“Sustainability isn’t just an environmental concern; it touches every aspect of your business”

In the vibrant world of business, where innovation and profit often take centre stage, it’s rare to find an endeavour that intertwines entrepreneurial spirit with a profound commitment to the planet. In view of our upcoming panel discussion featuring key players in the sustainable luxury space on Tuesday 17th October, 6:30pm, we wanted to shine a spotlight on a remarkable entrepreneur who has embarked on an inspiring journey of purpose-driven success. Meet Mark Stringer, the visionary Co-founder and CMO of SKOOT, a trailblazing venture at the forefront of sustainable transformation.

We ask Mark about the inspiration behind co-founding SKOOT and your journey towards becoming a Top 5% B-Corp

“I’ve been fortunate to spend my entire career in marketing, a field that has never felt like work. About 15 years ago, I founded my own agency network, PrettyGreen, after a client gave me Wiings. Working with renowned brands for over 25 years and even starting my own spirits business, Metropolitan Spirits, has been incredibly fulfilling. However, I began to feel restless and in search of a higher purpose.

In 2019, the opportunity arose. Greg Gormley, a past client who had built a £100m tech business, reached out after a near-fatal motorbike accident. During his recovery, he committed to creating a purpose-driven business. We met at Home House to discuss his idea centred around social mobility, tree planting and carbon negativity. We collaborated to turn this concept into a mission, leveraging his financial and tech expertise alongside my marketing skills.

Over the years, SKOOT has grown, adapting to our growing concern for the environment. Focusing on reversing climate change, especially in the hospitality sector, we recently completed an over-funded £1m funding round for scaling.”

We ask Mark how SKOOT’s climate platform helps businesses address their carbon footprint and makes a positive impact on the environment

“SKOOT’s platform empowers businesses, individuals, and communities to achieve Net-Zero by identifying, avoiding and offsetting carbon emissions. Notably, the food, hospitality and dining sectors contribute to 20% of total carbon emissions.

Our aim is to lead a green dining revolution, offering affordable, real-time solutions. Our Eco-Contribution model addresses carbon emissions linked to guest dining and overnight stays. This involves actions such as removing ocean plastic, planting certified trees and supporting carbon projects for every cover or bill.

Through virtual impact dashboards, businesses can transparently display their sustainability journey, fostering stronger customer relationships, driving positive engagement and encouraging greater accountability for carbon footprints.”

The journey to becoming a B-Corp requires rigorous adherence to ethical and sustainable practices. We ask Mark to share some of the challenges he encountered in this journey and how he overcame them

“SKOOT takes pride in being a Top 5% B Corp, embodying a commitment to people, planet and profit. The journey to attain B Corp status has been both challenging and rewarding, as it should be.

We embarked on this journey shortly after our establishment, giving us the advantage of aligning our processes with B Corp standards right from the start. Naomi, who leads SKOOT Operations, played a pivotal role in driving this process forward. Initially, we underestimated the complexity as a small business, but we quickly realized the rigorous nature of the process, requiring full accountability and hands-on effort to succeed.

Our approach to challenges was rooted in fostering a culture of continuous improvement, viewing each obstacle as an opportunity for innovation. Throughout the application process, we meticulously examined every facet of our operations, from resource consumption optimization to bolstering employee well-being.

Our team’s unwavering dedication and the ongoing support of our NGO partners were instrumental in achieving our status as a Top 5% B Corp. This journey not only transformed our business but also positioned us as a standout example of responsible business practices within the industry.”

We ask Mark to provide some examples of successful partnerships or initiatives where SKOOT has made a significant impact in reducing carbon footprints

 “We’ve successfully eliminated over 5,800 tonnes of CO2 and removed 40,000 plastic bottles from our oceans. Our tree planting efforts have also thrived, with more than 950,000 trees already planted, rapidly approaching the 1 million milestone that will mark a pivotal achievement for SKOOT.

Collaborations have already begun with prominent entities such as Oracle, Gloria Food, Bupa, Good Energy, and major global hospitality companies. Amid these accomplishments, it’s important not to overlook the positive human impact that climate change reversal efforts can bring. Initiatives like tree planting, plastic removal, and carbon projects contribute to several of the UN’s Social Development Goals, promoting equality, poverty reduction, and clean water. Through our endeavours, we’ve generated approximately 8,000 employment days and contributed to community and ecosystem restoration.

Our Eco Contribution model has gained traction among a variety of dining establishments, both large and small. A remarkable example is The Architect, a Cambridge gastro pub that has planted over 20,000 trees (offsetting 117 tonnes of CO2) by simply adding a tree for every cover.

In addition to prestigious London restaurants like Dream International’s Amazonico and Coya, who collectively planted over 110,000 trees in Brazil, we’ve expanded into the events, fan experiences and immersive space. We assisted Bupa’s Eco Disruptive program by planting 23,000 trees and removing 1,400 ocean plastic bottles for a London event that brought together 70 startups from around the world. Our footprint extends to brands like LEGO, Not on the High Street, Audible, and all events under the Adoreum network.

Beyond these achievements, we’ve also engaged with a diverse range of businesses, including accountants, legal firms, commercial property companies, and marketing agencies.”

We ask Mark how important collaboration among businesses, consumers and governments in tackling the urgent issue of climate change is and how SKOOT fosters such collaboration within its sustainability framework

“Collaboration stands as the cornerstone in the battle against climate change, arguably the most urgent global challenge of our era. Addressing it effectively necessitates a united front to achieve substantive results. Our platform serves as a unifying force, rallying businesses, individuals, and communities to spark collective action.

Yet, we cannot merely await large-scale interventions or taxation to catalyse change. We must make the cause relatable and personal. Presently, the concept of carbon emissions remains elusive for many, and our goal is to establish an understanding of carbon akin to comprehending food calories.

As global awareness about our environmental impact grows, businesses have a dual obligation. It’s not solely a moral duty to provide sustainable choices to customers but also a commercial necessity, given the mounting consumer consciousness about the sustainability of their purchases.

The core of the SKOOT model revolves around collaboration. Our close partnerships with eminent NGOs like Eden Reforestation, Plastic Bank and carbon project delivery partners like HomeBiogas ensure the inclusion of the most credible and validated initiatives. Additionally, our point-of-sale system partners play a pivotal role in streamlining operations for swift setup. The more we foster collaboration, the faster we can collectively tackle the task of reversing climate change.”

What are Mark’s aspirations for SKOOT and its role in shaping a more sustainable future for businesses across different industries?

“We’re already a global platform with clients spanning the UK, USA, and South Africa, signifying SKOOT’s rapid international scaling. Our focus on the hospitality sector is particularly invigorating. Our attention to events is also growing, driven by our ability to seamlessly integrate and enhance experiences, whether they’re fashion events, product launches, or music festivals. Given that events inherently generate greenhouse gases, it’s paramount for organizers to both minimize their carbon footprint and offset the remainder.

Our global sustainability efforts are also expanding, including our carbon offset marketplace featuring renowned projects. Notably, we were recently chosen by Good Energy as their long-term carbon offset partner, a testament to our favourable positioning in this field. Our ambition is to widen the range of global sustainability initiatives we support – from tree planting and plastic removal to tree conservation and backing renewable carbon projects.”

We ask Mark for insights into how businesses can integrate sustainability measures into their operations

“Our experience at SKOOT has taught us that small steps can lead to significant change. Some simple ways businesses can integrate sustainability into their operations include:

Harness your sustainability champions and build a team: In every business sustainability champions already exist. Harness them and begin to drive a top down and bottom up approach. It’s essential to educate your team about the importance of sustainability and make sustainability part of your company culture by sharing information and success stories.

Assess Your Footprint: Begin by understanding your business’s carbon footprint. Identify areas of high emissions, such as energy usage, transportation or waste generation. This assessment will guide your sustainability strategy – you can start with a zero cost assessment by calculating your carbon with SKOOT.

Set Tangible Goals: Define specific sustainability goals that align with your business values and operations. These goals could be related to reducing energy consumption, minimising waste, or supporting carbon offset projects.

Collaborate Across Departments: Sustainability isn’t just an environmental concern; it touches every aspect of your business. Encourage cross-departmental collaboration to find innovative ways to reduce your environmental impact.

Implement Sustainable Practices: Start with practical changes, such as energy efficient lighting, waste reduction strategies, and sourcing sustainable materials. These incremental changes can have a significant impact over time, such as ensuring you have a 50/50 split of vegetarian to meat for events.

Engage Stakeholders: Involve employees, customers, and suppliers in your sustainability journey. Seek their input and ideas on how to improve practices. Transparent communication fosters a sense of shared responsibility, which is why we’ve created our impact dashboard.

Measure and Monitor: Regularly track your progress against your sustainability goals. Monitoring allows you to celebrate successes and identify areas that need improvement, keeping your sustainability initiatives on track.

Continuous Improvement: Sustainability is an ongoing process. Regularly review your strategies and explore new opportunities to reduce your environmental impact.

Embrace Imperfection: What you do will be wrong, it won’t be perfect, and you can do more. But don’t let the quest for perfection stop you from starting the journey.

Greg will be in the sustainability panel event in a few weeks time and I’ll be attending and always happy to help offer free advice.”

We ask Mark about his experience at Home Grown?

“I like the ‘open house’ and welcome feeling you get whenever you walk in. There’s always a really lovely vibe around the House.

Plus, there’s always an eclectic mix of people that creates a great atmosphere.

We actually had our first ever Board Meeting at Home Grown, due to the perfect location and great atmosphere, which hopefully gives you a sense of how proud we are to show off the space.

As we’re part of the Adoreum Network, it’s a space that a lot of the network connect and use.

As we draw the curtain on Mark’s journey and the remarkable impact of SKOOT, we invite you to stay tuned for our next Members’ Spotlight, where we’ll continue to illuminate the remarkable stories that define our vibrant community—a community united by the shared vision of creating a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

If you’re interested in enriching your entrepreneurial experience and finding a strong community of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders then contact our membership team at Home Grown.