S3 #3 'Matchmaking for Sustainability Professionals', with Anje & Robert from Dazzle

Season 3 Episode 3

[00:00:00] James Gill:

[00:00:53] Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of the EcoSend Podcast. Now, the EcoSend podcast is about a 30 minute show we bring out each week where I speak to other people in the world of sustainability and often people who are founders in the marketing world also in non-profits, but all people that are in some way trying to make the world a little bit better. And each week we're bringing out a new show. This is the third series of the EcoSend podcast. And I feel like it's flown by and I hope if you've been watching along or listening along you've enjoyed the show so far. Today I've got a really great show and I'm very pleased to be joined by two guests, which is quite a rarity.

[00:01:34] And today I'm joined by Anje and Robert who are both co-founders of a platform called Dazzle. Now, Robert is a co-founder and has a background in the more commercially related roles in the field of sustainability. And Anje is dedicated to making a positive impact in the world by transforming businesses into fully sustainable operations.

[00:01:55] Now I'm really looking forward to this show because it's gonna be covering lots about the world of sustainability, but also another big movement movement, which is people working for themselves and becoming independent freelancers and having more power to them. And all of that sounds great. So, hi both of you and welcome to the show.

[00:02:14] Anje & Robert: Thanks so much James. We're happy to be here.

[00:02:16] James Gill: Cool. Hi, Robert. And hi, Anje.

[00:02:19] Anje & Robert: Thank you for the, the lovely introduction. James. Happy to be be a part of the podcast.

[00:02:23] James Gill: Awesome. It's great to have, great to have you both. So, I, I dunno if, if maybe Robert, if you wanted to kick off with what does, what does Dazzle do and, and, and what's, what, what, in your own words, would you say your, your role at Dazzle is that? It'd be great to hear more.

[00:02:39] Anje & Robert: Yeah. My role at Dazzle is obviously I'm a co-founder. I founded the company beginning of of this year together with with Anje. And Dazzle is an Online matchmaking platform matching sustainability professionals, freelancers globally with organizations who are in the needs of an extra pair of heads to achieve their sustainability goals.

[00:02:59] James Gill: Awesome. And that sounds, that sounds great. And so, Anje, you've been thinking about this space for a while. Like what, what about, what's your role and how do you, how do you work with Robert on all of this?

[00:03:11] Anje & Robert: So my role in Dazzle is I focus mainly on our freelancers. So like Robert said, we match companies to top tier sustainability freelancers, and I really focus on on that side of the business and the community aspect.

[00:03:23] So not only do we vet freelancers in order to be able to match them with companies who need their support, but we also have included a for now an online Slack community.

[00:03:33] And we want to facilitate collaboration between freelancers actually,

[00:03:38] James Gill: I see, I see. So for you, Anje, Did you wake up just wanting to do this or did you, did, what was your journey like getting into this, this world? Like how it's always good to hear, was there a tipping point that made you want to get involved in the world of, well, I guess both free freelancers and supporting them, but also the sustainability side of things.

[00:03:59] Anje & Robert: Yeah, I think the freelancer aspect and, and my, my very recent journey, I have to owe to Robert because he's the one that came up with the idea. But my, my journey into sustainability began after well my sister turned vegan and

[00:04:12] James Gill: Right.

[00:04:13] That's a big, that's a big deal.

[00:04:16] Anje & Robert: Yeah. quite intense about her reasons.

[00:04:19] so I had no choice but to educate myself

[00:04:21] I watched all the documentaries, you know, that that kind of scare you. Mainly related to food impact; the tipping point for me came during my first job which was at an environmental health and safety platform which obviously covers certain aspects of sustainability, but I figured out that I was quite passionate about this specific aspect of the business. And I guess fate would have it, my then employer moved office buildings and moved into a room that they would share with a sustainability consulting firm.

[00:04:52] Track 1: Ah, I'm starting to see things piecing together here.

[00:04:56] Anje & Robert: Yes.

[00:04:57] I got to know the team quite organically Friday drinks as you do, and figured out that they weren't really active in terms of marketing, which is my background. And I started freelancing for them. So that's where the freelancer aspect, guess, kicked in. And joined the team full time after six months. That's how I got to know Robert. And we started our journey as the commercial team of that consulting firm about three years ago, and then decided to leave to start our own VE venture,

[00:05:28] of this year.

[00:05:30] But that's, that's Robert's brainchild.

[00:05:33] James Gill: Right. No, that's, that's really good to hear. It is always great to hear the, the origin story. So we've heard half the origin story. What about you, Robert, then how did you get into this

[00:05:43] Anje & Robert: Yeah, so obviously I was very excited, in the beginning of my role that we had someone joining the commercial team from a marketing perspective. So I was working at this consultancy firm as a sales team lead onion joined as a marketing team lead. So, as I mentioned, we formed a commercial duo back then. And purely from an yeah, idea perspective, We actually came to the realization that when organizations want to access sustainability expertise, they mostly have three options. where the first option is that they hire a sustainability manager.

[00:06:17] Second option is that they work with a consultancy where we work back then. And the third option is that they work with self-employed professionals, with freelancers. And for the third option we identified that online there was no, platform that matches or facilitates the link between these self-employed professionals and organizations who are looking for these individuals. and that was our first train of thoughts. Also, our, or let's say my original thought was to build a marketplace where organizations can upload a request for support and freelancers globally can respond to that specific request. But after many, many evenings, nights, brainstorming with Anje about the topic and also conducting a, a big research over plus sustainability managers where exactly their need lies, we tweaked the business idea into a matchmaking platform. So from a marketplace into a matchmaking platform for one specific reason. And that is that organizations need some support in decision making as well. They need some support in defining their exact scope of work, which is not always too straightforward in sustainability. Also, once they have the scope of work defined; some decision making in which freelancer then globally is best capable in supporting us. Where we have developed this matchmaking algorithm or matchmaking that we have to open the conversations, conversations with companies, help them with scoping their exact needs when it comes to sustainability, and then matching them with the individual or individuals best capable of supporting them to give you...

[00:08:05] James Gill: That really helps explain it. Thank you. Thank you both of you. I'd come across Dazzle and I was hearing you explain the matchmaking concept, but hearing it end to end like that really helps understand it because I think for us, like I ecosystem, we've been going through some of those challenges ourselves.

[00:08:21] Like we wanna work with other people that at the very least care about this, the same things as us, but ideally people that can teach us area in areas we don't know about. And you know, there are places I will go to find a designer or or an engineer or a marketing person, but to find people that know about sustainability and are able to keep pace with the rapid change and, and all of the, the, the evolution of, of what we're all finding out about climate and sustainability. And to have a place where you can go to figure that out actually and find people that can help with that is yeah, seemingly very much lacking.

[00:09:04] So yeah, they, you've really helped me understand more about what the platform does, so that's very, very helpful. Thank you. So I, I guess in, in terms of, in terms of this whole world, I could actually share, like we've certainly had challenges in finding people that that express those same values or know you know, not that we know everything.

[00:09:27] We, no one can know everything, but we feel like we're learning more and more. But finding people that also can come in and help us, whether that's with carbon footprint, measurement, or understanding which suppliers are good and bad from a climate perspective, dazzle would help us find those kinds of people.

[00:09:48] Is that right? Yeah.

[00:09:50] Anje & Robert: Correct. now that the ESG space in particular has even sometimes been referred to as an alphabet soup, but the C S R D and part of the C S R D is the E S R S.

[00:10:01] have the I S S B who's working with the I F R S and it's just, it can get very complex

[00:10:07] James Gill: you wanna run away. Yeah.

[00:10:10] Anje & Robert: Exactly.

[00:10:11] And we, we kind of want to get rid of a bit of that overwhelm and know that a lot of sustainability managers describe themselves as generalists knowing the larger space of sustainability. But then it, when it comes to specific topical expertise, like you just referred to footprint and selecting suppliers, it can be really helpful to have a partner that is really specialized in this aspect.

[00:10:37] That's really the community that we've tried to put together.

[00:10:41] James Gill: Amazing. Yeah, and, and so I guess also for a lot of businesses, you know, I know for ourselves, like we're not at that stage where we would necessarily need someone full time. And, and often I think sometimes when you go to like a larger business to get help, it can often cost a fortune. So the, the freelancer market is, is the sweet spot for everyone there.

[00:11:02] Anje & Robert: Yeah. Yeah. It's also something we had identified in the sense of there's a big need of an extra pair of hands, as I already mentioned in the beginning, but not per se for the full 40 hours.

[00:11:13] So that's exactly the sweet spot indeed, as you mentioned James, where we want to support with Dazzle. Of the platform really is to make sustainability expertise more accessible in particular more financially accessible. Like you just said, if you look towards larger consultancies, often the price tag is... and this kind of offers also your SMEs and opportunity to work with an expert without breaking the bank basically.

[00:11:38] James Gill: Yeah, and so I assume with all of the work you've been doing, there must've been lots of research and speaking to other businesses, and I'm sure many of the people listening might be in a position where they, like, what are the, the challenges businesses have in finding freelance help then? Is it, is it the, the cost must be one? Maybe just discovery is another, but are there other factors like how you select between people to help with? What are the other challenges there in terms of finding people?

[00:12:09] Anje & Robert: Yeah, think one of the bigger challenges is the quality of the freelancers.

[00:12:15] If you do your own research on LinkedIn, for example, as an organization to find an individual, I. get pretty far in the sense of you can find quite a lot of freelancers obviously, but how do you know if if this freelancer is of the desired quality you are looking for?

[00:12:31] So that's often the challenge that we heard from, from yeah, the research. I don't know if there's another perspective that you would like to share from from the research?

[00:12:39] No, I think that's very true. I think it's just it would take a lot of time for an organization to go on LinkedIn or kind of scour through the existing freelancer platforms to find the right individual if they, if they even know. Because I think where other freelancer platforms really do hit the brief like you just said, when you need someone for design or for marketing, it's a very detailed scope. You know exactly what you want, you know exactly what you need.

[00:13:06] So it makes it easier to find an in individual that can help you fulfill that need.

[00:13:11] But in sustainability, there is, it's still quite vague in some aspects. So you need someone to kind of help you to identify what it is that you exactly need and what makes the most sense. Because and sustainability, I think is therefore also a big challenge because out of all of the things that you could do, what are you going to do now? Both urgent and important? And there we would also offer some guidance.

[00:13:40] Track 1: Right. That's that's really interesting. And so yeah, Dazzle then is helping not just put you in touch with the right people, but also helping you even figure out what you are even trying to do and whether that's the right thing. So there's quite a lot of, of value and help and yeah.

[00:13:55] No, it makes, makes a lot of sense. I'm sure, I'm sure many people listening will be like, 'oh, this could be quite a handy, handy site type in my back pocket'. So I hope so. At least it's no, it, it's, it is good because I'm trying to do research in terms of various topics on digital sustainability and wanting to do more understanding of sort of stuff that's with beyond our control and understanding more, you know, about the wider industry and getting access to data that maybe we don't naturally have in-house.

[00:14:25] Like, there's all of these questions where it's like, where do you turn? And we don't have any one person on the team that would necessarily be the go-to for those things. So it's the sort of thing I would now, I would think, well, I'd probably come to, to Dazzle, try and see if there's anyone out there that can, anyway.

[00:14:40] I'm not, I'm not trying to be an ad for you guys!

[00:14:44] Anje & Robert: Thank you!

[00:14:46] Track 1: But I, I guess another big topic here, and while it's not necessarily specific to climate . Or maybe you disagree, but like, I guess there's this whole other movement here, which is more people working independently, so I didn't know how much you wanted to talk about that and how, I guess that's been an influential part of the, the whole creation of Dazzle?

[00:15:07] Anje & Robert: Yeah, for sure. It's a trend that, that we definitely took into account, with founding Dazzle, what we what we see in general is that a lot of people are choosing to be independent professionals because they in general or hopefully have a higher quality of life.

[00:15:22] They're more in charge of, you know, their own hours, where they work from in the world and their rate of course. There's an an increase in the number of people that are interested in sustainability and thus might choose this as a career path. And. We, we want to facilitate meaningful work for those.

[00:15:40] And as sustainability becomes a growing concern already is of course, but you can kind of see an uproar. We yeah, we think that that Dazzle can be a key of the puzzle

[00:15:52] James Gill: I know that, at least in, in the UK, there's sort of, there's been other names for it, like the gig economy and things like that. And sometimes it gets a bad rep. I know in London at least, you've got things like the Uber drivers and the, that side of things on the, on one end where like there's been a lot of controversy around hours worked and things like that.

[00:16:12] But I feel like maybe in the media, there's been a lot of focus on, at least in, in the UK media, like on the negativity side of people working independently. But there's this whole other positive story as well, which I think is the side I've seen more of personally, which is people choosing, as you said, choosing their own hours, choosing their own rates, like choosing where they wanna work.

[00:16:35] And that freedom, that flexibility for a lot of people is just, is, is totally changing the face of work, isn't it?

[00:16:42] Anje & Robert: Yeah. And I think another that we often hear as well from the own, our own free freelancers in the network that we've spoken to is that by freelancing, they feel like they can make more of an impact by helping multiple companies rather than being a sustainability manager at one particular firm.

[00:16:59] James Gill: Right. Yeah.

[00:17:00] Anje & Robert: Also for them really a way of making more impact.

[00:17:03] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I, I guess you get to, you know, the opportunity to bring that experience between different businesses and share that around, like what works for one company in one sector might be valuable insights for another company and, and all sorts.

[00:17:17] Anje & Robert: Yeah, no, and I, I agree with what you're saying saying James as well, in the media, you often see with freelancing or independent work there are obviously also risks; certain elements you should take into account. Can also talk about that from our perspective, we have seen, especially in sustainability, that's the field where we work in also firsthand from France or colleagues working in sustainability consultancy firms, for example. From 40 hours a week to 32 hours a week.

[00:17:48] That one hour or one day a week, they can freelance and work with a client or on a project related to sustainability where they get a lot of energy from feels obviously different when it's for yourself and on your own terms.

[00:18:01] Yeah, that's also how we see of the shifts happening, not directly from 40 hours a week to full-time freelancing. also see that, but often yeah, where it starts with trialing at one or two days a week feels to, to stand on your own feet in that sense. Work finding your own clients setting your own hourly rate.

[00:18:23] James Gill: Sure. I hadn't even thought about that yet. So people just scaling it back and dipping their toes in the water in a way to see if they like or not. And I assume some people might think it's the worst thing ever and realize how hard it is to go find clients, but then some people might love it.

[00:18:37] Anje & Robert: Yeah, it's not for everyone.

[00:18:39] Track 1: Yeah absolutely. And I know you were, you were saying beforehand when we were speaking that a big part of what you've been trying to do is foster community as well. I guess, I guess that's one of the downsides sometimes when you work independently, that . You know, you often have a lot of comradery and, and you know, connection with the people you work with.

[00:18:58] So is that maybe where you are thinking that the community comes into to help support people that have gone for this more independent lifestyle?

[00:19:07] Anje & Robert: Yeah, absolutely. So it's one of the things that I experienced as a freelancer myself as well. I I'm such an extrovert and having to work completely by myself was sometimes, sometimes a bit of a... and, and also your learning because in your more typical career, obviously you have a manager or, and someone that you can view as a mentor.

[00:19:27] You have a lot of influences. From the people around you that you learn from, in this more classical work setting. Whereas you're a freelancer, you don't necessarily always have that mentor or manager that can teach you new things based on their experience because of going at it alone. so I think it was definitely a need that we identified with the freelancers. Also that we interviewed before even launching the platform, while we were still doing our research, is that definitely something that they were quite keen on because it's also an opportunity for them to expand their skillset and to learn from other experts in their field.

[00:20:05] James Gill: Absolutely. No, I hadn't even the community side being an important part of even just career development and learning is... yeah, absolutely. I you hear that a lot as well, even for people on teams where like the change from being in an office to being remote has even had an impact on that.

[00:20:20] So yeah, the importance of that community side totally resonates. For me it's, it's cool. So I guess there's a third and final piece of this whole jigsaw, which I know very much related to the people we talk to in marketing roles. And I assume, Anya, you may be this might be something more in your mind as the marketing person, but like the role we are, we're talking a lot about sustainability, you're talking about freelancers and how marketing can be a force for good on this whole journey. And some people I know I've spoken to on this podcast before sort of say, well, marketing's part of the problem. And you know, if it's all about consuming more, then how can marketing help? But your, your belief is that marketing, there's a lot of opportunity for people in the world of marketing that can make it a positive impact on the world, right?

[00:21:09] Anje & Robert: Yeah. Yeah, so I was definitely, I used to be on the side where I definitely thought there is no place for marketing in the future. Also why I wanted to move my career away from it for a while; get into solely the sustainability aspect. But as I've worked with with companies through my experience at the consulting firm as well, I realized that it actually has quite a big role to play in education. and that it can be used as a force for good. I'm not saying that it, it only has, or that there aren't risks or downsides attached to it, but I do feel that it has power to create more of a movement because as you educate your clients or consumers about how to make sustainable choices, I believe that you can do that through marketing.

[00:21:55] And it's something that I've also aspired to do through the content that I've produced, is to create educational content about how to become a more sustainable business and that the organization decides that they need a bit of support, that you would be, you know, the party to turn to.

[00:22:12] That's really how I've always viewed our marketing efforts. So I, I feel like there's a lot of space to use it as a force for good rather than only to endorse consumerism, because there isn't that much space for it in the future.

[00:22:28] James Gill: Absolutely. If marketing is so much about great storytelling, then we need more of that and more great communication around the challenges we face and what we can do about them. So, it's great to hear a more optimistic view there and thank you. Speaking of optimism, what, what are your thoughts for the future and a future may be of work, the future of sustainability in organizations?

[00:22:54] Anything you can share on how you feel? You know, the world might be changing over the next few years. I think maybe Robert, any thoughts on this?

[00:23:03] Anje & Robert: Yeah, for, for us, in ideal world sustainability would be no-brainer organizations. But yeah, talking about being optimistic as well, but that's the absolutely the mission of of Dazzle to make sustainability the status quo within our organizations; all organizations. That sustainability is a part of every decision matrix or every decision being made within organizations. That's definitely something we stand for and strive for.

[00:23:36] And in terms of marketing, to have a little bit of input from my side on, on marketing as well, even though it's not my field of field of expertise. I totally agree with what Anje was saying regards to the educational part.

[00:23:51] I think that's extremely important, but also something me personally very much appreciate in is transparency. So that's an element I've seen at different organizations, the, the use of transparency on how far they are in their sustainability journey.

[00:24:11] Some things that didn't went well as well. And overall an honest tone of voice on where they stand what the goals are is definitely something think we would we'll see more in in the future of marketing.

[00:24:23] But as I said maybe you have some add on on it as well?

[00:24:27] No, no, I agree. I mean, if marketing is used in a transparent and honest and more nuanced way, then I think there's definitely a space for it in a sustainable future.

[00:24:37] I think we're obviously the biggest critique comes from people is, you know, there is this, this big element of greenwashing that has been at play for a while. So it, it just always creates this this sense of skepticism when companies communicate.

[00:24:53] And it would be great if, if that would obviously reduce, and I know that there are lots of developments in the legislative space that are trying to tackle this the European Green Claims , for example. So these movements are happening and that I think will yeah, will change marketing and, and business alike.

[00:25:10] James Gill: Yeah. No, that's really, really good to hear. And so hopefully a future where businesses and organizations are more transparent, it becomes easier to trust businesses because of things like that with clearer guidelines and requirements of what people should and shouldn't say. Hopefully everyone doing a better job and putting it higher on their agenda.

[00:25:32] That sounds like a, a more optimistic view of the future. That sounds, sounds good to me. Hopefully we can, we can all do that. Thank you both of you. I know last, last kind of bit, but we always like to hear if you've received any advice in the past or if you've got any advice to share. I don't know if either of you wanted to share anything. I dunno if that's something you wanna share. Any or you, Robert, like Go, go ahead. Yeah.

[00:25:58] Anje & Robert: What I've learned also in the research that we've done is what has come out as a clear challenge in sustainability is prioritization, because it can be quite overwhelming.

[00:26:07] And the best piece of advice that I have kind of learned is to. Always ask yourself, is it urgent and is it important?

[00:26:15] And it's yes to both of those questions yeah, should you slot it into your to-do list?

[00:26:22] If not, you can find time for it later. That has really helped me personally, but I think it will also help businesses in their sustainability journey.

[00:26:29] James Gill: Absolutely. Yeah. I know many company founder or individual who everything always seems to be urgent and important. And struggling with prioritization. I know I struggle with that myself, so, Yeah, there's like a matrix isn't there, that you can sort of plot things on. That's very helpful to, to think through and I don't do that enough.

[00:26:50] So yeah. Thank you. Thank you for that. And also, was there you mentioned, I think you mentioned before there's maybe some sort of resource you've got coming up you wanted to share.

[00:26:59] Anje & Robert: Yeah, so we've referred to the research that we've done this podcast, but we're not going to keep that for ourselves. We'll actually be publishing an email. Very soon that is titled '10 Priorities for Sustainability, A Strategic Roadmap for Implementation'.

[00:27:12] The goal of this resource is to do exactly that, to help companies prioritize and kind of provide a checklist with actions that hopefully will will be actionable and we'll help set the roadmap and make it a bit easier to tackle things.

[00:27:26] James Gill: That sounds great. A little bit of a roadmap of a bit of spoonfeeding to make it easier to get started on this. Sounds, sounds like what we all need. Fantastic. Well, I think we've talked about all of the topics we were thinking about and I know hopefully many people listening will want to go check out both yourselves and Dazzle as well, because I know from my side I think there's quite a few things we could do as some help on that could be places we'd go to the platform to check out.

[00:27:54] So the website is dazzle-platform.com, isn't it? That's the website and we'll link to that in the notes. And people can find you both on LinkedIn. Right. We'll link those in the show notes.

[00:28:06] Anje & Robert: Happy to!

[00:28:07] James Gill: Awesome. Well, thank you both of you. Thank you, Anya. Thank you, Robert. It's been a pleasure speaking with you today and hopefully we'll catch you again very soon.

[00:28:17] Anje & Robert: Thank you, James. Pleasure to be here today. Thanks so much, James. Appreciate your time.

[00:28:20] James Gill: Cheers. Thanks all. Bye. And thank you to anyone listening, and watching because we bring it one of these episodes each week and hopefully you've enjoyed chatting with Anje and Robert today. If you did, please let us know via your podcast player of choice and I'm sure we would all like to hear your feedback and hope you've enjoyed the show today.

[00:28:39] So thanks for listening or watching and we'll catch you next time. Cheers.


Creators and Guests

Anje de Jager
Anje de Jager
Anje de Jager, co-founder of Dazzle, is dedicated to making a positive impact in the world by transforming businesses into fully sustainable operations.
Robert Smith
Robert Smith
Robert Smith, co-founder of Dazzle, has a background in commercially related roles in the field of sustainability.
S3 #3 'Matchmaking for Sustainability Professionals', with Anje & Robert from Dazzle
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