The Demo Day shines the spotlight on pilot wins, scale-up growth, and partner learnings
One of the best parts of any journey is looking back on what you learned and celebrating your success. The Econnections demo day was hosted at Deloitte’s innovation space, The Garage, the former Citroën garage in Amsterdam. It was the perfect opportunity to highlight how much the first edition has achieved, from lessons learned on growth to successful pilots and what the future may hold.
Celebrating impact and seeing growth
Whether it’s a successful pilot or useful insights to grow their business, all seven scale-ups have come through their Econnections journey with fantastic new knowledge and successes under their belts. The program’s Growth Accelerator days and expert sessions gave the scale-ups hands-on, tailored support to tackle some of their toughest challenges. “We got such concrete insights and actionable advice from the expert sessions, very helpful!” said Wiebe Konter, CEO at Optiply. And the pilots gave scale-ups the opportunity to test their solutions with some of the biggest names in business. “It is unbelievably valuable how tailored the sessions are. There is no other program that reaches this level,” said Pieter Waller, co-founder of Chargetrip.
Here are just a few of this year’s many highlights!
Greenplan is partnering with PostNL to take a closer look at their route planning and find opportunities to save CO2 with optimized delivery routes. Thus far, the pilot has provided valuable insights into how a different approach to planning could cut CO2 emissions, and a successful large-scale comparison for Greenplan’s innovative solution.
Manyfolds teamed up with IKEA to create custom packaging for fragile shipped products and cut down on breakage and returns. The result: a solid business case that gives Manyfolds a valuable proof of concept and IKEA a useful solution for slashing CO2, breakages, and returns in one fell swoop. The next step? Working with IKEA to define next steps and decide whether to scale across the Netherlands. “Real-life tests proved that our packaging can protect fragile products better than standard packaging technology.” – Sebastian Gutmann, Manyfolds
Drop & Loop has developed a sustainable solution to help companies and consumers keep their used textiles out of the landfill and in the circular chain. Over the last year, they’ve grown to 100+ drop-off locations and collected 25 tons of textiles. “Through Econnections we learned to be more critical about our business and how we’d like to grow.” Susan de Vries, Drop & Loop co-founder
Returnless and PostNL are working with a mutual customer to scale back returns as part of a 12-month pilot. The goal is to reach 40% fewer returns and speed up return processing. The next steps? A measurement tool to optimize in the long-term and a scalable solution to roll out to other companies.
PlasticFri and bol.com collaborated to replace 6,000 existing small-item packages with the scale-up’s sustainable, recyclable solution. The result? A successful pilot that delighted customers, met bol.com’s needs, and provided a future perspective on the scalability of this CO2-reducing concept. If scaled to all of bol.com’s small-sized packaging, this pilot could have a potential impact of 14,000 kg CO2 reduction per year. “Great idea! Everybody should do it this way. Saves a lot of plastic.” – customer bol.com.
Chargetrip is partnering with PostNL on electric fleet charging simulations to test how charging insights might improve fleet management and reduce range anxiety for subcontractors. They’re building 2 simulation tools to help increase the number of PostNL and subcontracted electric vans on the road. “Econnections allowed us to qualify our idea with big players in the market.” says Cecile Post of Chargetrip. “We also learned how to work with large corporates, run pilots, and bring them to a successful conclusion.”
Optiply and PostNL are running a joint pilot to optimize inventory management with the scale-up’s innovative software solution. The next steps? This ongoing pilot will help PostNL and their two webshop clients make better inventory decisions and scale back dead stock, meaning more sustainable inventory and less product waste.
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Value for partners
Scale-ups weren’t the only ones who reaped sustainability benefits from the Econnections program. The larger industry partners – Deloitte, PostNL, IKEA, Mollie, bol.com, and Google Cloud – also came away with insights for improving sustainability across their e-commerce businesses.
One key takeaway from the Demo Day on the partner side was the value of collaboration. “I believe we need to have the whole chain to make a difference.” explained Liesbeth Kaashoek, Director of Packages and Logistics at PostNL. “Learning from the scale-ups was really interesting, and it also sometimes holds up a mirror, which I think is good for us, to get people from the outside looking in.”
And those unique partnerships that Econnections created are also what can help push e-commerce sustainability to the next level. “It’s a combination of in-depth coaching for scale-ups combined with pilots, and I think there’s a lot of power in that.” added Rogier van Drooge from bol.com. “The program allows us as partners to connect and team up to accelerate where we are on sustainability.“
Throughout the Econnections journey, the strength of unique collaboration across industries, scales, and geographies was proven time and again. An excellent example is the program’s mentoring element, which paired scale-ups with mentors. Brendon Montgomery, VP of Benelux at Mollie, a partner and also a scale-up mentor, highlighted how unconventional mentorship can benefit both sides. “We often think a mentor must be older or more senior or their company must be bigger, and that’s not true at all.” Brendon said. “Looking beyond those kinds of trends, we can find good mentoring relationships.”
Scale-ups gained invaluable insight and resources from major players that would have been impossible to find on their own. Those major industry partners in turn accessed innovative sustainable solutions without taking focus off the core business.
And the partners were unanimous: the cross-partner collaboration is a fantastic benefit that has much more to offer on the road to a more sustainable future!
Want to get involved next year? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.