I en ny artikel skriver World Economic Forum, at ESG bliver mere og mere væsentligt i venture kapitalfonde, og hvordan startups bør forholde sig. Deres hovedpointer er:
- Venturekapital er afgørende for at forme fremtiden for vores mennesker, planeten og samfundet.
- Imidlertid har venturekapital været en efternøler i forhold til miljømæssige, sociale og forvaltningsmæssige aspekter, når de foretager investeringer.
- Tidevandet vender nu, da venturekapitalfirmaer begynder at presse på for vedtagelse af ESG. Sådan bliver du på forkant som startup-stifter.
World Economic Forum nævner hertil nogle væsentlige punkter, som en startup-stifter i en tidlig fase kan foretage for at være på forkant med kurven:
1. Analyze: In the early-stage, as you focus on getting the product-market fit right, you will likely go through multiple iterations both for your product as well as the business model. While speed is key during this process, take product-market fit a step forward— analyze the second and third order impacts of your product and any changes in your strategy that may open a whole new world of ESG risks and opportunities.
At this stage, it is also important to analyze if the product or service your startup is providing will have a net positive impact on the world. For instance, the value that many tech startups add comes at a great cost to workers’ rights.
2. Identify: While at the outset your company may not seem very risky from an ESG perspective, any unidentified ESG issue will likely scale as quickly as your startup. Therefore, it is imperative to identify material ESG issues that can affect your business not only today but also during the scale up phase.
Studying the ESG risks impacting the sector your startup falls in is a good first step. When raising funds, identifying VC firms that can help grow your business while building your ESG capacity is another important step that can have a great payoff in the long term.
3. Prioritize: As the founder, your goal must be to lay a strong foundation for building robust ESG processes. Just as you ruthlessly prioritize all potential features and solutions during product development, you must prioritize high value, low complexity ESG issues in your sector as well. (Here are some ideas for priority issues for consumer internet companies).
No VC firm will penalize your company for not having figured out everything when it comes to ESG. However, the market, i.e., your customers may penalize you as the startup matures and the reputational risk increases. For instance, over 50% of Gen Z and millennial consumers would boycott a company for not being ecoconscious.
4. Measure: As Pieter Kemps, Principal at Sequoia Capital says in the video below, what you measure depends on the business stage you’re in. It could be retention rate when you are trying to find product-market fit or monthly active users, as you scale up.
Applying the same line of thinking to ESG data, it is important to determine the one to three metrics that matter for the business stage your startup is in. For instance, tech startups could begin by focusing on data privacy and diversity metrics. It is important to note that the chosen metrics should also be something in which the next set of investors can find meaning as well.
5. Communicate: Bring your customers into your sustainability conversation and be transparent about ESG being a work in progress as you grow. Your transparency and relationship with your customers will be your first line of defence if there’s an unintended sustainability issue.
Don’t forget about your investors though! Add your ESG value creation story in your investor focused documents. If you can share some specific data linked stories, even better.
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