those pain points that you talked about right yeah for essentially the the benefit

of it’s a benefit of the whole industry really right we’re trying to improve a recycler trading outcomes right that’s what we’re trying to do so it’s just a means to an end and that’s the end we’re trying to achieve right is streamlining that process connecting all the disparate um parts of the trading system so you’ve got your Traders you’ve got your back office you’ve got your yard Ops and just connecting them all seamlessly so that they can access that information and like be the best version of themselves whatever it is they’re doing in their role and really just supercharge what they’re doing I have to ask you’re launching your inth business at this point you’re going to school to get your master’s degree it you’re you’re traveling the world um is there like a secret sauce is there is it like ca is it coffee so I actually I don’t drink coffee I’m hyp sensitive to stimulant but I actually I have low sleep needs so that’s that’s just lucky I I sleep 4 to 5 hours a night that’s all I sleep and that’s all I need wow um usually 5 four I

can get you know after a while that catches up with me but I’m really lucky you know in working with with my husband you know we we really doveet tail which is really good got an amazing team that I’m working with that I’m just feel so lucky and blessed and grateful every day to be working with amazing support from friends and family and yeah I just feel like we live in a world where really you can have it all you can I really believe you can it’s just about setting up your life and your lifestyle in a way that works whether you are self-employed whether you’re an employee whatever it is I think Co that’s one good thing that came out of Co um hybrid working or working from home although we were we were making a joke the other day we saw a post you and I and it said hey chat GPT finish building this finish making this building right there’s certain things you know you’ve still got to come into the office for yes you know particularly in this industry so it can be tough but there’s so many roles

in this industry right it’s not just yard operations um you know there’s trading there’s the administrative side there’s the big relationships there’s Finance there’s marketing you know all these roles any role you can think of it’s available to you in this industry and so you know you might find at a particular point in your career you you’re running the way bridge and another time you’re a marketing coordinator you know so you can grow in this industry you can change with it as your phases of life change and yeah you know I’d just encourage everybody to try set their life up in the best way possible um as far as they can you know well the the marketing coordinator comment uh struck me because um you know when this podcast get gets released it’s going to be after the fact spoiler alert um but uh you are going to be sitting on a tech panel that I’ll be moderating later this week on Thursday and uh we were having a meeting about that and one of the things that isri was asking for was if there were any promotional materials any marketing materials and uh

it was one of those questions where you’re like hold on let me ask my marketing department turned back then then turned back and you’re like all right that’s me like exactly great like you know it and it’s but that’s that entrepreneur you know in you where as you’re growing and you’re adding people to your team like there are some points where yeah you have to do maybe a couple jobs at that time but as your building out your team like you will then be able to like hire out and and grow and I think it’s really impressive what you’ve been able to accomplish in your career as you’re growing as you’re building and it you know you’re in my opinion you’re kind of not even halfway in your career for sure yeah yeah we’re just getting warmed up man right like so imagine what you’re going to accomplish overall and it it’s just it’s going to be really cool to see what you all come up with thank you yeah I mean it’s just been such an enjoyable ride that’s the truth and so I think if you enjoy what you do every day

I mean I know it’s a cliche but it’s a cliche for a reason but you never work a day in your life I mean this has been such a joyful ride with Buddy um and I intend to keep it that way not to say things don’t get hard at times and you know things don’t get tough and you’re going to make tough decisions but at the end of the day that’s that’s any role in any career just about right so you know pick your hard choose your hard yeah I do have to say um if you’re not following Lisa and uh your business partner life partner um St on LinkedIn definitely give them a follow because you do seem like you really enjoy what you do like you’re obviously posting about the business and about some of your um you know your travels and and things like that but you do it in a way where it does seem like you’re having fun like it it seems authentic like it right like it is and that’s the thing if we’re not having fun then what are we doing here you know that’s something that’s

important to us you know a lot of values people say oh be this be that and there’s a lot of common values you don’t often see fun as a as a value in a company but that’s it’s super important to us we want to enjoy enjoy the ride not just you know wait for this destination yeah um because you may or may not get there right and so might as well have fun in trying so uh absolutely is there anything that you see like coming down the pipeline for our industry is there anything that you’re like this is kind of where I see some of our industry gr like for instance like the isre Rebrand did you see that so I think there’s been so much talk um you know about people who are really advocating for the industry you know yourself John sacko Brett um um Robin Jason all of them talking about you know recycl materials instead of scrap Etc so it’s been a long time coming um so I’m not surprised I didn’t know that it was coming you know at this event necessarily but I think I think it’s probably

the timing’s right sustainability is a really hot topic not just in our industry it always has been in our industry but but you know much more broadly and so you know we need to really step up as an industry and take credit for the amazing work that we do and if the word scrap for example is going to prevent us from doing that because of some associations that it has particularly outside of the industry well you know we’re in a position to do something about it and that’s what’s so great about isra it’s you know a member-based organization and people speak up and when they speak up things happen and so that’s what we’re seeing over here you know the industry’s spoken and they’re taking action and I think it’s it’s awesome and I love how much fun they’re having with the Rebrand and how they’ve created all this awareness and this hype about it like I can’t wait to hear I know everybody’s got a view and we think you know recycled materials Etc we know what it’s going to be called but you know isra is an institution it’s been isra

since forever you know since I met St been going to Israel every year you know and so yeah it’ll it’ll take time I think as well for it to stick um you know when you’re just in conversation it’s easy to say oh yeah it is re last year or it is re next year but no doubt that that Jason and the team there will do an awesome job of of making that stick I it’s I’m I’m so curious to see what it’s going to be it I feel like it’s got to be some sort of two syllables like to be able to say like oh we’re going to go to such and such next year yeah it it’s and and to your point it does need to be something that the external world can understand and grasp a little bit more relate to inside this world I don’t think scrap is ever going to go away like that term I mean as I’m looking at you behind you is Brett’s a scrap life like giant there’s so much resonance and I think we’ve you know scrappies have so much to be proud of um

and just because you know the rest of the world isn’t interpreting that term in the way that what we know the true meaning to be doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water and when someone refers to himself as a scrappy I just there’s a lot of pride in that and that’s awesome you know so I think there’s always room for for internal language whether you’re an organization whether you’re an industry whether you’re a family like don’t say that outside of the house kids um there’s always room for that you know there’s room for both so I think that’ll stick um and then you know in the right context we’ll we’ll talk about things a little bit differently to to maybe in the minds of those audiences Elevate what we do so that they get it so that the penny drops and they see these people are recyclers this is not waste and if languages is the key to unlocking that then cool you know y it it’s something that we need to start reaching out to you know like the next Generations or to the masses I I think

you you’ve seen a little bit this on on social media where you know sometimes when uh posts go out there there’s a little bit of push back on on some of the the verbage out there just because it’s it’s a lack of information your product uh is used in a way to facilitate raw materials in a circular economy that most people aren’t even aware exist and they’re not if they are aware they have no idea how big and and really Central to everything that it is you know um and there’s you know not always enough respect given to the industry um my sister for example sorry I’m just going to have to tell the story but it just really you know it tell tells tells so much um when I started at endless and I was busy working on all the marketing and brand she’s also in brand and marketing and I asked her to um you know could she maybe have a look at at some of the marketing stuff for my business and she said what business and then she laughed and said oh the scrapyard um as if it was this

like Fall From Grace you know I’d been a Management Consultant at deoe and done really well there now at the scrapyard and I was just like whatever man I’ll look at it but you know what we’re doing is such important work it’s it’s just it’s as it’s as important if not more important than the stuff I was doing before I mean that that was beautiful documents and yes commercializing businesses and that kind of stuff some of those might change the world some of them might not this is world changing on a daily basis it literally keeps you know the world spinning recycled medals so I think to make it a an industry that is more attractive and has you know a lot of people um who were first generation scrap dealers didn’t want their kids to be scrap deers they were like I’m sending you to University you’re going to get your NBA you’re going to be an engineer you’re going to be a doctor you’re going to be an accountant a lawyer whatever it was right because it wasn’t seen for whatever reason as a respectable career right but now those those Generations

have actually come back and been like wait wait a minute this is awesome important work I don’t want to be a you know whatever those things are I want to come and work in this industry and show me the ropes like you know I literally just had this conversation um um 30 minutes ago there was a gentleman that I used to do business with that walked by and he was talking to me about his his children they’re of the age to start working in our industry and he he was telling me one of them you know was was stacking some of the ingots over the summer months in between College semesters the other one you know not really into the industry or not particularly at that that company and I’m like this this is the perfect industry for that generation it literally is about recycling it’s literally about carbon emissions it’s literally about the economy it’s it puts everything that they’re passionate about into one package that they can be involved in yeah that is setting them up for a successful career and I would be like heavily encouraging my children to be taking

a look at that and I think what you’re doing with the podcast and all of the other endeavors you’re involved in is so important that’s such important work because we’re showcasing the industry and and almost like lifting the veil and showing people that there’s so many careers here there’s so many things that you can do this is an awesome industry this is an industry with purpose you want to work in a career that has purpose work in the Recycled Metals industry right people are all looking for that in fact I saw some um hiring survey um human capital survey and was all talking about how one of the most important things to to Z in terms of choosing a career is purpose right so this takes so many boxes and yeah we’ve just got to put a spotlight on it and it’s it’s not just Jen or Brett or stew or iy it’s everybody you know we’ve all got a responsibility to attract talent to this industry and and make it really sort of after and I think it’s just awareness the awareness is lacking if the awareness is there people will see this

is a great industry and I think naturally they’ll want to be a part of it and that’s been my experience in talking to people outside of the industry um you know they’re they’re always blown away and like oh wow this whole world existed that I didn’t know about um and on the one hand I’m like yeah you know they’re seeing it on the other hand I’m like gosh how do I get to all the others you know well I you know for a little bit of a recycled media plug that is honestly one of the the big pillars for us on a mission is imagine if we can have a hundred bretts that are out there you know a thousand Johns that are out there essentially taking those personalities and being able to have them in the yard taking the videos showcasing what we’re doing on a daily basis and how it translates into careers into sustainability into the full circular economy yeah into careers right and it’s exciting like the footage that we would get in the yard like with the shredder and you know the sh Bor and just even the diggers

and it’s just it’s awesome and want to watch that stuff and I said to St when I joined the industry like why is no one and I say no one is a blank you know a blanket but it appears to be no one doing any marketing in this industry what’s up with that and you know the thing that we came up with is it’s a very costc conscious industry right and if you view marketing as an expense not an investment you’re not going to do marketing right but but guess what you’re going to get left behind you you know your business as an individual business and you’re not contributing to the industry right we’re in this together the industry wins and attracts good talent all of the metal recycling um players are going to benefit right so what you’re doing isn’t just benefiting you know this the the yard that you’re doing the work for it’s benefiting the industry as a whole it’s getting the story out there um it’s it’s getting all those exciting videos of this equipment I mean I was just walking around earlier and I’m like this stuff is so

cool like where do you see this stuff right um especially coming from quite a corporate environment you know you definitely don’t see cool cool equipment like that and it’s it’s fascinating and it’s it’s interesting content you don’t have to actually try really hard in this industry to create interesting content and I can tell you in a lot of other Industries you do you have to try every very hard you have to manufacture stuff and just like come up with cool stuff all the time this industry is serving it to you on a platter you just need to capture it package it and H post that’s all you know all you’ve got to do and so I think it’s a missed opportunity and I love what you’re doing with recycled media uh I think it’s so needed in the industry and I’ve seen a lot of meal recycling operations go to agent genes who don’t know about the industry and it’s just the messaging is all wrong they don’t get it like they’re just it’s just no like come to recycled media do it yourself build up that um capability inhouse but to go to

an agency who knows nothing about scrap I’m I’m going to go hot on and say you’re probably wasting your money yeah it it really is incredible to see you know what comes into the yard on on a daily basis um you know one yard we were talking to recently there was a helicopter that came in on a flatbed that is so cool I hope they captured that they ish is we’re working on that but you know that kind of uh material the everyday person doesn’t see and we not everybody thinks about what happens to this when I’m done with it everything’s got a useful life right what happens to all these things when they come to the end of the useful life and you know it’s it’s fascinating and it’s important to understand you know especially in a very consumerist world to understand that when you buy something you don’t throw it away away is somewhere where is somewhere and and what happens to it and how’s it handle them process and is it circular you know and and thankfully with metal it’s infinitely recyclable it doesn’t lose any of its properties and so

I mean there can’t be a Greener industry I I couldn’t agree more um I I know I want to be a little bit respectful of your time because you you have a very uh full schedule here um but I just want to say thank you so much for for coming on here sitting down it it’s been a pleasure to actually meet you in person uh for the first time after many conversations over the past year um it it’s been really wonderful learning more about your background and what you’re working on at buddy I I think what you’re bringing to the industry is very much overdue it we we need more technology in this industry it’s it’s very much um a long time coming so thank you thank you very much for for for doing what you’re doing and and and Su are are incredible people and I I really appreciate it well thanks so much for having me and yeah so great to meet you in person and I I don’t even need to wish you luck you guys are killing it and you’re going to continue to kill it so I’m excited to

watch that Journey thank you see you