Product, Service & Design Innovation
Startup ‘Democratizes’ Sustainability Reporting Software

Sustainability reporting isn’t easy, and it’s rarely cheap. Large companies may have the finances and dedicated staffs to develop custom sustainability software, but small businesses often must make do without — relying on “old-school” technologies such as Excel spreadsheets.

As one might imagine, this makes it difficult for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to practically track their sustainability performance.

That’s why a company called Rapport created a cloud-based software platform that allows SMBs to more easily collect and track their own sustainability metrics, such as water usage or the number of commuter miles their employees drive each day.

“There are two tangled issues that are creating a market for Rapport,” John Rooks, co-founder of Rapport, told Sustainable Brands. “The first is supply chain pressure — large companies are reaching into their supply chain for environmental and social data. The second is affordability of solutions to the small and midsize business to comply with these data request. Many systems are simply over engineered and priced for this market.”

More broadly, sustainability lacks a “democratizing” moment where it moves from being “for” the wealthy, Rooks said, to for the masses. In other words: being not just for large companies with big budgets and slower ROI tolerances, but also for small companies with more limited budgets that want to reduce overhead costs and be better corporate citizens but can’t afford current market solutions.

By democratizing sustainability for millions of businesses, Rapport aspires to become the “QuickBooks” for sustainability reporting.

The company uses a non-subscription model similar to Quickbooks or Hubspot. For $99 per month per site, companies can track their environmental impact on the Rapport platform.

“With beautiful dashboards and analytics, we then make that data relevant and meaningful, allowing them to see inefficiencies in their system,” Rooks said. “Rapport customers also receive ‘Best Practices’ which show them ways to reduce their impact and the costs associated with that impact.

“Then, they can use the dashboard to engage employees to collaboratively find ways to reduce even more costs and impact. Finally, of course, it makes it easy to then comply with supply chain data mandates.”

Rapport deployed its technology for a project with Baxter Brewing, a craft brewery in Lewiston, Maine. The brewery was in the process of growing by 400 percent and wanted to keep an eye on their environmental impact. Rapport was deployed for the company’s brewing operations, and later its warehousing operations, which helped reduce water usage by about a gallon per gallon of beer produced.

Today, Baxter Brewing uses around 3.5 gallons of water per gallon of beer, Rooks said. This not only saves the brewery money, but also helps reinforce its brand identity as being connected with the outdoors.

Rapport also is helping a large financial services company comply with data mandates from its customer, AT&T, Rooks said, which includes AT&T surveys, CDP questionnaires and EcoDesk’s data requests. Rapport helps the firm track and disclose its environmental footprint to keep AT&T happy.

From a tech perspective, Rooks claims Rapport is getting closer to the “Holy Grail”: a real-time sustainability dashboard and integration with the Internet of Things. This is supported by a paper released in May by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which claimed that future improvements in information technology will lead to greater transparency, with sustainability reporting moving fully into the digital realm and occurring in real-time instead of annually.

Over the next year, Rapport will be rolling out social metrics tracking, as well as some new process improvement wizards top drive waste out of customers’ systems.

“We have a singular focus,” Rooks said, “The democratization of business sustainability.”


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