Doom and Gloom? Not necessarily An interview with Olivia Sibony, co-founder of Grubclub
Olivia Sibony talks about the opportunity Sustainable startups have to change the world, and why it is important to invest in them.
Giulia MagnaniLondon - 10/09/2018
CEO spoke to Olivia Sibony, co-founder of Grubclub and now Head of Impact Crowdfunding at Seedtribe, by Angel Investment Network. Olivia has been mentioned on the Angel Investment Network Blog as one of the top Female Founders in 2018
Founded in 2013 and recently acquired by Vizeat, Grubclub was a platform that connected talented entrepreneurial chefs to underused spaces, enabling them to set up a temporary restaurant. Later on, the platform also became a go-to place for users to search and book dinners.
Olivia told us about her background as an entrepreneur and gave us insights on the world of sustainable startups, which she is particularly eager to support as part of the Angel Investment Network.
Where was your passion for sustainability born? I guess I was somehow born with it. One of the reasons could be that I grew up in Monaco and I was always shocked by how some people lived such incredibly unsustainable and unethical lives. I probably just developed a sort of allergic reaction to the life-style, and it has remained a constant in my life ever since. I think this background of mine has been the initial force that has pushed me into wanting to see a change in our world, and actually be an active player in it. The more I work for it, the more I realise how our destiny is non-negotiable: it is inextricably tied to that of the people and environment that surround us. The more we respect each other, the more we can prosper all together in the long term.
What role do startups play in sustainability? We’ve reached a point where our population is continuously growing at an increasingly fast rate, and so is its damaging impact on our planet. Now, we can either look at this with Doom and Gloom or view it as an opportunity for change. It is an exciting time to start up businesses that are not just not going to do harm, but are actually going to positively impact society and the planet.
Entrepreneurs should accept this challenge and create companies that will benefit everyone around them. They have the advantage, over big corporations, of being nimble, innovative and able to take risks.
Could you give us a definition of sustainable startup? I don’t think there is a universal definition for it. However, the ones we work with do share several characteristics: they are for profit, their mission is to address some sort of social or environmental problem, and they are aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
What is the main quality “sustainable startups” have in common? I’d say that what Entrepreneurs of sustainable startups have in common is the fact that their mission is much bigger than themselves. Because of this, they experience a wider dissolution of their ego, understanding that they constitute a vehicle for the resolution of a problem that goes way beyond them as individuals. Of course, all of this combined with the qualities that make up any great entrepreneur: laser-focus, passion, persistence, commitment, perseverance
In your opinion, what are the common qualities that investors look for when investing in startups? Well, some of the classic features investors look at in startups are of course the team, how complementary the skills are within it, and to what extent they share the vision with the entrepreneurs. They also look at market size and whether margins and the business execution plan make sense. A startup investor is a sort of gambler; however, always with calculated risks.
What do you think is the main support sustainable startups need? I think it would be extremely important to see a stronger collaboration between governments, corporates and startups, as the challenges they are facing are, as previously mentioned, very big.
Being an entrepreneur and founder herself, Olivia told us how one of the main difficulties she was faced with, was that of changing consumers’ behaviours and life-styles. Change is indeed a tough challenge. However, as Olivia said, entrepreneurs have the power to do so, and so does any individual. Especially, when we surround ourselves by the right people.