By Ratan Agarwal
July 12th, 2018
Vision: Make the sustainability a reality for all – in our lifetime
Mission: Leverage the power of masses & technology to accelerate sustainability inflection point – from trickle-down to tsunami of impacts
Business challenge & opportunity
Given the rapidly manifesting impacts (global warming, extreme droughts and fires, depleting resources, rising inequality, violence against disadvantaged groups,..), sustainability awareness and number of organizations and activities are at an all-time high. However, it is also clear that we continue to lose the battle – in fact the gulf between adverse impacts and mitigating solutions continue to widen at an alarming pace. Rapid growth in multitude of initiatives has also brought widespread sub-optimization (duplication, re-inventing, silos,..), along with minimal leverage of solutions and resource pools – we are suffering from “trickle-down sustainomics”. There is a need for a radical new approach to change the tide. Fast progress in multiple game-changing technologies (IoT, Cloud, Mobility, Solar economics, CrowdSourcing / Shared Economy, BigData & AI) offers that unique opportunity TODAY.
Solution Description – Sustainability MarketPlace (“SM”)
MarketPlaces as a mega-scale enabling platforms have proven very successful across multitude of industries – with well-known examples of Amazon, EBay, AirBnb, and Etsy. The same model offers several fundamental benefits in Sustainability domain to change the game: a unifying platform for all the siloed current entities and initiatives, with benefits of cross-sharing and de-duplication, rapid global spread of best-practice solutions and innovations, effective utilization of currently untappable variable capacity of massive resource pools-with-intent (millennials, retirees, in-day-jobs), which would then drive massive leverage at Internet speeds through iterative and concurrent adaptations & innovations, match-making for the highest leverage and many more. Further, MarketPlaces have the unique characteristic of rapid scale through intrinsic network effect. Net result: exponential impact leverage from every single scarce resource at our disposal, and thus reversing the losing battle!
Technology Architecture & Key Capabilities
SM would have numerous elements found in popular marketplaces (logical directory structure and catalogs, participant demographics, interaction enabling common-services, rating engines, audit trails & reporting). Similar to traditional ‘products & services’, SM would be about sustainability projects, initiatives & solutions which would engage a variety of stakeholders & users as described below. Some of the key technical capabilities would be dynamic match-making between ‘givers’ and projects, Sustainability Impact Multiplier Score (SIMS) engine, dynamic project spin-up (matching enough appropriate distributed ‘doers’ to open replicable projects for solution adaption or development), connectivity with existing entities for bi-directional exchange, rewards, gamification, communities, and real-time transparency, and impact tracking.
Target Users & Stakeholders
Two main SM communities would be ‘givers’ (entities with resources ($, technology, talent) to lend) and ‘doers’ (entities with development & implementation capabilities). Each would represent diverse set of global groups such as Corporations, NGOs, foundations & charities, millennials and retirees, technologists, and students.
Competition, Marketing & Sales
SM is intended to fill key capabilities gaps and connect-the-dots to amplify the impact of existing activities, and hence it does not compete with or usurp any existing commerce or platform. Rather, it adds value to all the existing entities by expanding the reach & scope, accelerating impact, and optimizing their operations through common services – thus positioned as a natural win-win. Hence, existing entities would become marketing partners. Two main strategies to build the initial critical mass of participants would be: influencer/sponsor ‘pull’ and social-media based ‘push’, and import of existing memberships of partner entities. Other marketing tools: success celebrations, events, seminars & campaigns.
Financials (Cost, Revenues, Funding)
Overall, SM would be a non-profit business model. On the cost side, it is expected to be a very lean model tapping into variety of charitable sources (hours from technical and business experts, equipment and tool from corporations, off-the-shelf modules). Multiple revenue streams (nominal transactional fees for match-making, fees for subscription to common SM services, advertising, commission from 3rdparty sales) would support build and operate and expansion costs. Initial MVP scope development, projected to be under $100k would be supported mostly through grants.
5-year Projections (Key Metrics) (below numbers are placeholders for update shortly)
Fiscal Year 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
# of Entities 10 200 5,000 20,000 30,000
# of Members (in K) 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000
# of Projects 300 2000 100,000 400,000 800,000
Costs (in M$) 0.1 0.5 1 2 4
Revenues (in M$) 0 0.6 2 10 50
To ensure rapid learning and cost minimization, MVP will be focused on a handful of sustainability domains (plastics pollution, human trafficking, clean energy); and technical capabilities (catalog, database, dynamic teaming & projects).
Lead group (Ratan Agarwal, Govi Rao, Shayne Veramallay,..) brings 100+ years of technology, business, innovation, and incubation to large-scale operations management experience across variety of industries and non-profits.