Lubomila Jordanova, CEO of Plan A on the relevance of sustainability entrepreneurs ecosystem; setting up Greentech Alliance community with members from over a hundred countries ; and the urgency to act on Climate Change.
One thing that resonates with Lubomila Jordanova when it comes to her mission to fight Climate Change in her own words is :
“You’re never going to be able to do it by yourself. You need to collaborate — with the government, corporates, NGOs, and other startups.”
Her story of starting up Plan A and now Greentech Alliance is a reflection of this thought. Plan A is a Berlin-based startup developing an algorithm that predicts where and how climate change will hit the hardest and software that helps businesses reduce their emissions by 50% within a year and save money while doing so.
“Plan A knows that it has a big part to play. But it’s never going to be possible for us to achieve the ambitions we have on tackling climate change if we don’t work together with others.” And that is the reason Lubomila recently founded the Greentech Alliance, a collection of 500+ startups that are connected to over 350+ advisors from VC, media, and business, who help them monthly with advice and feedback.
COVID: The Wake-up Call for Climate Change
It all started in May 2020 when COVID was quite well established in our lives. It was a moment when we were quite clear that this is a big event for a decade or even more.
Lubomila mentioned that during this time we were talking a lot about economic growth and how we need to re-establish it because the economy was going down – everything was shut and everything was in a standstill. As much as this was something that we had been seeing before, it felt a bit more apocalyptic because it was actually related to an event (COVID) we didn’t know how it was going to unfold. We were looking into a reality, which was really calm and peaceful. We didn’t see people on the streets. It felt like nature for once was taking a break. So how do we respond?
She says, “I’m an entrepreneur and I’m someone that really likes to take action. I don’t sit and just become silent or sad about things. And I’m not the only one. One of the biggest challenges for sustainability entrepreneurs like me has been just observing these new events (such as COVID) and thinking of what’s going to happen with the whole sustainability movement.”
She adds that many sustainability entrepreneurs have been building companies for years, but it was not necessarily clear how this was going to reflect on society in the long term.
“At the end of the day, if you have no security for your health, the health of your family and friends, you probably are going to be thinking last about how to save the species and how to respond to having a more sustainable future,” she says.
The Solution: Green Tech Alliance — a Community of Sustainability Entrepreneurs
Lubomila and a group of other founders decided that there was a different way to respond to this instead of panic or drama.
“We decided to build a community, a community called the GreenTech Alliance. Released in May, this community stands for an opportunity to connect transparently, focused on following the science Greentech companies and give them a chance to solve their problems by connecting to scientists, entrepreneurs, successful investors, press, and anyone that essentially can solve their problems.”
Here is why this community is needed, according to Lubomila:
- Sustainability entrepreneurs need a lot more support in terms of how society responds to their existence because they still get to be labeled as NGOs in spite of solving one of the biggest problems and having a strong business use case.
- The second aspect is that Greentech companies need speed. “We know about the SDGs we have for 10 years. We have been hearing how the UN is saying we have 12 years. The deadlines are many. But the main point is that this innovation needs to be accelerated. And it’s not going to happen with the help of only one single company,” mentions Lubomila.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.
The story so far: Greentech Alliance Community
Within four months, Greentech Alliance received more than 700 applications and only 400 were selected. Here is how:
- Every single company that applies on the website gets to be interviewed for 15 minutes, but enough to know if they’re doing greenwashing. There’s plenty of those because now it’s quite fashionable to be building a green company.
- The second really important aspect is that they have a business model that is directly related to the improvement of the health of our planet. This means that if you are producing sustainable business cards, you probably don’t fit -because you are still exhausting the natural resources that we have on this planet. It’s more about finding ways in which you can turn old business cards into something useful for someone else.
“All of the companies that we’ve accepted, have been able to justify what kind of problem they’re solving and how does this reflect the reality and the facts that the sciences have shared. By now we have approved 400 start-ups. We have 250 advisers, famous journalists, people that have written the IPCC report, people that have set up the climate labs in MIT and Yale, essentially, the driving factors behind this topic. Additionally, we have 10 organizations that have trusted us with essentially giving them a lot of information about what the start-ups need so that they can tailor their own activities, or at least hear the feedback.”
Going Global From Berlin
The Green Tech Alliance is global and not Germany specific. Even though the founders are based in Berlin, it has more than a hundred countries already in terms of members comprising a diverse group of people solving different problems.
Talking about Greentech Alliance, Lubomila mentioned that within the community, the focus is on one-on-one sessions with the advisors’, content, events which are quite unique and there is also monthly challenge solving sessions. “Now we’re starting to focus a lot more on financing. We’ve already managed to organize more than a hundred matchmaking sessions, and there’ve been the first 4 million secured, she says.
“I am doing what I’m doing in my life because I truly believe that we still have the chance to align ourselves as a society for a topic that is really challenging to grasp. Climate change is a collection of issues. It’s not one, but it requires this collaborative effort. We are not the managers of the ecosystem, but rather participants in it, who have to start respecting nature and also start collaborating with one another.” she concludes.
Editorial Note: This article is based on edited excerpts from Lubomila’s keynote speech at AsiaBerlin Summit 2020. Watch the keynote by Lubomila at AsiaBerlin Summit 2020 on our youtube channel.