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How the Blue Earth Forum is having an impact beyond a traditional conference

Investors love Springwise because we curate case studies showcasing new technologies and sustainable startups from around the world, all in one place. We’re currently the global media partner for Blue Earth Summit. It’s the Blue Earth Forum on 25-26 June, and it promises to be ‘Springwise in real life’. Our Content Director Angela Everitt spoke to co-founder Guy Hayler about why this event is such an opportunity for investors and startups alike.

For two days during London Climate Action Week, Blue Earth Forum will play host to more than 40 high-growth, purpose-led businesses and around two hundred investors, with a focus on one-to-one conversations. So far, so conference? Not quite…Blue Earth do things differently.

“We talk about being able to ‘inspire, connect and act’,” says Guy. “When we came into the events space we didn’t do it thinking, ‘We really love conferences’. We came into it because it wasn’t working. Most events inspire and connect, and that’s where they leave it. There will be a few speakers, a floor full of exhibition stands and people are left to network. That doesn’t really fly anymore. We want to make sure we are actually having an impact – that everyone who comes into Forum is getting value from doing deals.”

The Blue Earth Ventures team works months in advance of the Forum to profile every business and every investor in advance, asking each 10-15 questions beginning with which Sustainable Development Goals they are either working to contribute to or invest in. From there the team can begin to make matches.

“The whole process is more efficient,” says Guy. “Once we have the profiles we can then start emailing investors about specific businesses. If someone is interested, I will then set up a first and a second meeting before the event over a video call. By the time they get into a room at Forum, they will kind of know and like each other.”

Efficiency is a crucial watchword for the Forum team. “Our role in the market is to find the best purpose-led business and make their funding process more successful. We do a lot of work in the background to make sure that the businesses have their ducks in a row and they are actually ready to take investment. If we can get the founders speaking to more investors, the process gets more competitive. We try to get them into a position where they are picking an investor that they want based on the value that they can bring beyond just money.”

The Forum Ventures team works with businesses year-round. “I’ve been doing this long enough that I know what needs to be in an investor deck. We make sure the businesses have the detail an investor will want on the business model, the financials, the team…We can offer that advice in a systematic way.”

Helping impact businesses find funding is clearly a passion for Guy. After an abortive start in the corporate broking world due to the lack of innovation, he moved into crowdfunding when it was the new, disruptive kid on the funding block.

“I started helping to crowdfund businesses that already had a strong community and consumer base behind them who were supporting them because they were purpose-led. I realised that these are the brands with a long-term future because they stand for something.

“I saw an opportunity to be part of the shift towards impact investing and to give something back. I’m an outdoorsy person and it’s impossible to ignore the impact us humans are having on the planet.” Guy led the Finisterre funding campaign on Crowdcube“We raised £3 million in three hours. Everything snowballed from there to working with high-growth, high-impact businesses.”

A recent example of a Blue Earth Forum success is the UK-based mission-led company Waterhaul, which takes discarded fishing nets and turns them into recycled sunglasses, eyewear, and other plastic products. “They applied to pitch at our event. We then picked it up as a good solution, wrapped our Ventures team around it and helped them find their first strategic angel investor in Simon Hill-Norton, the former CEO of Sweaty Betty,” says Guy. “We then helped them get some institutional money, develop a partnership with an incubator called Broody, and get additional crowdfunding. During the process, we introduced them to the car company Kia, a contact of ours, who became one of their big commercial clients.”

The energy that Guy has for the work is palpable. “We will let the media be the climate crisis people,” he says, we are the climate opportunity people. Our generation has such an awesome chance to build businesses that have a positive impact, leave positive legacies, and make lots of money. We should never shy away from that.

“We can raise £50-100 million a year, we’re just finding our stride. Our role is to get as much money as possible into the business solutions that are genuinely going to drive the system change in their respective industry. Every event we run leaves a wake of positive outcomes and that is super important to us.”

Who wouldn’t want to ride that wave of positive change? See you at the Forum.

The Blue Earth Forum takes place on 25-26th June at Protein Studios, Shoreditch. For more information, follow this link.

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Written By: Angela Everitt