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Financial Health Tech Startups Put Consumers In The Driver’s Seat


It’s all about accessibility: A growing number of startups are making technology for financial management and well-being available to individuals and small businesses that was previously only provided to the wealthy or big institutions.

That’s the big takeaway of a report about global accelerator Finance Forward, which focuses on tech-driven financial health startups. Village Capital introduced Finance Forward two years ago with partners MetLife Foundation and PayPal.

“It’s a pretty revolutionary change,” says Matt Zieger, chief program officer-Americas at Village Capital. “It puts consumers in the driver’s seat.”

The report highlights examples of financial health innovation and trends among the 120 cohort members and 1,100 startups. Called The State of Global Financial Health Innovation, the findings focus on Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, the United States and South Asia.

Fintech Subset

A subset of fintech innovation, the report defines financial health as a person’s “ability to feel comfortable with their financial present and future; their confidence in how to manage their money, get a loan at a fair rate to deal with an emergency or grow a business; and their ability to build wealth over time.”

The report breaks startups down into several categories: addressing personal or small-business lending with, for example, alternative lending products, access to capital or technology for handling debt; helping people build their savings, manage their wealth and plan for the future (think insuretech or proptech); assisting workers to tap opportunities to increase their income; and helping individuals pay for necessities and send money back and forth.

In the U.S. , (24 companies), the report focuses on higher education financing, payroll tech and wealth management.

For example, Edquity’s technology helps colleges improve students’ financial security by increasing access to emergency resources and funding. “The same kind of systems that might have been made available to the college itself are being made directly available to the student,” says Zieger.

Cohort Winners

Home Lending Pal, one of the two winners of the U.S. 2020 cohort—it won a $45,000 grant—uses AI and block chain to let homebuyers research the lending market and get access to credit and other information that only lenders typically are privy to. The result: Borrowers can make better-informed decisions about specific lenders and find out how to improve their odds of getting approved.

“We can answer questions like, What is your likelihood for approval from different lenders, how long would it take you to close, what is the best loan option for you and who are the best lenders that will give you the highest chance of success,” says co-founder Bryan Young.

The other U.S. winner, Manifest, targets the less than 90% of individuals with 401(k)s who fail to transfer money from their previous employer to their current one, leaving a lot of money on the table. The platform takes care of rolling over their retirement money into a single account, a process that under other circumstances can involve a maze of paperwork and phone calls.

One attribute many financial health companies have in common: They typically work through a business, like an employer, to distribute their service, though the end-user is the consumer or employee.

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10 Entrepreneurs Share Their Top Writing Tips For Aspiring Thought Leaders


Getting your voice out there is an important part of becoming a successful thought leader. However, it can be difficult to know the right way to convey your perspectives on different topics without a strong writing foundation.

For those entrepreneurs who have never written before, the thought of publishing a piece can seem like a far-off goal—but it doesn’t have to be if you have the right strategies in place. To help guide you in the right direction, 10 Young Entrepreneur Council members shared their best writing tips for aspiring thought leaders.

1. Structure Your Argument

To be a successful thought leader, it’s very important to be able to convey your ideas across different formats, including both verbal and written communication. Written articles and blogs are fantastic ways to express your perspective. Structuring your argument can make a massive difference in how it is perceived. When drafting any type of content, be sure to zero in on the main message, or thesis, that you want to get across first. Back up that thesis with at least three supporting points, citing research where relevant. Wrap up with a big picture stance on what the future holds or the greater significance of your argument. – Kelley Weaver, Melrose PR

2. Know Your Audience

Entrepreneurs who are new to writing and publishing online content should remember who their readers are at all times. When you put the reader first, you’re better able to create relevant topic ideas, pitch to the right publications, appeal to their interests, solve their problems and much more. And knowing your readers leads to a better understanding of what they need so you can create insightful content that makes you stand out. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

3. Leverage Your Own Blog Or Social Media

Start with self-producing content and publishing it on your blog or social media. Becoming a published author for a major book publisher takes years of producing content, but with persistence, it can happen. Once you’ve established a portfolio of content on your blog, you can then start looking for guest posting opportunities on other blogs and news websites. There are two ways to reach out. One option is to target a specific website and write a specific piece of content to complement that website. Pitch as if the content was written for them and ask them if they will publish it and give you your own byline. Alternatively, you can reach out to a target website and ask if they accept guest authors and if there is a specific topic they’d like you to write about. – Kristopher Brian Jones, LSEO.com

4. Gather Inspiration From Others

Read how different bloggers, columnists and journalists express certain points, support their arguments and qualify their statements. Use references and sources that validate your thoughts, and summarize key points that might be too abstract for some readers. The more you write, the better you learn to articulate your ideas—and you become more strategic and calculated in your business decision-making too. You’ll find that, in doing so, you’re able to attract a larger audience that’ll consistently be eager to learn more about your business successes and struggles. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress

5. Create A Schedule

Every valuable skill requires a significant investment of time. Writing is no different. While not everyone can spend 10,000 hours developing their ability to format and assemble words to form concrete images, they can create opportunities to hone their craft. Create a schedule that allows you to practice your writing skills every day, or at least once a week, so you can keep growing. Write more than you intend to publish, and use all the tools at your disposal to edit. Writing allows you to communicate. The right words can persuade an investor to provide capital or convince a prospect to research your products or services further. You can share your knowledge and establish yourself as an authority. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. Be An Active Reader

I always tell people that to be a better writer, you should be a better reader. With constant technology overload, we read a lot thanks to work, emails, social media, texting—but this is passive reading. When I say better reading, I mean active reading that stimulates your brain and makes you simultaneously react both intellectually and emotionally. Whether you consume the news, fiction, biographies, nonfiction or blogs, read stuff that piques your interest, challenges your perceptions and gets your brain churning. From there, your writing will naturally improve because you’re expanding your vocabulary, knowledge and views. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.

7. Write Often

There’s this switch in perception when it comes to talking and writing. We all talk—that’s how we’ve done anything since we learned to say our first words. But once communication becomes putting words to paper, we feel intimidated and unworthy—and it’s all right. Business writing isn’t like the essay writing struggle we had in high school and college. You’re not writing to showcase your literary skills; it’s all about communication. So like most things that scare us, exposure to it will help you get better at it. Write and write often. Every day. It could be a LinkedIn post, a tweet, a blog post, an email. Just write. Get good at being consistent and other factors that improve your writing will follow suit. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Be Vulnerable

Although it can be challenging to do so, don’t shy away from mistakes you’ve made when creating content. Share what went wrong and be vulnerable. Most people can relate to feelings of self-doubt and the experience of failure. Writing about your real experience will give your audience content they haven’t read before, and you’ll build your following online and establish yourself as a thought leader and person of influence. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

9. Be Sincere

Some of the worst writing in existence is by people who try to use bigger words than are necessary or by those who use a tone that is overly professional or aloof. No one wants to read insincere writing, no matter how grammatically correct it is. Audiences can smell pretentiousness a mile away. At the same time, it’s okay to hire a professional writer if you need one. They can help touch up important documents or make technical writing more palatable to general audiences. Just make sure they don’t compromise your tone or message. It’s your voice and your own charisma that makes your writing unforgettable to your audience. – Shu Saito, All Filters

10. Start Before You’re Ready

My top tip for entrepreneurs who haven’t been published yet: Start before you’re ready. Entrepreneurs are role models, and we only build thought leadership by showing up and doing the work. Many of us fear we “aren’t good enough” at writing or don’t have the background yet, but we are all capable. Getting started, making mistakes and keeping momentum builds any skill. My suggestion isn’t the obvious “journal daily” or “read for hours.” Instead, we learn by surrounding ourselves with others who have similar goals. I suggest joining a peer group of entrepreneurs who also publish or publish regularly to inspire action. – Libby Rothschild, Libby Rothschild

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How Making Money Can Be An Articulation Of Your Values


Across the globe, funding for female founders lags that of male founders. While in some countries and sectors progress has been made, you could be forgiven for feeling despondent about pace of change. The antidote for despondency is 30 minutes with Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia, managing partner of the Astia Fund.

Astia, a global organization that works to level the investment playing field for startups, recently launching a $100 million dollar venture fund to invest in high growth companies that have women in a position of power and equity. Vosmek has been investing for the last 25 year and describes what she does as “a very personal articulation of my values.” 

Vosmek is emphatic that making money doesn’t run against her ideals – her ideals are why she’s made money. “As an investor, I’ve made a lot of money,” says Vosmek. “I want to start there, because that’s what investors do. Equally, I’ve driven a lot of innovation to market and I don’t mean ‘I’ personally – I mean I’ve backed some incredible entrepreneurs.” As an example, she mentions Alydia Health, which was recently acquired by Merck for $240 million. “Alydia Health has not only a phenomenal innovation for doctors to save lives, it is at a price point that can be used both in developed markets like the US and the UK, and emerging markets,” she says.

“This is a device that when you walk up and down Sandhill Road and talk to VCs, you might have heard, if you had been sitting by my side: ‘Hmm, a medical device for childbirth, that sounds like a niche market,” says Vosmek. “‘Aren’t you ignoring half the market if you are only serving women?’ Never mind this is the leading cause of maternal death worldwide and there are no good alternatives.”

So why the lack of progress? “It has far less to do with men wanting to keep women out, as it has to do with different personal, social, life experiences, giving a different lens to what matters,” says Vosmek. “And that, at the end of the day, is what investment is about. You are putting your money behind what you believe matters. And often it’s about who you believe matters. I happen to believe that women also matter.”

“If women had the same access to capital as their male counterparts, within the US economy we would see between a 12-20% growth in GDP,” says Vosmek. “This is just huge, and as an economist, there are very few things that you can play with and get that kind of result.”

Vosmek doesn’t have time for solutions focusing on just mentoring, supporting or empowering women: “I want to say, get over that,” she says. “The work is to invest in women, and if you’re not investing in women, you’re failing.” When asked about the role of government she says “your job is to convene the conversations that lead to investment; not lead to more coaching, not lead to more sponsoring; not lead to more hand waving. 92% of all VCs are white male, it’s that simple. And when you have that profound disparity, or what I’ll call that consistent a phenotype, you should have no expectation to achieve any sort of result other than what we’ve seen in venture: that it invests in white men of a specific phenotype.”

Vosmek credits the use of data and networks as critical to her ability to get deal flow representative of the populations. “My own background is I’m white, my parents are from the Midwest, I grew up middle class, and so I tend to find myself very drawn to people who have a similar background to myself.” Astia’s Expert Sift, a global network of over 5,000 individuals constantly combing the planet for deal flow, is an attempt to fix this. “On average 30 individuals will evaluate a business,” says Vosmek. “They never meet the entrepreneur, because in the meeting is where bias lives, in the meeting is where we say stupid things like ‘do I believe you?’, ‘do I trust you?’, ‘do I like you?’, these are horrible investor questions. Much better questions have to do with the performance of the business in translating the opportunity to customers, and that can be reviewed in the written word. We meticulously ask only the same questions, we never deviate from questions, because deviation in questions leads to bias.”

“This past quarter we looked at $1.7 billion in opportunities,” says Vosmek. “Last year, the entire year we looked at $1 billion, so you can see our funnel is growing. What’s really exciting is that those companies, 100% of them, have women in a position of equity and influence, they have phenomenal racial representation, 25% of the companies at the top of our funnel have black female CEOs, 25% of our most recent investments have black female CEOs, that’s the measure. If the top of your funnel does not have all the same measures as the bottom of your funnel, odds are the problem is with your funnel, not with the entrepreneur.”

Vosmek is happy to talk about past mistakes. “We discovered in a most painful way that we were not investing in black and Latina females,” she says. “We held a dinner party for all the companies that had made it through our investment screening, through the Astia Expert Sift, but we had not invested in, and 80% of the CEOs were black women. At the dinner I was feeling very smug and proud of the Sift for sourcing so many great, diverse CEOs, because people always talk about it being a pipeline issue, and I was feeling smug that Astia had no pipeline issue. But 10 minutes into the dinner I realized, wait a minute, these are the companies we did not invest in, we had deemed investment worthy, but did not invest in. So, I went back to the portfolio and we had zero black female CEOs in the actual investment portfolio. So, here I am at a dinner party filled with all the very best in class companies out of the Expert Sift that we did not invest in, and they were all black.”

“This was five years ago,” she says. “25% of our most recent investments are into black female CEOs, because it was only three years ago that we fixed the problem within Astia. We had a racial problem at the point of investment and it was so embedded, I don’t call it hidden, I call it embedded, systematically embedded. As enlightened as we were, we did not overcome it without intentionality.”

If Vosmek can make this error (if only temporarily), then anyone can. But it’s through her success that others VCs will wake up to their own errors. That’s why we should all be cheering from the sidelines, or, Vosmek would no doubt correct me, actively investing in the next generation of overlooked talent.

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The Queen Of Dancehall Shares What It Takes To Build And Maintain Wealth As An Artist And Entrepreneur Who Overcame Poverty


Internationally known as Spice, Grace Hamilton has earned the title of the “Queen of Dancehall” music for her contributions to the genre throughout her 20-year career. Jamaica-born and bred, Hamilton knew from the age of 12 that she was destined for greatness. Her late father confirmed that notion earlier in her childhood before he passed away when she nine-years-old.

Having grown up in poverty, Hamilton’s life in the Old Britain community in Portmore, Jamaica, was full of rich moments with her parents and five siblings. Watching her mother catch fish and sell it at her restaurant by the water gave her an entrepreneurial spirit. And sharing a bed with all of her siblings nurtured grit and ambition within her. 

Fast forward two decades, Hamilton is a Billboard-charting artist and serial entrepreneur who has made good on the promise she made to her younger self to work hard enough to make it out of poverty. Now, she encourages other women who have similar backgrounds to thrive no matter their profession.

Lydia T. Blanco: No one who has made it from rags to riches plans to go back. What did your plan entail as you rose to fame?

Grace “Spice” Hamilton: I tell my mom that she’s my inspiration because I watched her struggle with all of us. She truly made something out of nothing. My mother would cook one pound of rice and make sure that we all were full. We felt like we had ten pounds of rice! I come from humble beginnings, and I managed to overcome all of the adversity and boss up. On top of that, I lost my house due to a fire when I was in high school. I remember coming back from school, and my house was gone. My tagline now is, “From Homeless to Owning Houses.” Now, I own multiple homes between Jamaica and Atlanta. My journey has been a rough one, but I always tell people, “It’s not how you start the race. It’s how you end that. matters.”  

My plan as an artist was to become successful. I always wanted to be unique, energized, and keep people on their feet. My music makes you want to move. That’s why I continually reinvent things and stay consistent. Many people don’t know, but I started when I was young and made a name for myself. When you hear Spice, there is a dancehall song that most people remember. Whether it’s old or new, my goal is to make good music that will last forever.

Blanco: As a woman in a male-dominated industry, what are some ways you practice showing up for yourself?

Hamilton: As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I believe my stagecraft and versatility allow me to stand out. I think my adaptability to perform so very well on stage also gives me an edge over everyone else because dancehall music has a lot to do with performances and stage presence. I am unique, and I am one of the first artists in Jamaica to start wearing colored hair, like blue wigs. When I used to wear blue wigs, people used to think I was crazy, and now, in my twenty years in the business, it’s a trend to wear all this colored hair in Jamaica. 

Blanco: Accumulating wealth takes time, and managing it requires discipline. Can you share how you’ve been able to do both?

Hamilton: I believe that it is important to create multiple income streams to build wealth. I have multiple streams of income and various businesses. I own my label, Spice Official Entertainment, a clothing brand Graci Noir, and I own Faces & Laces, which provides full lace wigs, beauty, skincare, and more.  

Managing multiple businesses isn’t easy. As an entrepreneur, you have to make the best and sometimes hard decisions about hiring and firing. You can’t tag along with people who don’t have the same vision as you or share the same dream. 

Blanco: What has inspired the launches of your businesses?

Hamilton: My past has inspired them. The fact that I’ve been so poor and I never want to go back there. I am also a mother with two kids and I’m working diligently to break the generational curse of being born into poverty. I’m still working hard to create a bright future for all of us. 

Blanco: What advice do you have for women as they push boundaries and pursue their dreams?

Hamilton: Never to take no for an answer. As long as you believe in yourself and your product, go for it—even if others don’t believe in it. Two things I live by are prayer and hard work. It doesn’t matter what you have right now. Pray hard, work hard, and you will be successful.


The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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firing up the grill
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Did you know that over 82% of Kenyans living in urban centres use charcoal fuel to cook? Or that Nairobi residents consume over 700 tonnes of charcoal per day?

According to ICRAF, over 88 tonnes of charcoal dust is produced in Nairobi alone every day…and guess where all this waste ends up?

Some is dumped in the drainage pipes where it ends up blocking sewerage systems. Some is simply left by the roadside in nylon sacks in the middle of the night when no one is watching. But did you know that this disgusting waste can actually make you a millionaire? Well, if you are looking for a business idea that makes both economic and social sense then you might want to start converting this waste into briquettes.

Generally, the business of briquettes is performing quite well nowadays as many restaurants and institutions are looking for new ways to save on cost. And this craze is not just a “Nairobi thing”, you can actually take up this idea and replicate it in Kigali (Rwanda) or Juba (South Sudan) where the market is still green and competition is low.

Does this sound like something you would like to try? If Yes, then read carefully through the next steps.

Step One: Understand What This Business Is All About

It does not make sense to start a business you know nothing about. So it is important to understand what briquettes are, what they look like and why the market needs them. To put it simply, briquettes are blocks that are made from combustible biomass such as charcoal dust, sawdust, rice husks or paper used for cooking in a jiko.

The main benefit of briquettes is that they don’t produce smoke and are cheaper than other sources of energy. For instance, if you spend Ksh.2,000 on charcoal per month you can spend about Ksh.1,000 on briquettes and save the extra Ksh.1,000…while protecting our environment at the same time.

In a nutshell, this business is all about making good use of waste items which are in abundant supply in our urban centres. And by doing that, you get to conserve the environment and make a decent living from small amounts of capital.

Step Two: Get Trained How To Make Briquettes

Link up with a trainer near you and learn how to make briquettes. Most of the time, training is offered free of charge by NGOs and briquette machine suppliers. Through my research I was able to identify organizations that can train you and even supply you with a machine so that you can get started.

*Briquettes Machine Kenya – Located in Kiserian

*Lean Solutions Limited – Located in Nairobi.

*Kencoco Limited – Located in Mombasa.

*Practical Action NGO – Located in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kajiado, Kisumu, Mandera Turkana

*FRB Kenya (NGO) – Located in Limuru Area

In addition, you can use Google or Facebook groups to spot trainers near you.

Step Three: Get Started

Just like that – you are ready to start your own briquette-making plant. One good thing about it is that you can even start on the veranda of your house to save on cost. Note that you don’t need a license to start this kind of business except if you are starting an outlet where you will be required to pay for the county single business permit.

How Much To Invest

Option 1

Start with a manual machine with a capacity of producing 3 sacks of briquettes per day.

*Cost of Machine – Ksh.20,000

*Miscellaneous – Ksh.5,000

TOTAL BUDGET – Ksh.25,000

Option 2

Start with an electric machine with a capacity of producing 20 sacks of briquettes per day

*Cost of Machine – Ksh.150,000

*Miscellaneous – Ksh.10,000

TOTAL BUDGET – Ksh.150,000

It costs roughly about Ksh.300 to produce 1 bag of briquettes. So depending on your financial strength and market-base you can choose to go for the option that suits you best.

You can inquire from Kafum Engineering Services http://kafumengineering.co.ke (0727131184) on availability of electric briquette making machines here in Kenya.
How Much Profit

A bag of briquettes goes for Ksh.1,000 and above on the marketplaces. Particularly, hotels, restaurants and schools tend to buy in bulk hence offering wider fortunes for you. Your profit margin will depend on production and sales capacity.

Option 1

Using a manual machine you can make about Ksh.2,000 per day or Ksh.50,000 per month.

Option 2

Using an electric machine you can make about Ksh.10,000 per day or Ksh.250,000 per month.

Final Word

You can do this alone or as a chama. In fact, it does not matter how small you start. What really counts is your ability to nurture the business and market to the right clientele.

As the world seeks to minimize on pollution and wastage, and as our tree cover diminishes by the minute, the future is bright for anyone who choose to engage in briquettes business.

Written By: Justine Nyachieo
Business Man & Mentor

Postcards From The Edge – U.K. Net Zero Accelerator Offers A Snapshot Of The Climate Tech Ecosystem


“COP26 will shine a light on the United Kingdom’s innovation-driven approach to tackling climate change,” says Sarah Merrick. “It’s a chance to showcase the innovation ecosystem.” 

And potentially, there could be a considerable amount of work to put on show as policymakers, NGOs, lobbyists and journalists from around the world arrive in Glasgow in the runup to the climate conference. According to figures published by Dealroom and Tech Nation – the U.K. is home to more than 500 “climate tech” startups and scale-ups – all hoping to make some sort of difference in the increasingly urgent battle against the impact of a warming planet.  

But here’s the thing. Even in an increasingly important sector, businesses face the usual struggles associated with raising funds and scaling up to a level activity that will enable them to make – individually and collectively – a significant impact on C02 levels.  

So it is perhaps appropriate that a couple of months ahead of the summit, Tech Nation – an agency charged with the task of nurturing the innovation economy – has selected 32 U.K.-based climate tech companies to join a growth platform, known as Net Zero 2.0. 

Essentially, Net Zero 2.0 is an acceleration program. As such, it offers a familiar menu of coaching, access to funding opportunities, and input from a range of industry experts, while also facilitating peer-to-peer interaction within the cohort. 

Meanwhile, it provides a useful snapshot of the climate tech sector in terms of the types of solutions currently being developed and rolled out.  

Diverse Activity 

Aside from having climate at the heart of their respective missions, the companies brought together beneath the umbrella of Net Zero 2  are offering up a diverse range of technologies and business models. 

In the B2B arena, carbon capture and removal is – as you might expect – a major theme. To take some examples, Carbon Infinity has developed a direct air capture system; Supercritical is building a marketplace for carbon removal projects; and BX Earth is connecting corporations with food growers who can store carbon in the soil to enable offsets. 

Transport Tech is also well represented. For instance, EMSOL and CATAGEN are in the data business – the former monitoring pollution from vehicles, the latter offering an emissions checking system to car manufacturers.  Meanwhile, Oxford’s Electric Assisted Vehicles Limited is developing environment-friendly last mile transport solutions.

Other trends include a growing number of B2C energy companies and  there are also a number of space tech businesses in the cohort. 

What’s in It For Participants  

Now, it has to be said, that Tech Nation is seldom slow to deploy hyperbole when launching its programs and publicity for the new cohort characterizes the 32 companies taking part as “revolutionary.”  

But the ability to drive a revolution is not just down to clever technology and a workable business model. To make a difference, the businesses in question will have to successfully address their target markets and gain significant  traction. 

That’s what Net Zero is designed to help them do. But  what do the participating businesses hope to get out of the program?

Anthony Baker is CEO of Satellite Vu, one of the space tech companies taking part. As he explains, the company – which is launching its first satellite on the Space X rocket shortly and will ultimately put a total of seven into orbit – uses infrared cameras to monitor heat emissions from buildings. The aim is to provide the data that will give customers, such as insurers, local government and property owners, a means to understand when energy is being used inefficiently.    

Baker sees participation in the program as an opportunity to make contacts and raise Satellite Vu’s profile. “It’s great to be in the company of like-minded companies.” he says. “And Net Zero is a platform on which you can showcase the technology.”  

Unsurprisingly, Baker has an eye on potential customers. “We would like to see government as an anchor customer,” he adds.  

Sarah Merrick of Ripple Energy is also keen to make connections. The company has an unusual business model in that it not only builds wind turbines to generate power for consumers but also sells shares in each wind farm to those self same customers.

So what’s the appeal of buying a stake in power generation kit? “Customers are helping to make a wind farm happen,” Merrick says.  And in the longer term, customers can save on their energy costs.  

Like Baker, Merrick sees the program as a way of interacting with other startups while also networking with the wider industry. The opportunity to catch the attention of investors is a lure. “Investors are looking for climate solutions to invest in and we are looking for investors,” she says. People will be able to see that Ripple exists and that’s a real benefit.” 

In  the year of COP26, the potential is there for participants to connect with a worldwide audience – the assumption being that those attending the conference will be looking at the British climate tech ecosystem and what it has to offer. For this year at least, Net Zero may offer a much bigger stage to its participants than the average accelerator.

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Nine Things Every New Manager Needs To Do In The First 90 Days Of Their Role


Landing your first management position can be as daunting as it is exciting. You may feel pressure from superiors to perform well or wonder how you’ll best lead your new employees.

It’s important to take early action to establish your leadership style and set yourself up for success. That’s why nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council each shared the most critical thing they believe first-time managers should do within the first 90 days of their new role. Follow their tips to give yourself a head start on your new leadership position.

1. Set Priority Projects

What are the one to two top priorities that will generate the biggest impact for those first 90 days? When you start a new job, everything feels urgent and important, but some stuff is just important or not urgent. Knowing your priority projects will help you focus your energy when so much will be asked of you. – Trivinia Barber, PriorityVA

2. Get Curious

One thing to do in the first 90 days is to commit to curiosity. Sounds simple, but the ego is a powerful thing. Many managers come into a role and want to show their value by doing things, changing things and exacting their expectations. But to truly build a team foundation that is driven by empowerment, accountability and commitment, a manager is best staying open and curious. This is not to say that a manager cannot have ideas and opinions, but management is not about telling people what to do. Rather, it is about guiding a group of people with different points of view on a shared journey toward a shared goal. – Russell Benaroya, Stride Services

3. Learn More About The Team

Any new manager should get to know their team, collectively and as individuals, whether they are a new outside hire or a promotion from within. You need to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Figure out how your skills mesh with others and how you can lend a hand to congeal your team together. If one person is better at one aspect of the job, can they be paired up with someone who struggles in that area to learn from their co-worker? Those first 90 days are critical, and it will be apparent even at 30 days in if the path to success is being paved or if some blasting dynamite is needed. Self check-ins at 30, 60 and 90 days for yourself, as well as check-ins with team members, are crucial. This creates transparency and trust. – Jeff Keenan, LeadsRx

4. Create A Plan

Most employers do not have a great onboarding and management process and would appreciate a self-managed manager. Come up with a detailed 90-day plan that goes over objectives, key results and KPIs for the next 12 weeks and then share that with your employer for review and validation. Confirm with them that those 90-day objectives if achieved will make the most impact for the business, and be open to feedback and changes. Doing this alone will not only set you apart from previous people in that position, but it will also set you up for long-term success. Once you accomplish this 90-day plan, it would be the perfect time to bring up the topic of your probation and raise too. – Devesh Dwivedi, Idea2Inception

5. Set Clear Expectations

Give your team permission to screw up as long as they write it down and make it better. Clear expectations will prove to have long-lasting effects! Communication is at the core of all success in any position. Clear expectations have three major components: Reverence for where the person came from will help to prepare them to accept the ultimate goal. Recognize and respect who they are as a person—this will help them to feel important and engaged with the vision. Encourage who they can become. This will give them wings and unlock their full potential! When people feel seen, understood and valued, they will become evangelists of your brand. – Kelly Cardenas, Kelly Cardenas Salon

6. Be Willing To Listen

I think any professional starting a job as a manager for the first time should be willing to listen. I think they should set expectations that the beginning (give or take 30 days) is for absorbing and getting the lay of the land. This lays the groundwork for their team to feel heard and then the decisions they make thereafter will be more informed. – Ashley Merrill, Lunya

7. Delegate Work

Start learning to delegate work. This is one of the most common traits that new managers lack. Being able to delegate work means trusting the people you are overseeing and properly prioritizing the work—neither of which are easy or familiar to people who just became managers. However, this is one of the most important traits to become a successful manager. When you become a manager, many responsibilities come with the role, including attending multiple meetings. With such limited time, making sure to properly prioritize the tasks and delegate to the proper people is a must. Needless to say, you need to ensure the tasks are getting done correctly with checks after the delegation. It might be easier or faster to get the task done yourself at first, but in the long run, it’s a win-win for everyone. – Meeky Hwang, Ndevr, Inc

8. Identify Your Values

Identify your values because when push comes to shove and you find yourself in a hard position to make tough choices, your values are what will guide you. My values are integrity, compassion, efficiency and tenacity. When I find myself losing sleep about an issue at work, I ask myself if I’m being honest with myself and having integrity with my team. I then ask if the proposed solution is the most effective one. I also ask myself if the solution can be more simple. Then I take a step back and ask myself if the decision I make is compassionate toward the people it affects. And when I get burned out trying to figure it out, I remember to stay tenacious.  Identify your values. They will be your compass in hard times. – Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office

9. Get Employee Feedback

Have one-on-one meetings with all employees you’re managing and ask for input. What better way to learn what “success” looks like than by asking those who have been in the company for a while? When you schedule the one-on-ones, keep it informal. Let them know you’re on a “listening tour” and nothing needs to be prepared or stressed about. Ask them how they view the company’s mission and success, what they would like to be more involved in or what their long-term aspirations are. Listen to them as complete human beings and really get to know them. This helps them feel like collaborative members of the company. It also helps you understand how each employee feels about the company and how they feel about their contributions to its success. – Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

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Nine Key Traits To Look For In A Great Board Advisor


Though a company’s internal planning process is important, an outside perspective can also be equally beneficial. An advisory board, composed of experts who provide valuable insight and strategic advice, can offer that perspective to directors and higher-level managers.

A strong board offers businesses a competitive advantage, allowing them to make informed decisions that will drive growth and success. For this reason, each member of the board must be a quality candidate who is truly invested in your organization’s success.

To help you find the best advisors for your business, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared nine key traits to look for in a great board advisor.

1. They Have Industry Knowledge And Experience

A quality board advisor will already have deep knowledge and understanding of the topic you discuss, which helps move the conversation forward so you can get the most out of it. Having extensive industry experience allows them to give you good advice and guide you however you need so you can succeed and make good decisions. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

2. They Believe In The Company’s Vision

A quality board advisor is someone who is multifaceted. Consistent check-ins and genuine interest are key differentiators between most average board advisors and the really great ones. Bringing in money and resources is essential to providing value, and the best board advisors I know do all of that and more. They are people who understand the vision and long-term goals of the company and are equipped to help lead it to where it needs to be. – Lisa Song Sutton, Sin City Cupcakes

3. They Care About More Than The Money

In my experience, a quality board advisor is interested in more than making money. You want people on your board who are genuinely passionate about the industry and have a strong desire to help others. Failure to find someone with this trait could result in your company losing its “soul” as profitability takes the spotlight over customer success. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

4. They Understand Your Company’s ‘Why’

One characteristic of a quality board advisor is someone who understands the “why” behind the business. Look for board members who understand the purpose of the company and why customers want to buy from you. Typically, the best option is to reach out to a former “A” employee with expert knowledge about your company. Finding a board advisor who gets the “why” is key to growing a long-term profitable and sustainable business. – Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO

5. They Communicate Well With You

When you’re dealing with placing people in high-level business positions, focus on the relationship first. Make sure you can communicate well with that person. I might cultivate a relationship with someone for years before I even approach them with the idea of working together. Consider the relationship a foundation and the partnership a house. You would never build a house before you built a foundation. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

6. They Show Excitement For Your Ideas

Quality board advisors should show excitement for your ideas as they help you navigate toward the next steps. It helps to build motivation and keep your ideas alive as long as they’re right for your business. The right attitude from a board advisor can make all the difference in your ideas’ success. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

7. They Listen First And Speak Later

A top-notch board advisor is someone who listens first and speaks later. They soak in information and also allow people to express themselves fully. As a result, when they do give advice, they’re able to give sensible suggestions that are based on as much information as they can get. They also create a healthy environment where discussions take place. When choosing a board advisor, interact with them first and notice how they respond to you and whether they listen. Picking someone who listens well will reap rewards for your business. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. They Take Their Commitment Seriously

Stewardship is an important characteristic of a quality board advisor. They are super focused on serving the interest of the organization and fulfilling its goals—but in doing so, they never ignore the interests of the public and intended beneficiaries of the organization. To bring such a person on board, look for someone who takes their commitment seriously. Such a person will always stick to their word without fail. You can convince them to join you by offering them the same kind of commitment and consistency through your execution in the relationship. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

9. They Are Driven Toward Success

The best board members are simply those driven toward success and those who are willing to push themselves to achieve it. Simply having a strong motivation to succeed can drive the development of all of the other key traits. One’s excitement, energy and even knowledge will ultimately stem from their willingness to continue to grow and accomplish more. In today’s fast-paced world, you don’t want those who choose to rest on their laurels. You want those who actively take on new developments and opportunities. To attract these individuals, you need to make it clear that they are the ones you are seeking. In my experience, highly motivated individuals will often seek each other out and can typically sense when they have found a place that will allow them to make some big moves. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC

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3 Ways To Hire The Right Content Writer For Your Brand


Not all websites are the same, but the best ones do have one thing in common. The secret to a findable and engaging website is the person who’s creating the content.

Content writers worth their salt are more than wordsmiths with a decent grasp of English grammar. There’s a lot riding on their ability to deliver exceptional work. After all, your company’s success or failure relies heavily on your brand’s website content.

Anyone can plop relevant keywords onto a webpage or into a blog post. But how meaningful will the content be to your customers and prospects? Therein lies the difference between a content writer and the right content writer.

Here are three ways to hire the best one for your brand.

1. Actually Check Out Their Writing

Verifying past work and checking references seem like standard operating procedure when making any hire, right? Surprisingly, a lot of companies do a sloppy job with this process or skip it altogether. That’s a shame considering it’s designed to ensure they ask the right person to join their brand.

Don’t fall for a shiny résumé featuring a list of academic degrees and household-name clients. Although those can be impressive, they don’t answer the important question: “Can you deliver exceptional content consistently for our brand?”

Ask prospects to provide references and links to relevant content work — and their website, if they have one. Then take a deep dive into what they’ve written to assess their writing style. Ask and answer some key questions, such as:

  • Is it high-quality work (proper spelling, grammar, etc.)?
  • Is the quality consistent across pieces?
  • Is it engaging?
  • Is it authentic?
  • Is it relevant to the brand they created it for?
  • Is their style versatile and adaptable to our brand?
  • Are they curious and passionate about what they do?

Recognize that it can be difficult for a content writer to provide proof of authorship. Many produce thousands of words a day for a variety of clients without attribution. Checking with their editors will both verify that they wrote it and expose potential client conflicts with your brand.

When searching for the right content writer for your website, the proof is in the pudding. Just remember that the pudding isn’t found on the paper of their résumé but in their words on the screen.

2. Make Sure They Can Commit

The best content writers are extremely busy. It’s important that you fully assess the amount of time you will want from them. Then make sure the person you hire can commit the hours necessary.

As with any new hire, there will be a learning curve when a writer begins creating content for your brand. They will need to learn about the brand, existing marketing strategies, customer demographics, and company goals.

Your writer will shape the voice of your brand in concert with the rest of the company. It’s vital that you, too, commit the time and resources necessary to flatten the learning curve. A proficient content writer will be a quick study. If they aren’t, they might have misjudged their availability.

Deadlines should always be open to discussion, but good content writers will meet the ones agreed to. They understand that a missed deadline can push an entire marketing plan off track. You don’t want to have to reschedule a product launch after the announcement has been made just because your website content isn’t ready to roll.

Any writer you hire should also be committed to your budget. Discussions about compensation should occur prior to the hire, not a month later. Once you both agree to terms, team players stick to them.

Creating high-quality content takes time, and anyone you hire to tackle yours should give it the time and energy your brand deserves. Beware the signs of commitment issues and avoid those writers. There are more fish in the sea.

3. Hold Out for the Total Package

To understand this requirement, you first need to understand the difference between a copywriter and a content writer. In simplest terms, copywriters persuade people to buy things, while content writers engage and educate them.

Let me give you an analogy. The copywriter is the carnival barker, asking you to step right up and buy a ticket to see the tightrope walker. The content writer is the tightrope walker whose task is to entertain and delight you.

This doesn’t mean content writers aren’t producing sales for your brand. They’re simply doing it in a less overt way. They’re helping people find your website, showing and telling them stories about experiencing the brand, and holding their attention for a while.

A good content writer must also be a strategic thinker. How else do you use keywords and other SEO strategies to raise website rank while spinning a good yarn? How else do you educate people about using your product without sounding like the folks in IT?

Great content writers understand how to create compelling content that meshes with your brand. At the same time, they know how to stay in step with search engine algorithms and get your site noticed. It takes both to make your brand stand out.

Hiring a content writer who’s both storyteller and strategist isn’t always easy. But your website won’t be great unless your writer is both. So don’t hire anyone who can’t deliver the total package.

To find the right website content writer, look for consistent high-quality work congruent with the brand and its audience. Ask for the commitment to time and budget your brand deserves. Then watch your website go from drab to fab when the right pro knows how to choose all the right words.

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10 Simple Strategies To Draw Customers Back To Your Brick-And-Mortar Store


During the pandemic, consumers who couldn’t safely shop in brick-and-mortar stores turned to online shopping instead. Whether it be for mundane tasks like grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions, or more leisurely activities like clothes shopping, these errands could be done efficiently from the comfort of home.

But as brick-and-mortar businesses open back up and pandemic restrictions ease or disappear altogether, these businesses are once again looking to draw in more customers. To help, Young Entrepreneur Council members weighed in on what might help increase foot traffic to these stores and continue to keep shoppers invested in the “in-person” experience. 

1. Offer Discounts

Brick-and-mortar stores should have special discounts in place for people who visit the store as opposed to shopping online, which would provide an incentive for buyers to come and visit the store in person. Since people get to touch and feel the products in hand, it’s also more likely that they buy multiple products, increasing the average order value of every customer. – Michelle Aran, Velvet Caviar

2. Improve Customer Service

Despite the fact that I am not a retail salesperson, from my point of view, in order to bring customers back to the retail market from the internet space, it is necessary to improve customer service. It all starts with the smallest details, from clean sales areas and a welcoming smile to the staff and the professional service. The goal for each employee should be to satisfy the client. Their motto should be the following: service, service and, again, service. – Aidar Vafin, ARFEN Inc.

3. Create Clear Hygiene Protocol

People want to feel safe post-pandemic, so I would continue to make hygiene a priority and advertise that fact. One way to do this is to make sure the store is ultra-clean. If you had a cleaning policy during the pandemic, I would suggest keeping it a little longer. Additionally, I would advertise to your customers that you, in fact, do have a rigorous cleaning policy. Display the policy where your customers can easily see it and include it in some of your advertising. You can also boost consumer confidence by offering cleaning products, sanitizers and masks at the front of the store. To stay on top of this, you can assign several employees to monitor and restock the supplies as needed. Just a few steps can help consumers feel safe to return, even after vaccines are distributed. – Shu Saito, Godai Soaps

4. Promote Services That Can’t Be Offered Online

Offer services that cannot be offered online or, if you can, offer advice from an expert so they don’t just go online and buy something with no advice. Adding on services that are only able to be done in person can be extremely beneficial for most companies. Make it into a hybrid model so people can shop both in-store and online if possible. Make it easy to shop in person as well. Since people are used to service not being so good right now, maybe go the extra mile to make your customers happy. – Daniel Robbins, IBH Media

5. Offer Incentives For In-Store Pickup

To bring in more retail foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, one method store owners can implement is creating online incentives for picking up an online order in-store. While some customers may choose to only pick up their online orders and leave, others may stay to browse some more or see something that piques their interest and that prompts an impulse buy. Incentives can be something as simple as guaranteed no waiting in line, a percentage discount off the total order or an in-store-only discount for a high-demand product or service. – Richard Fong, SeniorStrong.org

6. Extend Your Store Hours

While people still like to have the tactile experience of browsing a brick-and-mortar store, they won’t want to compromise on safety. So, a clever idea for businesses is to extend their opening and closing hours. That way, people can choose to come in at a time they believe will have fewer shoppers. Businesses may need to hire more people and make sure that they’re complying with local laws, but promoting their extended or new timings is a surefire way to interest people who want to shop but not bump into too many other people. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. Team Up With Other Businesses

Make the customers feel special! Advertise locally and support other local businesses. Try to team up with other local companies by giving out discount cards or other little incentives that they can hand out to their customers that are only good for in-store purchases. – Amanda M. Sheehan, Oakland Family Dental

8. Focus On Existing Customers

To bring more customers into your brick-and-mortar store from your website, market to your existing local customers. They’re already interested in your brand and its products and services, so it’s easier to convince those who live in the area to stop by. You can even encourage them with in-store-only discounts and promotions that are exclusive and guaranteed to get their attention. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

9. Host A Pop-Up Shop

In-person shopping isn’t dead! For those looking to do something different to attract customers, I suggest experimenting with a pop-up shop approach. The limited duration of the shop being open creates a sense of interest and urgency that drives shoppers to show up or run the risk of missing out entirely. Couple this with time-limited sales and promotions and added value events, such as happy hours, food trucks or even hands-on experiences within the space. Each year we operate a month-long pop-up retail experience that results in huge returns for our organization. The key to success is to remember that in order to differentiate yourself from the competition, it’s no longer enough to be middle of the road—you have to be truly innovative and memorable to grab and hold attention. – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity

10. Create A Compelling Experience

We are experiencing quite strong pickup in brick and mortar as people are looking to get back out there again. I think the key is having a compelling experience that makes coming into a physical store worthwhile. This includes engaging decor and design, a compelling staff, a wide assortment of merchandise and bringing it all together to create unique exposure for your brand. – Ashley Merrill, Lunya

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5 Tips From A Retail Entrepreneur Who Grew An 8-Figure Business


Being your own boss is a dream for many people, but making it as an entrepreneur often takes trial and error. High school dropout Ebony Swank held a variety of jobs before she met someone in a hair salon who was selling clothes door-to-door. She tracked down the production source and tried opening her own shop. It failed. She started again with a store called Swank A Posh, this time with a focus on jeans for trendy girls, and grew it from one store in Detroit to a $40 million business.

Throughout her journey, Ebony Swank learned the hard way what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Now she is teaching her daughters those valuable lessons and making it her mission to show others that if she can do it, anyone can. These are her top tips for new entrepreneurs..

1. Cash management is crucial

New entrepreneurs need to have a clear understanding of their finances. A  budget is essential to manage expectations and avoid pitfalls in the future. It’s also important to understand where your capital is coming from and having a well-defined game plan for how you plan to increase profits. “I’ve always viewed my inventory like money in the bank,” says Swank. “With it being an asset, we need to turn it into cash. So every strategy I use is to market and move products, that’s my sole focus. My advice to other entrepreneurs is to set goals that will result in revenue.”

2. Know your customer

There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for how to run a business. The key is to truly understand your target market. Who are you selling and what are their unique needs? 

Get inside the minds of your customers, and once you have a comprehensive idea of who they are, you will understand what they want to buy. “When I opened my second store, I saw that young black girls were spending the most at my competitors, but there was a huge demographic being overlooked,” says Swank. “Big girls were lacking the confidence to buy from companies that marketed to thin consumers. I broke the barrier by marketing to the everyday girl regardless of their size.”

3. Play up your creativity

By studying what her competitors were doing, Swank was able to identify a hole in the market and create new products that fit her specific market. She also came up with unique ways to promote her products and keep her customers engaged. “When collaborating with influencers, we don’t look for a certain image,” she says. “We search for all kinds of girls of different sizes. Not only is it more relatable and real but it also shows it’s okay to be confident with who you are and we love that.” Swank firmly believes that success hinges on a willingness to embrace creativity.

4. Learn from your mistakes

No matter how much business experience you have, you’re always going to encounter problems and even some failures on your entrepreneurial journey. Failure is part of the learning curve and can actually contribute to your success if you take the time to learn from your mistakes. “When I opened my first store, I was more into the excitement of owning a store and the presentation than marketing to customers,” says Swank. “After it failed, I knew that if I wanted to make my next store work, I needed to focus on inventory and marketing. Don’t be afraid to fail because it can actually make you stronger.”

5. It’s not just about the money

Money is a great motivator, but at the end of the day, entrepreneurs need to understand what it is that drives them. This is what keeps you going on hard days and gives you something to strive for that is larger than yourself.

For Swank, this was the realization that she was helping thousands of people change their lives for the better. “Giving back is extremely important to me because I need people to know it’s obtainable. I want people to know that no one is going to hand you anything, but that your dreams are reachable. Part of my mission is to give someone a chance at making it, because I know I did it.”

Becoming an entrepreneur in fashion retail is not as easy as you think. You need experience, to be business savvy, and intimate knowledge of your customer base in order to start your journey to financial freedom. Ebony Swank shows she learned how to do it and how you can do it too.

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Meet The British Aviation Innovators Taxiing For Zero-Emission Flight


For many climate change campaigners, aviation is a touchstone issue. It is not just that aviation already accounts for 2.5% of carbon dioxide emissions, or even that this figure could increase 10-fold by 2050 on some projections. Also, most people around the world do not fly: aviation, and its impact on the climate, is the preserve of a small minority of relatively wealthy people – around 20% of the global population.

Will the 20% have to fly less frequently in the future? Probably. But emerging aviation technologies also provide some potential solutions. If we can build zero-emission planes – not just cleaner craft – the aviation industry of the future may not be so damaging to the planet. Enter Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS), a British company racing to be the first in the world to develop a zero-emissions plane for commercial use.

CAeS’s big idea is a new form of propulsion, utilising hydrogen fuel cells – which release no carbon into the earth’s atmosphere – to fast-track the implementation of green technology and revolutionise air travel. CAeS has committed to this technology, CEO Paul Hutton explains, because its extensive research into other solutions, including the battery-powered planes that many developers are focused on, concluded they would not be technologically or commercially viable in the near future. “Hydrogen fuel cells are the only technical solution at the aircraft level that will give us emission-free flight,” he says.

Hutton’s emphatic verdict on competing technologies reflects CAeS’s expertise and experience. While the aviation sector is attracting entrepreneurs and start-ups that believe they can solve the climate change problem through untested technologies, CAeS has actually been designing and building planes for 30 years. That track record is vital, says Hutton, as are the approvals it already holds with the industry’s regulators.

“The market is awash with green aircraft propositions, but most of the start-ups will fail, because they don’t understand the regulation and they don’t have the approvals,” he warns. “The OEMs, meanwhile, will get there in the end, but they’ll do so very slowly because they also have to focus on their current product,” he says of the original equipment manufacturers already building conventional planes.

In the middle of these two groups sits CAeS, with both its regulatory approvals and the agility that the giants of the sector lack. “We are going to build the first ever emission-free plane operating commercial flights,” Hutton promises.

This isn’t just talk. CAeS is beginning to close in on that goal, via Project Fresson, which it launched in 2019 under chief strategy officer Jenny Kavanagh. Initially, the project is focusing on smaller planes – sub-regional craft, as they’re known in the industry, with between nine and 19 seats and typically operating on short-hop routes. To that end, it is working with manufacturer Britten-Norman to develop a new generation of green Islander planes that operate on routes around Scotland’s islands.

The timetable for Project Fresson looks exciting. Two years into the programme, the company already has an aircraft sitting in the hangar and expects to be making demonstration flights during the first quarter of 2023. “Then we have to productise the proposition and secure the regulatory certifications,” says Kavanagh.

By 2025, CAeS hopes to see nine-seat Islander planes propelled by its hydrogen fuel cell systems in operation on some of those routes. Step two, slated for 2027, is to get to the same point with 19-seater craft. Three years later, CAeS expects to have a new plane in operation, designed specifically around its new propulsion system (rather than fitting the system to the current generation of Islander craft). And by 2035, the company has similar ambitions for a plane operating at a regional level, with up to 90 seats.

“The key is to be commercially viable early on,” says Kavanagh. “We’re not an aviation operator, so we have spent a lot of time talking to operators to understand what they really need.”

One early lesson was that operators in this market are highly focused on utilisation – they need planes turned round quickly so they can complete several round trips during the day. That is one reason why the battery approach is tricky – swapping used batteries for fresh ones or recharging takes too much time.

Another learning has been that airport operators could be part of the commercial solution. Kavanagh envisages airports developing new services around fuel provision, supplying the hydrogen that planes will need. “The is a potential business opportunity here – as well as supplying hydrogen for planes, other vehicles in the community, including buses and trucks, will need supplying.”

Crucially, CAeS keeps coming back to the importance of building a bottom-line case for its technologies. The environmental imperative is impossible to deny, of course, but without a viable economic model for zero-emission aircraft, the industry simply won’t get them off the ground.

Right now, the aviation industry is expecting to sink huge capital investments into converting to greener craft, but Hutton believes executives may be in for a welcome surprise. The operating costs on CAeS’s planes will be substantially lower, he argues, potentially saving as much as £135,000 per plane per year according to its modelling. “Aircraft operators typically pay for planes through leasing arrangements over a number of year and they may be able to finance the cost of those plans from their operating cost reductions,” Hutton explains.

There are still unknowns to navigate. One reason why CAeS thinks commercial flights remain four years away is that the pace of regulation in the aviation sector is very slow – understandably so given the importance of passenger safety. There is always scope for setbacks as approvals are sought. Technical problems are a possibility too, as with any new project development work.

Nevertheless, CAeS is hugely optimistic about the future – and not just for the smaller craft it is developing. Larger zero-emission planes offering long-haul travel are also feasible, says Kavanagh. “This is an industry that put a man on the moon in less than 30 years, so there is no reason why we can’t develop Trans-Atlantic planes powered by hydrogen in that timescale.”

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