January 03, 2020 · 6 min read
Martin Collignon joined Tomorrow in October 2019. In this post he explains how he went from being startup growth hacker and big tech before deciding to focus his attention to the climate emergency and what he values in Tomorrow.
After a career working on the business side of tech (Google, Uber, and Lix), I came back to my youth interest and the worry about climate change. I was ready to work on fixing it full-time.
Martin in 2009 during COP15
As Olivier and I shared some common background, I asked him about the process that made him found Tomorrow. The more I discussed with Olivier, the more I found that I shared a lot of the values of Tomorrow. It became clear that I would have a disproportionate positive impact by joining them rather than doing something else.
On the contract describing my duties, one of the bullet points says: “Do everything in your power to decarbonise society”. It is clear to me that Tomorrow does not use the climate crisis as a pretext. The climate crisis is the sole reason for the existence of the company.
Every week Tomorrow gets pictures sent from conferences, where someone is showcasing electricityMap and its potential applications. Studies and experiments have shown that the electricityMap can can reduce the carbon footprint of electricity usage over a day by up to 30% for private households. It’s impact on electric vehicle (EV) charging and optimization of datacenters is also significant.
The team behind Tomorrow is principled and everyone is striving to work on things that actually matter, based on scientific evidence. Greenwashing and pledges without actions are called out. Rather than shouting about things that could potentially have a big impact, Tomorrow’s mode of operation is to actually build prototypes and evaluating them against their climate impact and scalability. Thanks to this, it is clear from the numerous tags on social media that people see Tomorrow as a credible source on climate action.
Tomorrow’s first product, the electricityMap was built because the world won’t be carbon neutral if we don’t electrify most of our energy usage, and make sure that the electricity is produced with low-carbon technologies. Still, most of the worlds primary energy usage today is still raw fossil fuels (oil and gas), which makes it paramount that electricity is consumed at the right time. The electricityMap builds awareness around the subject and offers a concrete solution to use low carbon resources more efficiently. 3 years after having launched the first version of the electricityMap, more and more people are realising the value of knowing how green electricity is - and now organisations are also ready to pay for it.
The Tomorrow App follows the same trajectory. Empowering action through building awareness. We all need to change our behaviours to affect our carbon footprint, both directly (consumption) and indirectly (political and corporate activism). People want to do the right thing, but the data is not widely available yet. Tomorrow is going to change that.
One of the reasons why joining Tomorrow made sense to me is that I could help the small team gain speed to accomplish their objectives. With my previous experiences of startups and small teams, I am well equipped to help them avoid pitfalls and get closer to the goal of getting the world to carbon neutrality. With such a lofty goal, every team member is encouraged to constantly reflect on how their skills can best help to reduce the world’s emissions.
Tomorrow wants to create a financially sustainable company which is reflected in their decision-making processes. I appreciate that they do not buy into the traditional Silicon Valley money-raising frenzy at the expense of building a viable product. Even after having raised some money, the team is frugal and keeps a close eye on the long term vision. Even then, Tomorrow is aware that great people are generally in lucrative jobs. Which in my case meant that the compensation is acceptable for me coming from Google.
Tomorrow is an international team - key to making globally relevant products. Company culture is lived and not just talked about. Everyone leaves the office at reasonable hours and there are very few emails after hours, none during the weekend. One of the first recommendations given to me by the team was the book ”Deep Work” (there are two copies at the office). Having burnt out, I appreciate the fact that the team wants to create a startup that is also sustainable for its employees.
Copenhagen is - in my opinion - the perfect city, where a bike ride brings you to everything you need. It’s no surprise it’s been named as one of the most liveable cities in the world, a top traveller destination, and some say that Danes are the happiest people in the world. Denmark is perceived as being very climate-friendly, even when Danes have one of the worst carbon footprint worldwide. Danes are also very climate-conscious.
It also makes for a perfect testing bed for products focused on climate change.
I needed a home of like-minded people to work on the world’s most pressing problem. Having been 3 months among the climate change fighting crew, I feel confident to have made a great decision by joining Tomorrow.
We’re on a very ambitious journey, and this is also why we’re growing the team. We need all the help we can get. This is the most important challenge of our time, and few resources are dedicated to solve it. If you want to be part of the movement, sign-up for beta testing, contribute to our open source initiatives, or join us on Slack.