The construction industry is one of the largest CO2 emitters in Europe with a massive (negative) impact on our natural environment. Most companies acknowledge the importance of a sustainable transformation but struggle all the same with putting their ambitions into actions – partially, because they lack (financial) resources, and this is where the startup GreenSignal comes into play.
Joshua, Gregory and Daplaah, you are the three minds behind GreenSignal with the aim to make the construction industry more sustainable. Tell us: who are you as individuals, and how did you come together as a team?
Daplaah: It’s quite interesting because all three ofus are quite diverse. We have very different starting points, backgrounds, and experiences: Gregory, from Belgium, has a background in EU law, data and web development; Joshua, from Germany, has a background in digital business management and marketing; and myself, I am from Ghana with a background in architecture and construction.
Joshua: Our different perspectives and skillsets fit together nicely in terms of what weare trying to achieve with GreenSignal. We initially got to know each other through ‘The Mission’. After a few online meetings and discussions, we all found common ground in what we hoped to achieve during the program and decided to make it happen. And here we are.
And what do you hope to achieve with ‘The Mission’?
Gregory: Each of us, in our own way, was interested in the potential of digitalisation to have a positive sustainability impact.Daplaah had faced the construction industry’s challenges for some time already, but my attention was drawn to the sector more recently when I realised how big of a role it plays and how much potential there is to improve its sustainability impact. All three of us were drawn to ‘The Mission’ because we realised that there would be no better place to engage with so many essential players in the construction sector while receiving very valuable support as entrepreneurs to ensure that we can bring our transformative ideas to the market.
Daplaah: It has been a tremendous journey and an incredible learning experience so far – in just two months – and it’s hopefully only the beginning.
With ‘The Mission’, you have come to the right place to turn your own ideas into practice. After all, we accompanied 125+ talents on their entrepreneurial journey and incubated 5+ startups – and you will be next. Can you tell us more about your idea and your vision?
Joshua: At GreenSignal, we aim to connect banks that offer so-called ‘sustainability-linked loans’ with companies in the construction industry. Our solution also supports these construction companies in reducing their indirect CO2 emissions, enabling them to meet specific sustainability targets and obtaining better interest rates as a result.
Gregory: These sustainability-linked loans are a still relatively unknown concept developed by banks around the world to incentivise many companies that would not otherwise be considered as “green” (such as would be the case for producers of renewable energy, for example) togain better financing on the condition that they improve their sustainability performance. This allows banks to leverage their loans into a force for sustainability. And we want to be a catalyst in this transition. The challenge for banks and companies is to figure out how to improve their sustainability impact in an efficient way. We want to help reduce the complexity in this field where sustainability metrics and rating agencies are proliferating.
4. What role does Futury and the entire ‘The Mission’ ecosystem – with fellow founders as well as corporate partners – play in your idea’s development. How (and with whom) do you cooperate?
Daplaah: There’s a saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. The ‘The Mission’ ecosystem is like a village, a great environment to develop our idea. We found out that the ability to have direct access to corporate partners, who bring in their industry perspective, and to other fellow founders is crucial for the development of our idea. Getting constructive feedback from these groups challenges us to push further, mould and shape our idea. Equally important is the opportunity for us to contribute to discussions and give feedback to other startups to develop their idea. There is a rich cross-pollination of ideas, which is crucial for entrepreneurial ideas to flourish. And we are fortunate to be part of such an environment.
Gregory: We have been in close contact with most of the corporate partners supporting ‘The Mission’ as we refined our idea and explored its potential in the different parts of the construction sector. Since the partners cover many elements of the construction value chain, information from one would often lead us to asking new questions to another. It is hard to imagine that we could have covered so much ground without this very integrated and generous ecosystem.
5. And how do your Post-The-Mission plans look like? What are your future goals?
Joshua: By the time our journey ends here at ‘The Mission’, we should have validated our initial market assumptions and have a working prototype (MVP). That’s when the next part of our journey begins. We plan to join an accelerator programme to refine ourproduct-market-fit, gain traction and secure the investments needed to scale our business idea.
Daplaah: In addition, since we have established some very valuable connections during ‘The Mission’ with many of the programme’s corporate partners, we plan on exploring further opportunities to work together to have a positive sustainability impact for these sectors.