This startup wants to show the impact Fortune 500 companies have on the environment and society. Check out the 18-slide pitch deck Upright used to raise $5.2 million.
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- Finnish startup Upright just landed a 5 million euros seed round (around $5.2 million).
- The platform reveals the impact the world’s largest companies have on the environment and society.
- Check out the 18-slide pitch deck Upright used to raise its first round from VC Planet A.
Annu Nieminen has always found solace in math. She saw it as a tool to bring people together, overcome misconceptions, and understand phenomena. Naturally curious, she was also interested in the way the world worked, and felt anxious about the future of the planet.
Nieminen applied her analytical mindset to understanding how a business’ product or service, capital invested, taxes paid, jobs, and resource use impact the world. The engineer-turned-McKinsey consultant ended up in Silicon Valley interviewing investors, academics, and founders on how they measure impact.
She couldn’t find anyone working on a tool to show the overall negative or positive impact of businesses so decided to do it herself – “as the cliche goes,” she told Insider.
Nieminen has been quietly building her company, Upright, since 2017. The Helsinki-based startup has been bootstrapped until now, as it announces a 5 million euros seed round (around $5.2 million).
ESG reporting is currently a box-ticking exercise and focuses on financial risk, while carbon accounting tracks incremental change without oversight as to whether the business is an overall net positive or negative, Nieminen said.
Upright draws on scientific databases, company disclosures, and a range of other market and government data sources to establish a top-down assessment of a business’s impact on the environment, health, society, and knowledge. This is used to contextualize sustainability disclosures, and targets, and create an overall sum of positive or negative impact for the different categories. It also benchmarks businesses against regulations such as the EU taxonomy and UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It works by stimulating the global private sector, and all of its products and services, the cofounder and CEO said. “Let’s start with GHG emissions … We take the human-caused anthropogenic emissions by the IPCC, we take the total that the global private sector is causing, and we allocate it across that network of products.
“We start to understand that if you’re looking at an iPhone, for example, it’s not just what Apple says in its scope one, two or three calculations, but it’s the actual calculation of first looking at mobile phones, what part of the global aluminum industry is flowing into mobile devices in general, then smartphones, then Apple. This is the macro level of making sure that everything actually like adds up to 100%.”
Nieminen said this will help businesses understand where they can have the biggest impact instead of optimizing low-hanging fruit that make up a small proportion of emissions. The platform also allows for scenario modeling.
“This is the most mathematically the most difficult problem I’ve ever thought about. It is impossible to solve this perfectly, but it’s a very bad excuse for not trying to solve it at all. It’s a very bad excuse for not trying to bring some analytical rigor,” Nieminen added.
Institutional investors are Upright’s sweet spot customers, as it can help them evaluate investments. Its client list already includes Nasdaq, private equity and venture capital firms Permira and EQT, and asset managers Invesco and Nordea.
There is also an open-access version of the SaaS platform; data is currently available for Fortune 500 companies. The fresh cash will be used to increase this to 20,000 companies by spring 2023, with it growing from there. Nieminen, who believes such data should be publicly available for transparency, hopes everyone from job candidates and consumers will use it to help them make career and purchasing decisions.
German firm Planet A Ventures led the round alongside First Fellow Partners, an early-stage fund founded by entrepreneur Risto Siilasmaa, who is also the former chair of Nokia. Upright’s team of 35 will double with the cash injection.
Check out the 18-slide redacted pitch deck below.