Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

521: Insusty: Pioneering Sustainability Rewards for Environmental Action

April 18th, 2024

Hosts Will Larry and Victoria Guido chat with Sanghmitra Bhardwaj, CEO and Founder of Insusty. Sanghmitra shares her journey from a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas to becoming a founder in France, driven by firsthand experiences with climate disasters and a passion for sustainable living. Insusty, a sustainability loyalty program, is a platform incentivizing individuals to adopt climate-positive actions through rewards, thereby fostering a community motivated towards environmental stewardship.

The show digs into the mechanics and vision of Insusty, highlighting how the platform rewards eco-friendly actions like volunteering and donating, rather than purchases. This approach aims to bridge the gap between the desire for sustainable living and the practical challenges individuals face, such as the perceived high costs of sustainable products. Sanghmitra reveals the evolution of Insusty, including strategic pivots towards niche markets within the circular economy and the importance of transparency and impact measurement in building trust with consumers.

Towards the episode's conclusion, the conversation shifts to broader implications of sustainability in technology and business. Sanghmitra expresses curiosity about future expansions of Insusty, particularly in tracking and rewarding individual daily eco-actions more effectively. She also touches upon the challenges and triumphs of being a solo female founder in the tech and sustainability sectors, underscoring the significance of community, perseverance, and innovation in driving change.

Become a Sponsor of Giant Robots!


WILL:  This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Will Larry.

VICTORIA: And I'm your other host, Victoria Guido. With me today is Sanghmitra Bhardwaj, CEO and Founder of Insusty, a sustainability loyalty program for individuals. Sanghmitra, thank you for joining us.

SANGHMITRA: Thank you so much for having me here. I'm super excited for the podcast and to discuss various topics that we are about to. And I'm sure that it's going to be a learning experience, not just for the audience, but also for me. So, thank you for this opportunity.

VICTORIA: Why don't we just start off getting to know you a little bit? Tell us something exciting going on in your life, maybe outside of work.

SANGHMITRA: Okay, so, well, recently, I joined a pole dancing class. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I have the core strength that I need to be strong. And I also feel that it's something that I always wanted to do to come out of my comfort zone. So, it's been fun so far.

VICTORIA: I tried that, and I thought that I would naturally be good at it because I'm a rock climber. And so, I thought I'd have all the right muscle groups, but the coordination and [laughs], like, expression of it is still challenging if you've never done it before.

SANGHMITRA: Yeah, definitely. And I think there are some techniques and if you don't do it right, like, you will not get it at all, those poses and, like, how you climb the pole and everything. So, I completely relate to your experience here.

VICTORIA: I want to do more dance, actually, because the mind-body connection and getting into that feeling of flow is really interesting for me. And I think it's like expressing through your body, which 80% of communication is non-verbal, which is really interesting.

SANGHMITRA: Yeah, that's true. Just to add to it, I wanted to also share with you that I used to do modeling back in India, and I really love expressing myself with my body. And it's been super interesting to see that. And also, when I have conversations with other people, these are the things that I observe a lot. Is it the same for you? Do you also observe other people's body language when they are talking to you and probably change some topics that you are trying to discuss?

VICTORIA: Yeah, absolutely. You can tell if people are listening to what you're saying. They, like, lean in a little bit, or if they're not really wanting to relate to what you're saying, they're, like, crossing their arms in front of you. So, as someone who works in business development, I definitely pay a lot of attention [laughs] to all that stuff. But I'm curious, how did you go from being a model in India to founder and CEO where you are today?

SANGHMITRA: That's something that I would love to talk about, and also, it has to do from where I come from. So, I come from a very small village in the foothills of the Himalayas. There, I witnessed climate disasters firsthand. In 2013, there were a lot of cloudbursts happening in those areas. An entire village next to my village disappeared completely without a trace. And those were some moments in my life where I really felt like we live in a world where you can be far from Europe...for example, currently, I live in France, and here, when heat wave happens, we all suffer and people talk about it. But I have seen, like, the adverse effect of what it can lead to.

So, there was a part of me that always wanted to do something in terms of the impact that I create, like, with my work. So, I started doing modeling, which was something for myself as well to gain some confidence. At the same time, I worked with sustainable brands in India. I modeled for them, and then I discovered their work. I got inspired by it, and I realized that it's something that interests me a lot, and I wanted to pursue my studies in it to know more about it. So, that's when I came to France to pursue my master's in sustainable finance to discover more about this field and to see where I belong.

And finally, I founded Insusty, where I could see that I could bring my inspiration from the sustainable brands that I worked with. Whether it's from the fashion or, the food industry, or the travel industry, I could see the inspiration coming from there. At the same time, I could see how we need to create mass adoption through incentivizing climate action, which was something that I explored during my studies. And I kind of went with Insusty, and that was the beginning of my founder journey.

WILL: I have a question about the way you grew up, and you're saying in a village. Can you expound a little bit on that? Because you said, climate change wiped out an entire village. And so, when I saw that in the email, I was like, I don't think I've ever had a chance to actually talk to someone that lived in a village. I grew up in the United States. So, like, help paint that picture. When you say you grew up in a village, what do you mean by that? What was it like growing up in a village, and also, what do you mean by the next village got entirely wiped out?

SANGHMITRA: Yeah. Living in a village it's like being a part of a tiny, well-knitted community, and it's, like, everyone knows everyone. And sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad because when people gossip, of course, it spreads like a wildfire. As well as when you need support and when you need help, this community is always there, too. So, the part of belonging to such a community and to kind of engage with people is something that I really enjoy about coming from a small village. And that's something that I oftentimes search in France, where I can be a part of such communities as well, where people inspire each other.

For example, currently, I'm a part of a wonderful community of women of color founders living in Europe. It's called Founderland. And it's thanks to Founderland that I found you then I could join this podcast. So, when it comes to the small village, this is what I really really love about it is the small knitted community we have.

When I say that the entire village next to my village disappeared, I mean that when there was the cloudburst in the mountain, the soil and everything drowned the entire village. So, there was a school, and we used to hear a story about the school, where the kids were told by the teachers to run because there is a cloudburst, and "We are about to die if we stay in this place."

And as a student, as a kid, what do you think first? You think about packing your bags instead of running. So, the kids ended up packing their bags before they could run, and by that time, it was too late. So, this is just one of the heartbreaking stories that I'm sharing with you right now, but it had been something that really left a mark in my life.

VICTORIA: I really appreciate you sharing that story because when I talk to people about climate change, I think it's really easy to get this nihilistic attitude about, well, climate change is going to kill us all in 20 years. So, why bother doing anything about it? And what I usually answer back is that climate change is already killing people.

And then, it's happening in your own neighborhood, even, like, you know, I live here in San Diego, and it's always between, like, 60 and 80 degrees every single day [chuckles], but our beaches are collapsing. There are neighborhoods that are more impacted by pollution than others and are experiencing environmental impacts from that and their health, and everything like that. So, I'm curious how it all comes together with what you're doing with Insusty and how you're inspiring people to take action towards sustainability in the here and now.

SANGHMITRA: Actually, I have a question for you and Will. I wanted to understand, for example, if you purchase something in terms of, for example, it's related to fashion, or it's related to food products, what is the criteria that's most important to you? And maybe probably you can tell me, like, the top three criteria that are most important for you when you buy something. And then, I would love to share how Insusty can help you buy better.

VICTORIA: When I'm looking to buy things, I look for, like, price. I want it to be reasonable, but I also don't want it to be so cheap that it means it's a really poor quality. So, I want to find that balance between, like, quality and price. And I do also care about sustainability, and, like, what is the background of the company that I'm buying it from? You know, what's their reputation? What's their, like, practices?

Like one example is, like, the rugs for your house. So, I like to buy rugs that are made from sustainable fabrics and dyes and that I can wash them because I have a dog. And so, that's kind of, like, what I think through when I buy things. But it's not always easy, especially with clothing, because it seems like anyone who makes clothing, there's just always this risk of it being sourced at some part in the manufacturing pipeline having to do with either child labor or really terrible sustainability practices.

WILL: Yeah. I would say, for me, early on, especially when I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, so it was just whatever is the cheapest, whatever we could afford at that moment. It wasn't really looking into the quality, or sustainability, or any of those items. Some of the stuff I look back on that I ate often, I'm like, whoa, man, that was not the best thing. But it was the cheapest, and it was what we ate and things like that.

So, now that I'm older, my wife has been talking to me about some of that stuff, and it's like, oh, I had no idea, because of the environment I grew up in, that, like, that's even affecting me. And that was kind of why I asked you about the village thing is because I feel like we can get in a bubble sometimes and not even be aware of what's happening to other people.

And I think, Victoria, you said something about people not understanding climate change. It's kind of tough at times to talk about climate change when you live in...where I'm at in Florida, it's like, okay, it gets hot, and then it gets cold. And yeah, we have a hurricane every now and then, but whenever you told the story about the village, it's like, oh, wow, like, that's a different game. That's a different level. I didn't even know about that.

So, I think that's kind of my journey now is I am starting to understand sustainability. I think a lot of times I still have that I grew up with nothing mindset and want to get the cheapest thing because sometimes buying sustainability is super expensive. So, that's why I'm glad that I'm talking to you, so maybe I can learn some of those things. So yeah, that's kind of been my journey with it.

SANGHMITRA: That's really wonderful to get your insights because now I can tell you confidently what we do. Basically, when I talk to people, it was generally the same thing that I asked them, "What's the most important thing when you buy, like, the top three most important things?" Sustainability was definitely one of them, but cost was always there. Regardless of the background that they are from, cost was something that they all thought about.

So, what we do at Insusty is that we incentivize individuals to do something good for the planet. It can be, for example, you want to volunteer at an NGO next to your place. You want to get rewarded. So, what we do is we offer you loyalty points that help you to buy from sustainable brands. So, you try these products because, oftentimes, as Will also mentioned, there is a perception, and it's also a reality, that sustainable products tend to be more expensive. So, we try to deal with that by offering a loyalty program that incentivizes climate action.

And in terms of the sustainable brands, they get new customer base. They get to interact with these customers. They get to see their product and sites. What is something that the customers really like? What is something that can be improved? How can they improve in terms of their own sustainability and their impact? For example, their supply chain operations and so on. So, it's something that we provide them and help them also with insights as well as new customer base. We try to support them with that.

At the same time, on an individual level, we help with the cost factor, which is one of the most important things. When we want people to change, when we want people to adopt sustainable lifestyle, we kind of need to incentivize that so that mass adoption can be possible.

VICTORIA: So, I'm imagining, like, I want to know a new brand that I want to buy clothes from, like essential clothes. I could go into the app and, like, find companies that produce the thing that I want, and then I could get points and rewards for buying consistently from that brand.

SANGHMITRA: So, we are not like an actual loyalty program. So, you only receive points when you do something good for the planet. You don't receive points when you purchase from brands. This is a loyalty program where we give you points when you do something good for the planet, for example, donations. For NGOs, we have volunteer programs that individuals can participate in and receive loyalty points. But in the future, we are ambitious, and we want to go far. And we think that each and every activity of an individual can be tracked in terms of sustainability, how they are segregating their waste at home, how they're managing that, and so on, and give them points for each of their eco actions.

VICTORIA: Awesome. Yeah. Okay. I love that. Yeah. So, what kind of things would earn me points, like, in my home ownership here?

SANGHMITRA: If you volunteer with an NGO nearby or if you would like to participate in an event, for example, if you want to donate clothes, all these eco actions can give you loyalty points for the moment. And in the future, we want to also track the actions that you do at home. You save electricity, for example. You want to walk to the office instead of taking a cab, and all these activities, so that we can kind of make the experience also for the user a bit more like a game so that they enjoy doing it at the same time they receive rewards. And they can make purchases as well with the sustainable brands on our platform.

VICTORIA: I like that because I've been talking with my partner about how do we live more sustainably, or how do we, like, reduce our consumption or give back. And I think if it was gamified and we got points for it, it's more motivating because then you also see that other people are doing it as well. And so, you're part of a community that's all trying to take the same action. And that will have a bigger impact than just one individual, right?

SANGHMITRA: Yes, definitely. And we do have that feature on our platform where you could see near your area who donated and who is working in a particular NGO, so based on the fact that if the individual is comfortable in sharing that. Most of the time, when someone does something good for the planet, they would love to show it to the rest of the world. So, we have seen that people love to share their experiences and their badges, saying that, okay, they donated, for example, five euros to this NGO, and so on. So, they really love that. And it feels also really good to see this community and to get inspired by it.

Mid-Roll Ad:

When starting a new project, we understand that you want to make the right choices in technology, features, and investment but that you don’t have all year to do extended research.

In just a few weeks, thoughtbot’s Discovery Sprints deliver a user-centered product journey, a clickable prototype or Proof of Concept, and key market insights from focused user research. We’ll help you to identify the primary user flow, decide which framework should be used to bring it to life, and set a firm estimate on future development efforts.

Maximize impact and minimize risk with a validated roadmap for your new product. Get started at:

WILL: I think it's going to take all of us doing something to help with climate change and to make a difference. So, I like how you're incentivizing. You're making a difference. You say you get reward points. So, once I do an item or an action and I get reward points, what does that look like on the backend of it?

SANGHMITRA: For the individuals they have a dashboard to track their actions. They have a dashboard to also track what they are purchasing. So, if they're purchasing food or they're purchasing more items related to fashion, they can also check that. They can check the total number of points that they have received so far, where they have used it, and so on. And at the backend, for us, we see it as the total number of transactions that are taking place, so, for example, how the loyalty point is being used.

So, we have APIs that are in place between our platform and the platforms of other sustainable brands in our network. So, in our backend, we can see the transactions; for example, an individual used 100 points to get 10% off from one of the sustainable brands on our platform. And in terms of the sustainable brand side, even they have their own dashboard. They can also track how many individuals are using their points on their platform, and so on. So, they also have access to their own analytics dashboard. And through the same application, they can also provide us the payments through subscription and transaction fees.

VICTORIA: Yeah, that's really interesting. And so, I understand that you've been in the journey for a little while now. And I'm curious: if you go back to when you first got started, what was surprising to you in the discovery phase and maybe caused you to pivot and change strategy?

SANGHMITRA: So, one thing that I pivoted with was the type of brands that we wanted to onboard. Before, we had a very open approach; for example, we want brands that are sustainable, or if they are upcycling, or if they have, like, a particular social impact attached to it or an environmental impact attached to it. So, we were focusing on having the horizons a bit like the aspects of choosing a sustainable brand to be a partner. It was a bit broader for us.

But when we talked with the people, they wanted a niche. For example, they wanted upcycle products. They wanted more brands in the circular economy domain. And that's when we realized that we need to have a niche. So, we focus on the brands that are more linked towards circular economy that are promoting the values of recycling, upcycling, and reusing the products.

So, that was when we pivoted with the idea that we should not be open to all sustainable brands. However, we need to be really accurate with our approach. We need to focus on a particular niche. At the same time, we need to also make sure that we measure their impact and report it to our customers to ensure transparency on our platform. So, that became a priority more than having more and more brands on our platform.

WILL: Yeah, I really...that was actually one of my questions I was going to ask you because I like how you are vetting them because I've, especially here in the States, I've seen, like, companies, like, slap 'non-GMO' or 'gluten-free.' And it's like, well, it doesn't even have wheat in it, so, like, yeah, it's gluten-free. So, it's like, it's more of a marketing thing than actually, like, helping out. So, I'm glad you're vetting that. How has that process going for you?

SANGHMITRA: It's actually going really well, and we have established a five-step onboarding process. And in the first two steps, we also focus on measuring their impact. We have a self-evaluation form. We also check if they have some existing certificates. We also make sure that we have enough data about their supply chain and how they are working. And these are some of the information that we also share with our consumers, the one who would be interested to buy products from these brands, to make sure that we are transparent in our approach.

There's also one more thing that we do. It's the quarterly reporting. So, every three months, we also report the individuals who are buying from sustainable brands on our platform that, okay, this brand did better this quarter because they implemented a process that, for example, is reducing a certain amount of emissions from their supply chain, or any other departments. So, these are some of the information that we also share with the individuals.

VICTORIA: And what does success look like now versus six months from now or five years from now?

SANGHMITRA: For the moment, success would look like for me to have more connections, more people who support our project and our initiative, and the more people joining us. In terms of the next six months, I think it would be linked to fundraising. But I wouldn't go so far at the moment because, for me, I take one day at a time. And this is something that has been super helpful for me to streamline my tasks. So, I take one day at a time, and it's working really well for me.

WILL: What are some of your upcoming hurdles that you see?

SANGHMITRA: When I talk about hurdles, I often see it in two parts, one being the internal hurdles and the other one being external. So, in terms of the internal hurdles, it can be something like I'm putting myself in a box that, okay, I'm a single woman founder. How can I do something good? And just doubting myself and things like that. These are some of the internal hurdles that I'm working on every day [chuckles]. I'm also talking to executive coaches to get their advice on how I can improve myself as well to overcome these internal hurdles.

However, in terms of the external hurdles, these are some things that are not in my control, but I try my best to make the most of it. Currently, in terms of the external hurdles, I would say that I live in a country where I used to not even speak the language. So, initially, the hurdle that I experienced was mostly the cultural hurdle. But now it's more related to the fact that I am a single female founder, and there are perceptions around it that you need to have a co-founder. And there are a lot of different noises everywhere that doesn't allow you to grow.

VICTORIA: And you're not just a founder, but you're also an author. And I wanted to ask you a little bit about your book, the Sustainability Pendulum. Can you share a little bit about what it is and why you wrote it?

SANGHMITRA: So, Sustainability Pendulum is the book that I wrote last year, and I always wanted to write it. And last year, I put myself to work, and I was like, at least every day, I'm going to try and write one page, and probably by the end of the year, I can finish the book [chuckles], and that's what I did. I had to be super consistent. But I came up with Sustainability Pendulum, and it's about the stories from the past and the sustainable approaches that we had in the past, how we used different religions, we have some stories written in the scriptures related to sustainable practices.

And oftentimes, when we talk about sustainability today, we talk about the future. We talk about implementing different technologies and, doing a lot of innovations, and so on. However, we don't look into the past and see how efficiently things were handled when it came to sustainability in the past. And these are some of the stories from the past, from different religions, and how it transcends to today's sustainability issues and solutions. So, that's what the book is about. And why it's called the pendulum, it's because how the pendulum moves. I think it's obvious [laughs], so the pendulum's to and fro motion. It goes to the past, and it goes to the future. So, that was the whole concept behind the sustainability pendulum.

WILL: That's amazing that you wrote a book, much, much respect on that. I am not an author, so...And I also know because my wife she's been talking about writing a book and the different challenges with that. So, kudos on writing a book. Would you write another one?

SANGHMITRA: Actually, I would love to. I'm just looking for something that equally inspires me how it did for the last one. But I think once you come out of that space and you're consistent with writing the book or consistently working to achieve something, I think eventually it comes to you. So, I don't know what are the challenges that your wife mentions that she faced in writing the book.

WILL: Like, having enough to write about, like you said, just sitting down each day writing a book. And I think publishing a book is tough. I know we've come a long ways, like, you can self-publish now instead of going through publishing companies, and just those different avenues of how many steps it takes. It's not just writing a book, sitting down and writing a book, and sharing with everyone. It's multiple steps that you have to go through.

SANGHMITRA: Definitely. I couldn't agree more with you on this one. Just to add to it, how I managed to do this was also because I structured the book earlier. And in order to also publish it, I realized that I don't want to wait. And I self-published the book as soon as I found out that, okay, this is perfect, and it's ready. I need to just move forward with it. What helped me as well was the way I structured the book earlier. And then, I was like, okay, every day, this is what I'm going to work on. And it kind of helped me to get to the end of it.

WILL: That's awesome. I like how you had forethought and how it made it easier for you to come up with ideas and write it. So, that's awesome.

SANGHMITRA: I wish the best to your wife as well for her book. And I hope that once it's ready, you will let me know about it.

WILL: Yes, I definitely will. You're talking about being a woman founder who is single. I don't want to assume. So, why is it tough for you to be a woman founder who's single?

SANGHMITRA: When I say single female founder, it means that I don't have a co-founder. It's not, like, my relationship status but just [laughs] the fact that...

WILL: Yes. Yes.


SANGHMITRA: Just that I am a single founder, like, then I don't have a co-founder, which oftentimes poses as a risk, especially when you talk to an investor. This is what I feel based on my experience. But I think the times are changing, and I feel that the more the project is growing, the better it is getting in terms of the people who are interested as well to be a part of Insusty as an investor or as a partner. Things have become better now than they were a few years ago. So, I can see the change.

But, initially, I did used to feel low about it that, okay, I'm a single female founder, and oftentimes, it was considered as a challenge. But if you take my perspective, I think, for me personally, it possibly was also one of my biggest strengths because I could be that one person going to the meetings, and I felt that people were more open to share things. They did not feel threatened by me. And that was something that really helped me to also form connections with people.

VICTORIA: I love how you connect having a small community in your village where you grew up to creating a community around yourself as a founder and having a village that supports you, and you feel comfortable around the community as well, and as part of that community. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you were first getting started with Insusty, what advice would you give yourself?

SANGHMITRA: Slow is good. When I say that, I mean that every time we talk about different startups and different companies, and it's always about how rapidly the startup is growing, how exponentially they are growing, and so on. But I feel that in terms of when you really want to create an impact, and you are in the green tech space as well, being slow and getting somewhere is better than going fast and then having a burnout. So, one of the things that I would tell myself when I just started would be slow is good.

WILL: Even with coding and a lot of things in life, I feel like that's really good advice: slow is good. Slow down––enjoy the moment. So, I like that advice.

VICTORIA: I was going to say, it sounds like a more sustainable pace for yourself also [laughs].


VICTORIA: Sustainability in the environment, and also in our own energy, and emotions, and motivation to get things done. So, I love that.

WILL: I see what you did there [laughter].

VICTORIA: Yeah, [inaudible 30:40] all back. Do you have anything else that you'd like to promote?

SANGHMITRA: I would really love to also tell people that I'm very open to communication. So, if anyone would like to reach out to me on LinkedIn, it would be really awesome, and we can get on a call as well. I have my Calendly link right on my profile, and I'm very open to communication. So, if there is someone who would like to talk to me about any of the things that interest them or probably something that they could advise me or I could learn from them, I'm more than open to do so.

VICTORIA: Love that. And then, do you have any questions for me or Will?

SANGHMITRA: So, in terms of the development part, I do have some questions, like, in the technical side. So, when it comes to the fact that we have to kind of calculate the eco actions of individuals in the future, we want to also see if we can calculate the daily actions that they do, for example, walking instead of taking a cab, or segregating their waste, et cetera. I wanted to know, in the future, I want to implement these features, but can we actually get a perfect product around it? Is that possible where we can track everything?

WILL: Yeah. So, when you say track everything, like, I know you talked about walking and some of the different actions. Can you expound on that?

SANGHMITRA: For example, instead of IoTs...because I know that some hotels they do use IoT devices to track the water consumption, and so on. However, on an individual level, how can we just track it through the smartphone or through the app that they have? Because, okay, walking can be tracked. This is actually one of the challenges I'm facing, so I want to just be open about it, and I'm very open to ideas also. If you have some ideas that I could experiment around, I would really love to. In terms of the activities like walking, waste disposal, and so on, do you think that there are some kind of features that we could implement to track these actions?

One of the things that I was thinking about was we let people take a photo of how they are segregating the waste in the end, and through that, we can tell them, "Okay, this is great," and we give them the points. But how can we do it and also automate it at the same time?

VICTORIA: So, one approach that I know when people work at thoughtbot on these types of issues and trying to figure out, like, what is the right feature? How are we going to implement this? Going through a product design sprint where you spend a week with a product designer and someone who can, you know, really quickly create MVPs. And you go through this process of figuring out what's the most important feature. And you're talking to users, and you're trying're going through that discovery process in a short period. And we actually have a video series where we walk through every step of that process.

But, like, for me personally, things that I can think of in my life that I would want to track one thing I've been trying to do more is actually electronic recycling, which in the U.S. my neighborhood is different. It's only open on, like, Thursdays and Saturdays. And I have to, like, really remember to go out there and, like, put my electronics out there. And I don't think it's very, like, well-known. So, I think that would be something interesting to, like, promote as possible.

And we also have the green bins now, which are new, which allow you in California to, like, have composting. So, you have now your regular trash, your recycling, and your compost bins. So, actually, like, trying to use those and track them. Otherwise, one of the things I think about is, like, reducing the amount of plastic consumption, which includes things like, you know, when you buy toilet paper, it comes wrapped in plastic. How can I incentivize myself and my partner and even my family to, like, switch away from those types of products and get more into, you know, using towels instead of paper towels or finding alternative methods for getting those products while reducing the amount of plastic that comes with it?

SANGHMITRA: That's super interesting. I'm really, really glad to have your insights as well. I do have a question for you. Have you worked with startups in the field of impact? And if so, what have been some of the ideas that you really loved to implement?

VICTORIA: Yeah, actually, we had another guest on the Giant Robots podcast who I think you're connected with as well who created essentially, like, a GoFundMe but for environmental projects and in areas that, you know, a 5,000 grant to help do a beach cleanup could have a really big impact. Like funding programs and marketplace for those types of green projects in areas that are the most impacted by climate change and have the fewest resources to actually do anything about it.

So, I thought that was really exciting in trying to figure out how can we use tech to solve problems for real people, and for people that don't typically get the focus or the majority of the funding, or the majority of time spent in those communities. So, that, I think, is what is really exciting: to see people come from those communities and then figure out how to build solutions to serve them.

SANGHMITRA: That's really wonderful. Is there, like, a specific market where you have seen growth of such startups and companies more? The companies especially you have worked with in the past and in there in the field of impact, are they mostly from the U.S., or which are the markets they are from essentially?

VICTORIA: Yeah. So, I mean, I'm from the U.S., so that's where I see the most. I'm in San Diego. So, when I go to, like, startup weeks and things like that, that's where I'm getting the majority of my exposure. I do also know that there is a Bloomberg Center focusing on excellence and data in the governments. And that's not just U.S.-based but going more global as well, so trying to teach civic leaders how they can use the data about whether it's sustainability or other issues that they're facing too, like, figure out how to prioritize their funding and in what projects they're going to invest in from there. So, I think that's really interesting.

I don't know, I don't know what the answer is, but I know that there are some countries that are hoping to make the investments in sustainability and ecotourism, as opposed to allowing industry to come in and do whatever they want [laughs]. So, I don't know if that answers your question or not.

SANGHMITRA: Yeah, I think it completely answers my question. Thank you for sharing that and also a bit more.

WILL: There's so many things that I've learned through the podcast. So, I'm excited to see the impact it has. And I think you're doing an amazing job.

VICTORIA: Thank you so much for coming on and being with us here today and sharing your story.

SANGHMITRA: Thank you.

WILL: You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, email us at hosts@ And you can find me on Twitter @will23larry.

VICTORIA: And you can find me on Mastodon

This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore.

Thanks for listening. See you next time.


Did you know thoughtbot has a referral program? If you introduce us to someone looking for a design or development partner, we will compensate you if they decide to work with us.

More info on our website at: Or you can email us at: with any questions.

Support Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots