The air travel industry is waking up to a post-pandemic world filled with people who have a heightened awareness of climate change and sustainability. The entrepreneurs behind Jet-Set Offset are turning these concerns into action for both consumers and businesses.
Using the startup’s carbon-based offsetting tool, companies can donate one cent for every air mile flown by employees to environmental non-profit organizations.
“Individuals and companies are much more mindful that travel and commuting are a big part of their carbon footprint and need to be incorporated into their sustainability planning and actions,” said Anna Ford, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Jet-Set Offset. “Remote working has brought people together in more authentic ways, increasing demands to align personal values such as sustainability with working norms, including travel.”
Realistic Strategy for Sustainable Travel
Functioning like a fundraising tool for non-profit and charitable organizations that focus on sustainability, Jet-Set Offset’s mileage-based donations are tax-deductible and backed by a realistic business-oriented strategy. During its first year in business, thousands of Jet-Set Offset consumers made donations to a range of non-profits. These organizations offer products, education, and advocacy in areas such as clean transportation, renewable energy, land and wildlife conservation, reforestation, and green buildings. The startup’s next target market is enterprises.
“We want to make it easy for companies to integrate carbon-based offset donations into their travel plans based on the organizations’ unique sustainability goals, timelines, and budget realities,” Ford said. “We’re piloting our tool now with companies that are interested in sustainable travel as the industry recovers from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
From Public Health to Sustainability
After spending almost a decade in public health advocacy, where she racked up an average of 100,000 flier miles each year, Ford transitioned into a new career that began with studying public administration and social entrepreneurship at the Harvard Kennedy School. She was most inspired by several landmark studies proving the impact of reducing air travel to combat climate change.
“At that moment, my decade of frequent flyer guilt really hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said. “I decided to focus exclusively on the environmental impact of air travel and carbon off-setting. There many non-profits doing environmental work, so I built Jet-Set Offset as a donation-based off-setting tool that helps travelers as well as those organizations that are tackling climate change.”
SAP.iO Foundry Unlocks New Business Opportunities
Jet-Set Offset was among the eight early-stage startups that participated in the recent SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco accelerator program. Ford was grateful for the opportunity to network and learn from other startups as well as SAP experts about building enterprise solutions that solve customer pain points. Having initially focused on consumers, one important takeaway for her team was the need for employee engagement in sustainability initiatives at the corporate level.
“Even for companies with sustainability commitments and plans, we learned a lot about the need for employee education,” she said. “As a result, we added communication abilities to our solution, allowing organizations to have an ongoing dialogue with their employees.”
In addition to making carbon offset donations, companies can use the tool to send reminder messages to employees that sustainability matters, and to be mindful of non-essential travel. Companies can also offer environmentally friendly travel alternatives.
Making sustainability even easier, Jet-Set Offset is integrated with SAP Concur solutions and available on SAP Concur App Center. Customers can see the environmental impact of their travel from one dashboard that captures miles flown and resultant carbon emissions. The tool also prompts travel managers with convenient train transportation options based on nearby city destinations to help reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
“Once companies understand their historical carbon footprint, they can start to plan for sustainable travel, ensuring that emissions don’t reach previous levels even as employee travel comes back,” said Ford. “We see this helping travel managers, sustainability officers, and human resources departments meet corporate sustainability goals.”
Plan for a More Sustainable Future
More than anything, Ford does not want the latest focus on sustainability to be a short-lived blip – especially in the rush to economic recovery. She described a much larger vision in which organizations fully understand their overall corporate travel carbon emission footprint and act to reduce it.
“We’re working with companies and travelers to put sustainable travel plans in place with a platform that inspires action,” she said. “We want to help companies benchmark and track their carbon emissions from air travel, communicate their sustainability goals with employees, and involve them in making the best choices for greater environmental impact over time.”
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This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.