Chapter Three: Dairy and How Startups can Invent Green Solutions with a Purpose
Overview of the Episode
Episode 3 of the podcast is moving up one level from episode 2. It focuses on small, early-stage businesses instead of consumers. I interviewed Daniel Skavén Ruben, Head of Strategy and Special Projects at Stockeld Dreamery. Stockeld has launched a milk-free cheese and recently raised 20 million dollars from VC firms. If Daniel and his coworkers succeed in their mission, they can drive a change in a conservative sector that can drastically lower methane emissions. But not everybody wants to stop eating milk-based cheese. Therefore, it was also a great combination to have Fredrik Åkerman as the CEO at Volta Greentech in the episode. Volta’s mission is to lower methane emissions from cows by feeding them seaweed that they grow in a factory facility.
Both firms are yet to stand on their own legs financially and have received investments and loans to fund their operations. Both firms are also hoping that legislation will change to favor food products beneficial to the environment, eventually decreasing the green premium.
The Link between the Companies’ Missions and Strategies
Stockeld’s mission statement is to “make a real difference by reinventing our favorite foods.” It is a mission statement that may be broad, and pitching it to investors as a small startup can make them think that the company is unfocused. Therefore, they have broken down the mission into components:
Create a cheese that is:
- Superior in taste and nutritious,
- Preferred by chefs and consumers,
- Without using cows’ dairy.
By doing that, Stockeld’s mission is more tractable, and investors and employees can be confident that they are aligned and working towards the same goal. While the mission is more inspirational, the components are clear and more measurable than the mission statement. The components can also evolve, and Stockeld can add other products as the company grows.
Volta’s mission statement is to “battle global warming by making cows fart and burpless methane gas, using seaweed.” It’s a precise mission statement with a clear focus on Volta’s core business, growing and feeding cows seaweed. While it attracts employees and investors by focusing on battling global warming, it also leaves out other focus points that can be important. For example, it is unclear how the company creates financial value to investors.
Evaluating Stockeld’s & Volta’s Mission Statement
Both companies’ mission statement is more than just a statement — it’s a purpose. They answer the question, “what would the world lose if their companies disappeared?” and they define their core reasons for being. Their purposes are also more than superficial, which could potentially open the companies to “accusations of inauthenticity or ‘purpose-washing” (Leape, 2020). Such accusations can turn off customers and lead to poor financial outcomes.
Stockeld’s comprehensive mission statement may be lengthy for stakeholders to remember and work towards. Still, if the company is investing effort into communicating the statement, it can deliver value across the company. Orhan et al. (2014) have been researching how mission statements can be adopted by employees and found that especially those with higher levels of education are aware of companies’ mission statements and that efforts should be put into those with lower levels of education. For startups with few employees, it may not be a significant issue. But as the company grows, it will be necessary to ensure that its mission statements are well known at all company levels so that processes and operations align. For example, for Stockeld’s cheese to be “resource-efficient,” it is vital that employees in the production facility are aware of their energy usage and waste production.
The Companies’ Mission Statements and the Connection to the Ecosystem
The two companies are solving adjacent problems and could benefit from cooperating in a mission-based ecosystem, as outlined by Romeo et al. (2021). They may have different motivators and focus issues: one of them wants to abandon milk completely, the other wants to make dairy production more sustainable. But, their mission is aligned: to combat climate change. Therefore, one can act as an orchestrator, set up objectives, and ensure that collaborators are aligned in achieving them. Creating an ecosystem is helpful when legislation moves too slowly, which both argue is the case in the podcast. For example, they can set up objectives to reduce dairy production emissions and collaborate on lobbying for faster policy changes. To increase their scope and breadth of action, they can bring in more companies in the ecosystems, such as representatives of farmers and dairy product resellers. Working collaboratively towards the same objective and structuring incentives for sustained cooperation can grow the companies and bottom lines and global competitiveness.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
Leape, S. (2020, November 5). The 5Ps of company purpose are much more than a mission statement | McKinsey. McKinsey. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/more-than-a-mission-statement-how-the-5ps-embed-purpose-to-deliver-value
Orhan, G., Erdoğan, D., & Durmaz, V. (2014). Adopting Mission and Vision Statements by Employees: The Case of TAV Airports. Procedia — Social and Behavioral Sciences, 150, 251–262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.09.051
Romeo, J., Moukanas, H., & Charrie, A. (2021, January 27). A new paradigm for collaboration: Mission-based ecosystems. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/01/a-new-paradigm-for-collaboration-mission-based-ecosystems-better-business-oliver-wyman-great-reset-davos-agenda/