It’s a problem many in Atlanta, a driving-heavy city, are familiar with: you want to do your best to help the environment, but to get where you need to go, it’s simply impossible sometimes to avoid burning gasoline.
GreenPrint has figured out a way to capitalize on the fact that more than 60 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social impact. With their reduced emission fuel, they work with sustainability partners to translate a slightly higher cost (we’re talking less than a penny, folks) into a tangible environmental product — a tree. They call it sustainability as a service, and fuel providers are signing up quickly: thus far, their products have reduced 20 million pounds of CO2!
GreenPrint founder Pete Davis talks to Hypepotamus about how GreenPrint’s model generates income, their super successful 2016, and how he got the idea from some fancy supermarket buys.
How did you get the idea for GreenPrint?
I was buying eggs and decided to pay $4.50 for a dozen eggs from free-range chickens instead of paying $3.00 for the regular eggs. Then, I went to fill up my car with gas and realized that there’s an opportunity there for a different type of fuel: a “cage-free” option, fuel that is better for the environment.
How did your background help you bring it to market?
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and, at a young age, worked in family businesses doing things I was really too inexperienced to be qualified for. By the time I was 23 I had managed a few different teams, owned a P&L, launched a product across 1,000 retail locations, and built sales territories up and down the east coast.
Out of Emory’s Business School, I spent the first part of my career with P&G and learned the power of premium brands. Then in 2000, I started a software-enabled marketing services company, Vesdia, that built and ran loyalty programs. We essentially took the idea of brand marketing a step further and helped our clients build a customer database that allowed them to engage said customers at a higher level.
After selling Vesdia in 2013, I started thinking of new business opportunities to leverage my background and experiences. I wanted to work on a large scalable business opportunity. And I wanted to give back and do something that would make the world a better place.
After paying $1.50 more for the cage-free eggs, I I recalled back to my P&G days and how many consumer categories used to be pure commodities. Milk was milk, eggs were eggs and bananas were bananas. Retailers competed on price alone. Today, consumers are less price sensitive; they are willing to change their behaviors to buy premium, grass-fed, organic, cage free, or sustainable products.
It was this that prompted me to question why gasoline was one of the last standing consumer commodities- especially since alternative energy vehicles and protecting the environment had gained so much traction.
How does REF (reduced emission fuel) work?
For each gallon of REF our clients sell, we leverage our patent-protected process and proprietary algorithm to calculate the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions that come out of the tailpipe, by type of fuel, grade, vehicle type and location. Then, we invest with partners like the Arbor Day Foundation, local partners in each city (like Trees Atlanta here) and large-scale carbon sequestration projects (solar, forestry, wind, hydroelectric, and landfill gas capture) to plant trees locally, reducing each customer’s carbon emissions in the atmosphere by up to 100% of the fuel they consumed.
What market problem are you solving?
For consumers, we make it easy to do the right thing and reduce their carbon footprint. For fuel retailers we provide a competitive differentiator and way to build customer loyalty, goodwill and market share. For corporate & municipal fleets, we provide a turn-key way for them to be sustainable and meet stakeholder demand.
What is your revenue model?
We charge our clients a small fee, as low as a fraction of a penny per gallon, transaction, or unit.
Is there anyone else in your space doing what you are doing?
There are a number of initiatives that compete for our clients’ budgets and attention, typically sustainability initiatives, new vehicle technology and loyalty and reward program vendors. To date we don’t have any direct competitors.
Who are your main clients at the moment? Where are you operating?
We have eight large clients today across five countries. The only two that I can openly discuss are Ricker Oil and Alon Brands USA, whose retail REF programs together accounted for the majority of our business a year ago. Today, those two actually account for less than 30% of our revenue. Our other clients offer our product as a competitive advantage.
What were your biggest successes in 2016?
We closed our Series A round, achieved sustained profitability, and built and scaled two seven-figure product lines serving the fuel marketing and fleet industries. We launched in 5 countries & languages, expanded our retail presence by over 450%, and enrolled more than 30,000 businesses.
We also built out a continuously growing, great team with heavy hitters, including the former president of Kroger’s fuel business, Van Tarver, former Cumberland Farms CEO and Gulf il Group chairman, Joe Petrowski, and economics professor David Nelson.
What’s coming up for you in 2017?
Based on our existing client rollouts and a few new customers we expect to sign over the next few months, I believe we can triple our revenue, therefore tripling our environmental impact. We are launching two new product lines, for the travel industry and government sector. We plan to continue international expansion into 9 more counties and 7 languages. We’ve also talked to a few acquisition targets and are subtly exploring some of these options.
As a whole, GreenPrint’s goals for 2017 include continuing to build upon our strong team, increase our current program’s footprints, roll out new programs, and of course, expand our positive impact on the global environment.