Francisco Benedito, CEO at Climatetrade tells us about carbon neutrality in the environment.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Francisco Benedito: They are all fine, thank you for asking. These are difficult times for everyone. It is hard to believe that the world is living in such a situation and caused by a climate that brings up zoonosis. Let’s be thankful for those of us who are well and let this act as a motivation for us to try to give the best of ourselves.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Climatetrade.
Francisco Benedito: I was working in the financial sector for more than 15 years, I had a management position in one of the most important banks and despite my role as Regional Manager, part of my job was an expert on blockchain, crypto-assets, and the 4th industrial revolution.
In 2017 my wife got pregnant and that was when I started to really think about the future, not just my own, but the world I was going to leave for my daughter. That was when I decided to do something and put all my efforts into preserving this world and helping others to do so.
It was clear to me that pollution is a key factor in this, so I focused on the issue of CO2 emissions. That is how it all started. My partner and I founded the company and started working on identifying inefficiencies in the carbon markets, exploring options and that was how we shaped what Climatetrade is today. In fact, we have evolved solutions so that everyone can contribute to leaving a better planet with a sustainable future.
How does Climatetrade innovate?
Francisco Benedito: Climatetrade has marked a turning point in the way companies offset CO2 emissions. Traditionally carbon markets have been driven by brokers who acted as intermediaries between companies and mitigation project developers.
However, some of these brokers began to speculate: they started buying large quantities of carbon credits cheaply and then selling them at a premium, so there was no real climate impact from these contracts as the developer was not receiving the fair price and they were then not motivated to create new projects as the price for them was very cheap.
In addition, sometimes there was double-counting, i.e. there were brokers selling the same credits up to two and three times to different companies, who had no way of verifying it.
All this has changed thanks to blockchain technology, IoT, and Digital MRV technologies, with which they achieve two things: on the one hand, they can justify that the project developer is being paid the right price, which is the price that he himself establishes on the platform, so there is transparency and traceability. On the other hand, the certificate is issued directly by the creator of the project, generating a registration and cancellation code for that certificate, which is what we then automatically send to the client.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Francisco Benedito: It has obviously affected us in terms of speed of growth especially in the customers related to tourism. Targets set during the first three months of the pandemic were postponed by the tourism companies. However, if anything this COVID situation is showing us that a greater awareness of sustainability can be seen among consumers, companies and investors, so after summer we had a great increase in business that made us grow more than 10x in revenue YoY.
What we are seeing in companies is not a reduction in ambition on climate issues at all. Quite the opposite. And that is because they do it in many cases from a selfish point of view: your consumers and investors are going to make radical pressure on you to be more sustainable in the coming years, so many companies are anticipating what is going to happen to them.
One example is the airlines, which are generally doing their homework to offset some of their activity. They have a very clear strategy and are investing in improving aircraft efficiency, biofuels, etc. so that it is not all about offsetting. Because it is not enough to buy certificates, we must also take steps towards a business with a reduced footprint. Also, Oil companies’ 1st priority is sustainability and carbon markets.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Francisco Benedito: As in any business, we have had to make difficult decisions, both personally and professionally, learn from mistakes every time. Climatetrade is a fully innovative solution so we have had to make many good and bad decisions in order to get to where we have reached, small pivots that took us to the current situation. In the end, this is trial and error, like all businesses, and we have had to make some tough decisions. But I prefer to move forward and make mistakes that I can solve, rather than not doing anything.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Francisco Benedito: For me, it’s always been about perseverance, resiliency, hard work, and efficiency. I am surrounded by great young professionals that I like to inculcate these values. If you are good at what you do, and you have a great attitude, you got it! We have become one of the leading international solutions in carbon offsetting because of going all together after one goal and because we think big, always! We have professionals and experts in different fields, a team that is 100% dedicated and really involved.
Obviously, our differentiating value is blockchain technology, which is what gives us the transparency and traceability that characterizes us. Technology aligned synergistically with traditional ways of selling works perfectly. I am old school in some things.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Francisco Benedito: Our main competitors are traditional brokers and platforms. In addition, there are some projects that we could consider competitors in terms of concept, but they use different technologies or different mechanisms or target different markets. We use Blockchain technology, so we can provide a better UX and we are focused on both B2B and B2B2C. Among these competitors, we could mention Poseidon, Pachama, Nori, Climate Seed, or Project Wren.
Your final thoughts?
Francisco Benedito: This is here to stay. Every day, it will increase in importance, it will require efforts by all of us and therefore sustainability is something each time more demanded companies are going to require.