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Empowering Startups

Empowering Startups, Technology & Sustainability towards a greener future: an interview with the Greentech Alliance

Since the launch of our project, we, at Zero Waste Berlin Festival, have had the great opportunity to meet inspiring organisations with a common vision: strive for a greener and healthier future for people and the planet.

As we had the chance to gain useful insights and get to know many interesting people, we thought sharing such experiences with our community could be helpful for many. This is why we decided to start a section in our Zero Waste Blog reporting short interviews with some of our awesome partners.

Today our founder Coral met Lubomila Jordanova, founder of Plan A and co-founder of Greentech Alliance (GTA), a community of Greentech companies & advisors from VC, media, science and business, who gave us some insights on their vision, goals and the work they do to support hundreds of companies around the world.

She introduced the project explaining that “the GTA is a community of more than 500 tech startups connected with the joint vision that our planet needs to be taken care of and that tech could support this vision”. Lubomila started the initiative together with other five green entrepreneurs: Simon Thies, manager at Green City Solutions; JJ Verhoeve, chief commercial officer at Plan A; Emma Patmore, Head of Marketing at Ecolingo; Hanna Kromminga, founder of Silfir; and Andrew Green, founder of WunderTree.”

Q: “How did the idea come up?”

A: “At the beginning of COVID pandemic we became more concerned that sustainability might become secondary and lead these great startups to become less important, less funded and then eventually die.

We wanted to make sure this didn’t happen, and we decided to create a community of innovative startups that enables itself to eventually solve the problems each of the members has. On the other side the community would be able to access a huge network of influential people who can support this community for its growth”

Q: “What is the purpose of the GTA?”

A: “The Alliance has more than 300 advisors: journalists, scientists, investors who donate up to 3 hours a month to help the startups. Any member, including Zero Waste Berlin Festival, can reach the advisor and get advisory support, totally for free and on a monthly basis.”

Q: “What did you accomplish so far?”

A: “So far there have been more than 100 introductions done between startups and investors, and more than 20 events organised for our members (webinars, meetups, sessions for educational and knowledge exchange). There have also been 500 companies onboarded in the alliances. We received around 1000 applications, with therefore a 50/50 chance of becoming part of the community; and 300 advisors have been confirmed.”

“We want to become the meeting point between different stakeholders within the greentech community but also within the general economy. We believe there is a missing piece within the puzzle of sustainability where the different stakeholders -NGOs, scientists, startups, governments and businesses- meet and collaborate.”

Q: “What is your vision for the role that technology will play in the next 10 years to fulfil the SDGs?”

A: “We think that people started understanding how to apply sustainable mindsets to their own businesses and companies. And this is going to be the fundamental shift that we are going to see in the next decade in terms of how companies are being built and transformed.”

When we asked Lubomila about the best innovative green solutions they recently discovered, the answer could not include just a few of them. But she did mention the topics which these startups build their ideas on: Zero Waste, Carbon footprint, Life Cycle Analysis and Green Energies are some of them. Lubomila expressed her excitement particularly for the Waste Management and Biodiversity restoration topics.

Q: “Do you think the current corona crisis will affect the development of sustainability in the world? Are we going back?”

A: “Yes, the crisis is definitely affecting the business of sustainable companies as well. Many who saw a shift in their consumers’ demand, others who had to change their target group. The good thing, thus, is that, during covid, there was a lot of commitment on a  governmental level for sustainability principles to be implemented on an industry and on  company level. One example would be the European Green Deal, or the introduction of laws related to carbon taxing.

Q: “As founder of the GTA and entrepreneur, what would you recommend to those who have sustainable ideas, but have not decided yet to bring them into the market?”

A: “Test yourself! I think it is really important to test an idea. Is not about passing from 0 to 100 in a day, You don’t need to build a business from scratch until the point you got a perfect product or a perfect solution. What is important is that you start setting the concept and start talking to people about it to get feedback. Feel free to reach out to the GreenTech Alliance for it! We are receiving so many applications on a daily basis and it has been amazing to see so many people at the beginning of their journey, spending so much time on their concept and they really want to make it work. These people are more than welcome to work with us, they just need to show their conviction to the topic!

“Sustainability and climate change are very big topics and they are not in the hands of a single person but if we all together as individuals, and companies, start taking steps, we have actually the chance to recover the planet and enable a sustainable transition towards the future. So keep the work going, even doing little counts a lot!”l