Being an entrepreneur in the green economy for the last decade, and also working with investors and funds who support the development of sustainable business, I have noticed there are particular challenges which face eco-innovators.
We in the ‘green business world’ have a lot to learn from traditional manufacture, fin-tech and banking, and game-changers from various sectors. Thus, after a year collecting the data on these 100 companies in 2018, I am spending 2019 talking with such experts to reflect on the results and from here, formulate through framework analysis and grounded theory some unique insights which can help green entrepreneurs navigate the ‘valley of death’ which all businesses face, and give them a greater chance at bringing their helpful green innovation to market successfully.
The project name for this research is: Grow Green and THRIVE
In 2018 I took a random sample of 100 companies that I work with via our Eco-Investment Support services at ChangeMaker.land (from a population of about 4000+ companies), which supports investors and funds to identify and empower green companies to bring their products and services to market for climate, social or environmental improvement. I knew each of these companies; have seen their profit and loss statements for the last years, and also their environmental science research regarding assured green contributions to the planetary boundaries.
My starting assumption was that very innovative companies have unique struggles to bring their ideas to market, while experiencing the normal business development challenges.
During my data collection, I had put together 50 multiple choice and long form answer questions together regarding the challenges they were having after receiving funding to bringing their innovation to market. During the collection of the data I held three Q+A sessions about the questions via webinar to ensure the questions were understood and relevant and that the right companies were involved. It took a year to complete as the companies were from around Europe, and required translation support and explanation of terms, and sometimes the answers were passed around the company for contribution from various people in the team.
I summarised the results in early 2019 and put together changes to the strategy I advise investors and funds regarding their incubation support of the companies and entrepreneurs. Then I made a short list of people I admire in the business world who are entrepreneurs, consultants, investors in the non-green commercial world. I wanted to see what the green business has in common with the linear business, and what advise those from outside the sustainable world have regarding challenges they might likely recognise. I quickly realised there is a lot in common between innovative green companies and others, additionally, I realised there are some very unique issues that pertain to only them. For the next year and a half, I will be crunching this data via more interviews to create more qualitative flavour https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_analysis and start to weave them together through a more grounded theory https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grounded_theory approach to find unique insights.
The companies who submitted their data are all assured 100% privacy of their information, and I give them permission to pull their contribution back at any time. They are also allowed to contact me at any stage during the time to ask questions, reflect on insights and ideas. They cannot ‘change’ their initial answers, even though over time they obviously progress. I was looking for a ‘snapshot’ of a time period.
The experts I chose are also free to contribute and pull back their contributions over time, however their contribution will always be named and referenced. It is their credibility and experience that I value the weight of their contribution.
This is to ensure that their innovation is sustainable in terms of delivering environmental or social impact, as well as financially strong to continue to grow in the future. That is why the experts are on the record, while the sample companies are off.
About half of the companies interviewed were small-mid sized enterprises (less than 200 employees), about a third of them were midcaps or institutes, and the remaining were multinationals or stock listed companies.
The research is now 18 months progressed, and the interim results prove it is a helpful and insightful project for my customers (funds, investors, incubators) as well as their customers (entrepreneurs and company boards in the green business world).
Thus, I now share this update and invite others to join:
If you are a company, which has received over 1 million in funding within the last 2 years for a green innovation
You are an investor who invests in the green business world
Are a successful entrepreneur, advisor or consultant with specific expertise for business development in the linear / non-green world
AND would like to contribute, please let me know.
While my focus is on continental Europe, I am taking investor and advise from around the world as diversity of influence and insights yield a rich body of information.
This would be interesting to:
Possibly, this will be a best practices book in the future too. #HelloPublishers :-)
Just send us a message and we will be back to you within a week.