This week was the final of Postcode Lotterij Green Challenge, where Lightyear was 1 of the 5 finalists. Some time ago, during a live broadcast of RTL Summer Night, I was surprised by the Postcode Lottery with the announcement of our final spot plus the accompanying check of € 100,000. Instead of only numbers 1 and 2, all finalists were to get a prize! Very nice and total surprise, moreover, the fact that we were invited to RTL turned out to be arranged with the organization of the Green Challenge.
Real fans then wondered if the visit by our CEO Lex Hoefsloot to De Wereld Draait Door a day in advance would not be secretly the next surprise for an even bigger check. That turned out to be wishful thinking. Finally, EarthEnable received the first prize and it became clear to me from the jury’s chairman’s speech, she seemed almost a twin sister of the finalist. Chapeau also for her pitch – a very nice initiative indeed. It tends to be more of a social entrepreneurship than really focus on CO2 reduction (the main goal of the Green Challenge) but the ultimate goal is to create a better world. And she surely does so, so I very much hope that this gives her the much needed financial space to meet her ambitions. They already have 200 employees, so that chance is quite big. When I asked if the amount won would be almost twice as much in the Rwandan context, she replied: Double? Just make it 5 times. Wow, she has picked up an equivalent of € 2.5M yesterday!
The feedback received by Lightyear from the jury came down on two things: 1. The automotive industry is a very big industry to tackle, and 2. They have the impression that we are already well enough in the race, which means that this prize is not necessary for us now. You would almost think that our CEO and PR machine Lex had better stayed in the US for another month in order to let the media storm unleash only after the Postcode Lottery Contest.
“The automotive industry is a very big industry to tackle”,
This prize is internationally the largest one for companies focusing on CO2 reduction. Actually, the jury’s reluctance to invest in a promising moonshot is a pity. At the same time, it is also understandable, it takes courage and a healthy dose of nerves to invest in a moonshot like ours. But problems as urgent as climate change just require another mindset. As it is said: ‘if you can not solve a problem, make it bigger’.
Talking about startups with a big impact: Despite the fact that they are not present there, Tesla’s impact is clearly reflected at the IAA in Frankfurt, where the big automotive brands are slowly starting to change into electric, also due to government policy.
Where we fully agree with the jury is that we can not do this alone. A conversation with Matthijs van Nieuwkerk at the DWDD-table does not mean that the money will spontaneously be flowing in or that the car will design itself. It certainly helps, and it is enjoyable as well, but at the same time, “do not build a business on media attention”. You can only do this in collaboration with the network that has been so supportive for years already – so we are very grateful.