How the Plan A SaaS platform enables, simplifies and automates the transition to a sustainable and decarbonized economy
Interview with Lubomila Jordanova, Co-Founder & CEO "Plan A"
Source & Copyright by Plan A
Lubomila Jordanova is co-founder and CEO of Plan A. The German software company has developed an end-to-end platform that uses machine learning and the latest scientific standards and methods to enable companies to reduce their emissions and improve their ESG performance. The 33-year-old is also a co-founder of the Greentech Alliance. A community of 2.000+ startups connected to 500+ advisors from VCs, media and business.
Prior to Plan A, Lubomila worked in investment banking, venture capital and fintech in Asia and Europe. Born in Bulgaria, she served as Obama Leader Europe 2022 and was recognized as MIT Innovator Under 35 Europe 2022, Marshall Fund Fellow 2022, Top 50 Women in Tech in Germany 2021 (Handelsblatt) and 30 under 30 (Forbes). She speaks to us personally about how she is revolutionizing the fight against climate change and what the major challenges are.
"Even before founding Plan A, I was intensively involved with the topic of climate change - until I inevitably realized where a decisive lever for actively combating climate change lies: in private companies."
Was there an aha moment that inspired you to start Plan A and what core problem did you want to address?
My desire to learn more about climate change was influenced by a surf trip to Morocco. Already on the first day I was confronted with the fact that the beaches were littered with plastic and other rubbish. From there, the entire journey opened my eyes to people's disregard for their own ecosystem. After my return, I therefore felt the urge to deal with the scientific background of climate change and the effects of humans on our planet. A "hobby" that grew into a year-long investigation.
Given the insights I gained, I just couldn't feel more comfortable working on anything other than helping companies address climate change. And so Plan A was born. A software company that uses data and science to help companies across a wide range of industries to decarbonize and ESG optimize.
In just 5 years you revolutionized the fight against climate change. What is your secret of success?
A clear vision, a powerful team and a strong product.
Source & Copyright by Plan A
Even before founding Plan A, I was intensively involved with the topic of climate change. Discussions, studies and projects carried out - until I inevitably realized where a decisive lever for actively combating climate change lies: in private companies. These contribute significantly to climate change, while at the same time having the innovative power and flexibility to drastically improve their impact.
So we successively built a talented team and developed a SaaS platform to help companies in their transformation. Right from the start, the goal was to provide them with a data-based and scientifically sound tool to help them achieve their CO2 reduction goals and EGS performance can improve. However, in my opinion, certain basic virtues are also essential for success: positivity, humility and perseverance.
Did you find your way as a female founder with major obstacles?
When I founded Plan A in 2017, the fight against climate change still played a minor role in the public debate. That didn't necessarily make it any easier to get venture capital as a founder of a green tech. But even today, in a time with more opportunities, female founders receive less and less Financing. A rethink is urgently needed here. In addition, women set up companies differently than men - the financing offers should therefore be better tailored to the needs and ideas of female founders.
What are your biggest challenges at the moment and which industry is struggling the most?
Getting started is often the biggest challenge. The first steps are often the hardest. The second challenge is the necessary know-how. It takes project managers with diverse skills - from data collection to setting scientific goals to formulating and implementing a decarbonization plan. And the third challenge - especially in larger organizations - lies in the centralization and automation of processes.
Currently, these challenges are universal and apply to every industry. However, companies with highly complex supply chains confronted with them. Depending on the industry, the emissions in the upstream and downstream supply chains, the so-called Scope 3, can account for up to 90 percent of the total emissions. Making these visible and developing reduction strategies is anything but trivial. This is exactly why we want to simplify this process for companies and have just launched a supplier module integrated into our SaaS platform.
Source & Copyright by Plan A
What do you think of sustainability goals tied to CEO bonuses?
Sustainability does not exist in silos. It cannot be implemented successfully if only individuals derive benefits from it. On the contrary: It must be anchored as an integral part of the long-term corporate strategy. And every single employee has to make a crucial contribution every day. In order to implement this successfully, you have to create a sustainable mindset and sharpen the values that the company and thus every employee stands for.
The ESG are often criticized for the fact that companies can achieve a good rating despite environmentally harmful business models. What do you think about this?
ESG is a set of indicators. The categorization into environmental, social and governance criteria seems legitimate as it encompasses all the dimensions needed for companies to perform better for the environment and people. What is missing, however, are clear frameworks and standards for non-financial reporting that companies can use as a guide. There is an urgent need for a standardized, reliable and consistent reporting framework. Including clear deadlines.
This would also be a crucial means of putting an end to greenwashing and questionable ratings. This is already underway with the introduction of the EU taxonomy at EU level and the development of new regulations such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). However, as long as there are too many frameworks, the weight, importance and distribution of the ESG criteria will remain vague, non-transparent and difficult to compare. This creates confusion and calls into question the credibility of these frameworks and reporting. To counteract this, we need to align the principles of sustainability accounting. This is the only way we can generate transparency for the performance and goals of organizations.
What is the goal of your Greentech Alliance and why are such networks important?
Without Greentech, the transformation to a sustainable economy is unthinkable. Green technology is already making an invaluable contribution to the fight against climate change. And in order to network young and innovative companies from exactly this segment and to offer them a collaborative platform, we founded the Greentech Alliance. It now connects well over 2.000 startups with more than 500 consultants from VCs, media and business. In this way, it forms a powerful community that offers every member access to knowledge, best practice, experts and funding sources. But that's not all. In addition, it also allows other stakeholders and the public to participate in the transformation process via various channels and events and provides information on sustainability-related topics.
What can we expect from Plan A in the future?
We expect continued rapid growth in the coming months. Be it in terms of sales, the number of employees, opening up new markets or expanding our customer base. One of our main areas of focus will be to further develop our software platform: The AI Competence and extend the scientifically based calculation and decarbonization tools to additional sectors.
As for our customers, we aim to decarbonize their businesses by an average of 15 to 30 percent over the next few years. Given the size of the companies we work with, that's quite an ambitious task. However, we firmly believe that this is possible with the software we have developed. The recommendations on the platform alone have a potential of up to 60 percent.