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Leading Voices in Global Sustainability

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Lance Cottrell

Founder, Feel the Boot

10 Questions to Change The World

May 2022

How do you think climate change and the global sustainability agenda will impact your investment decisions over the next 3-5 years?

We are already seeing the impacts of climate change impacting communities around the world in significant ways. Founders are creating many new companies to address both the causes and consequences of climate change. This magnitude of this trend makes investing in those companies a compelling proposition.

What is one ‘impact investing hack’ you’d recommend to an organisation wanting to transform into a more sustainable operation? 

Many companies seem to adopt sustainability from a box-checking compliance perspective in an attempt to greenwash their business. I look for fundamental strategic orientation around sustainability before investing.

This magnitude of this trend makes investing in those companies a compelling proposition.

Why have you integrated sustainability in your professional career?

My current career is focused on helping early-stage founders launch their companies. I am very sensitive to the legacy I will leave and the impacts these companies will have. I don’t care to spend my time on businesses that exist only to generate revenues but have net negative impacts on the planet.

What are some of the wins you have achieved in your career to date?

I am very sensitive to the legacy I will leave and the impacts these companies will have.

My startup, Anonymizer, was a trailblazer in privacy and anonymity. We protected millions of people when they went online including hundreds of thousands trying to access the truth from within repressive regimes.

I am also proud of the contributions we made to stopping child exploitation and terrorism through our work with law enforcement and the national security community. I was excited to be named a Global Entrepreneur in Residence at the Founder Institute where I have the chance to help founders from around the world.

What do you want to have achieved before you retire?

I hope to have made significant contributions to scores of growing companies making positive contributions to sustainability and equity in the world.

What advice would you give for people looking to invest in climate tech or  sustainability?

There are a lot of founders with their hearts in the right place, but without the passion for creating a business around that passion. It is not enough to have a good solution or technology. They also need to have a plan for taking it to market and generating revenue. Look closely at how they have validated their go-to-market and revenue strategies.

Who do you go to for inspiration in this space?

I hope to have made significant contributions to scores of growing companies making positive contributions to sustainability and equity in the world.

I never need to look farther than all the passionate and energetic founders that reach out to me. Their insights, brilliance, and hard work constantly fuel my optimism for the future.

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- Lance Cotrell -

How do you decide on the best areas of impact?

I am opportunistic in my approach. I don’t pretend to know best what should be done or which approaches will be most effective. I look at each business to understand the chances that they will grow to a size that will move the needle on their particular aspect of global sustainability. A perfect solution that will be adopted by dozens of people pales in comparison to one that can make a 10% difference to millions.

What is your one ‘guilty / non-eco’ pleasure? (that you can’t live without)

Good food and wine. While I do my best to select local and sustainable sources, without question this increases my footprint. I do my best to compensate in other ways because life without those pleasures would be vastly diminished.

If you had to choose one person, organisation or community to lead the world in sustainability, who would it be and why?

The Gates Foundation has shown the kind of impact ultra-wealthy people can have when they focus on global benefit rather than simply accumulating additional money.

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Are you our next Leading Voice?

If you have a story to tell, we want to tell it…

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"If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it. In my lifetime I have witnessed a terrible decline. In yours you could - and should - see a wonderful recovery.”

 

-​ Sir David Attenborough