Turn Waste Into Value With Analytics

Trusting your data, telling stories about your success and knowing that every act, no matter how small, can help win the fight against waste was some of the advice shared by Queen of Raw and Topolytics, two gamechangers in waste management at the recent SAP Sustainability Summit panel discussion about orchestrating ecosystem innovation for impact.

“Zero waste can only be achieved with the help of data,” said Michael Groves, Founder and CEO of Topolytics, a data analytics business for waste managers. “Data shows public and private players exactly what is happening to their waste and will help them build better intervention options and create closed loops for recovery.”

Groves was one of the people on the boat hosting the Ocean Plastics Leadership Summit (OPLS) in 2019, a research expedition to better understand the scope of plastic pollution and to develop cross-industry solutions and partnerships to solve this global challenge over the next decade.

Seeing is believing

Whenever the ship approached clumps of sargassum seaweed, the participants would stop their meetings and jump into zodiac boats with their snorkeling gear. But they didn’t see any fish. And at first, they didn’t see much plastic either. That’s because it’s often not visible. Plastic in the ocean breaks down into small particles that are caught in seaweed and ingested by marine creatures.

“What you don’t see is the real problem,” says Groves, winner of the Circular Economy 2030 challenge sponsored by SAP and Google that year. A geographer who was appalled by the amount of plastic he encountered in South East Asia long before people began talking about the crisis, Groves believes waste is still not getting the attention it desperately needs.

While we may not actually see the damage, the data is irrefutable. An alarming 60 percent of waste produced in cities around the world gets dumped or leaked into the environment, and an equally alarming 61 percent of people globally don’t have access to proper waste management infrastructures. It’s a thorny problem because the waste value chain is very complex and opaque, with many private and public sector players and a significant informal sector around the world. To make matters worse, there is a huge mix of materials, each requiring different methods of recovery and recycling.

Realizing that money follows data, Groves developed a solution that uses analytics and machine learning to follow trash as it travels. Clear data and insights are fundamental to spurring investments in new infrastructure and innovation in the sector. With useful data available about what waste is where and in what quantity and quality, companies can then procure this waste much more effectively and bring the materials back into their production processes through platforms like SAP Ariba software.

Debunking myths

“Many companies think they know what’s going on with their waste, but they are usually surprised by the truth,” he says. “There is huge potential to unlock economic and social value that is currently just draining away!”

One person helping fashion retailers stop the drain is Stephanie Benedetto, co-Founder of Queen of Raw, a marketplace to buy and sell unused textiles, from organic cotton to some of the highest quality luxury deadstock fabrics that would otherwise be burned or buried.

Benedetto was inspired by her childhood experiences growing up in an immigrant family in the Garment District of New York. Her grandfather would collect unused clothes from the neighborhood and repurpose them into beautiful, fashionable items for local sale. It was a profitable, sustainable business that inspired her when she later became a corporate attorney on Wall Street, specializing in technology and sustainability. When the crash came in 2008, she decided to start her own company.

When Benedetto first started talking to brands and retailers about sustainability years ago, it was seen as nice to have. People responsible for sustainability were new in the position, and they did not have big budgets. Her first big challenge was debunking the myth that sustainability has to cost a lot of money.

She realized that retailers became paralyzed when faced with objectives such as becoming 100 percent sustainable by 2030. “You wouldn’t know where to start on day one if you heard that. It’s too much, too fast,” she says. “We go to the retailers and help them pinpoint the valuable waste in their supply chain. We look at their unused inventory and their deadstock. We help them sell it on the marketplace, and we provide tools to minimize waste going forward.”

Once the retailers are making money on their unused inventory, she explains, they can start putting their savings into doing other good work such as paying their workers better wages and using innovative technology and sustainable materials without increasing overall capex expenditure.

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How Staple is Helping to Power the First Mile of Data Processing

We talked to Ben Stein, CEO at Staple about converting documents into structured data and here is what he said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Ben Stein: We are all doing well, thank you! Like most of the world, all team members have been involuntarily separated from friends and family. Our team is decentralized across Singapore, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka. Our relationships have shifted online, and that is something we have grown accustomed to. Thankfully our team, our families and our friends are all doing well.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Staple.

Ben Stein: I previously worked with KPMG in Australia, Europe and North America for almost a decade, then in various corporate positions in London and Singapore. After working with clients in banking, energy, manufacturing and real estate, I noticed persistent inefficiencies in both enterprises and SMEs around data management. I left my CFO position at the time to explore how deep technology (“deep tech”) might present potential solutions to these inefficiencies. I joined EF (joinef.com), where I met my co-founder, Josh, a Ph.D. computer scientist. Together we met with more than 150 companies to understand their most pressing pain points, and we built Staple to address them. 

Staple’s solution can read, interpret, extract and reconcile data from semi-structured and unstructured documents, regardless of layout or language. Currently, we support more than 90 languages, and we are helping customers process data-heavy workflows in Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indonesian. 

How does Staple innovate? 

Ben Stein: There is a lot of hype around big data, RPA, AI and analytics and their potential to rapidly accelerate the digitalization of business. What many don’t appreciate is that these technologies can’t function without a core ingredient: clean, structured data. RPA and bots are fantastic innovations, but they can only work with structured data. There is so much reliance on data, yet enterprises struggle to access, unlock and use it at scale because the data is not available in a standardized, accessible format. Without structured data, RPA bots cannot function, analytics tell an incomplete story, and information for decision making is either not timely, inaccurate, or not useful. 

Many businesses are unable to reap the benefits of automation technologies as they cannot cross the divide between structured system needs and the unstructured or semi-structured realities of business. It’s the classic adage of “garbage in, garbage out”: unless meaningful, accurate, standardized data is ingested from the outset, RPA and automation implementations will fail. It’s important that digitalization agendas have proper regard for the “first mile of data processing.” 

We dedicate a lot of effort to building software that employees actually enjoy using, as opposed to software that employees are forced to use. We don’t think there should be a distinction between software for SMEs or software for the enterprise; it should all just be software to be more productive. We also have a sharp focus on developing solutions that anybody – from the most junior employee to a highly technical CTO – can use. We’re working on tools that allow non-technical users to develop new AI models without touching a line of code. This introduces a level of flexibility that was previously out of reach for many users.

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Sustainable Waste Management Platform Goodr Exceeds Goal By $500K In Pre-Series A Funding Round

Goodr, a Black-owned and Atlanta-based sustainable waste management platform, has just announced that they’ve exceeded their own expectations.

In a press release announcement, it was revealed that the company raised $1.5 million in their recent Bridge to Series A funding round, which exceeded their initial goal by $500,000. Capital One Ventures were joined in this round by Backstage Capital, Unreasonable Ventures, and the Laurene Powell Jobs-helmed Emerson Collective.

“It is an extremely exciting time here at Goodr,” CEO Jasmine Crowe said in the press release announcement. “We are expanding our team, our market reach, and solving two critical problems at the same time. I welcome our new investors as part of the team as we continue to strive towards ending hunger.”

The company has already announced that they are on the hunt for a Lead Engineer, and are actively filling roles for other key executive positions. The supplemental funds will also allow them to improve their product and service offerings, increase marketing initiatives, and activate new markets.

The concept of Goodr doesn’t just cut down on food waste. Rather, it helps businesses save money on taxes, feed more people, and reduce food waste by rerouting surplus food from cafeterias and restaurants to people in need. Their food distribution services include grocery delivery, popup grocery stores, and food delivery to support food insecure communities around the United States. The company’s philosophy is simple: food insecurity is not an issue of scarcity, but of logistics.

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Accenture/SAP to accelerate sustainable transformation

Decades long, Accenture and SAP have been collaborating for many years to help companies to embed sustainability across their entire business operations to unlock new value in their supply chains.

Breaking down Accenture and SAP’s latest partnership

By combining SAP’s technology with Accenture’s Sustainability Services and broad industry knowledge, the two are expanding their current partnership to create new solutions that empower companies to accelerate full decarbonisation in the supply chain, and capture their share of economic growth that a circular economy could bring. 

The new solution

Co-innovating and co-developing, SAP and Accenture plans to create a new solution for responsible production, manufacturing and design. Its capabilities will help companies to embed sustainability metrics across their value chain and supply chains. 

How does it work?

The solution harnesses integrated data from multiple operations, allowing companies to better design and produce products with less waste, better recyclability, and more recycled content. 

By providing this solution, SAP and Accenture hope to help to reduce the growing cost of compliance which has been driven by new regulations. 

“Our work together will enable SAP’s customers, which include 92% of the Forbes Global 2000, to use their core systems to help drive their sustainability agenda, optimize their ESG performance and achieve their goals. This expanded collaboration builds on our long history with SAP — including our joint partnership with the United Nations Global Compact and 3M — and our shared commitment to drive adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Julie Sweet, chief executive officer at Accenture.

SAP’s Climate 21 initiative

In addition to partnering with SAP on this new solution, Accenture supports SAP’s Climate 21 initiative. Climate 21 allows companies to use analytics to measure and minimise their CO2 emissions as well as lower their carbon footprint across a products lifecycle. 

In doing so, sustainability metrics harnessed across the end-to-end supply chain allows for an integrated view of environmental savings and cost impacts, as well as the ability to more easily optimise operations.

“To successfully tackle the greatest threat to our world today, we need to collaborate at every level of business and society. Building on our long-standing and trusted partnership, SAP and Accenture are joining forces to help our customers realize long-term growth in a sustainable way. We’re creating visibility into the environmental impact across the entire value chain, providing enterprises with the insights they need to take the right action and accelerate their transition to the circular economy,” said Christian Klein, chief executive officer at SAP.

SAP.iO a global accelerator

Furthering their efforts to accelerate sustainable transformation, SAP and Accenture began a global sustainability focused accelerator program at SAP.iO

As part of the SAP.iO, the ‘Sustainability Future’ program – the latest cohort to date – aims to help B2B startups in their early stages drive digital transformation and innovation in four target areas: carbon tracking and trading, resource efficiency, climate risk tracking and mitigation, and circular economy.  

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“Safe but very uncomfortable” — a deep dive into SAP’s intrapreneurship programme

Intrapreneurship programmes often get criticised for being unstructured and ineffective.

Innovation consultant Alberto Onetti recently wrote that the majority of intrapreneurship programmes he has seen fail to produce meaningful results [and suggests ways of doing them better].

Worse yet, in a piece about the “dark side” of intrapreneurship, Tim Heard, founder of the Circle of Entrepreneurs, told the stories of entrepreneurs left in limbo, with little support structure.

So when I got the chance to have an inside look at SAP’s entrepreneurship programme recently, speaking with Vishal Shah, one of the entrepreneurs who has come through the programme and with Alexandra Begue, head of growth at the programme, I was curious to see how this one measures up.

The programme was revamped in 2015 and since then has assessed something in the region of 3000 ideas and produced 3 businesses, one of which has gone on to become its own business unit.

How the intrapreneurship programme fits in with the rest of SAP

Like many large organisations, SAP has a large number of innovation initiatives, for both “internal” startups that had been incubated within SAP and “external” startups that might want to work with SAP .

On the external side, SAP.iO Foundries is a network of equity-free accelerators for startups and SAP.iO Rising Stars is a program that helps promising startups scale up their partnerships with SAP.

On the internal side, the SAP intrapreneurship programme is a company-wide, internal scouting programme and SAP Venture Studio is a venture building unit in which takes the most promising of those scouted projects and turns them into commercial businesses.

These internally-built ventures most often become part of one of SAP’s existing business units. SAP Supplier Financing, for example, was a successful venture built by Vishal Shah, founder and general manager, in the venture studio. It was eventually merged with SAP’s Ariba Network, the ecommerce network.

How the intrapreneurship programme works

There is a call-out for ideas every spring between April and May, which will typically result in around 500 ideas submitted to the innovation team. Submitting an idea involves recording a short video, explaining the project and answering 6 key questions around whether the project can achieve mass scale, whether it can be efficiently tested and if SAP can leverage any particular advantage in pursuing the idea.

The innovation team will cull the initial 500 ideas down to 100 which will go through to a fast-track validation phase that takes around 3 months. The fast track teams receive mentoring and help in developing their idea.

Some 25 of the most promising of the ideas will go through to an 3-week accelerator programme, where they get an even more intense crash course in entrepreneurship and venture-building.

At the end of the accelerator programme, the teams pitch to an investment committee and around a handful go on to join the SAP.iO venture studio.

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With Stylumia, Real-Time Data Intelligence Powers Competitive Retail Advantage

Consumer fashion may be among the most unpredictable markets on the planet, but one startup in India has created a demand sensing platform based on artificial intelligence (AI) that combines the brilliance of data scientists with seasoned industry experts to ferret out trends with uncanny accuracy. The idea is to close the gap between supply and demand.

“We help companies create demand-driven fashion forecasts from consumer data across a holistic value chain,” Ganesh Subramanian, founder and CEO at Stylumia, said. “Our demand sensing engine collects and analyzes publicly available global data to rank product trends, providing fashion designers, retail buyers, and merchandisers with a much deeper understanding of real-time consumer demand signals.”

More Profitable and Sustainable Business

Forecasting fickle consumer appetites for unseen products has long stymied the most experienced minds in the fashion world. Stylumia can reveal breaking trends, allowing people to make design and merchandising decisions perfectly in sync. This can reduce under- and overbuying.

According to Subramanian, the typical Stylumia customer has improved the prediction accuracy of style and color levels by up to 30% and increased sales and revenue between 25% to 50%, compared to the performance of products not designed and merchandized using the platform. Customers have also reduced excess inventory and carbon footprint levels by an aggregated average of up to 40%.

“When products are selling well, companies have less stock and are able to lower their carbon footprint because they’re using fewer resources while generating the same amount of revenue,” he said. “Since our founding, we have reduced the number of garments that our customers have produced by over 60 million while their sales and profits have grown.”

Consumer Intelligence Research on Steroids

From its headquarters in India to hubs in Australia, the U.S., and the UK, Stylumia’s teams work with fashion, sports, and lifestyle brands that represent companies of all sizes worldwide.

Instead of brainstorming solely by intuition, designers and buyers log in to their personalized portal to storyboard ideas using Stylumia’s AI-fueled algorithm or their own images for design inspiration. As they select colors, materials, patterns, and other product features, Stylumia instantly surfaces trending demands against the designer’s ideas. They can view similar products, see where selling levels are highest, and save and share their ideas with colleagues.

For retail merchandisers, the tool improves forecast accuracy for better assortment planning down to the local level. They can see which sizes, colors, and styles are most popular by geography. Subramanian added that the platform is not just for large consumer brands.

“We’re democratizing intelligence for small and midsize companies that can use these insights for their growth too, bringing the right products to the right geographies at the right time,” he said.

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SetSail Debuts New AI-powered Solutions to Help Sales Teams Unlock More Revenue

SetSail, the AI-powered micro-incentives platform for sales, will unveiled multiple new product features on at the company’s first annual SetSail Voyage virtual conference. New SetSail features include a signal-based coaching app; smart milestone signals to help reps accelerate revenue; and data automation tailored to the way reps use their CRM.

The world of work has changed in the past year, and the ‘new normal’ requires a new way of selling,” said Haggai Levi, CEO of SetSail. “To be successful today, sales teams must embrace data, signals and storytelling. This is where SetSail comes in – providing sales teams with the information they need to take the small steps that lead to closing big deals.”

Founded in 2018 by former Google machine learning experts, SetSail uses AI to identify the buying signals needed to close a deal. The platform then converts these signals into recommendations for sales reps and presents them with micro-rewards (e.g. monetary rewards and recognitions) for following the best path of action and building good selling habits.

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Verusen named a Top 10 Innovative Technology Companies in Georgia

The Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) has announced the Top 10 Innovative Technology Companies in Georgia. 

The Top 10 companies were selected from the Top 40 Innovative Technology Companies competition, sponsored by Comcast Businessand Cherry Bekaert, and will present at the 2021 Georgia Technology Summit on April 28 – 29.

“These companies demonstrate the amazing talent and innovation in Georgia’s technology industry today,” said Dennis Zakas, Georgia’s Top 40 Innovative Company Awards Chair. “We are eager to watch them continue to grow and contribute to Georgia’s economy.”

The 2021 Top 10 Innovative Companies are:

  • Codoxo, Chamblee – Codoxo builds AI solutions that help healthcare companies and agencies identify problems and act quickly to control costs with artificial intelligence.
  • Florence Healthcare, Midtown – Florence Healthcare is the leading platform for remote connectivity and electronic document workflow management in clinical research, with more than 8,500 research sites, sponsors and CROs in 30 countries.
  • MileAuto, Midtown – Mile Auto is a pay-per-mile auto insurance company using patented computer vision technologies to help low mileage drivers save money.
  • PadSplit, Downtown – PadSplit is an affordable housing tech startup that provides a house-sharing service for the workforce.
  • Roadie, Buckhead – Roadie is a same-day delivery platform that connects people with stuff to send to drivers already heading in the right direction.
  • Stord, Midtown – Stord operates the leading North American omnichannel logistics network using end-to-end logistics services designed to move product rapidly to your end customer—B2B or B2C—with pay-as-you-go pricing and infinite scalability.
  • Ternio, Alpharetta – Ternio is a global fintech platform built on blockchain that connects traditional enterprise, fintech, banking, systems with blockchain infrastructure giving real world utility to digital assets.
  • Verusen, Midtown – Verusen is a Supply Chain Intelligence company focused on materials management that uses AI to provide complex global supply chains material truth for data, inventory optimization and procurement intelligence.
  • Voxie, Alpharetta – Voxie is the conversational text marketing leader that helps retail, service, and restaurant passion brands connect with and learn from their customers in order to drive repeat purchase.
  • Ware2Go, Buckhead – Ware2Go, a UPS Company, is changing the traditional 3PL model to make 1-2-day delivery easy and affordable for all merchants.

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Fashion Tech India: Real-Time AI Data Drives Competitive Retail Advantage

Consumer fashion may be among the most unpredictable markets on the planet, but one startup in India has created an AI-based demand sensing platform that combines the brilliance of data scientists with seasoned industry experts to ferret out trends with uncanny accuracy. The idea is to close the gap between supply and demand.

“We help companies create demand-driven fashion forecasts from consumer data across a holistic value chain,” Ganesh Subramanian, founder and CEO at Stylumia. “Our demand sensing engine collects and analyzes publicly available global data to rank product trends, providing fashion designers, retail buyers, and merchandisers with a much deeper understanding of real-time consumer demand signals.”

More profitable and sustainable business

Forecasting fickle consumer appetites for unseen products has long stymied the most experienced minds in the fashion world. Stylumia can reveal breaking trends, allowing people to make design and merchandising decisions perfectly in synch. This can reduce underbuying and overbuying.

According to Subramanian, the typical Stylumia customer has improved the prediction accuracy of style and color levels by up to 30 percent, and increased sales and revenue between 25 to 50 percent, compared to the performance of products not designed and merchandized using the platform. Customers have also reduced excess inventory and carbon footprint levels by an aggregated average of up to 40 percent.

“When products are selling well, companies have less stock and are able to lower their carbon footprint because they’re using fewer resources, while generating the same amount of revenue,” he said. “Since our founding, we have reduced the number of garments that our customers have produced by over 60 million, while their sales and profits have grown.”

Consumer intelligence research on steroids

From its headquarters in India, to hubs in Australia, the United States, and the UK, Stylumia’s teams work with fashion, sports, and lifestyle brands that represent companies of all sizes worldwide.

Instead of brainstorming solely by intuition, designers and buyers log into their personalized portal to storyboard ideas using Stylumia’s AI-fueled algorithm or their own images for design inspiration. As they select colors, materials, patterns, and other product features, Stylumia instantly surfaces trending demands against the designer’s ideas. They can view similar products, see where selling levels are highest, and save and share their ideas with colleagues.

Read More…

Stockly lets e-commerce websites sell out-of-stock items from a shared inventory

Meet Stockly, a French startup that keeps the inventory of various e-commerce websites in sync. When you see an out-of-stock item on an e-commerce website, chances are you leave that website and try to find the same item on another site.

If you operate an e-commerce website, Stockly lets you sell items even when they’re currently out of stock. The startup automatically finds a third-party Stockly supplier with that specific item.

The order will go through and be sent by that supplier directly. Stockly tells its partners to use neutral packaging so that the end consumer isn’t confused.

This could be particularly useful for small-scale e-commerce companies that don’t have a healthy marketplace of third-party retailers. For instance, Amazon can already sell you an out-of-stock item if a supplier has listed that specific item on Amazon’s own marketplace. But that’s not the case for most e-commerce websites.

The main challenge for Stockly is that it has to sort through various catalog formats and match the different inventories of different retailers. It is focusing on clothing items at first. When an order is routed through Stockly, it selects a specific supplier based on different criteria, such as logistics, delivery time and historical data.

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Sustainable Farming: Agranimo Integrates with SAP BTP

Despite the ongoing debate of whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, the avocado has been an export hit around the globe. Avocados are grown in the southern hemisphere but are immensely popular in countries where they cannot be harvested. There is also growing consumer awareness that intensive avocado farming leads to environmental issues in the countries of origin.

‘Driving through the rural areas of Chile, you will notice how severely the country has been going through a major drought during the last five to seven years,’ Nikita Gulin says. ‘Part of it is due to climate change, but it cannot be denied that intensive farming is adding to the problem.’ Chile’s GDP relies heavily on agriculture. Apart from avocados, food crops include blueberries, cherries, and walnuts. ‘Water efficiency is a huge topic for Chilean farmers and the country as a whole.’

For Gulin, Aganimo’s Russian-born founder and CEO, and his Chilean co-founder, CTO Sergio Esteban, this was an obvious problem to tackle.

‘In Chile, everybody knows someone working in the agricultural sector, whether it’s an uncle or the friend of a friend,’ Esteban says. ‘When we looked at the problem and solutions already available, it became clear that there was much room for improvement by means of technology – and we had the skills to do that.’

To combine their technical knowledge with research on agriculture, they made contact with academia. ‘The University of Chile immediately wanted to collaborate,’ Gulin says. Agranimo has 10 employees located in Chile, Russia, and Germany with backgrounds in technology, research, and practical experience in agriculture.

‘Chile is not the only country with this problem,’ Gulin explains, ‘It’s really all over the world – water is rare. From our first application for water efficiency, our vision grew as we expanded to more climate-related issues. Water is still one of the key components, but we are now working with any information that can be derived from climate and soil data.’

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Corporate investors hold the key to fostering inclusive entrepreneurship

Alarming headlines about women leaving the workforce during the pandemic abound. A quick Google on the topic will yield results including “How COVID-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backward”, “Women’s COVID-Fueled Exodus from the Workplace Hurts Us All”, “Why COVID-19 Could Force Millions of Women to Quit Work – and How to Support Them” from American Progress, Time and the Forum, respectively.

A side story which is not being so widely reported is how the pandemic reverse the meager gains women entrepreneurs have made in recent years.

In the US, it’s already happening. Pitchbook reports that in Q3 2020, quarterly venture capital funding for women founders dropped to a three-year low, even though overall venture capital activity was on a par with previous years. Between Q2 and Q3 last year, investment in women founders dropped 48%.

These losses make already dismal numbers worse. Women founder teams received only 4.3% of all venture capital deals in Q1 2020 – a drop from 7.1% in Q1 2019.

So far, investment levels in Europe are holding low but steady at 1.8% of venture capital going to all-women founder teams and 12.8% going to mixed-gender teams up until the end of October. But the threat of slippage in Europe – and globally – looms.

While COVID-specific dynamics have exacerbated the venture capital investment picture, women’s low representation on investment teams was already fueling the chronic opportunity gap. In 2019, just 3.4%of assets under management were held by women-founded VC firms, and only 3.8%were held by diverse-owned firms.

Rethinking and resetting the status quo on underrepresented entrepreneurs

The Forum’s Great Reset challenges us to rethink our economic, social and technological systems for a better world – to steer the market toward fairer outcomes, ensure that investments advance shared equality and sustainability, and harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good.

In such a context, corporations can activate their venturing funds, as well as accelerator, incubation and procurement programs to drive the changes required for the Great Reset, fostering inclusive entrepreneurship by:

  • Increasing the percentage of women and underrepresented groups on their investment teams
  • Increasing the percentage of investment (financial and non-financial) that goes to women and underrepresented entrepreneurs
  • Activating additional business levers to fuel scaling of businesses led by diverse teams

Focussing on women has multiple benefits

Investing in women pays huge dividends for everyone. In COVID-19 and Gender Equality: Countering the Regressive Effects, McKinsey estimated that acting now to advance gender equality could add $13 trillion to global GDP in 2030.

It also returns greater yields than less targeted investments. Over a five-year period, for every dollar venture capital invested, women-led or women co-founded startups generated 78 cents of revenue while male-led startups only generated 31 cents (Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet). What’s more, on average, companies with more diverse leadership teams report almost 20% higher revenue from innovation. (How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation).

We should therefore view investment in women entrepreneurs as a powerful catalyst for economic recovery.

Addressing the gap for women is only one step toward generating more equitable outcomes for all. We expect that most levers that help women can also contribute to wider diversity efforts. Further studies investigating variations in impact between underrepresented groups would be welcomed.

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Future Grid: Why Australia Is Proving Grounds For Renewable Energy

Australia is among the most advanced countries worldwide when it comes to renewable energy, making it the ideal proving grounds for Future Grid. This Australian-based startup has developed a SaaS-based solution to help electric utilities manage the vast amounts of new data coming from electric vehicles, solar panels, and other renewable energy technologies.   

“We designed Future Grid to fill the visibility gap, bringing together real-time data and insights from smart meters so electric utilities can better manage the accelerated transition to renewable energy,” said Chris Law, co-founder and CEO at Future Grid. “This will help utilities continue to provide safe, reliable electricity services in regulatory compliance as renewable energy emerges.”

Law, who has extensive experience in the energy industry, co-founded Future Grid to meet the unique demands of utilities that weren’t fully utilizing all the data from their smart meters.

“We wanted to help utilities quickly manage data for their industry-specific outcomes,” he recalled. “Now as utilities have been increasingly challenged by the transition to renewable energy, our service is becoming even more important.”

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Goodr CEO turned her passion into a multimillion-dollar business

After learning that, each year, 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste in the U.S. while 50 million people struggle with hunger, Jasmine Crowe, a serial entrepreneur, felt compelled to do something.

So with donated spaghetti noodles and hamburger meat and lots of grocery coupons, in 2013 Crowe started feeding the hungry every Sunday out of her own kitchen in her one-bedroom apartment in Atlanta.

After feeding up to 500 people a week for years, in 2017, Crowe turned her passion to help into a business — Goodr, a food waste management company that connects restaurants with food surplus to non-profit organizations that can use the food.

“I had friends and family members that were experiencing hunger, [and] that really made me think I had to move forward,” Crowe says.

Building the business wasn’t easy — for one thing, investors doubted her company would succeed. But by 2018, Goodr was valued at $7 million, according to PitchBook, and now, the company is valued at $12 million, Goodr tells CNBC Make It. To date, Crowe has successfully raised over $2.7 million from investors, the company said.

“I’m really motivated by all the naysayers,” says Crowe. “As long as you’re going after something that you love, you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. That’s the biggest thing.”

Here, Crowe shares her advice on overcoming obstacles and building a successful business that you’re passionate about.

Know your audience and why they say ‘no’

Women-owned companies received just 2.6% of the total venture capital funding in the U.S. in 2019, according to PitchBook. And Black women and women entrepreneurs of color get even less, receiving just 0.64% of the total venture capital investment, according to ProjectDiane.

“I probably took over 200 meetings to raise the first million dollars for Goodr. I was told: ‘This sounds like a non-profit,’ ‘Hunger is already being solved,’ ‘Your team isn’t experienced enough and too young,’” Crowe, 37, says. “The fundraising for me has not been something that I’ve enjoyed. It hasn’t been easy.”

The turning point came, Crowe says, when she really thought about her audience.

“I realized I was speaking to cis white men that have never been hungry,” she says. “Of course they don’t understand what I’m building. They never experienced this problem before.”

So in addition to pitching that Goodr could help people, Crowe focused her pitches on numbers, like how much a business could claim in tax benefits by donating its surplus food and how much it would save in eliminating the cost of removing its food waste, she says.

“Learn all the objections and why people typically say ‘no.’ Once you learn that, then it becomes a lot easier to get to a ‘yes,’” she says. “Start to learn how to counter those objections.”

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SAP Startup Spotlight: Future Grid

SAP invests in a lot of promising startups, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of them. E-3 Magazine has selected the most interesting companies to showcase in our SAP Startup Spotlight Series. In this article, we will take a look at Future Grid.

Chris is the co-founder and CEO of Future Grid. He is dedicated to helping utilities around the world to integrate renewables at scale and thus decarbonising the grid. With over 20 years of experience in the energy market working for companies like AusNet Services, AGL in Australia, and the startup GridNet in San Francisco, he is well connected within the industry. Chris is a wine connoisseur, a coffee lover, and enjoys riding his bike. In this interview, he talks about what his company has to offer and what’s next for Future Grid.

E-3 Magazine: What exactly does Future Grid offer?

Chris Law: Future Grid is a software that turns smart meter data into improved grid reliability, asset management, and customer safety. Our software creates new visibility into the health of critical yet ‘invisible’ electricity assets such as wires, transformers, and fuses in support of the transition to renewable energy. Using Future Grid’s software, utilities are empowered to manage the increasing shifts in power quality due to renewables. Utilities can then deliver safe and reliable electricity to their customers. That’s how Future Grid is enabling the renewable grid of the future.

How does your solution work?

Law: Future Grid is a software that works by creating a real-time feedback loop that updates key utility systems with real-time insights from invisible assets within the grid. The Future Grid software has been designed to integrate many different sources within the utility, including smart meters, to create a near real-time ‘map’ of grid assets and network health. Future Grid will then execute a range of real-time analytics and integrate the results back into key systems such as SAP, ADSM, and GIS for operational actions. We call this the feedback loop, as for the first time, utilities have the ability to take grid edge data from smart meters (and in the future DER) and feedback real-time insights to help inform grid operations and control.

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