How Sweep Helps Companies Achieve Net Zero — CleanTechnica Interview With CEO Rachel Delacour

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With your software you claim to “make the most of man and machine.” Can you give an example of what you mean by this, and what are the new capabilities in the interaction between man and machine allowing reduction of carbon emissions?

Rachel Delacour
Rachel Delacour

By “making the most of man (or human),” we are talking about leveraging an architecture able to empower employees and partners, even outside of the company boundaries. The benefit of having so many team members on board to implement and visualize emissions data is that it allows them to feel more involved with their companies’ climate pledges, and motivates them to help meet those goals.

By “making the most of machines,” we are talking about automating everything that can be automated to retrieve physical data where it is (for example, ERP and procurement information systems). This allows for the ultimate precision of our emission calculations and our ability to adapt calculations to the operational reality of a company at scale — for example, some departments may generate more physical data than others, and we want to be able to model that. With Sweep, we’ve also ensured that the retrieval and refreshment of data occurs frequently within our platform, so that we can give the most up-to-date calculations possible (more info can be found here on this technology).

Our analytics background helped us tremendously to build this scalable architecture and connect carbon emissions data, which is everywhere within companies and their value chains.

How did you come up with the idea for Sweep, and did it change often compared to where you are now?

We first built what today is the Sweep platform’s integrated marketplace feature, which contains global climate projects which companies can invest in. We saw this kind of marketplace was in popular demand by customers, and we had lots of ideas about how to elevate this process by automating companies’ contributions and boosting the right projects (both certified and non-certified). We are really proud of it and are strengthening it everyday.

The more we were talking to our customers, the more they expressed to us that they benefited from our marketplace’s new way to easily access projects, scale them, and fix their carbon finance process. But they also told us how lost they were on their path to creating a credible climate journey, how hard it was to determine and make those first steps, and how difficult it was to tackle carbon data outside of their headquarters.

Hearing that insight from our customers, it was crystal clear that we had to leverage our BI expertise to address their full journey and create a carbon emissions solution for their whole value chain. Creating a full platform for every stage of their climate journey would allow us to not only help them contribute to great projects, but also scale their initiatives and tell a credible story. So we created the Sweep platform.

We optimized our platform for the big emitters who have the most critical problems, in order to have the biggest impact on the climate. We have no time to spare in the race to save our planet, and it was a natural decision for our team — with our strong BI background and grave concern about corporate sustainability — to help. We brought together our team of tech experts and carbon consultants (including the founder of the Net Zero Initiative, now being adopted by public institutions worldwide) to make this enterprise software platform.

You probably have to pitch Sweep a lot, and from our experience the emerging carbon management platforms are sometimes complex to describe. How would you describe Sweep and which pitch works best in terms of making the general public understand the service?

Sweep is a software platform to reduce carbon emissions in your business and value chain.

How do you see the trend in carbon emission accounting in the next 5 years, in terms of adoption, revenue potential, and untapped potential for reducing carbon emissions by purely understanding existing emissions?

Legislators will impose a level of emissions reduction to all sectors. Scope 3 emissions reporting and reduction plans will become the norm. Companies of all sizes and across industries will face the need to make monitoring a climate program and using a carbon management platform a daily business practice. Additionally, large companies will become accountable for onboarding their whole value chain — including suppliers and distributors — in their climate efforts in order to scale their reduction initiatives.

What other tech trends fascinate you, if any?

Any new technologies helping to solve the worldwide carbon neutrality equation: CO2 fossils have to be divided by 2.5 + carbon sinks have to be multiplied by 2 + deforestation needs to reach 0.

If you weren’t building Sweep, what would you invest your time into instead?

I am already an investor for multiple startups (both European and US-based), with a focus on female-led ones. I also have a ticket to go to space (from company’s Voyager program), and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it to happen.

What are some of the most requested features for Sweep which are coming soon?

We are currently working on boosting Sweep’s reduction initiatives feature set.

And, can you tell us any customer stories – how they work with Sweep and if there was anything you didn’t expect?

We are working with a logistics company, and seeing how they were sharing carbon data with their big customers was really impressive, and how everyone onboarded was very demanding. We saw that the more we help companies discover the reality of their respective impact, the more they understand why it’s important to reduce their emissions.  We can then work with them to coordinate their actions and show them how to better target the most important ones, and think together as opposed to working in isolation to achieve their goals. This is why Scope 3 emissions are so important to map in order to increase the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. Sharing carbon data outside of a company’s boundaries can be complicated, but with Sweep, it’s not.

If you could correct some of the early mistakes in building Sweep, if there were any, which ones would you like to correct the most and why?

Mistakes are leading to the best “iterations.” I am lucky to have a very talented team who knows their industries well and has the ability to craft the best tools. Our team has been working together for several decades, which helps us be successful.

How is Sweep different from the competition?

The biggest way Sweep is different from our competitor is in the platform’s ability to easily track, measure and reduce Scope 3 emissions, which although extremely important, are still elusive in carbon management solutions. Our team’s strong background in analytics, data and BI gave us the ability to make our platform hyper-precise, and provide the ability to track a variety of emission factors — not just the monetary ones. We also provide an integrated marketplace of global climate projects as an additional way for companies to make a positive impact. Along with the superior measurement abilities of our platform, we also allow companies to make carbon-consciousness a core aspect of their culture by allowing teams throughout the company to visualize their impact. Getting everyone tuned into the realities of their impact and making them as close as possible to the project gives companies the best opportunity to make tangible reductions.

What’s your advice to people coming out of college soon with a passion for climate? What should they consider, in your opinion?

People with a passion for the climate should focus on targeting businesses which are already operating at scale, and changing them from the inside.

And, what would be your favorite customer to have? What should they know about Sweep?

We love the big emitters. We’ll help them get to a credible net zero.

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Benjamin Schulz

I'm investing in positive companies and am passionate about climate action and long-term human challenges. Early partner at BEAM (United People of Climate Action) and CleanTechnica (#1 cleantech-focused new & analysis website in the world), among others.

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