REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

SITUATION

A company was creating a new type of bottled water where a percentage of the revenues went towards water wells in Africa. A noble strategy, but was their execution right?

 

QUESTIONS

Beyond vetting the founders, our due diligence included questions to measure the impact across the value chain:

  • Where are they getting the water from?
  • How sustainable is the water source?
  • What is the quality of the water?
  • Do people in the community where they’re extracting water from have access to water?
  • Does their model increase the cost of water to the community?
  • What packaging are they using for the water?
  • Is there a better material and if not, what are they doing to counteract the environmental impact of this material?
  • How are the bottles being shipped?
  • What are they doing to counteract the environmental impact of transportation?
  • How are they allocating the funds for water projects in Africa?
  • How do they choose their partners?
  • What monitoring mechanisms to they have in place?
  • What metrics are they using to measure success?

We could then truly assess the impact, the framework needed to tackle the gaps, and the founders’ commitment to proper execution and true value creation.

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

Recent years have seen an increase in ‘sustainability’ initiatives, but there is a difference between real impact and greenwashing. That difference lies in what gets measured and what gets done. Here are some questions to ascertain true impact.

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

Most investors say they do due diligence on the team. We have found many fall short in picking up the telltale signs of potential risk factors and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Bringing investors on board can help a company scale, but difficulties can arise from growing too quickly. Here’s how we helped a high-growth company tackle transition and the associated growing pains.

read more
VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

A budding entrepreneur wanted to create an investment company focused on Africa. We helped him define and shape the vision, as well as the values and behaviours he wanted to stand for and demonstrate. Wanting to ensure he could translate his vision into practice, we...

read more
GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

When a company is receiving a lot of attention and significant funding, it takes great resolve to buck the trend and quash FOMO. It is wise to take time to peel back the layers and do proper due diligence.

read more
HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

CASE STUDY

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back?

We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present.

  • He was technologically sound
  • Had built a robust platform relevant to the market
  • The market opportunity was significant with little competition at present
  • Was strategic in building relationships with potential customers
  • No paying customers on board to date
  • Was modest in his projections
  • Ran a tight ship
  • Knew his subject matter well
  • Was open and transparent about the challenges and setbacks faced

So, the market opportunity was there. The platform was sound. But the current configuration was not going to work. To penetrate the market and build the required scale at speed, a new team would need to be on board, including a new CEO. But would the founder’s ego get in the way?

His reaction was ultimately what made those gathered decide to back him. Positive and genuine, he knew this is what was needed to succeed and saw it as an opportunity to focus on what he does best – building and strengthening the platform.

He now had the backing and support of the right people vested in mutual success.

CASE STUDY

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back?

We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present.

  • He was technologically sound
  • Had built a platform relevant to the market
  • Was strategic in building relationships with potential customers
  • No paying customers on board to date
  • Was modest in his projections
  • Ran a tight ship
  • Knew his subject matter well
  • Was open and transparent about the challenges and setbacks faced

So, the market opportunity was there. The platform was sound. But the current configuration was not going to work. To penetrate the market and build the required scale at speed, a new team would need to be on board, including a new CEO. But would the founder’s ego get in the way?

His reaction was ultimately what made those gathered decide to back him. Positive and genuine, he knew this is what was needed to succeed and saw it as an opportunity to focus on what he does best – building and strengthening the platform.

He now had the backing and support of the right people vested in mutual success.

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

Recent years have seen an increase in ‘sustainability’ initiatives, but there is a difference between real impact and greenwashing. That difference lies in what gets measured and what gets done. Here are some questions to ascertain true impact.

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

Most investors say they do due diligence on the team. We have found many fall short in picking up the telltale signs of potential risk factors and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Bringing investors on board can help a company scale, but difficulties can arise from growing too quickly. Here’s how we helped a high-growth company tackle transition and the associated growing pains.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

CHALLENGE

A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit and lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results.  

CIRCUMSTANCES

The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and
method of working. The speed and rate of change were further amplified with additional acquisitions that needed to be merged with the business.
The core team was under increasing pressure to provide stopgap solutions while other parts of the business were integrated. They were feeling undervalued and unrecognised.  

OUR INTERVENTION

  • Gained an understanding of the vision and objectives of the PE Firm, and what was needed to get there
  • Reviewed company objectives, what they espoused, what they rewarded (misalignment often causes lack of trust, disillusionment, conflict and low morale)
  • Mapped capabilities and dynamics of core team where the issues were taking place (as a cohesive unit and as individuals)
  • Gained an understanding of the real CAUSES of conflict (not just symptoms) split by which were due to the company, and which were due to team/individuals. Both tracks were dealt with separately.

INDIVIDUALS

  • Enabled individual team members to reflect and understand events and interactions (perceptions, reactions and subsequent influence on relationships with their colleagues etc.)
  • Individuals developed new personal strategies to improve communication and relationships with colleagues, along with ways to tackle rifts (e.g. areas in which they could be each other’s mentors and role models, playing off each other’s strengths)
  • Rationalisation of roles (with buy-in from team members).

COMPANY

The company had put in place some practices that were fuelling conflict, primarily:

  • A clash between competence, seniority and compensation of acquired teams vs. core team
  • Moving targets on ESOP
  • Lack of openness to new ideas, opting instead to focus purely on acquisitions.

In a nutshell, the spirit of the company was changing and the crucial elements that attracted team members to join quickly disappearing.  

OUTCOME

  • A cohesive team consisting of committed, competent and collaborative individuals
  • Greater communication, transparency and higher levels of trust
  • Less friction and improved results
  • BUT the company didn’t make the required changes fast enough
  • Realising they were not in the right role or company, some team members resigned – some went on to become founders of their own start-up attracting key team members to join them.
REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

Recent years have seen an increase in ‘sustainability’ initiatives, but there is a difference between real impact and greenwashing. That difference lies in what gets measured and what gets done. Here are some questions to ascertain true impact.

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

Most investors say they do due diligence on the team. We have found many fall short in picking up the telltale signs of potential risk factors and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Bringing investors on board can help a company scale, but difficulties can arise from growing too quickly. Here’s how we helped a high-growth company tackle transition and the associated growing pains.

read more
VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

A budding entrepreneur wanted to create an investment company focused on Africa. We helped him define and shape the vision, as well as the values and behaviours he wanted to stand for and demonstrate. Wanting to ensure he could translate his vision into practice, we...

read more
GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

When a company is receiving a lot of attention and significant funding, it takes great resolve to buck the trend and quash FOMO. It is wise to take time to peel back the layers and do proper due diligence.

read more
HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

A budding entrepreneur wanted to create an investment company focused on Africa.

We helped him define and shape the vision, as well as the values and behaviours he wanted to stand for and demonstrate.

Wanting to ensure he could translate his vision into practice, we tested the principles he had laid out against target investments. This proved to be the bigger challenge since some of the target investments were not in alignment with what he espoused. Moreover, he was happy to justify it with the return they would bring.

Using the values, behaviours and desired return he had set for himself, we challenged his thinking and guided him in exploring alternatives. We mapped out the framework that would enable him to navigate future forks in the road and improve his decision making.

A budding entrepreneur wanted to create an investment company focused on Africa.

We helped him define and shape the vision, as well as the values and behaviours he wanted to stand for and demonstrate.

Wanting to ensure he could translate his vision into practice, we tested the principles he had laid out against target investments. This proved to be the bigger challenge since some of the target investments were not in alignment with what he espoused. Moreover, he was happy to justify it with the return they would bring.

Using the values, behaviours and desired return he had set for himself, we challenged his thinking and guided him in exploring alternatives. We mapped out the framework that would enable him to navigate future forks in the road and improve his decision making.

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

Recent years have seen an increase in ‘sustainability’ initiatives, but there is a difference between real impact and greenwashing. That difference lies in what gets measured and what gets done. Here are some questions to ascertain true impact.

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

Most investors say they do due diligence on the team. We have found many fall short in picking up the telltale signs of potential risk factors and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Bringing investors on board can help a company scale, but difficulties can arise from growing too quickly. Here’s how we helped a high-growth company tackle transition and the associated growing pains.

read more
VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

A budding entrepreneur wanted to create an investment company focused on Africa. We helped him define and shape the vision, as well as the values and behaviours he wanted to stand for and demonstrate. Wanting to ensure he could translate his vision into practice, we...

read more
GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

When a company is receiving a lot of attention and significant funding, it takes great resolve to buck the trend and quash FOMO. It is wise to take time to peel back the layers and do proper due diligence.

read more
HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more
GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

CASE STUDY

During our research phase, an investor asked us to take a look at a company some of his friends had invested in. He wanted some additional data points to help him decide if he too was going to invest.

The company was in the medical space, so we included our healthcare experts in the review.

The company was a unicorn based in Silicon Valley and was very high profile.

It was being exalted as the latest unicorn and its founder, one of the youngest female tech billionaires.

We reviewed materials in the public domain as well as the pitch deck the investor had been given.

Our process highlighted some red flags, including:

  • Claims in the deck that lacked scientific evidence
  • Lack of peer reviews in recognised and reputable medical journals
  • The founder’s inability to answer questions with depth and substance
  • Deflection of questions
  • A board of the who’s who but no-one with relevant medical expertise

We shared our view with the investor.

He decided not to invest.

The company was Theranos, pre-scandal.

The investor is happy.

 

CASE STUDY

During our research phase, an investor asked us to take a look at a company some of his friends had invested in. He wanted some additional data points to help him decide if he too was going to invest.

The company was in the medical space, so we included our healthcare experts in the review.

The company was a unicorn based in Silicon Valley and was very high profile.

It was being exalted as the latest unicorn and its founder, one of the youngest female tech billionaires.

We reviewed materials in the public domain as well as the pitch deck the investor had been given.

Our process highlighted some red flags, including:

  • Claims in the deck that lacked scientific evidence
  • Lack of peer reviews in recognised and reputable medical journals
  • The founder’s inability to answer questions with depth and substance
  • Deflection of questions
  • A board of the who’s who but no-one with relevant medical expertise

We shared our view with the investor.

He decided not to invest.

The company was Theranos, pre-scandal.

The investor is happy.

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

Recent years have seen an increase in ‘sustainability’ initiatives, but there is a difference between real impact and greenwashing. That difference lies in what gets measured and what gets done. Here are some questions to ascertain true impact.

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

Most investors say they do due diligence on the team. We have found many fall short in picking up the telltale signs of potential risk factors and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Bringing investors on board can help a company scale, but difficulties can arise from growing too quickly. Here’s how we helped a high-growth company tackle transition and the associated growing pains.

read more
VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

VISION + EXECUTION = VALUE

A budding entrepreneur wanted to create an investment company focused on Africa. We helped him define and shape the vision, as well as the values and behaviours he wanted to stand for and demonstrate. Wanting to ensure he could translate his vision into practice, we...

read more
GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

GOING AGAINST THE HYPE

When a company is receiving a lot of attention and significant funding, it takes great resolve to buck the trend and quash FOMO. It is wise to take time to peel back the layers and do proper due diligence.

read more
HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more
3 myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative
three myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Water and Wealth Creation

On a trip to Kenya, we were faced with a village that required access to clean water. Their wish was to have water, to grow crop that would in turn provide them with the money to educate the boys and the girls of the community (traditionally only the boys were...

HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

HARMONISING CO-FOUNDERS

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a cohesive team.

Conducting one-to-one and group sessions we:

  • Mapped out their backgrounds, experiences and geographic exposure
  • Profiled their styles of leadership and communication
  • Explored their drivers and ambitions, as well as their personal values and principles
  • Studied how they interacted and the shift in dynamics depending on who was present
  • Identified and aligned divergent perspectives and mindsets
  • Facilitated debates on how they should conduct their business and ironed out arising conflicts
  • Developed ‘rules of the road’ – guiding principles to work together
  • Identified appropriate board members with the right balance of experience, credibility and affinity
  • Created an institutional framework equipped to attract and safeguard third party investor capital

 

Behind any successful venture is the dynamics of the people. In this particular case, there were three individuals who came together to form a new investment company. On the face of it, they shared a common vision and belief system, but coming together and delivering something tangible and sustainable is another matter. The three individuals had different professional backgrounds and experiences, two from a corporate background, the other a serial entrepreneur. In addition, they had different geographic exposure. These factors meant they each had different perspectives and standards on how things should be done. We also had to factor in personalities and levels of dominance, whilst ensuring they all had an equal say, especially since they were equal partners from an equity perspective. So the challenge here was how to align them and shift their mindset from being sole operators to creating an institutional framework equipped to attract and safeguard 3rd party investors’ capital. The work consisted of one-to-one sessions with each of the partners, along with combined sessions to create a cohesive way forward. Helping them shape and articulate the vision, values and methodology, we went a step further to ensure they could deliver in alignment with what they proffered to stand for. We tested their values and thesis on potential target investments which provided much debate and ironing out, without the complexity of outside shareholders. This gave them the opportunity to come up with solutions and align themselves as a united front prior to dealing with outside influence. We also identified appropriate board members who provided the right balance of experience, credibility and natural affinity to help foster and drive the mission and purpose of the organisation.
REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

REAL IMPACT OR GREENWASHING?

Recent years have seen an increase in ‘sustainability’ initiatives, but there is a difference between real impact and greenwashing. That difference lies in what gets measured and what gets done. Here are some questions to ascertain true impact.

read more
A FOUNDER TO BACK?

A FOUNDER TO BACK?

Most investors say they do due diligence on the team. We have found many fall short in picking up the telltale signs of potential risk factors and what needs to be done to increase the likelihood of success.

read more
WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Bringing investors on board can help a company scale, but difficulties can arise from growing too quickly. Here’s how we helped a high-growth company tackle transition and the associated growing pains.

read more