The world is hungry for sustainable solutions....NOW!
A week ago the words ‘post-COVID’ crept into our lexicon, there was light at the end of the tunnel. But, those aspirations of being past the peak of the pandemic or the ensuing social and economic crisis have been swiftly replaced with guilty feelings of complacency.
HOWEVER, in history when the world is faced with adversity, we innovate.
Entrepreneurship is about creating solutions to problems and according to the Founder Institute mentor discussion the world is hungry for solutions, sustainable solutions.
Collaboration is key
“Throughout history it’s been the entrepreneurs, the innovators that have disrupted the status quo and in this time they will continue to play a critical role” explains Jacquie Fegent-Geachie, founder of Sustainovate.
However, there is a caveat, “we need to make sure we don't just disrupt and destroy, but make sure that when we disrupt we also collaborate to make positive change.”
Dr Kate Ringvall, co-founder of Galactic Cooperative, echoed that sentiment for collaboration, particularly in the business community. “For there to be a just transition in climate or a just transition post COVID, it has to be holistic and with the understanding that not everyone has the same opportunities. This could be an amazing opportunity if we all got together and coalesced our efforts and our intellectual capacity.” Sustainability isn’t a competitive pursuit, it’s about collaboration and making sure no one is left behind.
Now is the time
While many are seeing 2020 as challenging, Tim Silverwood, co-founder of Ocean Impact Organisation, sees this time as an ‘Awakening’. “I'm fired up. Now is the time to provide all the tools and all the structure to the next generation of great thinkers and I’m inspired by what we can achieve if we grab this opportunity with both hands.”
Adrian Enright, Director of partnerships at Tasman Environmental Markets with Qantas, agrees.
“The opportunity is there, the proof is clear. From what I’ve seen working in sustainability the last few years, consumer appetite is there, investor pressure is there, board pressure is there, senior management pressure is there. It’s about solutions and we’re hungry for it so bring it on.”
“We need business as unusual, let’s invest our dollars in those businesses that can right the wrongs and do it quickly,” said Tim.
The gap; the problems that need solutions
There’s a definite gap between desire for doing good for our people and planet and actually implementing the change necessary. And most of this gap can be bridged with effective and strategic communications. It’s basic marketing really: knowing your audience, what motivates them and making sure they can hear you loud and clear.
“There’s a rhetoric reality gap of where 92% of CEOs believe integration of sustainability is critical to business success but less than half of CEOs are actually integrating it into their operations,” explained Jacquie.
A large part of the problem is that they don’t have the knowledge or understanding and “they’re hungry for ideas that can tangibly address and get outcomes.”
“We know that 45% of customers want to fly carbon neutral yet only 10% actually do and that gap should excite founders out there”. The two principal reasons for this are trust and communication. “They don’t understand where their money goes and they’re not presented with the option.”
“The key challenge that we’re finding is that carbon is far less tangible than plastic and we need to communicate the genuine connection between effort and outcome” said Adrian.
Perfect is the enemy of good, so get out there and get started!
In so many sustainability solutions, perfect can be the enemy of good. Your product or service must be authentic, it must be transparent, it must have tangible positive impacts but you also need the confidence to get the idea off the page and out there.
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and reach out for help!
Top three tips for sustainability founders
Ask your market; test if the problem is really their problem
Don’t limit your vision
It’s ok to start small, nothing wrong with doing it as your side hustle
Think like the CFO & CEO, especially when pitching
Keep it simple
Get out in nature, remember why you’re passionate about this
Define your purpose, what is your noble pursuit?
Define your value proposition, articulate what value you’re bringing to people and planet but also to your customers
Perfect that elevator pitch
Put yourself in the big picture; are you ready to be CEO and founder?
Create the right culture; start searching for the right co-founders and critical team
Measure and articulate your impact