Tell me about Twig, its work and projects…
Twig is a London-based fintech & circular economy scale-up. Simply said, we combine digital banking and re-commerce features into one platform. Our users can value and resell their unneeded/unwanted items such as fashion or electronics via our app. After uploading them, users instantly receive the cash for them and only need to ship their items to us afterwards. So, we empower our users to participate in the circular economy, i.e., they contribute to a sustainable future while even making money. We guarantee that none of the items that we receive end up in landfill but are either reused, refurbished or recycled. We embed our core proposition into a suite of impact analytics and features so that users can see the impact that they create and actively reduce their footprint (e.g. by planting trees or offsetting emissions). We focus on Gen Z users.
What are the challenges in the industry you operate in?
One of the key challenges lies in the area of reverse logistics. Many sectors’ reverse logistics infrastructure is relatively immature which means that we need to spend a lot of time to set up our operational infrastructure in a way that enables users to have a smooth experience in uploading their items and sending them to us.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you go about business? What trends do you see for the future?
The pandemic was actually one of the triggers for starting Twig. We thought that people spend more and more time at home and what to do best than earning some money from “decluttering”. So, we tried to offer people a way to easily turn their things into cash. This is a much better solution than holding on to them for a long time or discarding of them.
In terms of general trends, I see some of the key requirements for a wider circular economy transformation becoming reality. For instance, the prioritization of usage over ownership or the increasing relevance of resale value when purchase decisions are made. These trends are still in their infancy in today’s consumer society and I expect that they will lead to a paradigm change in how people consume – and in how products are designed, priced and offered.
What is your biggest objective as a speaker?
I hope to educate and inspire my audience. Educate in a way that the circular economy is not a new phenomenon, and to raise awareness for the systemic challenges and “underexplored” solutions that often start from the bottom up rather than being stipulated by policy or industry (i.e., top-down). Secondly, I hope to inspire audiences by bringing circular solutions to their attention that build on really cool technology such as mycelium-based construction material, biodegradable drinking containers from seaweed or insect farming with bio-waste to produce high-quality proteins. I think these examples show that there are many unexplored avenues in sustainable innovation that are also based on a closer connection to, and better understanding of, the natural processes that constitute the world that we live in.
Could you share with us the points of discussion (the input that you provided) during the panel(s) at the ‘Arctic15 Helsinki’ Conference?
In my keynote speech I talked about the role of start-ups in systemic transformation processes towards a circular economy. I identified 4 different roles that start-ups adopt to drive innovation beyond their direct business models. These are conveners, pioneers, stimulators and mentors. I argue that private and public actors can learn from start-ups’ activates in this regard to drive systemic innovation.
In the panel, I talked about the role of consumes and emphasized that circular business models must always have a compelling case from the consumer perspective. Often, they are very complex and involve a variety of stakeholders so it is up to the focal companies to shape and communicate the value proposition in a way that consumers are not overwhelmed but rather taken along in this journey.
As a leader, what are the factors both professional and personal that drive you? What keeps you going? Apart from the inspiration that I mention in the question above (which are key drivers for me), I am driven by the motivation to close the gap between humans and nature that we have created over the past 50-100 years. We barely understand where most of the things that we consume daily come from while all of them are based on our natural environment. I think a better understanding will lead to many benefits and increased consciousness of humanity as a whole. Also, I want to contribute to closing the gap within humanity in terms of wealth, access to education and resources and decision-making. I think that the high levels of inequality that dominate our societies are counterproductive to progress – so, I think there are many ways for current underrepresented groups to benefit from failure that the “top 10%” have made and are making while the “top 10%” can learn a lot from slowing down and reflecting rather than blindly striving for infinite growth.
In your opinion, do digital events give you a similar level of feedback/result vis-à-vis the live versions? What would you say were the biggest pros and cons of both formats? Which do you prefer?
It depends on the goals of the event. If I want to exchange with participants and network with others, I think there is no way around live events at this point in time. For less transactional, and more plenary/educational events, digital formats can work as well as live versions. Also, the environmental footprint of digital events is considerably lower than for in-person (e.g., participant travel) which is an important factor for me. But still, personally, I prefer in-person events because the dynamic of debating my views with others who I have potentially never met before is very rewarding to me and can be hardly replicated in a digital format in my opinion.
What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer in-person events as compared to hybrid or virtual? How soon do you think in-person events would return?
I am happy in-person events have returned J
In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges to returning to ‘In-Person’ events? How could we mitigate risks?
I think many events have already proven that the challenges can be overcome. I would be curious about ways to reduce the travel footprint for in-person events, e.g., by organizing an event in regional hubs to limit travel distance for participants while still allowing for in-person exchange.
Eventible.com is a review platform catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision?
Yes, absolutely. It is not only about quantitative factors (which many events already communicate well, e.g., number of participants, number of exhibitors etc.) but also qualitative aspects matter. Smaller events with a well selected speaker/panellist group and audience can be much more impactful than large events that try to “cover too much ground” at once.
Finally, do you have a favourite mocktail or drink? We’d be delighted to know.
have Caribbean roots, so anything with tropical fruits, rum and coconuts is typically down my alley. Fresh fruit juice is probably the only real craving I have in my life J