Adrian Pfalzgraf (Co-Founder, CEO), Mady Olonscheck (Co-Founder, CEO), and Leon Landen (Co-Founder, CTO) © Anne Schönharting
What inspired you to found your startup?
During voluntary work at schools the founders recognized that knowledge on possible climate change impacts is the basis for developing awareness for action. They also realized that especially municipalities lack both scientific and user-friendly information on climatic effects and suitable adaptation measures. This resulted in the idea of transferring the collective knowledge and competence of the team members into a founding project that closes this gap in the local climate adaptation process.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
For us, success means achieving our goals while remaining authentic. It is self-realisation and self-determination. Success is if you have what you need to be happy and satisfied. It means having the chance, the time and the money to do what you like and think is worth dealing with. For GreenAdapt, success means being in the black to be able to pay all employees adequately. We are successful as long as our products are in demand and as long as we contribute to a more adapted world.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Looking back, we would start much earlier with acquisition as it takes some time before first payments come in after the contract is filled. We recommend to find a common language within the company to be able to convincly present your company to the outside world. A young team should find out early what each member of the team expects from the future. Finally, we would build up larger stocks of sweets and coffee to better survive difficult periods.
What problem does your product solve?
With our software we are going to tackle local impacts induced both by gradual changes, e.g. of temperature, and changes of extreme weather events such as storms. Our online tool will identify the effects climate change will have and propose adequate adaptation measures. Thereby, risks and costs are minimised and opportunities exploited. The software closes the gap between scarcely manageable online tools without user assistance and strongly individualised but expensive consulting services.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
We want to grow sustainably, earn a reasonable living from our work and do good. Now and in 10 years. In 2018, we want to prepare risk analyses and adaptation concepts for districts and municipalities in Germany. In the years thereafter, the team of GreenAdapt is going to modify the software so that is can be used to advise companies in various fields. In 5 years, we will also have customers outside of Germany. In 10 years, GreenAdapt will advise municipalities and companies all over the world.
How are you different?
GreenAdapt transfers complex knowledge into practice by making it understandable for laypeople. So far, no one has combined different data sources in such an intelligent way that climate risk analyses can be created much faster than before. We use past and future climate data and analyse the climate effects for different sectors by means of publicly available data (e.g. expected demographic changes) and information that is provided by the users of our tool (e.g. on the municipal structure).
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
Advise on climate change adaptation is a niche topic. We offer a comprehensive premium product and reach about a dozen districts and municipalities per month. However, this is perfectly adequate to keep the company running. We are not depending on large numbers of users but increase our brand awareness by provinding profound high-quality products.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
Climate adaptation will be necessary in almost all sectors. GreenAdapt identified districts, municipalities and companies as pioneers on the adjustment path. We strive for proposing adaptation measures that are in accordance with climate mitigation goals. Thus, we contribute to the transformation towards a sustainable and adapted society. Each team member feels committed to our CSR strategy and acts accordingly.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
The start-up scene in Berlin grew strongly. Green topics grew in importance. More and more founders and employees are female and thanks to comprehensive funding programmes also students venture to start their own company. Events like the FuckUp nights motivate people to do a second attempt after failure.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
In Berlin, you can strongly benefit from exchange of experience with a lot of other start-ups and young professionals. The proximity to excellent scientific institutes, ministries and organisations facilitates the development of cooperation and the fostering of the contact network – an important basis for acquisition. However, for small start-ups Berlin could be problematic due to high rents and competition for funding.
Bonus Question: Anything else that we need to know about you?
Besides our daily work, we are engaged in transferring knowledge on climate change, useful mitigation and adaptation measures as well as sustainability from science into practice. Therefor, we regularly give talks on these topics in primary and secondary schools in Berlin and Brandenburg.
GreenAdapt was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.