We are spotlighting this year's incredible cohort through the means of fun & quick interviews to gain further insight into their startup journeys, unveil their driving forces and expose what it REALLY takes to be an entrepreneur in 2022...
Name: Antonius Willms
Title: CEO & Co-Founder
Kickstart Cohort: 2022
How did ‘eevie’ come to be? 💡
I started off in sustainability consulting for large corporations - and quickly realized I wasn't actually generating any impact, just creating great ideas that weren’t implemented as ‘sustainability’ was just seen as a trend at the time. In 2019, I decided I needed to do this bottom-up in order to have an influence on these things. Through research and brainstorming with my co-founder Lenni, we came to the realization that the problem was two-fold; behavior change and information. We wanted to provide a solution that made the relevant information accessible, and informative, and build awareness to motivate and enable behavior change in the form of a customized journey that fits into current routines - making the lifestyle transition more gradual and in turn more permanent. At this point, big companies started paying a lot more attention to the importance of sustainability and the requirement of employee buy-in in order to achieve their company goals. Companies need to change their mindset and culture for this to happen. We complemented the needs of corporations since we offered a solution to help people become more sustainable.
What are the risks at stake for companies that are not focusing on sustainability? ⛔️
For stakeholders, ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) compliance and the focus on sustainability in particular have become much more business-critical - even vital. More now than ever, a company’s value and appeal now boil down to its SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) index. Companies are being challenged by diverse stakeholder groups to show what they are doing to future-proof their businesses. There is plenty of evidence by now that companies who do business with all stakeholders in mind, will not only increase profits through new innovations and new markets but also be more competitive when it comes to talent recruitment and retention, the attraction of (new) consumers or access to cheaper capital, as banks see companies with a great SDG index as less risky. Companies that are deemed risky might lose insurability and thus won’t be able to operate in the first place. Rising costs through energy and CO2 prices as well as an upcoming European-wide CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reporting regulation will only add to the pressures companies are already operating under. You get my point. Front runners like Unilever, Orsted or Patagonia have the advantage to set the new norms together with governments instead of having to follow regulations that are being put in place without their involvement. Those companies who put sustainability onto their top agenda today will win. Followers will be followers at max if they manage to continue existing.
How can eevie help? Can you provide a use case example of how your solution has made an impact? 🌱
We are supporting corporations with Employee Climate Engagement programs. We believe that any transformation requires a culture change to be successful. Thus our aim is to create climate-friendly work cultures that help implement ESG strategies. With our innovative SaaS platform and insightful reports, we empower companies to plan and run highly configurable sustainability programs in line with their ESG targets and to develop a strong sustainability mindset within their organizations. As an example: One of our Impact Partners (as we call our customers) from the banking sector had put sustainability measures in place at their offices, only to realize that employees were not using the opportunities that they were offered. So they looked for a partner to actively engage their employees and make it attractive to them to participate in the green office projects. We provided them with the eevie app, which is accessible to all employees, as well as our live dashboard that gave them aggregated data on their teams’ climate engagement and behavior changes as well as CO2 emission reductions over time. Throughout the different campaigns (including Waste, Digital Data, and Hybrid Working), employees were encouraged to join their colleagues in teams and collectively work on different challenge goals. The company rewarded every employee with tree seedlings that they could plant directly from the app in global projects. The result was amazing! Not only did employees appreciate being involved in such a gamified way into their employer's sustainability journey, but they also made great progress in reducing their emissions, leading to a decrease in the company’s scope 2 and 3 emissions.
What is your personal goal with eevie? 🎯
I want to contribute to reducing carbon emissions significantly by changing the way people view sustainability and adapting their behaviors to decarbonize their lives. I want to help companies achieve their net zero commitments rapidly by empowering their employees, so they ‘walk the talk’ and execute the companies’ sustainability strategy.
How has Kickstart been able to support your startup journey so far? 💫
It's the first program we’ve been involved in that actively helps to navigate enterprise sales. It's just so difficult, and cutting through the red tape and finding synergies with potential partners is invaluable for startups because it saves a lot of resources and time. We have received direct requests from corporates who want to collaborate with startups, are interested in sustainability, and can also open doors to a variety of candidates that could be a good match for us. Even if we just had access to one or two of the companies, that would have been amazing. But the fact that there are so many partners within Kickstart’s network is incredible. It gives us more visibility, it gives us better insight into the Swiss market, and also gives us more opportunities. I feel like every [startup] somehow has the chance to at least get one or two opportunities going. Also - we don't have time; we're running out of time to release all of the sustainability goals that we have as a society, and avenues like Kickstart help accelerate that. This is just really important in general for society.
About eevie: Today, more than 100,000,000 employees work for companies that have made formal climate commitments, however, companies are struggling to take their employees along on their journey towards a climate-friendly work culture. eevie is an employee engagement tool that helps enterprise corporations plan & runs highly configurable sustainability programs so that they can foster a climate-friendly work culture to accelerate companies' decarbonization goals. We help our existing clients including DHL, Bayer Switzerland, ABN Amro, EDF, Arm, and many more to engage and reward their employees in climate action with our platform.