We have grown a team that can help combat climate change — a Q&A with Normative co-founder Kristian Rönn
Tell us about yourself and how Normative was founded
Before founding Normative, I was working at the University of Oxford assessing the policy implications of global risks such as climate change. I discovered a group of people there who later became known as the Effective Altruism community. They were interested in how we can reduce these global risks by using our personal resources — whether it’s skills, careers, or wealth — to have the greatest possible impact on as many human beings as possible. I decided to leave academia in 2013 because I felt that in order to have a true impact, I would not only need to play a part in producing cutting-edge research, but I would also need people, policymakers and businesses to listen to this latest research. That is when I began Normative.
What is your company’s mission?
To move the needle on climate change, companies need to decarbonise. Normative is the world’s first carbon accounting engine and our mission is to make known the sustainability impacts of all economic activities on the planet. We help companies calculate their carbon emissions and take the correct next steps in order to reach net zero emissions. Every time you buy something, when an invoice goes through your procurement system, or if you’re an investor deciding on an investment opportunity, we want to fuel those decisions with comprehensive data.
What have been some highlights for Normative in 2021?
We have been on an immense journey since our founding and we have grown our customer base tremendously. We started out as 13 people in 2014 and now we’re close to having 90 people on the team. The big takeaway from 2021 is the importance of having a great team and learning that since we are an impact-focused business working on climate change, we can attract top talent. People are working in companies all over the world that are contributing negatively to climate change, whilst wanting to do something to fix this situation individually. For us to tap into that large group of talent has been an epiphany. Now we have a group of 90 people who are extremely committed to net zero emissions for all companies on the planet. We have grown a team that can help combat climate change.
What is one lesson you have learned from the past 12 months?
The importance of communicating our company’s mission has been a key lesson from the past year. In 2021, the conversation started to gradually shift from the current challenge of the pandemic to the long term challenge of climate change. As that shift happened globally, we had many great opportunities to join the conversation and really get our message heard that in order to solve climate change, what gets measured gets managed, therefore companies need to start to track their carbon emissions. It has been a challenge for the message to cut through, but I think we have managed to navigate around it. Companies need our type of solution more than ever before.
What is one milestone you’re hoping to achieve in 2022?
With grant funding from Google.org and technical support from a team of Google.org Fellows, Normative will launch a new supply chain engagement tool later in 2022 and I’m very excited about that. We’re working together with the UN Race to Zero Campaign, SME Climate Hub, Exponential Roadmap Initiative, We Mean Business Coalition and Carbon Disclosure Project on a new reporting framework that will also go together with this carbon accounting tool. We launched an initial simplified version of it, called Industry CO2 Insights, at COP, but I’m really excited to launch the full tool because we have several thousand companies that have joined the waiting list to get on board.
What advice would you give first time founders?
There’s standardised messages that first time founders will hear all the time: be lean, focus on the product, learn from your customers as quickly as possible, build your MVP. A perspective that I would like to bring is to really focus on yourself and on your own growth. It’s a tough challenge to build a company, so get a good coach that you can work together with to be open and to reflect. Take the time to understand the progress that you’re making and how you can be a better leader to amplify the rest of your team. It’s a message that I don’t think is broadcast as much and is just as important as the others when it comes to starting your first company.
How has ETF Partners support helped to shape the business?
ETF Partners have not only been a source of financial support for Normative but we also see them as a core part of our team, offering valuable advice and guidance especially during the past two years of growth. The fact that their interests are aligned with ours when it comes to promoting sustainability and reducing the effects of climate change makes for the perfect partnership that we are sure will go from strength to strength in the years to come.