planet-friendly living made easy with shravan shankar

planet-friendly living made easy with shravan shankar

learn about the following in this episode:
what kind of business models work the best in this space?
learn also about what you and i can do to make the planet a better place
how deep sea diving made richa malik an ecopreneur Reading planet-friendly living made easy with shravan shankar 27 minutes Next would you care for some more plastic, sir?

in the second part of our conversation with shravan, kinshuk and atul deep dive into the formats and business models that are winning in the sustainability space. Also, a separate section on how retailers and consumers (meaning us) can live sustainably. 

learn about the following in this episode:
what kind of business models work the best in this space? 
learn also about what you and i can do to make the planet a better place

 reach out to us at and remember to tune into the next episode that goes live with another interesting guest.

to know more about shravan and his work, use the links below: (linkedin profile)  (climate finance initiative) (circular impact market accelerator)  (ecosystem for early stage climate startups)

to know more about the greenshoots team members in this podcast, use the links below:

you can check out and subscribe to greenshoots channel directly on spotifyapple or google podcast






Kinshuk: Hello friends, welcome to another Episode of green shoots, the sustainability podcast.

I have my partner in crime. Atul. Atul, How are you doing today? And what do you think of the response


Atul: and wasn't it mind-blowing? The number of reactions and downloads. This by the way also filled me with sorts of hope that all will learn wonderful things together.


Kinshuk: Absolutely. I was amazed by the number of downloads. That was really good and the topics that they wanted us to cover, a lot of suggestions on that. Who should be the next guest on the Podcast. Really, really overwhelming. And so many good wishes. Thanks a lot. Please keep supporting us. It's a growing podcast in a growing sector and we really want you to be a part of it. So, thank you.

In this episode, We continue our discussion with Shravan. There are two big questions that we answer. The first is a deep dive into the startups in sustainability sector. So we carry on from what we learned in the first episode.

The second part is really interesting. We answer the question that many of you asked, how can I live sustainably? So stay till the end and Shravan has some really interesting and easy to follow steps, which will help you live a sustainable life.

Briefly introducing Shravan once again. Shravan is a veteran in the field of sustainability and startups and his current organization CIMA provides a holistic support to sustainability startups, helping them scale and grow.

You spoke about how you're playing that role of taking startups from a small to a medium sized organization. And that is a very valid point Shravan, because the more I'm trying to understand the space, the more I realize that the many startups here don't seem to be growing in impact and scope.

At times, they get fanatical about their mission as well. And lose the business objective to switch from a small size Start up to an impactful size


Shravan: 100% and see that's why when you ask me, what's my definition of Sustainability, for me, ability to scale is critical. If you don't have an ability to scale, you still haven't got a solution in place. So I think one of the other problems that we face at least in Indian context, is price plays such a outweigh metric in our minds to say that whether a solution is adopted or not. So we are always

fighting against price, looking at the mass scale thing. Yes, the best solution available is to get a hundred percent solution of what you want to achieve while it's also affordable. We have to be bit realistic on where exactly we can draw the line.

The other thing is that, you know, if we don't get adoption coming to the picture, you don't get this interest from other people wanting to shift and change, people aren't able to touch and feel the product. But if you know, because if I can do that, that creates demand. So for me, it's pretty critical that you have to get out there with some product in place that people are able to consume and use. I can see the side of the Innovator on why they will not be conditioned to do that because we're very often, you know, we can we will say that you know, that it only does so much. That would be the argument which comes into the picture that they are not going for far enough, you know. That's a nature of us also, comparing what's happening in other parts of the world, where places which have better purchasing power parity, and they're able to build fulfilled Solutions in place, but because of the nature of how we need to create an adoption here, you can easily point out and say that you know, this solution is like a 50 percent solution of something in Germany. It's very obvious , like it's very likely that that innovators thought of what the 100% solution is like but they are constrained in terms of adoption and it's largely a price.

I think the price and some parts of convenience thing like that ease of adoption overcoming

the inertia part. This fanatical point that you mentioned. Yeah. It's a it's a very fair point because a lot of people who come into this space are driven by either a need to solve a problem they have seen a lot of times. They are very Oriented people who actually come to the picture in place. Now, I think what's interesting at least I believe is that you need to pair that with a person who can sort of provide, okay, this is what you're good at and really evangelizing product, you know, the whole technology, a skill that you need a counterbalance to something to make market adoption grow. Because the really key thing to really do is that you need to start getting products out of the story. But again, another caveat here is that you need to have good quality products and That's where also, we have had a lot of failures, like we've had sustainable products and they're just not aesthetically useful. They do not function as they should be.

I remember I think around 2009 my dad, he brought this solar power porch and it plugged into this little tiny solar panel. It was cute, but it was ugly and it did not have enough throw in effect, but it was a gimmick, you know, it was like, oh this is the solar powered torch. It is so cool, but it didn't do its job and I think that's one of the things that as a sustainability product, we have had a lot to actually overcome. The idea of a sustainable product is a compromised product. That's where we really need to demonstrateand show that a sustainable product is as good as any product. It is now there and that's a big battle. So that's why it may be more useful for an organization to say that I'm

going to start with a semi compromise, at  least a solution, doesn't go into 100% of the way it goes, 50% of it because I can get more products out. But then I think that's where the case of evangelizing, talking about it and really to be vocal about things. This is pretty effective. But you're gonna have

to be vocal about the substance. You can't be vocal about the fluff, and we got a lot of that as well.


Kinshuk: That's very brutally put Shravan, but I completely agree with you and your story of torch brings back some of my own memories when I was trying to switch to more sustainable products in my own household. 2-3 products that I remember. Number one Soaps, number two deodorants, the experience was okay with soap, but the packaging was not and it was, it was a lot of plastic for a sustainable product and the deo was not really a good product. So I completely understand the compromise product point that you made.


Atul: Shravan, with the whole point you made about compromise is something which we have discussed as well. While some customers will accommodate our compromise product, but where will a family with two kids office job other commitments fit a compromise product in their lifestyle.


Shravan: that's a really good point out.


Kinshuk: Shravan, you are meeting startups on a daily basis, which of these models

are really working. Are there secrets to success that can be emulated?


Shravan: That's a very interesting question. I think. So, I'll take it in a bit of a slightly different model in case. Oh, there's one I think one place we've seen a lot of adoption for solutions is what I call compliance plus companies. And what I mean by compliance plus companies is once that there is a kind of legislation, which comes in. And it makes a demand for a particular type of solution to come with this sort of sustainable. So it'll be like the plastic waste. So, it will be something like the energy conservation building code which requires to get a more energy-efficient products in place. Compliance Plus companies are ones that original give a product which just suits that compliance

mandate in place, but they have the ability to do a lot more. But where they get interesting is that because a company which has this compliance need to find a new solution. They then have the ability to kind of look at and say that can I look at a solution which does more than just meets compliance. I think those actually drive quite interesting, in my point of view.

I think a key area that where I have seen that is, at least, in the waste space, where it's really picking up more, very very driven by compliance demands and needs. And we are getting at the level that we're getting people who are trying to guess. But the level of legislation basically says, a lot of it is

around plastics, for example is around – You just need to ensure that we're able to take back, whatever you bring to the market and give it to a the recycling or energy recovery.


Energy recovery is like one of the more common areas. Both a because there's only there's not many things you can recycle effectively, but we're getting to this level that, you know, companies are trying to figure out and say that, what can I do more with the product? Can I make a recycled plastic product, as good as what it was before, and they're getting a lot of demand. We kind of keep having this back and forth, about how compliance picks up and grows. I can definitely point out like things around waste and stuff, both electronic plastic waste and all that. These are very interesting areas where I've seen, like companies have been able to leverage this very well because there also visibility play for them and when you look at the grand scheme of things there is a level of them able to do that math and a  priority for the things like waste


Kinshuk: Compliance Plus is a great name for the model Shravan and it makes intuitive sense. Because while the beginning is through legislation, but the product does more than just meet the minimum requirement.


Shravan: The EV space is very interesting. I think it is probably the largest other than say, for example, of home, is the largest product that you as an individual can demonstrate and showcase that you're actually being more sustainable approach, but it is very nascent. And it's a very small pocket. I think I read somewhere that only about 8 lakh EVs of all time even rickshaws and everything, which is the largest largest seller. It's only 8 lakhs of them being sold in the country which sells about adding 20 million Vehicles a year. It's a very tiny amount. Well, the thing is, there's a lot of interest in demand there because I think EV has picked up in a very interesting way. It wasn't necessarily compliance based because people basically identifying and seeing an opportunity today. The most important thing, at least from model perspective is and it sounds very simplistic is but your

need cashflow and companies have been able deliver and provide like cash flow based models in place. They're doing, they're very effective. They're pretty useful. So we are seeing this thing that you know, companies coming with hardware and tying it to the subscription model in place. Groceries and stuff is a very low hanging fruit. But I'm also hearing about it happening in B2B equipment places as well. Like, especially when it's related to giving it at say, for agriculture and areas like that where buying a product, outright is difficult. So you are able to tie in this ability of

Greater affordability. It's linked to maybe revenue and stuff like that. That's where this is really effective is that it overcomes inertia of basically saying that Okay, it's very difficult for me to buy the product outright and you know, utilize it but you know, just utilize it just like that. I might be mistaken but I think was lithium. It's a EV company. They, I think pioneered a pay-as-you-go model

if I am not mistaken where you just pay for, as, for the mileage of how it picks up and grows. So you're finding this thing that You know, the models are really interesting I think. It's still a very nascent and small scale. Because for us in sustainability, solar and EV, i mean renewables dominate like 100% renewable dominate, and their adoption today is only dependent a lot around policy. That's how it is. Because that's really the bigger driver. If we go from a market standpoint

perspective. I think it's once which are actually able to figure out a way where in it makes an adoption, at least testing of a solution easy. That's where it's really, you know, becoming really, really interesting and I know a couple of people working on stuff around asset financing as a very key way to actually make their adoption more accessible because you are now getting supported to actually buy a product which today, which previously, your only option would have been to pay the entire thing in cash and you're not likely to get any sort of financing for it. Again, It comes down to the whole financing argument in place. So, I think it's quite one of the things I'm finding most interesting is that it's this kind of like ecosystem building around these products. It's not like just a person is trying to say that. Okay. I'm getting a product from A to B. But then there's another person who comes says okay, How can I make it more affordable for the buyer to buy the product? Is it financing solution? Is it, you know, different model of how its adopted. Is it a service thing, which I convert in to a product.


Kinshuk: It's a great point Shravan and I was reading about this case study of a bike startup in the US and their sales dramatically changed after they moved to a subscription model of $49, instead of an upfront payment of two thousand dollar for the buy. This channel financing is very similar to that. Look, tell me who else is doing, What you are doing. Is there competition in this sector? Where

is everybody else in the value chain?


Shravan: I'll be honest. I think the space is small enough. Everyone is just helping everyone else right now. That's very comforting to us. There is a good understanding coming up that you know, giving funding is not enough. Now, that's what I kind of said that, you know, it's more like, you end up working in collaboration and partnership model because it's such a wide area that you're looking at that, you're basically targeting a specific Niche area and focus in place to take us, for example, one thing, which we are doing around the climate space with one partner. We're targeting this area about initial market access and some initial financing in place. I am reliant on programs in incubators and other programs to doing a lot more early stage identification and broad validation done and I'm then also going to be dependent on sort of growth stage funding and sort of support platforms taken

and probably, you know, take things in place.

I am relying on accelerators. As, you know, pipeline to really take to one to the scale. There is a nice proliferation of funds coming in, who are aware that, you know, there is an interesting thing to do things differently. So as a couple, there's a like, so the speciale invest, which is they invested in ultraviolet, have done some really interesting Investments around the water space and stuff like that. And you have a couple like 42 dot BC. They are Ventures, a few of these funds which are coming up. I think where I find them very interesting is that you're finding people to punt and a bet on areas, or in especially the climate space, which is not stuff, We really been used to, which is mainly means outside of Ev's and outside of the renewable space and what I find interesting that their focus is that, you know, they are aware that, You know, you just can't do Solution on its own. You need a support system in place, but then it support system is not really, you know one entity or they can build it out. Everyone is basically having to build it all together with different people, but you kind of are owning a niche and saying that, okay. This is the area that I'm looking at these.

They are in place, but I think one of the things that has to be kind of looked at, for sure is this blind adoption at times from other forms of venture growth. Mainly from a tech and SAAS perspective like a three-month acceleration program is not effective enough because climate or sustainability solution that comes in. Within three months, you need to show some tangible growth and it's acceleration.

It probably means you've got a new customer, you've been able to access some people in place and all that. So they that for me, I think it's not much. I don't haven't seen much of that in place anyway, but those are the ones which I feel it needs to kind of be addressed a bit more of those, those sectors have to ship because you need long-term support. And it goes back to this whole thing that

a lot of innovators are product and Technology people and they need a good amount of support

and hand holding to be able to not just like to be able to just understand what it takes to build out the business side of the opposite things in place.


Atul: And yes, to help these companies succeed, We have to have channels for them to reach out to end consumers. How can Retailers become part of the sustainability Agenda?


Shravan: I think the most interesting role retailers have goes back to what I kind of pointed as the main issue, we have to tackle, which is this whole thing about sustainable lifestyles. So how do you make a sustainable lifestyle attractive? Because retailers get the have the ability to influence consumer behavior. Retailers understand incentives best. They understand what exactly are, you

know drivers for change and stuff like that most effectively? And for me that's the role, I don't see many other players actually defining effectively because if I am accustomed to going to a store day in day out, regularly on such a regular basis and I start seeing like the availability of what I have in place. The sort of messaging, which is there in the store. Conveying the sustainable model in case I have the ability to be influenced significantly.

And one of the most important things definitely is that, you know, we get a lot of awareness about issues in place, awareness of things that have to be done. That awareness has to be backed up with tools and solutions that allow me to affect that change. Like, I cannot be made aware about the fact, I should not be made aware about the The fact that, you know, I should go organic or it should not use plastic. I should use not use packages stuff like that. But if I don't also have the ways to practice that, then that's a, that's a gap in the market. I think that's where retailers are super critical because we have more than enough forms of awareness of the, we don't have enough forms for people to be able to demonstrate that awareness and say that, okay, uh, I know how to practice this thing. I'm hearing about and it's accessible to me. So for me, this is where like, you know, retailer to me are like mean I think are such a lynchpin in their ability to influence people and that's why I do find them absolutely critical in trying to create that shift, which you really need


Kinshuk: Got it. So that is where the rubber hits the road and this is the place to influence shopper behavior, which will improve the entire value chain


Shravan: Exactly. Because, when a person gets influenced and the perspective changes. They don't just look at it and say that I saw, you know, one product, which is sustainable and I picked it up and that's it. Now person start looking at their entire lifestyle and saying that what are the different ways, I can start tackling it because this is largely about three or four key things which goes into the sustainable lifestyle. How I eat, the sort of energy consumption, what sort of materials I use and how I travel. And obviously, where I live. This is only about four or five things in place. Now, the moment, for example, I target, something like food. And we're able to make an intervention with something very close to people and it's very personal because you are consuming and ingesting something in place. And the moment you are able to do that, a person will start thinking and saying that, okay, how do I translate that to How I Live the sort of energy that I'm drawing from how I travel and stuff like that It's not, I don't think it's too much of a surprise that times that we'll see a lot of these very environmentally friendly pro-environment people are vegans and vegetarians because Food is like, probably one of the first ways in which they are made aware of the idea of a sustainable lifestyle and where they can actually affect a change, which is very important. So for me, that's where, It's like a catalyst which is which can be created. If one thing kind of Sparks something. It slowly tarts taking the series of decisions to say that I can do it in this way. I can do in this way, doing this way. And I think that's that's where it's that that strength is really there from the Retail perspective.


Atul: To conclude the discussion, what advice would you give to a person planning to live a sustainable lifestyle. For example, a lot of us have taken little steps. But there's a lot of confusion around what to use? For example, should we use glass or should we use plastic? How do I even solve that conundrum


Shravan: one is, I think people don't have to punish themselves too much. I think it's an important thing in place. See, a lot of this is you are changing Behavior. Behaviors are hard to change, and a lot of people who have the capacity to change are a minimum of , maybe 25, 30 years old. It means they were 25 30 years of experience of living maybe on some bias which informs our life and than if you want to suddenly shift and say, you know how that I want to live sustainably. You can't be hard on yourself. You have to accept the fact that it's going to be incremental. It's going to take a bit of time to grow and increase in basically start seeing the effects happening.

Like, you know, that's why, you know, this whole idea, I go back to this whole thing about small wins, very effectively, very important because you have to celebrate the fact that you doing positive things. The one day that You know, for example, you buy a plastic bottle accidentally, you're very thirsty. And then you have to go somewhere. You buy a Bisleri bottle and when you come back, don't punish yourself about the fact that you bought it for the day. Okay, you had to do it. You haven’t got the choice, but you know kind of focus it more on the fact that okay that this is one blip in a more consistent way that we want to shift towards and I think that's kind of important. To this point of the glass bottle thing, that's like at the Crux of you know, what is more important. I don't know if it's very easy to make enemies with that part, I can tell you that. There is a camp of people who basically say that Plastics is more important because today microplastics and everything affect your health, but then, if it has a detriment from say, like, we were talking about, you know, certain types of packaging have higher carbon footprint. Am I then contributor to this larger scale thing? I don't have, I don't really have a good answer for this one because it's again depends on the lens, you have to look at.

Like you don't have to look at like that entire activity, being entirely zero impact and sustainable, which is not possible. What you can do is you can basically look at another activity to kind of offset whatever you have created here. So it's think of it as like a personalized. So we use this to, you know, like like a life cycle impact is like a to kind of identify and say, these are all the environmental impacts about something place, certain aspects are going to have positive impacts in. If you do a particular activity, certain other activities are going to have other positive and negative impacts, but if you look at it as a holistic thing, then you know, you may actually find out that you're having a net benefit ultimately in case. If I'm using, you know, a glass bottle continuously in place and I'm guilty about having to you know, keep reusing it over and over again, take a cycle to travel around, don't use a car, don't use the bike. So, in this way, you don't look at it as a series of individual activities, think of it as a wider lifestyle. More than anything, it then allows you to say that a, I'm able to practice this on multiple levels, which is very good. I think the last key thing is that you're not, you're not putting too much on yourself to say that I have to be perfect. Because no way that you're not having zero-impact, never that's not possible. Well, this having some sort of negative impact to just do the degree at which able to mitigate it and it doesn't have to be done by the single activity. So this is what I would basically tell people don't punish yourself. You don't have to


Kinshuk: That's very comforting Shravan


Shravan: this is how the things I say to myself to make myself feel better. So, I am just passing it onto you. Kinshuk: Thank you so much Shravan. It was another extremely enlightening episode. I'm sure we will get you back once again with something even more interesting and engaging


Shravan: Really really nice to have a conversation. I really enjoyed it. So thanks a lot.


Kinshuk: And now a message for our listeners. Thank you so much for subscribing to this podcast. You can reach us at

If you want to follow Shravan, he's available on LinkedIn as Shravan Shankar. He also writes extensively on Substack. You can follow his articles on the Big Green Picture and the Climate Finance Initiative. You will find us again on the next episode with another topic. Another interesting guest. See you soon.

-Team awenest

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