ESG in a Startup: What You Should Know

  1. Increased sales: Having an ESG policy can enable companies to access new markets and expand in existing markets. ESG is an approach that builds trust between different stakeholders and can give startups access to approvals and licenses to continue their growth path.
    Binance, the largest crypto exchange by traded volume founded in 2017 in China was banned in 2019 to continue its operations in the US and later also in the UK and Italy. Its governance model with little transparency, potential tax fraud, money laundering and insider trading have caused the platform to face regulatory scrutiny and is unable to continue its exponential growth in many markets.
  2. Cost reduction: Effective ESG execution can help combat incremental operating costs, such as in raw materials, lower energy costs and water usage. One environmentally conscious company that has successfully reduced operating costs is Solar City, a provider of solar energy systems that deliver reliable power to homes and businesses. In recent years there has been an increase in demand for clean energy from homeowners and businesses, this coupled with the high cost of electricity, favorable incentives for solar energy systems have favored companies like Solar City. Some of its Venture Capital investors include: DBL Partners, Elon Musk, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Generation and Mayfield.
  3. Reduced regulatory and legal interventions: Having ESG allows companies greater strategic freedom with less regulatory pressure and sometimes industry deregulation, subsidies and government support.
  4. Increased employee productivity: A strong ESG proposition can help companies attract and retain quality employees, motivating them through purpose and increasing productivity. The pandemic has shown that startups have a differentiated and probably more robust value proposition than traditional companies. Startups have taken on the task of nurturing their teams, motivating them and generally seeking their health. Traditional companies have been unable to understand the changing market dynamics and therefore have staff that is less motivated and sometimes less talented than startup staff.
  5. Investment and asset optimization: ESG can improve return on investment by allocating capital to more promising and sustainable opportunities. A logistics startup has incentives to build a fleet with electric and sustainable vehicles, as the return on its investment could be substantial. However, a traditional company that has an entire fleet of internal combustion vehicles may have little incentive to modernize as there is a significant cost and likely no payback value for the current fleet that could continue to operate for many years to come.



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ACV is an international Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) fund investing globally in Startups & VC funds.