Blog: silviaterra


max nova

By Margo Apostoleris

June 17, 2015: Max Nova (YC ’12, YEI ’10), cofounder of SilviaTerra, recently spent some time talking to Fellows at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. He shared his thoughts about what he’s learned in building a company, goals and working remotely.

YEI: If you could time travel and give advice to yourself when just starting out, what would you say?

Max: I would have worried less about IP and more about selling to customers!  We did a pretty good job of getting our first dollars as quickly as possible, but in retrospect I would have dedicated even more time to selling and learning more about the needs of our customers. 

YEI: What were the trickiest things about making the transition from student to full-time entrepreneur?

Max: I stayed in school while I was working on SilviaTerra. Both my schoolwork and SilviaTerra work suffered a bit as a result, but it kept my overall life/career risk very low.  By the time I graduated, I was already working 60 hours a week on SilviaTerra, so the only difference after graduation was that I didn't have to worry about writing essays about comparative ancient law!

YEI: How many employees do you currently have? What’s your revenue?

Max: We're a team of seven now, including five Yalies from Yale College, School of Management and Forestry and Environmental Studies. My lawyers have threatened to beat me if I disclose revenue! 

YEI: Tell us how you are able to manage a remote workforce.

Max: I did trans-Atlantic long-distance with my girlfriend (now wife) for six years.  At this point, I'd say that remote is one of my core competencies!  Having a remote company is great because it allows us to hire the absolute best people, avoid a bunch of overhead, and gives us lots of flexibility.  It does certainly come with challenges, but we've found that the key things to making remote work are:

 * Quarterly in-person "All-Hands" meetings at great locations

 * Using Asana to plan/track/execute EVERYTHING

 * All-Hands weekly review on Google Hangouts

 * Weekly one-on-ones between founders and the team

YEI: What are your long-term goals for SilviaTerra?

Max: Right now we're focused on getting forest managers great data. The next step is to build tools to help foresters turn that better data into better decisions. In five years, we'd love to be able say that "American forestry runs on SilviaTerra."

YEI: How has YEI impacted you and your business goals for Silviaterra? 

Max: YEI connected us with some great mentors. I can't say enough good things about the help we've gotten from them.

MARGO APOSTOLERIS is a student at Hope College and an intern at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.

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max uhlenhuth

Name: Max Uhlenhuth

Startup: SilviaTerra

Industry: Forest Management

Summer Fellowship Year: 2010

Max Uhlenhuth (YC '12) was one of the founders of SilviaTerra, which created technology to collect forestry data from satellites, cutting out the need for traditional on-the-ground methods that were highly time consuming, inefficient and expensive. The patent-pending program is able to analyze millions of acres of forest inventory at unprecedented speeds.


  • Max started the company in 2009 as an undergraduate at Yale with Zack Parisa (FES '11) and Chad Oliver, Yale forestry professor and director of Yale's Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry.
  • He was the former president of Yale Entrepreneurial Society and a web startup founder.
  • SilviaTerra won the $25,000 Sabin Envirosummer nmental Venture Prize in 2010.
  • By 2012, SilviaTerra had earned revenue upwards of $200,000 from five different timber company clients.
  • The startup was a finalist in the $25,000 Lippman Prize in 2012.
  • SilviaTerra won a $5,000 Best Technology Business Plan prize from Connecticut Innovations in 2010.
  • In 2012, Forbes named Max one of America’s top college entrepreneurs.

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