Meet the ESG software startup that puts SMEs first

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There is no shortage of enterprise software vendors to meet the needs of large enterprises looking to calculate and manage carbon emissions information in a more automated and auditable way. There are far fewer tools aimed at small and medium-sized businesses – ironic considering that these businesses account for at least some of the Scope 3 impact of larger businesses.

Start-up based in New York Sustain.Life, launched in 2021 by a group that includes three former Walmart and Jet.com executives, aims to fill that void. In May, the company raised $16 million in seed funding – led by its co-founder Mike Hanrahan with early-stage Tapestry VC.

“The carbon accounting and offsets industry is transforming from a marketing exercise and cottage industry into a key bastion in the global fight against climate change, accelerated by a recent industry wake-up call. and regulation on the matter,” said Patrick Murphy, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Tapestry VC. “The Sustain.Life team has unique insights into the challenges real businesses face in adopting and managing climate accounting. They’ve created a unique solution that cuts out the middleman and empowers businesses of all sizes to take back control of their carbon accounting in their own hands.”

Hanrahan, who led Walmart’s acquisition of e-commerce site Jet.com, told me his interest in starting a company focused on fighting climate change stems from his own experience trying to decarbonize. his personal life. He remembers being challenged at every turn, especially by outdated regulations and permit requirements that make it difficult to adopt clean energy technologies. “It just seemed like one block after another. I thought, ‘What hope do businesses have of being sustainable? “, Did he declare.

The decision to focus on the middle market is based on the Sustain.Life team’s experience with small businesses. Its software focuses on tasks not at all unique to tools in the carbon accounting category: measuring emissions from internal operations and supply chains; reduction calculations based on process changes for energy, water and waste; and communicating progress to stakeholders, including investors, customers and employees. The platform can collect relevant data from a plethora of sources, including enterprise resource planning systems and utility reports, Hanrahan said.

A unique feature is the automated guidance provided by the software, based on the expertise of Sustain.Life’s sustainability team, and the fact that many customers are at the start of their journey to address environmental issues, social and governance. “It’s programmatic guidance with management suggestions,” said Alyssa Rade, CSO of Sustain.Life. Topics range from environmental justice to the physical energy and water risks businesses face due to the impact of climate change. “We collected this content from practitioners,” she said.

[Want to learn more about entrepreneurs with innovative technologies, products and services across the climate tech landscape? Check out the VERGE 22 Startup Program, taking place in San Jose, CA, Oct. 25-27.]

Sustain.Life does not disclose the number of its customers, but Hanrahan said 20% of them are public companies. Turtle Fur, a 20-year-old small outerwear and hat retailer based in Morrisville, Vermont, is an early adopter. Meghan Ksiazek, the company’s vice president and chief design officer, said her team started using the software last fall after hearing about it through Climate Action Corps, an initiative of the Outdoors. Industry Association which includes Patagonia, Burton, New Balance and REI.

Turtle Fur does not have a dedicated sustainability manager: the task of coordination between teams and business functions falls to Ksiazek. But the company has embraced the technology to help it track Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, and otherwise prepare for applying for a B Corp certificationshe says.

Sustain.Life’s software is used across the Turtle Fur team to record data and share information, as well as to create its roadmap for the future, Ksiazek said. “The main thing is that the software was accessible. It didn’t require a lot of training. People could familiarize themselves with the tool and start using it.”

You’ll see Sustain.Life selling its app through multiple channels, including partnerships with Interactive Brokers, America’s largest electronic trading platform; Avetta, which sells supply chain risk management software; and the Sustainable Cannabis Coalition, which advocates for Sustain.Life among its members.

As the focus on tackling supply chain emissions intensifies among big companies, many of whom hope to inspire their smaller partners, Sustain.Life is likely to see competition from some of the biggest companies in the enterprise software, such as Microsoft and Salesforce, which both build extensive sustainability management software platforms. It also risks finding itself in competition with Persefoni, who also hopes capture the attention of small and medium-sized businesses. Persefoni unveiled a record $101 million Series B funding round in October. In mid-July, the firm presented a version of its application which is in transported to the Stripe marketwhich focuses squarely on this community.

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