Circularity: A New Business Model for a Sustainable Future
- And thank you all for joining us at the end, hopefully, of your workday for this very exciting webinar that we have, interactive webinar for circularity, a new business model for a sustainable future with Jen Singh, class of 2012 and Joyce Shen, class of 2010. Joyce will be leading us as a moderator for the discussion and chatting with Jen. - Great, thanks Whitney for that introduction and hi everybody. I actually see some familiar faces, hi, Larry and others. Thanks for joining us.
We're really excited to be here and talk about a topic that I'm sure that many of you are seeing in the news and in various forms and is about circularity and today, can everybody see my screen first of all? Okay. So talking about circularity and actually talk about what circularity is, what is the circularity model and how does that relate to sustainability, sustainable future? And I'm so glad to have Jen who's a friend and who is building Understory to give us some great insights and hopefully have a discussion with all of you also about what you're seeing in circularity circular business model, the companies that are doing innovative things to help us drive this conversation forward. So lemme proceed my slide. So the agenda is quite simple. We will not just have a discussion but we have prepared some slides material to guide the discussion to really talk about what is circularity? What are some of the interesting things happening in the business world and in innovation? And hopefully have, again, a Q&A networking before we close out the session.
So we intend this to be interactive, to have a dialogue about this new concept of circularity and circular economy. (mouse clicks) So quick introduction about myself and I would turn it over to Jen who will talk about her background. So I'm based in New York, I'm an investor at Tenfore Holdings. We invest in early stage technology companies that range broadly in data, AI, machine learning and commerce.
So sustainability and circular economy are moving to the forefront and a lot of the work that I'm doing is thinking about how these early stage companies, are playing an increasingly important role in larger brands, in larger companies as they think about sustainability agenda, as I think about ESG and circular economy. So with that, I turn over to Jen who will give more about her background and about Understory. - Hey, good evening, everyone. My name is Jen Singh, I am a Booth grad from the class of 2012.
I lived in New York for a very long time but I'm currently based in Atlanta, so further South. I am the co-founder of a company called Understory and we are a global platform that brings technology and innovation to the subject of sustainability. So we help a variety of different organizations by providing educational materials and resources and events to make the topic much more accessible and practical and ultimately it's about accelerating sustainable change within organizations and so one of those topics and frameworks that's clearly at the forefront of accelerating sustainable change is circularity and that's why we're here to share some of our insights tonight. - Great, thanks Jen, and by the way, if you have questions and comments, feel free to put them in a chat, we're pretty good at Zoom and all that kind of jazz so we'll see your question, we'll see your comments and hopefully we can incorporate some of our discussions with your feedback and questions as we go along. (mouse clicks) So feel free to do that. So let's start talking about circularity.
Some of you may be more familiar with the concept, it's a new word, new business model, new policy, that more on the front page of Wall Street Journals and Jen, maybe the first question is what is circularity? What are some of the elements that make up circular business model? And kind of take us through that if you can. - Yeah, so before I get into a circularity I think it's important to really point out like what's driving this pivot towards new business models and why this is coming to the forefront. So Joyce, as you mentioned circularity is starting to be in the news, it's kind of this term that you might've heard about but aren't exactly familiar with and it's all rooted in this transformation that's happening in large organizations and small around sustainability. In the past sustainability happened much more in silos within organizations, some organizations saw it as a way to reduce costs. Maybe it was the right thing to do from a corporate, citizen perspective and sometimes there was a focus on reducing your energy usage or implementing, composting or recycling within your offices. But what's driving this change is obviously the climate crisis but ultimately businesses, regulators, investors are now demanding that organizations stand up and start to transform their businesses.
We're seeing, you know, 90% of the fortune 500 companies, have released sustainability reports in the last few years and they're setting very ambitious goals within the public sector, within the public environment about what they're gonna do from a sustainability and an environment perspective and so it is imperative that in order for them to make, meet their goals that they start to embrace transformation in a new way and circularity is one of those tools in their toolkit that they can use in order to actually transform their business and think about things differently. So that's really what circularity is about, it's about rethinking how we conduct our business, everything from the start of creating a new product, through the supply chain, through consumption all the way through to how that product or service is used even after a consumer engages with your product or service and ultimately the goal of circularity is to reduce waste. The linear economic model of the past 150 years was all about produce, consume and throw away, but with a circular model it's about thinking about our resources, not as limited but how can we become much more innovative in using them within an abundant model? So ultimately it's about reducing waste, reducing pollution and creating a winning business model for everyone. In the past there's been misconceptions that sustainable business models aren't necessarily good for business but what we're seeing with a lot of large scale and emerging innovative companies is that they actually are a win and can generate a lot of profits for organizations, not only do, can they open up new revenue opportunities but they can also engage with consumers in a brand new way and they eliminate business risk from an organization. We certainly have seen a lot of the heightened risks from the climate crisis over the past couple of years, whether it's, you know, the natural disasters that we've recently seen, wildfires, the snow crisis that we saw in Texas last month, but all of this is bringing to the forefront that climate is an everyday business risk that organizations need to address and circularity is one of those ways that it can address it.
- Thanks Jen, for that. I think one of the things is even though circularity business model or circularity is kind of a new concept it has existed for a while. So there are, I mean, at least from my world there are companies that have been doing reverse logistics, helping brands to more efficiently, funnel returned goods to different channels and refurbishing iPhones and other hardware has existed for a very long time as well and that in part is part of circularity, but some of the things I think on the consumer side, like some of you may have received packaging that can be reused, those are other areas of innovation where we're starting to see more of circularity emerging everyday lives versus more in the kind of quote unquote, enterprise space where perhaps for some particular industries it has been more of a bigger topic than for other industries.
So thank you for that great introduction. So one of the things that, from my perspective that I'm sure a lot of the audience here agree with me, is the Chicago audience, that you have seen a lot of investments go into this area especially in the last few years and you know, there are lots of different statistics out there, but the numbers do speak to the level of activities that are going into both later stage investments or corporate investments as the fortune 100, fortune 500 figure out how they're gonna allocate capital in ESG sustainability, carbon emission offsetting initiatives. We see a lot of those, both on the financial instrument side and on the corporate allocation side but then early staging capital as well. So that's where my world comes in. I certainly see a lot more startups and companies in the space and one of those numbers seem really big, like 60 billion in early stage capital investing, net zero driven companies. It's a large number, but I think one of the takeaways is that this is also a really broad space and so I think here we're talking about circularity, just one piece of this overall space of net driven, you know, net zero driven companies.
There is companies that focus on material innovation, there are companies that focus on energy, focus on electric vehicles, all those count toward net zero driven companies and so from an investor's perspective it is both opportunity and a challenge to figure out which space or subspace to go into. I think the other thing that I've seen coupled to, Jen, what you're saying is that circularity and sustainability and ESG is really kind of a constant, it's a kind of aggregation of different topics and trends and so smart mobility, smart city, you know, logistics, future of logistics, architect and some of these existing thematic areas are becoming part of the sustainability and the circular economy investment theme as a whole. So it makes it again both interesting, challenging and, you know, if your investor or if your company are thinking about allocating investment in some of these areas or building products in some of those areas, I think the adjacent themes that a lot of us have been looking at are very relevant to circularity, ESG and sustainability.
(mouse clicks) - Yeah, and Joyce, just to add to that, I think there's other areas, you know, outside of traditional enterprise as you mentioned earlier, the consumer space that's really being very much impacted by consumer demand as well as just changing practices because of the waste or pollution profiles of certain industries that are really accelerating the pivot towards circularity. We're seeing, especially in the sustainable fashion industry, which is one of the worst industries from a climate impact perspective but CPG is very much embracing circularity and e-commerce especially given all the challenges of supply chain issues driven by the pandemic and limited resources. We're certainly seeing an acceleration in that space and I love the perspective that you brought from an investor kind of early stage viewpoint.
But another viewpoint is the fact that large scale organizations are also embracing circularity. We're seeing it at Starbucks, for example, they have recently, have piloted a reusable cup program so that you can, you know, get a cup, take it home and then bring it back as a way to reduce the burden of single use plastic. So I think it's really interesting that large organizations, small organizations, you're, across various industries that are all embracing circularity and are really pivoting, trying to find opportunities. - Yeah. So Jen, do you wanna talk about circular kind of economic process and how it breaks down, generally speaking in three elements? And some companies are focused on one or two of these areas and some companies focus on all three.
- Yeah, so the general framework for circularity is pretty simple. It's three basic steps, design, extend the useful life and then regenerate and so if we look at design to start off with, this is your traditional conceptualization of your product or service, it's the very early stages of what happens when you create a new product or service but instead of, you know, the traditional design thinking approach where you're only considering the needs of the consumer or, you know, a certain problem that you're trying to address, it's about broadening out your viewpoint, thinking about additional stakeholders such as the environment when you're thinking about how to design your product. It's about considering what will happen to the product after it's been used, not just during consumption and so it's really about just resetting and reframing the problem space and, you know, finding novel ways to design out waste from the very beginning. I like to think about this as, you know, eliminating future climate issues by preventing the problem in the first place.
The second phase of the process is around preservation. So once we've created something how can we really maximize the usefulness of that product or service? How can we utilize it so that we really get to that end of it's, you know, real useful life versus, you know, many, the fast consumption models that we've really taken hold within our society over the past couple of decades? Right now we buy something, we throw it away, this is instead trying to think about how do we keep this into circulation? And there's a lot of companies doing a lot of novel things in this area, whether it's around a sharing model. A great example of this is Rent the Runway, right? Instead of buying a dress to wear it once you can rent it, return it and it continues to have an additional life. Reselling is another area that's becoming very popular, so that obviously your cell phone provider, will buy back your phone and refurbish it and resell it to others as a way to keep those components in circulation. I like to think about this phase of circularity as converting from one-to-one and thinking about ways to convert from one-to-many.
So how can your product or service touch many people at the same time? And then finally the last phase is all about regeneration and so this is about taking waste and really using novel, material science or innovative techniques in order to take that waste and not just let it go to landfill, but how can it be regenerated and become inputs into either the same process or a new process going forward? - Great. - And so, really it's about closing the loop at the end of the day. - So one of the things that we thought will be helpful is giving a few examples and talk about some of the use cases. So Jen, do you wanna start with Loliware? - Yeah, so Loliware is a great example of a company focused on the design aspect of circularity. Single use plastic is an enormous problem, we generate 150 million tons of it a year and you know, most of it ends up in the landfill.
Well, Loliware is a company that's using seaweed in order to create a plastic replacement and create new versions of single use plastic, using this very biodegradable material. So seaweed is really interesting and I've learned a lot from Loliware as a company because not only is it hypercompostable, meaning that it can actually break down in a landfill, it doesn't have to be segregated and sent to a compound post heap and it can actually break down, you know, if you throw it away in the trash. So that's a great way where you're eliminating the waste from the very beginning. But what also is interesting about seaweed is that it is a carbon sequestration factor.
- Material. - Right, so as a material, as seaweed it can actually absorb carbon from the air much like trees do, but seaweed is actually more effective in that it can absorb more carbon and it can do it faster. So by cultivating seaweed and starting to farm it in order to create these single use plastic items we can actually pull carbon out of the air as well. So multiple effects and they're really thinking about the problem differently than other people do. - Yeah, it's an interesting example and I think in Asia, maybe there are even more companies that are trying to start with straws and tackle the single use plastic problem. I've seen companies looking at using bamboo, using coconut and many different creative ways, especially for these fast takeouts where it's also very prevalent in Asia, you know, street food, you eat for five minutes and then you throw it away, et cetera.
So one of the key questions I think is that for a lot of these companies is the kind of the unit economics, you know, as consumers who can afford perhaps a more expensive type of straws than the plastic straw and over time what are the factors that can reduce the costs of these more sustainable products and be able to bring access to everyone where ultimately that's needed to drive action and to drive the option to create the world more, to make the world more and more sustainable. But that's a great example and I learned that seaweed is actually called blue carbon or they have a different name it's called blue carbon because of the reasons that you described. (mouse clicks) Okay So the next company, I actually met this company, it's quite interesting. So they're actually Chicago based and they recently raised $8 million series A from some of the well-known ventures and NGO groups in, mostly in Chicago area.
So it was great to see that and talk about Rheaply briefly. There are other platforms that do this, I think there're really the asset management or enterprise asset management 3.0, 4.0 however you wanna characterize that and so in enterprise software space, asset management is not new. So for companies to manage their physical assets whether it's computers, chairs, mission, critical assets and they know where they are, they know how they're being utilized, they know the capacity, they know when to do predictive maintenance and so forth.
But Rheaply is, kinda bring that to more organizations that may not have had the luxury of having asset management, but also creating circular design or helping these organizations create circular design and preservation and regeneration off of their platform. So they essentially go to institutions like University of Chicago, MIT and companies and say, well, you have labs, you have offices, there are all kinds of assets that maybe your labs don't need anymore. Whether it's glass, flasks or instrumentations or instruments or other kinds of more traditional assets and Rheaply has a software that essentially allowed these companies to create an inventory of reusable assets inside their organizations and it has a system to allow other organizations to see what might be some of those reusable assets that they need that this organization may not need anymore. So there is kind of a marketplace element to this where it optimizes the supply and demand of reusable assets in these organizations and then use software and data to actually facilitate the transfer of assets so that reuse or preservation of the assets, extending the life of the assets can actually happen and I think it's quite interesting because for organization have a lot of physical assets getting rid of those physical assets can be a pain from operations perspective, but also from a financial perspective, getting rid of those no longer necessary physical assets can free up capital to do something else and for the receiving organizations this preservation of assets and extending the use of, life of these assets will allow them potentially purchase at a lower price for perfectly good tool or instrument.
So overall you achieve, achieves the circular model and it provides a set of technology to facilitate essentially the circular model that Jen, you're describing and I think it's a great example of circularity. - Yeah, and I think just building on what you said about Loliware with the unit economics, what's really interesting and I think we heard this recently from someone at Rheaply is, you know, as you start to move assets and keep circulating them around the, what you purchased that asset for at the very beginning isn't the only cost or, that you need to consider, right? So as assets continue to flow through the circular lifecycle, how does that change the unit economics of these assets of the various components that comprise of the assets? And so really thinking about business from a very different lens and how you measure ROI, how you measure profitability might change as this circular business model gets implemented throughout your organization. - Yeah.
(mouse clicks) So do you wanna talk through a couple more examples? - Yeah, so these are the last two examples that we're really gonna highlight and here we're looking at two different companies in two different industries that are taking waste and they're trying to convert them into new raw materials and so I'm on one side you have a company called Ioniqa and they're focused on the plastic space. So what they can do is they can take colored PET plastic and break it down in such a way so that it can become clear and food safe, brand new plastic that can be re-engineered into new products and they're pretty novel from their approach because historically it's been very hard to take plastics of many different colors and combine them together in order to recycle plastic but they have found a way to do that, which eliminates a lot of the restrictions around sorting plastics and really makes recycling a lot more feasible and efficient and then the other company I wanted to highlight was in the textile space. So Evrnu is a company that can take textile waste, so different garments, clothing and they have a way to, and really extract the molecular building blocks from that material and re-engineer it into a brand new fiber and that fiber can then be used to make new clothes and new garments. But what's really interesting about the new fiber then is that it's very durable and it can be used multiple times.
So you can continue that ongoing loop of process and continue to flow the textile waste across the entire life cycle multiple times creating value and reducing waste at the same time. - Great, and Jen, I know one of the things you did it's actually creating a market map for circularity, lots of company in the space, but you kind of broke this down for a lot of people. So you wanna talk through kind of this market map? - Yeah, so what we try to do is really highlight a lot of the emerging innovators. So you're not necessarily gonna see the large corporations that are implementing circularity but what we wanted to do was highlight those innovators who, you know, are using material science, technology and interesting design thinking in order to enable circularity and I think these are really great examples across a variety of different industries, a variety of different business models and there are different approaches. So if you're interested in learning more or exploring more examples, this landscape definitely has a lot that you can reference and, you know, they certainly can be great partners especially for larger organizations and potentially even investment opportunities. - You have talked to a lot of small and big organizations and you often talk about circularity first mindset and it's changing a lot of organizations, lots of opportunity, small innovation, big innovations.
Can you talk to, more about this circularity first mindset and what it means and how do you actually start thinking about it? - Well, my background is in digital transformation and with any transformation that needs to happen in large scale organizations it starts with having the right mindsets, frameworks and making sure that yourself, your leaders, your employees are all tuned into, you know, where you need to get to and adopting the right mindset in order to get there. So at Understory we termed this concept of a circularity first mindset, similar to mobile-first, cloud-first, well I, we believe that organizations should start to be circularity first in their approach and that really means just starting from the very beginning and thinking about the entire circularity life cycle when you're creating new products and services or starting to pivot your existing business as well. So it starts with, you know, thinking differently, considering who your stakeholders are but like any transformation this is not something that you do overnight or it needs to be a massive change. I'm very, I'm a very strong proponent of iterative change. So I like to think about it as starting with one single swap and one thing that you can implement within your business in order to make a change. So, for example, can you look at the different materials that might be components into your product or service? And can you switch out one of those vendors or materials to employ something that's much more sustainable? Can you partner with someone like Loliware or others that are, you know, using material science to create much more biodegradable products and incorporate that into your business? Can you think about, you know, implementing, sharing business model alongside your existing selling business model? And so on and so forth.
So make us change, continue to iterate across numerous cycles and, you know, I think with any large scale transformation it ultimately comes down to, you know, how you pivot your organization from a capability perspective and from an infrastructure perspective. So historically the sustainability group has always sat in a silo, might run some initiatives but ultimately it's about making sure that everyone is working cross-functionally and is aligned towards very specific metrics, very specific goals so that you can have the right resources in place. It means that your sustainability experts or your circularity experts should be sitting alongside your supply chain folks, your innovation folks, your product development folks and you gotta make sure you have the finance person in the room as well so that you're getting the budget and the allocation that you need in order to make, you know, these changes and investments. And then. - Right. - The last thing I wanna hit on, Joyce, you really spoke about this at the beginning. It's about how can you use technology, digital infrastructure, software and various innovations in order to really accelerate the change.
We all know how much of a multiplier, you know, software and technology can be and what we're going to see I think over the next couple of years is many more digital platforms, software technologies, APIs and digital infrastructure that's gonna be built out in order to facilitate sustainable transformation. - Jen, thanks for that and I think we're almost at the end of our slides and we'll quickly soon move into networking (mouse clicks) but you have written a lot of stuff with Understory or Understory has published a number of different things on circularity and ESG. You wanna highlight some of the stuff that you guys have done and also some of the upcoming events, et cetera? - Yeah, so, I mean, we just scratched the surface, right? There's a lot more depth that you can dig into. We have a variety of whitepapers that goes into each of the different topics, are about circularity and all the steps. So I invite you to visit our website, theunderstory.io and take a closer look, as well as if you go on to the next slide, feel free to engage with us.
We offer a variety of different events, we have one coming up on May 11th, so exactly in three weeks and this is a regular event, our sustainable startup showcase that we host every month and we invite three of these emerging innovators to come tell their story and you can actually hear firsthand more of the use cases that they're addressing and it's a great way to see what's happening across the sustainability landscape and so I'll throw up in a second a link to that event and then we'll be back here with Chicago Booth, at the end of May talking about a completely different subject but we'll be here talking about ESG investing and we'll have an expert who's been in the ESG investing space for the past 10 years alongside me doing a fireside chat. We're very active on social media, so you can join us there and then lastly, we're starting a new Slack community, trying to connect folks across different silos, across industries, across organizations to facilitate more of this collaboration that's necessary to transform our organizations. So I invite you to meet us there and I'll throw those in the chat. - Great.
So I think we have 20 minutes and it's perfect timing and I think we'll have enough intimate group to just do a round table networking versus breakout. So I'll take the initiative to be kind of the moderator to get everybody introducing themselves, et cetera. But if you have questions, if you wanna put in your comment and contact, happy, you can do that as well.
So I will stop share and (mouse clicks) if you wanna turn on your video that'd be great, if not, that's okay and we can do some, just a quick networking and perhaps we'll can go around and introduce ourselves and what are you interested in circularity? What brought you here? And if I have any questions maybe Jen has some resources that she can share with you. So, Carrie, I see you're on video. Hi, Carrie, do you wanna do a quick introduction? And Larry, I see you as well. (Carie laughs) - I'm glad I'm not the only one on video. Hey Jen, good to see you.
Yeah, I'm Carie Davis, I have recently started a fund to invest in circular economy technology for plastics and packaging. So I'm just, yeah, I'm excited to network with people in this space and help out founders in this space. I have a background in packaging development at Coca-Cola.
- Nice meeting you. - [Carie] Thank you. - [Jen] Yeah, nice to meet you, thank you for doing this.
- Larry. You're mute. You're still on mute.
- How's that? - [Joyce] Good? - Okay, thank you. Thank you very much, Joyce. My apologies for being muted (laughs) I've had that problem in the past.
I'm Larry Harris, class of 78, essentially retired but call myself a private investor and I invest in, for my own account and publicly traded companies. I've done a number of presentations for the Booth Club of New York in the past on a variety of topics and perhaps we'll do one sometime in 2022 but I'm always interested in hearing about new ideas in terms of investments, my investments, as I've indicated tend to be publicly traded companies. - Well, thanks Larry. Whitney. Oh, I see Emil.
Whoever wants to go first, Emil, I think you're on mute. You're still on mute. (mouse clicks) Perfect. - All right. - Oh, it's, I'm even, I even wear a Booth... - Yeah, that's great.
- Supporting the cause. - Tell us more about yourself what you (Emil drowns her voice) - I'm 09, obviously Booth. So I'm quite a bit in the entrepreneurial and innovation circles and quite interested in, you know, new ways of thinking and approaches to, you know, what works better and supposedly I'm hearing circularity works better. To me it's not a new approach or concept, maybe with a little bit more emphasis and intention but you know, I'm looking at it as this, more of the idea of what is it for every participating party, you know, what is it for them to continue to participate and to continue to move businesses interests, progress forward in one way or another so that there is no breaking of the chain? So that's kind of my view on the whole thing and, you know, if say we put a spin to it in helping the environment in one way or another, then that's an added bonus.
- Yeah, thanks for sharing that. Great. Who wants to introduce themself? (technical interference) Sandra, Tammy, Natalie, Diana and Whitney and Denise too. (mouse clicks) - Hey, this is Diana, can you hear me? - [Joyce] Yeah, - [Diana] Yeah.
Yeah, I'm Diana York, I'm in one of the evil industry, energy, petrochemicals, oil refining, all the terrible things that people see now. So really following this and trying to understand where are their opportunities and how to move it to an economical place. You know, it's a great idea and, but I mean, there's huge infrastructure and there are a lot of things that are gonna need to change as we do this so.
- Yeah. - [Diana] It's pretty fascinating from that standpoint, for sure. - Yeah. Do you see anything that, I personally actually agree with you and, you know, I've read about hydrogen power and carbon capture, I learn as much as I can but it seems like those are pretty far away. - [Diana] Yeah, I mean, it's a lot of economics, right? So, you know, there's a reason things are built the way they are now and it's for everyone to make money and, you know, can you do it? You know, the key is can you develop technology that can actually make it economical? - [Joyce] Right. - [Diana] And, you know, traditionally it's been regulation, right? Huge amount of regulation actually and in my business it's, you know, we do technology, you know, traditionally in my career I've done a lot of technology licensing and it's driven by new regulation means companies have to invest.
So it drives some business, (laughs) but you know, is there a way to do it better? You know, I love the idea of design upfront and think about that upfront 'cause I think a lot of things are not really done that way. You know, like I say, these, like the electric car makes me concerned (laughs) under, (Larry laughs) yeah, heavy metals and things. So how, you know, will this stick this time? Or will this not? 'Cause I have to say, you know, I've been in, I've been out of, I had an engineering undergrad in whatever, 89, right? And, you know, I had people that were in my class who went to work for developing electric vehicles then and so now it seems like it's actually gonna come into fruition, but that's all the big question, right? How much, are people willing to pay? - Yeah. - [Diana] You know, the other thing is where do you draw the box? Right? There's a lot of, if you're, if it's just based on consumer views then if there's a lot of marketing from what we see and you know, no waste and that kind of thing. In addition to regulation, even knock out a couple of projects where there's regulations on the waste and even if you wanna reuse it it is gonna cost you money to get it recategorized, right? So. - Yeah. - [Diana] So it's interesting topic.
- Thank you for your perspective. Natalie, I see you on video. - Yeah, hey, everyone.
Pleasure to be here. Thanks Joyce and Jen for hosting this. It's been really informative. I'm with the new fund of ReGen Ventures and we are interested in early stage companies that are leveraging technology to address the climate crisis. The circular economy, has just been of a personal interest of mine over the past year or so, I was doing some consulting for a venture fund and that's kind of how I first learned about it and I'm just so excited about the circular economy. I think it's the solution to so many of our problems and I have had, loved these Understory's resources before.
So Jen, it's a pleasure to meet you and yeah, just excited to be here and learn. - Thank you, and then Alexandra and Tammy, if you guys are available to do a introduction. Okay, maybe there were, they'll come back. Whitney and Denise, you guys wanna do introduction? - [Whitney] Well, I'm happy to chime in here for a second.
Thank you so much for leading this discussion. I think it's, as you have both mentioned, very pertinent and great that we're able to address it a couple of days away from Earth Day and that's very appropriate timing, which is great. My background is not as focused on energy, I work in financial services for American Express, similar payments industry, but you know, it touches so many industries and then what it made me think about during this discussion is sort of the vote with your dollar approach, which is, you know, as you think about your payments methods and sort of what you put your dollar toward then there's so much opportunity. I love the point on the Rent the Runway. I've never used Rent the Runway, but I liked the idea of sort of thinking about reusing. So that's a little bit of my background and appreciate the discussion.
- Yeah, thanks Whitney. It's interesting you talk about payment and I recently saw that Stripe launched a carbon offsetting solution. I'm not really sure how it works but it will be interesting to see, I mean, there's obviously like a FinTech aspect to a lot of the things that we're talking about here and see how these companies participate. So Denise. - Hi, I'm Denise Dilley.
I work for Booth Alumni Relations. So I'm just here providing some technical support for this but certainly a really important discussion. I'm seeing a lot more about sustainability and who, I was just talking with someone from Expedia the other day, where they had mentioned that the airlines were all going to be carbon neutral by a certain point and I was like, that seems like a, quite a large feet but a good direction to go in.
So we'll see where that goes. (dog barks) Certainly there's more student interest in having this be a part of business and (dog barks) just thank you for leading the discussion. - Yeah.
I love meeting everybody here. I'm Chicago alum through and through so I'm happy to connect with all of you on LinkedIn and Jen, I'll also check out the Slack channel that you posted and also just post my information there as well and we can all connect. Jen, you wanna help us like, close this out and share a few closing remarks or takeaways. - Well, I thank you all for sticking around and, you know, sharing your backgrounds and perspectives and it's great to see that, you know, you all are engaged in one way or another in thinking about sustainability, thinking about how it applies to your business.
Diana I 100% echo what you say. It's gonna take some massive transformation and regulation and I, yeah, it's gonna take time. So I'm hoping that at least from what we're doing from an Understory perspective can help facilitate some of that. But, you know, similarly I would love to connect with all of you.
I'll throw up my LinkedIn profile here in a sec and invite you to participate in Understory or just connect with me directly, you know, and if there's any topics that you wanna see more information on, whether it's at a Booth event or, you know, elsewhere, let's talk about, you know, what we can do and what we can pull together. 'Cause I think sustainability is something that we should continue to have content on within the Chicago Booth alumni network and I think it'd be great to continue to have these types of discussions moving forward. - [Joyce] Cool. - So thanks Whitney, thanks Denise and everyone for coming out here today, and Joyce, thank you for moderating. - Thanks, my pleasure. Good to meet everybody.
- Thank you. (mouse clicks)