SP Sustainability Talk #1
Christian Kroll, Founder and CEO of Ecosia
The search engine operator Ecosia has planted more than 150 million trees around the world to date. The Berlin-based start-up invests all profits in tree planting and renewable energies. In our SP Sustainability Talk#1, Ecosia founder Christian Kroll explains how his company wants to challenge Google and make a real difference.
Whether you read the interview first and then set up Ecosia as your search engine or the other way around - your choice ;-)
Plus, if you want to know more about the purpose company Ecosia and the business model - the FAQ page is super informative.
Christian, the revenue that your competitor Google makes, is 8000 times larger than yours. Where do you see opportunities to be able to compete against such an industry giant?
If you can build a competitive edge, it can become possible for a small firm to compete against the biggest players. It's a David against Goliath situation. Our differentiator is that we invest 100% of our profits in planting trees as well as renewable energy projects. Whenever you use Ecosia, you automatically contribute to the fight against climate change. The more people become aware of the severity and significance of the climate crisis, the larger our competitive edge grows.
„Companies will no longer be measured on profits and countries, not on their GDP. They will be measured by how they can contribute to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants. If you understand that early enough and act accordingly, you will build a competitive edge as well.“Christian Kroll,
on the question of "How far-reaching do you see the change that we witness at the moment?"
What does it tell about the power of change, when a Start-up such as Ecosia can raise enough money to plant over 150 million trees?
A lot is possible. You just need a good idea and passionate people around you, who support you and join along the way. It always seems impossible until it's done.
How far-reaching do you see the change that we witness at the moment?
We witness a fundamental transformation of our society. A shift away from the systematic destruction of our planet, but towards regeneration and restoration. The measures of success will change as well. Companies will no longer be measured on profits and countries, not on their GDP. They will be measured by how they can contribute to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants. If you understand that early enough and act accordingly, you will build a competitive edge as well.
Many large corporations implement carbon neutrality in their reports and strategies. Why is it not enough?
Climate-neutral companies are maybe not a part of the problem anymore, but also do not contribute to solving the problem. Not to forget about the fact that the climate goals of many companies show a lack of ambition or only look good on the surface. We have to change the narrative. Climate-neutral and net zero will not solve the issue. Instead, we need to ask ourselves the questions: How can we contribute the most to solve the situation? Not in 2050, but how much can we do here and now?
„If you don't act now, you will go under. That's the bad news. The good news is that every single company can decide to do the right thing now.“Christian Kroll,
on the question of "Is Business as usual still an option for companies?"
Is Business as usual still an option for companies?
To answer this question, I will draw a comparison to the process of digitalization. If you had asked a manager of a German car manufacturer in 2010 about the significance of digitalization, most would have probably ranked it as not very important. The result: The German automotive sector fell behind and got taken over by manufacturers that built the competitive edge early. It will be the same for the decarbonization of our economy. If you don't act now, you will go under. That's the bad news. The good news is that every single company can decide to do the right thing now.
Where do you see Ecosia in ten years?
At the moment, we hold a market share of one percent in Germany. By 2030, I am confident that we can extend that to 10 percent. We want to put as much pressure as possible on Google, to do the right thing, too. We would not mind if they copied our business model. It would be great. If Google invested its profits in renewable energy, it would mean a big step towards solving the problem.