We are in the so-called alpha or pre-launch phase. That may sound interesting, but it means that lots of work is being done, without any money coming in. Not such a good business.
In this phase many start-ups try to find funding with angle investors (venture backed start-up) but that comes at the price of giving away equity. Interesting, but for now the focus is on product development and getting to know the market demands in dept.
About 1,5 year in already. Exactly the time I spend expanding my knowledge and expertise on organisational management with a sustainability focused MBA. The launch or Beta phase will be early 2017. After my graduation in December.
Last year I did this B-assessment. A quick impact assessment to measure the impact of my business. B-corps were 20.000 plus back than in numbers. My score was 22/200.
Today there are over 40.000 B-corps and several connected initiatives in other parts of the world. My score today in the self-assessment was 52/200. Wohoo. We are ordinary business now.
A long way to go the qualify as sustainable business, or even become a B-Corp. Perhaps the first customer would be a more important goal to strive for. Nevertheless, the idea to evaluate your impact on a regular basis is something I can only underline. Let’s stay sharp.
Backbone.ms wants to become a B-Corporation. Start-ups can be eligible for the B-pending status during the first 12 months of operations in order to get certified as a B-Corporation after one year in the countries where a legal status for B-Corporations exists. I support the ‘plan B movement’ towards a new economy were a business objective is not just profit, but follows the triple bottom-line were social and environmental impact matter just as much. In this post I show my first steps towards the certification.
The B impact assessment is customized for each company depending on its size, sector and geographic location. Although I have a company registered in The Netherlands, it would be most logic to legally register Backbone.ms as a Costa Rican company because at this time I am a resident here. The activities are worldwide, so the declaration of homebase is arbitrary. Unfortunally there is no legal status yet for benefit corporations in Costa Rica, but the country has a favorable tax regime for internationally operating businesses. In this alpha phase there are 0 employees on the payroll. The sector is Service, more specific ICT with a SaaS business model.
After reading the B Corp Handbook, I choose first to take the quick assessment. While waiting for my confirmation email, I check out the preview of the B Impact Assessment. A questionnaire is loaded with questions about Governance, Community, Environment, Impact Business Models and a Disclosure Questionnaire. There are over 40 different types of questionnaires, here is a link to the pdf version that was generated by my selection; //b-lab.force.com/bcorp/PrintImpactAssessment?id=a03C000000ISIm7IAH
My first Quick B Assessment
A Mission Statement is missing and needs to be determined still. Stakeholder meetings? Nope. Tracking social and environmental objectives? No, all this needs to de determined. With all good intention it seems I’m heading for zero points so far! Continuing the survey now… and yes. A miserable 22 out of 200 points resulting from the quick assessment. The nice thing is that it will be not too hard to score higher the next time. The first goal would be to reach at least 80 points to be categorized a sustainable business.
After that, a list with relevant pdf files regarding Governance, Workers, Environment and Community got generated with tips to improve my impact. That is great! Some topics are obviously lacking in the alpha phase of a starting company, but these are useful guidelines. As well, a score report with specific goals such as Charitable giving (undefined), Diversity (Looking for a developer with experience in SaaS-projects) and local involvement (I guess I’ll work with a local lawyer) is provided.
I think many companies who are serious about their environmental certification and have a policy for social responsibility may be eligible to obtain a b-corp status.