Trying to deal with the sheer volume of data associated with how companies will transition to a net-zero economy is an arduous task. The interface of numbers would tax even the craziest CEOs. What if it could all be displayed visually, but also accurately?
That’s the germ of the idea behind Actual, a SimCity-esque platform designed to display all this data in a manageable interface, yet accurate.
It has now raised $5 million in seed funding from Buckley Ventures, Hyper, Wndrco, Sequoia Scout, Signalfire Scout and Craft Scout. It also says companies like Allbirds, Giga and VF Corp (a global apparel and footwear manufacturer), New Zealand Merino and ZQRX are using it to determine their ESG mandates.
Founded by LinkedIn and Airbus alums, the San Francisco-based platform says it combines urban planning, game design, data visualization and scientific planning to model and execute their environmental, social and governance plans.
“We are at a point where companies that fail to deliver on their corporate social responsibility promises are falling behind,” co-founder and president Karthik Balakrishnan said in a statement. “Investors already prefer companies with higher ESG scores, which means that ‘less clean’ companies have limited access to capital. Actual is designed to help enterprises quickly model and implement the various ESG scenarios that will update their existing operations to comply with regulations without delay.”
Actual was co-founded by ex-CEO of Heighten (acquired by Microsoft/LinkedIn), Rajesh Chandran; former co-founder of Coin (acquired by Fitbit) and Altiscope (now known as Airbus UTM) Karthik Balakrishnan, Ph.D.; and former LinkedIn software engineer and Rhodes Scholar, Derek Lyons, Ph.D.
During a phone conversation with me, CTO Derek Lyons told me: “If you look at the space of ESG tools that exist today, many of them are exactly what we would call ‘data first’. So they’re really focused on collecting a lot of data, populating things like carbon APIs and using all that information to try to give organizations a really precise picture of where they are now, in terms of their ESG footprint. .”
He said Actual takes a different approach: “Our approach is what we call ‘model first’. And we’re very focused on building models that allow customers to plug the data they have today, even if it’s very low resolution, even if it’s just estimates, and plug into real models that connect that along with business logic, with the underlying science and engineering that is important to many of these transformations. And then use that to be able to model for the future, which is likely to change scenarios.”