4 Lessons learned from building a sustainable business model
EO is an avid supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)―17 goals and 169 targets to eradicate poverty, reverse inequality and halt climate change by 2030. Entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to transform our world. EO has a framework for sustainability and how it will become net positive by 2030.
James Keirstead, an EO Edmonton member, is a former EO External Relations Sub-committee chair. He is also the president and CEO of Levven Electronics Ltd, a company that makes home ownership more sustainable and affordable. James shared his journey around establishing a viable, sustainable business:
As a Canadian born in the late 1960s, I grew up in the land of abundance. I was fortunate to land in an industry that was taking off at the beginning of my career, and I’ve learned a lot about manufacturing. Looking back, I would say that, growing up in Canada and manufacturing a product―hot tubs―that represents the height of consumption, I never truly considered the impact of our company on the world. Hydrotherapy benefitted people with disabilities, physical challenges and those who needed to relax, and that was enough for me.
When I left the hot tub industry to pursue a new manufacturing venture in electronics, global climate and waste issues inspired my thoughts around pursuing a path that would contribute to reducing carbon footprint while being a viable, sustainable business. We had developed considerable intellectual property in connecting spas to the internet before it was coined the Internet of Things (IoT). While doing so, we had researched the residential construction industry because home automation was gaining momentum and represented a much greater market.
To develop a business model that would meet my goals of reducing climate change (SDG No. 13) while building sustainable cities and communities (SDG No. 11) is no easy task. We chose an industry that had not significantly changed the way it wired a home in the last 100 years, nor were builders and tradespeople very interested in changing their proven process. The even bigger issue to making home automation ubiquitous is cost: Since 2000, the cost of homes has outpaced household income in all but the years 2007–2012. So, home affordability is a real issue that is top of mind of every production builder in North America.