|New Sustainable Business Models|
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It turns out that getting two entrepreneurs, both interested in stretching the potential of business to be sustainable, onto a phone call about their work can lead to a mighty interesting conversation. Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar and GoLoco, and Adam Lowry, co-founder of method joined host Jerry Michalski for a lively Future of Green open conference call focused on "New Sustainable Business Models."
Here are 3 tips, 2 warnings, and a conundrum, that I took away from the call (but you really should listen to it yourself!)
- Align business and products with greeness and responsibility. Instead of a "steal and donate" model where companies share a small portion of profits from unsustainable practices, "create good as we grow"
- Sustainability is a step-wise progression. Businesses and buyers both tend to accept change a step at a time. In Robin's case, asking people to share cars was the step. Requiring that they share all-electric cars would have been a step-too-far. "Right-size" your radical innovation so people can be brought along.
- Know what your business is. method sells "clean for clothes" not "detergent which is just their current format. The right business definition can enable change, evolution, and innovation.
- Beware of infrastructure investments – "infrastructure is destiny." Investments in infrastructure, including marketing and distribution, can lock you on to bad paths. e.g., Once you've built superhighways you've committed to fast cars and big trucks. Smaller, more generic, investments tend to be safer.
- Beware of the "dark side of innovation" - innovations that slow progress instead of promote it.
- We have small companies with big innovations and big companies with small innovations. How do we get radical innovation on a massive scale?
Now that's a riddle worth solving!
Additional resources are available at:
- The Future of Green podcast series
- EDF + Business
- Social Innovation Conversations Audio Lectures
- Center for Social Innovation Academic Research