Space4Good: The First Geospatial B. Corp Technology Company in Europe
Space4Good is a growing geospatial analytics company that works with satellite earth observation based in The Hague. Alexander Gunkel, the founder and managing director, is sharing with us what it is like to be a fast growing and innovative organization while making social and environmental performance the business’s number one priority.
Space4Good: Geospatial Innovation for Impact Makers on Earth
Space4Good was launched in 2017 at the European Space Agency Incubator and since then grew to more than 20 team members. They provide numerous geospatial services such as remote sensing data analysis, predictive and AI modelling, bespoke development, reporting as well as automated applications and capacity building.
Geospatial analytics works by combining datasets with location information such as satellite or drone imagery with advanced processing methods to extract meaningful insights which can be visualised in maps, graphs, and statistics. These insights about historical changes and current shifts can then assist Space4Good’s clients in making more accurate predictions of trends and have overall better foresight. Space4Good is particularly active in the restorative agriculture and nature conservation sector where they partner with organisations such as Rabobank, Amnesty International as well as Ecosia aiming to combine impact and profit.
The Company’s Purpose
Alexander states that Space4Good has “the vision of becoming the most trusted partner to social and environmental impact makers worldwide.”
The team develops their geospatial tools to make impact-makers’ lives easier by unlocking, accelerating and scaling their impact initiatives through a supportive third-eye form from the sky.
What Makes Space4Good Unique?
Space4Good is the first certified Benefit Corporation in the industry of geospatial technology providers within Europe. According to Alexander, the company follows an “impact first, profit second” principle which puts them in good company with organizations like Patagonia, Tony Chocolonely or Coursera. Space4Good works with many NGOs and activist groups that most commercial entities would not be attracted to work with, but Space4Good includes these types of organisations at the sake of short-term margin to live up to their positive impact promise.
Why The Hague?
Space4Good was originally located in Noordwijk next to the European Space Agency, where they took the time to develop their technology and start working on their very first projects. Following this early inception phase, they relocated to The Hague to be closer to current and potential clients in the peace & justice sector. Eventually the team moved to The Hague Humanity Hub, a meeting and co-creation space for NGOs, governments as well as other social enterprises working on the UN Sustainability Goals.
Alexander states that an additional attraction was the fact that The Hague is the hub attracting hundreds of new organisations for conferences, meet-ups and other business networking events.
Why Did They Participate in the Scale-Up UNConference?
Space4Good has been growing organically over the last few years to the extent where they can now also be called a scale-up. Although the company is steadily growing, there are some challenges that arise, which occur in every business. This conference was an opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with fellow entrepreneurs that are in similar situations, which Alexander found to be more useful than reading about these challenges on the internet.
Attending the Scale-Up UNConference left a very positive impression on Alexander and his company. He said it was nice to see that some people at the conference were in the same or similar situation and looking for answers to the same questions that he had. “That felt really good in a way that you’re not the odd one out, both with regards to the situation you are in and also the challenges you are having, hearing that others have very similar, sometimes identical challenges. And you have to tell yourself, there's nothing wrong about my business, it’s just now in the state where changes need to be made.”
The conference gave him a clearer vision of where his company is currently at and what they need to work towards. “It's creating a mindset, preparing for the future and preparing for the process to get there in a way. I think that was just reconfirmed in the session, so it gave me more assurance and more confidence that the next steps need to be taken and that we actually already are on the right track.”
Advice to Other Founders of Scale-Ups in the Metropole Region
Alexander advises that businesses within the area should attend the next conference because it was very valuable and a great way to make new connections. It was enjoyable to meet fellow entrepreneurs who are facing similar situations and challenges within their companies and how they plan to overcome these, making it a great place to gain some inspiration and more confidence.
Additionally, he adds: “I think the cities are quite diverse and also hosts different people and organisations. You can use this diversity as leverage within your business giving you a competitive advantage.”
Alexander describes that it is also extremely important to take care of yourself as an entrepreneur. This is something that is usually not discussed within an organisation and often underrated and overlooked by the individual, but at the Scale-Up Conference there were many topics on self-care for the founders of companies. Start-ups require a lot of effort and time, and as an entrepreneur it is only normal to forget about personal needs, but it is crucial to remember to take care of yourself and mental health because this will reflect in your business, the environment and employees as well!