100 best CEOs disrupting tech! #19 Simon Schillebeeckx from Handprint

Interviews 10 January 2022

We talked about sales development with Dr. Simon Schillebeeckx, PhD, the founder and chief strategy officer at Handprint. This is a company dedicated to make businesses nature positive for a better environment.

1. How would you describe your company in an elevator pitch?
Handprint is on a mission to integrate positive impact into every business transaction. Handprint offers Impact as a Service by connecting companies to causes they and their customers care about. On the one hand, we curate diverse impact projects within the regenerative economy, focusing on habitat preservation, mangrove reforestation, coral reef reconstruction and ocean plastic cleanups, but fast expanding towards social impact as well. On the other hand, we create (plug-and-play) digital technology solutions that empower our clients to integrate positive impact into their services. Our suite of solutions forms a modular digital regenerative toolbox from which clients can select components that automate, integrate, and visualize positive impact creation. As such, our clients’ existing products and services become regenerative, in a few clicks so that they can grow, with the planet

2. What are you the best at?
1) We turn donations into impact purchases with long-term monitoring and transparent financial accounting: you know where your money goes and how it is used.
2) Flexible regenerative toolbox: we can connect any KPI to positive impact, not just e-commerce sales.
3) Impact diversity: not everyone wants to offset carbon emissions. Choice is king.
4) Focus on regeneration and planet positive action: carbon neutrality as an ambition level is insufficient to reverse global warming. Footprints (historical environmental guilt) do not motivate action.
5) Impact personalization: We establish a P2P connection between clients and the impact projects they support.
6) Impact (in the forms of claims to common pool benefits) are co-owned by the brand / platform and the consumer / user. This cements the LT relationship between company and consumer: You are saving the planet together.
7) Founded by PhDs as a spinoff of an NGO that works on financial transparency and access to carbon markets for coastal communities. We are an evidence-based, data-first tech company whose product is regeneration.

3. How did you find your first customers? 
We collaborated with Green is the New Black on the development of a simple carbon calculation tool and spent a few months doing in-depth interviews with our first target audience (small scale ecommerce in fashion / cosmetics / lifestyle) to understand their needs and wants. We then started developing a plugin iteratively with them as early adopters.

4. What are your customers saying about your product? 
They love the design, the beauty of the dashboard, and the wide choice of projects they can support. They find installing our plugin has various commercial benefits such as increasing cart conversion, boosting social media followership and engagement, and accelerating growth. Maybe most importantly, they feel happy to know that their growth is now good for the planet, so that they can focus on their business and other things that matter in life.

5. What are your proud achievements so far? 
1) We survived two years of Covid pandemic and grew from 3 founders to 22 people in nine countries.
2) We are about to close our Seed round, gearing us up for a year of strong growth.
3) We helped Lazada turn RSVPs into trees for their brands future forum, resulting in 14,000 trees being financed in a single day.
4) We have developed various partnerships with diverse companies that will give us access to a wide portfolio of markets. 2022 is going to be a bumper year 🙂

6. What is the next big thing in your industry?
I believe the next big thing is the end of the obsession with carbon footprinting and companies offsetting their emissions. From a scientific standpoint, both are incredibly important but they should not be conflated. The primary goal is decarbonization and companies should devote resources and R&D to this end. A secondary goal is to regenerate the earth and restore the earth’s capacity to give life.
At the moment, companies can simply buy offsets like an indulgence for their historical sins, without making significant carbon reduction investments. This is likely to change. More so, I believe companies will start accounting for the natural capital they support and start booking natural capital dividends (e.g. invest in a forest and earn carbon dividends rather than buy carbon credits). The former takes a long-term approach, establishes a duty of care towards nature and treats nature as capital. The current offset approach allows speculation, does not establish a relationship between a nature restoration project and a company, and fundamentally treats nature as income, which is inherently unsustainable.

7. What are your plans for next 6-12 months? 
Growth growth growth. We are hiring about 15 people in the next couple of months, so integrating them into our global team while continuing to scale our “on demand” products and co-develop our bespoke products for banking, payments, advertising, and so on will be more than enough for 2022.

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