Disruptive Seasons Spring 2022 – Veena Giridhar Gopal
Hi, everyone. I’m Veena, co-founder and CEO of Salesbeat. I have 20 years in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, having consulted for companies like Woolworths Group and also having worked in companies like PepsiCo, Diageo. I’ve worked across several different functions like finance, innovation and commercialisation all the way through…
Hi, everyone. I’m Veena, co-founder and CEO of Salesbeat. I have 20 years in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, having consulted for companies like Woolworths Group and also having worked in companies like PepsiCo, Diageo. I’ve worked across several different functions like finance, innovation and commercialisation all the way through to corporate development. And I’ve also walked across several markets like Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, as well as the Oceania.
When 2020 hit and COVID came in, we knew that consumer preferences, the way people lived, the way people worked, would change the way supermarkets stocked and also in terms of availability of stock at stores. So we lamb sales meat. Sandspit processes, micro and macro factors to model consumer buying behaviour and tell supermarkets how much to stock at stores so they do not overstock which eliminate waste sent to landfill or on the stock leading to stock outs. But I’m not here to talk about what we do today. I’m here to speak about data and existing technology and applications in several sectors. Because we did not use new technology to build what we have. We actually used existing technology that several agencies and military organisations use to predict warfare, conflict, famines and that sort of thing. But these days, the sort of technology that gets funding up are those that elevate our comfort, our convenience, or even for entertainment. And these technologies and the data it stores takes up a lot of energy and also resources which we are now falling short of. Because it takes a lot of space to store the data and it takes a lot of energy to run the processes for the data. So what happens with real issues like climate change, poaching and the endangerment of wildlife and also hunger because of climate change and the fact that agriculture is not as productive as it used to be. Can we use existing data and technology to solve these problems? There are also societal problems like equity and equality in society as well as in the workplace. As an example, there’s existing technology out there that can solve these issues. Let’s take the example of COVID and Moderna vaccines, or Moderna and liposomes were actually discovered in 1960s. Robert Malone actually pioneered a landmark study in 1987 that used fatty droplets to deliver Moderna vaccines. And there were research papers done on this. He was the first person to do it. And when 2020 came and cooled, it happened. Researchers at Pfizer and Moderna used this exact technology and all the data that have been gathered in previous vaccine development to launch what they did, which is what we use now. Another more relevant outcome, an example to be used is electric cars. Did you know that electric cars existed before combustion engines that. This may come as a surprise to you, but these have actually existed from before those times. But because electric cars were not fast enough or big enough and comfortable enough, it did not get enough funding. The funding instead went to gas, fuel costs. Even steam fuelled cars. It’s only now that electric cars aren’t getting enough funding for development. Interestingly enough, that is another methodology going on here. There are studies being done on whether hydrogen fuel cells can be used to fuel these cars. And this technology existed from back in the 1800s when hydrogen fuel cells were used to light up the streets. So how many other problems out there can be solved by using existing technology and all the data that we have at the moment? That’s something for other entrepreneurs to think about and for VCs and other backers to think about in terms of returns. As in, do we want immediate returns in the next five years or are we looking for something that helps sustain us for the long term? Food for thought.