Side Hustle City

Simon Schillebeeckx: From Lectures to an Eco-Innovation Side Hustle

March 25, 2024 Adam Koehler with Simon Schillebeeckx Season 6 Episode 19
Side Hustle City
Simon Schillebeeckx: From Lectures to an Eco-Innovation Side Hustle
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine embarking on a journey from the halls of academia to the bustling streets of sustainable entrepreneurship. That's the story of Simon Schillebeeckx, our latest guest on the podcast. Simon, originally a scholar with deep Belgian roots, now stands at the forefront of Singapore's green business scene as the founder of Handprint, a for-profit venture born out of his non-profit initiatives. He takes us through an enlightening narrative of his transition, discussing the resilience required to morph his side hustle into a significant tool for environmental conservation. His ambitions and the eye-opening experiences in Myanmar that led to the establishment of the Global Mangrove Trust showcase the profound impact that one individual's dedication can have on our planet.

As we chat with Simon, his dual life as a professor and an entrepreneur unfolds, revealing the fascinating weave of sustainability and digitization in business models. He brings forth a treasure trove of insights from his academic journey, highlighting the critical role of credibility and credentials, especially in Asian markets. Simon also delves into how Handprint is pioneering the integration of technology with ecological initiatives, providing businesses with innovative solutions for environmental and social governance. It's a compelling look at how data and sustainability intersect, offering hope and practical pathways for companies to create and measure impactful change.

Closing our discussion, Simon challenges the prevailing narrative of climate responsibility, advocating for a shift from the guilt associated with carbon footprints to the proactive development of 'handprints.' Through his work, he encourages businesses and individuals to embrace the positive actions they can undertake, such as tree-planting initiatives that resonate with company milestones and community engagement. He invites our listeners to explore Handprint's approach to sustainability - an approach that promises not only a greener future but also serves as an intriguing investment opportunity. Simon's story is a testament to the power of entrepreneurial spirit in driving sustainable change, and this episode is a call to action for all who wish to leave a positive mark on the world.

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

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Speaker 2:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevy, my co-host. Let's get started, all right. Welcome back everybody to the Side Hustle City podcast today, special guest Simon Shullabate how you doing man?

Speaker 3:

I'm very well, Adam. Thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 2:

Well, it is awesome to have you here and I really appreciate it, and you. You got some, some interesting stuff going on here. So you've got a regular thing. You've got 18 years academic entrepreneurial experience and sustainability and digitization, and now this new thing you're doing with handprint. That's kind of like your side hustle, right yeah.

Speaker 3:

That, technically, is supposed to be my side hustle. I do spend too much time on it for a side hustle, but it's yeah. It kind of grew out of some of my academic work and then initially I also set up a non-profit and then a year later set up handprint, a for-profit. So, yeah, technically I have a real job, which is my professorship at Singapore Management University, and then two side hustles that take up a, yeah, a growing amount of time every week.

Speaker 2:

So are you living in Singapore right now?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I've been here for just over nine years.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow, Wow. Well, what is the history of Simon Shullabates Like? Give me the background story on you.

Speaker 3:

So I'm originally from Belgium. I spent the first 22 years of my life there just did all kinds of normal stuff, went to school, ended up going to university. Then I specialized in the UK to I went to study business ethics and corporate social responsibility, so that was in 2006. Did that for a year and really did that because I wanted to kind of expose the failings of capitalist system. That was really kind of back in the days.

Speaker 2:

You were gung-ho, you were young and you were like an activist. You were ready to go. I get it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah yeah, I was a twat, but so. So I got into the sustainability space via this corporate social responsibility and business ethics very early on. Then I spent one year traveling in South America, moved back to Belgium just before the financial crisis hit and, despite having two degrees and being fluent in four languages, I was, as a consequence, unemployed because oh my God Early well, at the end of 2008, just after Lemon Brothers collapsed, nobody wanted to hire anyone, let alone somebody who wanted to work in sustainability. So which was great I spent a whole year working in bars and then eventually got a job in a sustainability consulting company, did that for two years, went off to the UK, again to London, to do my PhD. So I did my PhD in innovation management and natural resource management.

Speaker 2:

Where did you go to school in London? I'm interested in that.

Speaker 3:

Imperial College. Okay, oh, nice. So it's one of the yeah, one of the big schools, yeah, I mean Europe. I got lucky to get in there, which in itself is quite a funny story. And then, yeah, so I did my PhD for three years and then, at some point at the end of my second year, really and I was at the end of my third year, I was supposed to do it for four years my supervisor called me into his office and said, oh, you've got six more weeks to finish your PhD instead of 14 months because I'm leaving. And I was like that doesn't sound realistic. But he said but if you finish it in six weeks, if you want, I'll take you to Singapore with me and then you can do your postdoc there. So that's how I ended up here and I plan to stay for 18 months. And now, nine months, nine years later, I'm still here.

Speaker 3:

So I did my postdoc, became an assistant professor and then at some point got a grant to study innovation in natural worlds, hired a fresh grad from USC to come and join me and work on a bunch of case studies that led to the foundation of global mangrove trust and non-profit that we started together. And that's me being overly nice to myself. He started and told me over beers, oh, by the way, I set up a company and I made you a director and I was like, okay, so I got a side hustle. And then a year later, we started working with another friend of mine on kind of a side project of my side project and then decided in December 2019 to set up another company, which is now called Handprint. That has since grown to over at the peak, 44 people now back down to 20. And yeah, it's kind of creating, well, seeking to create quite systemic change in the space of sustainability. Wow, it's been interesting.

Speaker 2:

You know what, simon, if you would have come to America with speaking four languages? If you speak two languages here you get a job. Four languages, simon. That's insane. And you're from Europe. You come from the place with the best chocolate in the world. I've heard right. I was on a bus in Switzerland with a Belgian guy and a Swiss girl and they were arguing the entire time on who had the best chocolate.

Speaker 3:

I'm happy that you said it's Belgium, because I would, of course, argue the same thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, there is the multi-linguistic, of course is a, I think, is almost a natural benefit of coming from a country where native language is Dutch and French, and I'm a native Dutch speaker. It's not really important language. It all went wrong when in New Amsterdam, what is it in the 1700s?

Speaker 2:

They decided it's not the English that they are going to speak there in.

Speaker 3:

Dutch, otherwise it would have ruled the world forever. But yeah, so I think when you're coming from Belgium, speaking two or three languages is quite common. And then, given that I spent a year in South America, I learned Spanish as well. So yeah, wow, marrying a Russian wife.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God. On top of that, wow, look at all these different languages, wow.

Speaker 3:

I'm so confused my kids are.

Speaker 2:

Let's see, those are all Indo-European languages, though, so that works out for you at least.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, but Russian is substantially different from anything else I've studied in the past.

Speaker 2:

Well, in the alphabet, having to learn Cyrillic is probably tough.

Speaker 3:

So I mean that's probably the easier part, it's. I don't know if you ever tried to learn Russian. No, I mean it's useful but it's hard, so I haven't. I think also, as you get older I've just turned 40 that it becomes so much harder to learn new languages.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, yeah, but you've trained your brain. I mean you're, it seems like I mean being in academia so long and things like that. I mean it's kind of something you've taught over the years. You probably had to teach yourself how to learn. Not everybody knows how to do that.

Speaker 3:

Oh, yeah, yeah. And I must say like I think I didn't know really how to do that, like I sailed through primary and secondary school without ever really studying too much, and when I got to university in the first year, it was the first time I actually had to struggle and I really, really struggled. Like I failed most of my exams in the first semester. I was like this is not for me and like so I just I didn't have the practice. I was spending time in front of my books but I just couldn't really study and couldn't really learn because I never had to do it. And then I mean, I got through it in the first year, but it's, yeah, it's something that really surprised me when I in my first year of uni was hell. So I definitely wouldn't have predicted then that I would have spent the next two decades of my life yeah postdoc in Singapore, for God's sake, like, wow, great job though.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, great job, man. I mean, this is so. There's a lot of people out there, I would say, that are kind of in a similar position. I know personally people who have just kind of made a career out of education. So they got into school, they, you know, got their masters, decided to stick around, get their PhD and now they're teaching right, but that's it. That's what they do, right. That's their number one thing that a lot of them don't have many side hustles. They're too busy writing academic papers, getting published things like that, which I'm sure you've got to do as well. But what, like you mentioned a couple of these side hustles like, even though you've got all this education, you speak four languages. I mean you could probably waltz into a corporate job if you wanted to. That makes you stick around and do things that are even harder, like taking on more responsibility with side also starting companies that are in the sustainability space, like what makes you motivate you to do stuff like that?

Speaker 3:

Gosh, I mean, I really think it's. It's some kind of innate, or at least learned, purpose, like I. There's a famous story in my company handprint that at the age of 10, my mom asked me what do you want to do when you grow up? And I said I want to be the first person in the world to win the Nobel Prize for Peace and Economics in the same year. Wow, so that gives you a sense of my ambition. As a 10 year old, I didn't even know. I can barely fathom that. I knew what the Nobel Prize was at that age but and my mom told me that story and so apparently it's a real story, but so it. I think there is really this, this intrinsic belief that I want to do something that's very meaningful. And I looked for that meaning in, in, only in, academia for a long time and I was very content just being an academic, doing the research, teaching and kind of spending time on the, on the sidelines, because an academic fundamentally spends time on the sidelines, right, and what? What really happened was that I got shocked into doing more.

Speaker 3:

We, we went to Myanmar so and the old Burma to do a research case study on a nonprofit organization run by an at the time, 78 year olds, norwegian entrepreneur who was spending his golden days planting mangroves in the Bay of Bengal. So that's the area that, basically, where you have the ocean between India, sri Lanka and Myanmar. And so we spend a couple of days, like six days, working with him and his organization in the swamps, like working in mangroves hard work oh my God, I bet. And and we we asked him, of course, like I mean, why are you doing this?

Speaker 3:

And he had an amazing life story and he'd been banned from from Myanmar for over 30 years because he was back in the 70s and 80s. He was like an activist on kind of free speech and media, and so he had this media company that that taught people how to kind of communicate pre internet, and because of that he'd been banned for from Myanmar, where at the time, was under like military junta and now is again. But then at some point he was re invited back into the country when he had set up this mangrove restoration group. And in 2008, in Myanmar there was a big cyclone that hit called Nargis, and it killed about 138,000 40 people. What year was that? 2008. I don't remember, and it's not a very well known story, no so, but it killed about 55 to 60% as many people as happened during the tsunami in 2004, which is like a very, very well known that was real well known yeah.

Speaker 3:

And turn into a movie, and so, and during our stay in Myanmar, so he showed us these maps of, like, the places where mangroves had been cut over the last 70, over the last 40 years, really since the 1970s, and then the density of deaths as a consequence of cyclone Nargis, and it was just insane to see that all of the areas where the mangroves had been cut were really the areas where people died in large numbers. Because mangroves provide this protection, green shield, protecting communities and coasts from erosion, from cyclones, from tsunamis, so they have an incredibly important function.

Speaker 2:

And this is a problem in Florida. This is what happened in Florida. A lot of times is it's just the mangroves are gone. Yeah, they cleared them all.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

And then of course, you get when you get storms, and so you get a lot of issues. Now, of course, in the US you have slightly more financial capabilities and people are somewhat better protected and potentially well at least in the past could get insurance, but so in many of the kind of equatorian countries they don't really have that, and so for us, that really kind of brought home this message that protecting nature is fundamentally about people, Even if you don't give a rat's ass about nature in itself. If you really want to protect people, you have to protect the ecosystems that underpin our lives, and mangroves are really important. They are indirectly responsible for about 25% of global GDP, so they're incredibly important ecosystems. That most of the food that we derive from the ocean originates in mangroves. Like most of the fish have a direct or indirect relationship with mangroves, so they're incredibly vital ecosystems and they're being lost and they're being cut down way too quickly.

Speaker 3:

So for me, that really brought home this idea like this is something worth spending time on, and we set up Global Mangrove Trust to help this organization and then help other organizations access international climate financing, which is still an absolute mess, and we set it up as a nonprofit. That was the initial plan, but then we also realized, one year into this, that if we really want to scale what we believe is a viable solution and a good approach, then we need to be able to access risk capital, and so we ended up setting up a social enterprise for profit called Handprint a year later in order to do just that, and so it's really the mission, and just a desire to make a difference, that can keep me heavily involved with these side hustles.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so how do you manage what you do at the school and handprint? And then you mentioned another one. What was the other one? The other little side hustle kind of.

Speaker 3:

Global mangrove trust.

Speaker 2:

Global mangrove trust. Ok, so global mangrove trust handprint and just what? How do you stay organized? Because a lot of people too, you know they've got a nine to five job, they've got kids, they've got things going on and the idea of taking on another thing, even if it's a passion project, just seems overwhelming to them. Like, how do you? How do you just do it? Because it sounds like these are two, these are two different companies Like these are companies you have to run.

Speaker 3:

I mean it's hard and I'd say I it's. It's been made harder recently by my Microsoft and my main organization, smu, because they don't allow me to share calendars anymore, which is yes.

Speaker 3:

So in terms of planning, it becomes very hard if you have to have two calendars, which means you have no calendar.

Speaker 3:

The benefit that I have and I think this may not be the same for many people that work like a nine to five is that as a research academic, I have an incredible amount of freedom in terms of how I spend my time and what I do research on, and I have been Very lucky in the fact that a lot of the stuff that I'm doing both with GMT a couple of anger of trust as well as handprint is something is stuff that basically within academia, is considered to be interesting, and, as a consequence of that, my entrepreneurial activities have really opened doors in academia for me to write papers that were easier to get published by virtue of the fact that I'm coming at those papers from a much more kind of an industry mindset but then have this academic knowledge as well.

Speaker 3:

So I've somewhat been able to create, I would say, almost a virtuous cycle and real synergies between this and also, as in I mean, most of my colleagues who are tenure track research faculty don't have a lot of practical experience, so it's always strange to see that the reality is that I don't know. At least 60, 70, maybe even 80 percent of people who teach in a business school have never set foot in a company, right, and they teach in a business school.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so, given that I have this entrepreneurial experience, it does have a very positive impact on my teaching and the opportunities I get in terms of doing executive education, because I'm I'm rare in academia. It's pretty rare, especially in business schools. It's pretty rare for people to have side hustles or to start companies and do that in conjunction with their main job. So it's been OK. Of course, it does mean that I have to sacrifice some of the time I spent on research or become much more efficient. So I am, I've been an early adopter of all things I you know to accelerate, yes, what I used to spend a lot of time on, like if I used to spend whatever 20 hours a week on reading papers, now I'll do 20 minutes a week and do that through AI and hope that I'll get, like, the most important things, that I can still kind of keep track of this. So, but I think that's really been what I've been doing. And then, but it does come at a cost and I think that there are, especially for, like me.

Speaker 3:

I'm still a junior faculty member, so I don't have tenure yet, so I can still be fired, so it's a risk. If I would have done this after I got in tenure, then I would have made my life a lot easier because it's like yeah, ok, I got 10 years, you can't fire me as long as I don't commit a crime. So now I just stop doing research and spend all my time on my side hustles. But yeah, that's not been the case. So we'll see. We'll see at the end of the year whether or not I get tenure.

Speaker 3:

Very early on, when I came here as a, as a, as a postdoc, so almost 10 years ago now then think in the first couple of months, I'd been invited to go and speak to the Ministry of Education about my perspectives on education and what could change in Singapore. Like that's weird that I get this opportunity to do this after I've just arrived here. Like why would they even care about my opinion? So, and I think also in my, in my startup life, that the fact that we have both myself and my colleague Ryan as kind of former or reforming academics doctors blah blah does help, because it has a lot of status in Asia.

Speaker 3:

So, being able to say that's a doctor affiliated with this university comes with some yeah, adds credibility to what we're doing, and especially in our space, because there's a lot of very well meaning other companies that are starting to do stuff that is somewhat similar to what we are doing, but that don't have the background to kind of substantiate claims that they're making about this is how we're improving nature and biodiversity, and and so in a space where credibility is really valued, having that those academic credentials does help a lot.

Speaker 2:

I would. I would think so. I mean, my main reason for getting my masters would be to do what you're doing. I want to be able to travel and you know what, Like we got money to spend, etc. But maybe you want to go teach. You know, you can always teach somewhere. I mean, I've got an exit under my belt, I've got started multiple businesses. You know, doing something like what you're doing to me is awesome. Like I'm like wow, it gets to travel, it gets to live in Singapore, gets to experience these different cultures, and you can take what you do anywhere. I mean, unless you want to sit, you know, stay in Singapore, get tenured and all that other stuff. But I mean you could go anywhere in the world and teach. That's the one thing. You teach English, you could teach business, you could teach all these different things. It's that one skill. If you had your masters in education, you could bounce around the world and do your thing. Sure.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think in SMU as well, we have we work with a lot of adjunct faculty. I think they are required to have a master's degree, indeed. Now, of course, if you want to stay at the university, go tenure. You need your PhD as well. But yeah, there is no. I mean, teaching offers quite a lot of opportunities and it's not and it seems to be something that's incredibly appealing to lots of people. And I'm always a little bit surprised by that, because if we see the number of applications that we get from both experts that are here as well as locals that want to develop like some kind of teaching side hustle, typically because they either say we really want to give back, we've done a lot of things, we already made it, or we think it's going to add to our credibility to be affiliated with university and so and kind of our personal brand. So there are so many people that want to do this, so we always have to turn down. Like 95 percent of people say like, oh, we want to teach.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, sure, which also means it's not that well paid like as an adjunct faculty, but I think there are opportunities and it's indeed it's a, it's a transferable skill and, yeah, I think once you're on the kind of tenure track or when you have a PhD, then, yeah, you build your credentials through papers, through publishing, that are really easily understood globally. It's probably one of the most easy things to transfer across the world Because you can just say, like I mean, in this kind of school, this is my CV and everyone will have a globally will have a pretty similar understanding about OK, this is high quality research, this is well, not so high quality. So it makes it reasonably easy to get hired anywhere in the world. Well, especially if you have a very strong CV. So, yeah, that's an advantage, yeah, big time.

Speaker 2:

I mean, and the fact that you've got the business experience on top of that and I mean the stuff you're doing with handprint is super impressive. I mean, around data, I don't normally see sustainability and data put together like I don't see it. Like you got these people that are like I'm going to fix the world right, but they're thinking about just going out and doing projects. They're not thinking about tracking all this information and you know the ESG thing tying it into that is brilliant. And you've got these kind of two, two solutions that you're offering. You've got companies that are you know we're going to help, or that you can help, but then also impact projects, like these people that want to do something. They may not be thinking about this stuff. How do you help those guys?

Speaker 3:

Handprint basically functions as a marketplace for the purchase of impact. An impact can be an hour of education, a tree planted, a coral restored, a kilo of plastic removed from the ocean, a person fed for a day, whatever support for gay rights I mean, whatever that is so anything that's kind of good for the world, aligned with sustainable development goals. So what we do for our NGOs that are our suppliers in our marketplace is really we provide them with tools to better report, to better monitor their activities and to quantify the outcomes that they're creating. And that helps a lot in terms of their credibility and it helps convince companies that using our marketplace is better than just giving money directly to NGOs, because then they have to do all of this hard work of monitoring and tracking and reporting, and if they don't do that hard work, then they can't talk about it, and if they can't talk about it it's not that valuable. Right and so.

Speaker 3:

But the second thing that we've done that really, I think, is what? What makes us pretty unique is that we've realized this unfortunate truth that we're living in a capitalist world by and large and, as a consequence, any kind of investment, any kind of money going out the door needs to generate some kind of return, right? The reality is that for most investments that are being made in nature or in social impact, the financial return is either non existent or is too small to warrant the investment Right. So nature is pretty much uninvestable, and that's a massive issue because we need to invest $8.1 trillion by 2050 in nature in order to protect biodiversity. That's just biodiversity. That's not even talking like carbon.

Speaker 2:

Specifically, I'm pretty sure we've spent that on wars in the last like 10 years in America.

Speaker 1:

Two weeks yeah.

Speaker 2:

Two weeks so yeah yeah, let's maybe divert some of that money, like that would be great, that would be great.

Speaker 3:

But so the reality is that if you just think about nature as an asset and that asset needs to create returns, like you can have with a carbon credit, right so you kind of tokenize an asset, you get a carbon credit, then can appreciate in price and you can have some speculative gains. But if you only look at this dimension, right, you invest in the assets, it becomes more valuable and then you resell it, then nature basically is uninvestable. So what handprint does is we add this new layer of what we call engagement ROI, where you don't just invest in the asset, you deploy the assets in a specific way so that it influences the behavior of a stakeholder you're trying to influence. So the simplest example is you integrate your pledge or your commitment into, let's say, an e-store transaction where the consumer who wants to buy a product or who considers to buy a product sees that, hey, if I buy this product now, this company is restoring a coral or planting a tree, and that communication device changes the behavior. So we've been able to demonstrate with an Australian client of ours that they had 16% more sales on the website where they had our plugin integrated than on the website where they didn't. So we did AB testing.

Speaker 3:

And so if you can change the behavior of consumers or, for instance, of employees, by improving their loyalty, reducing turnover, through the deployment of your assets, your impact assets, then the return on investment can be substantially higher. And it doesn't really come down to the asset itself returning, it's the engagement that creates these returns and that massively increases the opportunity space. Because then suddenly you can build, like what we are doing now in the banking space, like a loyalty system that enables people to say I use my bank card, I earn points. Or like you're using whatever Apple Pay, you get points for using Apple Pay. You can use those points to create real world impact. You can track that within an app, you can see what's going on, and that improves your loyalty to whoever, whatever brands that you're getting the points for. And so these kind of ideas are very, they're quite new and there be more and more companies are starting to embrace them and are looking at the creation of impact and the support for nature really as a strategy to engage employees, to increase loyalty as well as to attract customers and to improve the loyalty of customers. And that's where you can suddenly unlock many, many different types of budgets, because most of the time.

Speaker 3:

I mean for Handprint.

Speaker 3:

We are a sustainability company, we're focusing on nature, but most of our clients if you look at the individual that we are, that is actually buying from us it's not the ESG team, it's not the sustainability team, it's the marketing team, it's the CCO, because they're looking at this like, oh, this might be a cheap way for us to attract new customers.

Speaker 3:

We could try this, or this is going to improve our marketing, so let's do this. And if we, if we're lucky, we might get a that kind of award, and that's really super valuable for us because we get an innovative award for marketing, and so that's really where we see the growth coming. And that's what I think makes Handprint quite different from most other companies that are operating in this space and are trying to do something similar but don't really solve the problem of how do we help companies capture value from doing good rather than just driving up costs and then being some kind of afterthought is like oh yeah, we need to do this for legitimacy reasons, so let's just buy something and then put it on our website and say, hey, we bought carbon credits over carbon neutral, which doesn't really create a lot of added value for companies.

Speaker 2:

No, well, here's the thing. So I've worked in marketing at big agencies and I own an advertising agency. So Procter Gamble is headquartered here in Cincinnati and it's the largest consumer packaged goods company in the world. Right, a lot of plastic, a lot of things that go in the stores. And then Kroger is here, which is the largest grocery store in the country, in the same city. And then you got like Unilever that competes with P&G. Sure, every product I ever worked on with P&G. And I'll give you an example. So Tide, there was a hurricane down in Florida or Louisiana at one point, and their big social good project. They took these semi trucks and they filled the semi truck with washing machines and they drove and they put Tide all over it. Right, this outside of it was Tide, and then all the products were Tide, you know, and they drove these semi trucks down to the area that needed it because people didn't have clean clothes.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it made a ton of sense with their brand. So with what? You're doing right. Working with like a proctor and gamble would be perfect for you because you can help them match up the brands that they have with social projects that make sense for that brand.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean you're highlighting something I should have mentioned, but I think it is. It is the crux of what makes something stick, what makes something work or what makes something fail. Right, it is. You need to have that fit between the brand or the company's purpose and the project. And so what Handprint has done as well?

Speaker 3:

We've developed a scientific approach to evaluating what are high quality projects globally, quantifying that, and then we do this workshop with our clients or with companies that want to explore this in terms of like. How do we derive this fit between three things what do you want to be known for? Right, as an organization? What is the purpose that you want to be known for? Secondly, what is the KPI that drives your success? And then, thirdly, what is the impact that aligns with this?

Speaker 3:

And so we have a client, for instance, in the fintech space, and so fintech companies don't have a large carbon footprint because they're all digital and so they don't really make anything, so they don't really have a lot of climate guilt. But this is a company. They really said like no, we want to be known for this, this is. And also they have investors pushing them to do something in this space. So they said okay, we want to be known for this and, like the main thing that resonates with us as a fintech company they're operating in like 90 different countries that are quite big, they call tunes is they want to be known for doing kind of reforestation, but doing it the right way, not just planting trees but creating forests in a smart way. And what they've agreed on is that the main KPI for the company is how many transactions move through their railways. So they created these alternatives to the normal banking system, which is kind of the Swift system to move money internationally.

Speaker 2:

Swift is so slow and miserable and terrible. Exactly Right.

Speaker 3:

And so they're much faster and they have a different approach. And so they said okay, for every 5000 transactions that move through our system, they know how much money they can make on this in terms of transaction fees. We're planting one tree. So that's the pledge. And then what we do for them is then identify okay, what are the key markets in which they operate, where do they have locations, where do they have real impact, big clients? And then what are? We overlay that with our maps of what are the areas in the world where you have real needs, where you can have the most impact per dollar. And so we identify the right projects for them and so we manage their portfolio. But for them it's a massive commercial thing. So they recently closed a deal with Visa to go work with Visa, which, of course, is very big, and one of the reasons why they were successful in this is because, like, they said, like look, if you're working with us, you could work with a competitor, but if you're working with us, you know that for every 5000 transactions you send through our railways, we're going to plant a tree. That's creating that's a big sales argument. They go to any kind of company, said, okay, if your cost competitive and you're, you're good. This is a sales argument, right? So, and I think that's really that's why it works. And so this kind of alignment between purpose and growth, like what you're mentioning tight and washing machines is it's perfect. And if they don't make it visible and it's something that really communicates and in this digital age, like if they would do this now, it will be all over whatever, it would be all over Instagram and TikTok, these kinds of campaigns, and maybe they'll try to make it go viral, and then then it really works, and then you get this high engagement layer around that.

Speaker 3:

And so I think what we are trying to do with handprint is really figuring out for different types of organizations, like how do we enable this right? How do we make this part of the customer experience or the employee experience so that it is something that, yeah, clicks and then creates this kind of stickiness? And in order to do this, of course, you need to have a very broad impact portfolio, which is what we have and what also sets us apart from many of our competitors who really focus on we're only doing plastic, we're only doing trees, we're only doing carbon, and so they're kind of once one, one trick ponies, and of course that also means they have some advantages. They might be kind of slightly better in that space, but by having this diverse portfolio we can really work with clients and say well, we'll figure out what you want to do, then we'll go out in the world and we'll find the best partners that are really aligned with your purpose, whatever you want to be known for, and then we'll figure out how do we turn that into something that is going to engage or change the behavior of the stakeholders you want to influence, and if you do that well, then you can have very powerful results. So I'll give you another example, if I may, just from marketing.

Speaker 3:

So we did something with Uber Eats in Japan, right? So? So they came to us through one of our partners. So we worked with Teets. You might know Teets like a company that puts the ads on on publisher content, so like the CNN websites and whatever, and so the ads you see there are basically put there by Teets. And so Teets developed this system with us called Teets Care, where you can, as an advertiser, you can opt into Teets Care. That means 10% of your ad budget goes to a non-profit that you want to support. In exchange, you get an addition 10% of media value that Teets gives you. That creates a campaign for the non-profit Right. So you go, 10% of your money goes to non-profit directly and you get a media campaign for the non-profit as well, and so it's a really cool concept.

Speaker 3:

And so, with Uber, so they came to us and said, okay, we want to do this, but of course, we want to do something that makes sense to us.

Speaker 3:

So what they came up with is their goal was to improve their relationships with, like, senior Japanese people that weren't really using Uber Eats, and they wanted to do something around food sensibly. So we found an organization called Good Neighbors Japan. They are providing food to elderly people, so it's a perfect fit. So we created the campaign for them, and then Teets did all of this work to kind of figure out, okay, to what extent is this campaign, which basically simply means you see the ad from Uber Eats and then underneath it says this ad provides food to people in Japan, and you can click on that little banner underneath your ad and then it's taken you to a website that explains the whole thing, how this works with handprint and so, and so they found that this ad had like a 32% higher click through rate than industry standards, that it led to a 9% increase in positive brand recall, tested before and after the campaign in the target market with seniors, and that it also had a substantially higher ad completion rate because it was video than industry standards.

Speaker 3:

So, really, really sizable effects. Increasing your click through rate by 32%, that's pretty big, huge in an advertising campaign, right. So, and so that is yeah, you have to say that that is really because of this kind of this tight linkage between the positive impact that they're creating, and then people are curious about this. What do you mean? This ad provides food, and then so it's like bam, you get all these positive effects and then it was a super big success for Uber Eats and I think, yeah, that's just another example of like how our technology can be used in order to create that engagement and then, yeah, support your company's growth.

Speaker 2:

I mean it's pretty amazing because you've also got a lot of these ESG programs and everything inside of these businesses, and some of them, I mean, you bounce around. Sometimes. I think too, when you're doing marketing, it's not always the same thing. Like you know, there's only going to be a hurricane every once in a while, right? So are you going to bring out the tide truck all the time? No, right, there may not be a hurricane, that's, you know, is going to make sense to bring that truck out next year or the year after that. So what do you do? Like, you're always looking for something else.

Speaker 2:

And I think what's going to happen with handprint, the fact that you are so connected into the world of sustainability and the world of eco-friendly nonprofits and you know things that are happening. Brands are going to come to you and ask you the question hey, here's what we do, what should we do? What in the world should we do? Who should we connect with? What should we help with? And the fact you got this entire system set up that they can show and prove we've had an impact. Look at this, look what we did. I mean, look at these folks in, you know, look at these mangroves, look at the number of mangroves we helped to plant. You know there is a and it's not necessarily boasting, because it's your customers that are doing it, like you're. You're, by buying your product you're doing it together.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, look what you did. Right, it's not what we did. We just facilitated it by having a product that you could buy. But you did this, you helped with this.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think this, yeah, this, we call it like the economics of collective action, right? So how do you enable brands and customers or employees to do things together? And that togetherness is quite important, right, because so many people, when it comes to especially when we think about climate change, right, there's so much negative news and there's so much. If you're tuned into it, then, basically, if you're not having existential angst, you're probably not understanding what's going on, but that kind of fear is paralyzing, and so we see this in psychology. We've learned that if you want to shock people into action, make them feel guilty. That works. And so if you want people to donate, like, show them the images of whatever the war in Israel and Palestine and how bad it is getting on both sides and or show them images of the people who are still alive after like a hurricane, and people will donate, and this works, right, you see this, you see the ads on TV and the donations go up, but that works in the short term. If you want to drive people towards taking long term, durable, sustainable action, making them feel guilty doesn't work at all, because nobody wants to feel guilty all the time, so people just opt out, yeah, and so they're kind of they're tuning out the noise then.

Speaker 3:

And so what we've had in the climate change kind of debate is decades of continuous fear mongering and focus on this is your footprint, this is your environmental guilt. You need to do something about this, which means that more and more people just say fuck it, I am not doing. I mean, I am not kind of tuning in anymore. So we need to put something like juxtapose that with, like a much more aspirational thing, like hey, I know, this is your footprint. Focus on your handprint. That's your positive impact. Focus on something you can actually do and that can be much more stepwise and much smaller. So even thinking about this is at a larger scale. If the focus is really on reducing your footprint, reduce your negative impact, then who needs to do this? Well, there are 100 companies in the world responsible for 71% of global emissions. Wow, that's a fact.

Speaker 3:

And, as a consequence, what the hell are we talking about? This is why you see all of these people saying, like, well, taylor Swift is flying. I saw this meme recently like how does Taylor Swift move from the back of the front to her plane, like in her other plane? And so people have this. And then what? And I am recycling or I have to separate whatever.

Speaker 3:

So people have this idea like there is this kind of disproportional pressure on individuals to make really small behavioral changes that are always about do less and don't use plastic straws, don't use plastic bag, all of this kind of stuff. And the other example if you're a small firm, like, let's say, you've got your podcast, there's not a lot you can do in terms of negative impact reduction. But you can say, for every 10,000 listeners, I'm going to plant a tree. Or for every $5,000 in advertising revenue I make, I'm going to do something positive. And that's much easier. It's easier and actually it's something that you can really do.

Speaker 3:

And if it's something that you care about and that kind of aligns with what you want to be known for, then it might actually resonate with your audience and then it might actually create this positive cycle, this virtual cycle. And I think this is really a shift that we are trying to create, because so many companies now also by regulation more regulation coming in more companies need to do all of their this kind of accounting. Europe has all these regulations coming in the US as well, more and more carbon accounting and for more than 60%, 70% of companies in the world. Doing this is a complete waste of time, because they're going to be measuring what their carbon emissions. Sure, if you're not making stuff, if you're not moving stuff, or if you're not mining resources, your carbon emissions don't fucking matter, excuse me no, no, no, 100%, they're just very small.

Speaker 3:

They just don't matter. And why would you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on measuring them accurately If they don't really matter? They might matter a little bit, but they don't really. You should do something else and spend all of that money on doing something to help your community, that helps the world. That's going to I really believe that's going to take have a much bigger effect Because it's going to be visible, it's going to be, it's going to resonate with your audience and it can be something strategic. So, yeah, that's where that's really where we're trying to play with handprint.

Speaker 2:

I love it, thanks. Well, you've certainly you're trying to go after something that's huge, and that's what every startup should do Aim for the stars, try to get something big done, and not just for yourself, not just hey, I'm putting money in my pocket, but you're building something that could have lasting impact on the world that we live in, and it sounds like it already is. So congratulations on that. That's unbelievable, but definitely anybody who's out there works in a business Proctor Gamble, if you're listening, kroger, if you're listening big businesses that ship things internationally, transport things on boats, transport things on planes. Reach out to Simon, reach out to his company handprint. Simon. Give us some links and places, ways people can reach out to you.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, I'm LinkedIn. If you figure out how to write my last name, that's probably the best spot. So, simon Schielebeck's. My email is Simon at handprinttech. And if you're listening and you're in the US and you want to be involved in handprint, we've got a crowd equity fundraising going on. The link is wefunderecom forward slash handprinttech and you can become a shareholder in handprint for as little as $100 now. Oh, wow, wow. If you're interested, that's a great way to make an impact and to start working with us, and everyone who joins the campaign there can become an ambassador of handprint and then eventually even get referral fees for making valuable introductions. So that's a good side hustle.

Speaker 2:

There, it is right there.

Speaker 3:

Guys, Listen up and then you get a little side hustle. If you know a company or you make an introduction and we can close a deal with them, then bang, you can start earning some cash on the side.

Speaker 2:

And here you go Perfect, oh, I love it. Well, we're in a city of advertising agencies Because P&G's here I don't know if you know this, but they're the largest advertiser in the world and so all of these big agencies have some sort of presence here and they want to be close to P&G. For all that work and they spend so much money every year it's insane. So there's somebody listening to this locally here that could probably get you in the door there.

Speaker 3:

So listen up, guys. We do a lot of work with advertising agencies because they have a lot of questions around sustainability, because brands indeed come to them and say we want to do sustainability in our advertising and their honest response has to be we don't know anything about sustainability. But they say, sure, no problem, We'll solve that for you. And then they come to us and say, hey, we need to solve this. So we're doing some work with Denso and Mindsharing Group and Publises and WPP Publises.

Speaker 2:

WPP. We got both Publises and WPP agencies here.

Speaker 3:

We work with lots of those guys so, yeah, that's awesome, happy to connect with them.

Speaker 2:

Yes, well, invest in the company first and then make the connection. Yeah, yeah, yeah, all good, all right, simon. Hey, I really appreciate it, man, good luck with everything in Singapore, good luck with Handprint, good luck with the other startup, good luck with, obviously, what you do full time at the university. And, yeah, keep spreading the word, man.

Speaker 3:

Will do. Thanks, simon, it was a pleasure talking to you.

Speaker 2:

Yes, sir, you too. Thanks, so much Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you.

Side Hustle Success and Multilingual Expats
Entrepreneurial Motivation and Academic Balance
(Cont.) Entrepreneurial Motivation and Academic Balance
Academic Careers and Sustainability Marketing
Creating Purposeful Brand Partnerships
(Cont.) Creating Purposeful Brand Partnerships
Shifting Focus to Positive Impact