Making Carbon Accounting a Reality with Sumday

Jessica Richmond (pictured centre, CEO); Lindsay Ellis (left); Danny Hoare (right)

Carbon accounting that is thorough, clear and helps drive sustainability decision-making? It’s easier than you think, says co-founder Jessica Richmond.

Fact file

Co-founders: Jessica Richmond, 31; Lindsay Ellis, 32; Danny Hoare, 37 (chief product officer)
Investors: Blackbird, Possible Ventures, Cameron Adams (Canva) and Wedgetail
First customers: Tasmazia, Taz Drone Solutions, Hellyer Gold Mines, Bruny Island Cheese Co.
Headquarters: Burnie, Tasmania

What’s your elevator pitch?

Sumday is a subscriptionbased service to support making carbon accounting as rigorous as other financial reporting. We can help large companies train their CFO and finance teams and bring their supply chains along by upskilling them. This has to become normal for small businesses – use our software to build it into your business now, before you get to the consequences of not doing that. For accounting firms, you’re the ones best placed  to bring clarity around the data and to drive sustainability decision-making for your clients. And we can help.”

How did the idea come about?

“We’ve all worked in heavy industry – mining, energy and resources. I’m a lawyer, Danny and Lindsay trained as accountants and Lindsay also has an academic background in sustainability.”

What was the problem you were trying to solve?

“As we realised how many companies wanted help with carbon accounting, we found the numbers being fed into it were generally based on high-level industry averages. How can companies make informed decisions about what they should prioritise in order to decarbonise when they’re going off numbers that may as well be on the back of an envelope?”

How did you get it off the ground?

“We did close to 50 carbon-emissions assessments across heavy industries, as well as small businesses. We get the contacts for the supply chain – whether it’s 100 or 1000. We don’t ask them to fill in a heap of forms; we ask them if they can provide the carbon associated with the goods or services they’re supplying. Most can’t and we say, ‘No worries – it’s you and everyone else.’ We ask if they’d be willing to start if they had support, software and their accountant helping. We’re seeing a real increase in businesses willing to learn more.”

How did you convince investors?

“It can seem a bit random to investors and other tech companies that we’re in regional Tasmania. We told the story of a small local tourism business – Tasmazia and the Village of Lower Crackpot – that paid us to do its carbon accounting. It got investors across the line and now when we catch up, they ask, ‘How’s everyone in Lower Crackpot?’ We started small but also very complex and granular. That’s how we keep it meaningful, versus another enterprise software calculating averages.”

What’s next?

“The magic is in being committed to staying fit-for-purpose for the average small-to-medium business with 10 employees but maybe selling valuable goods or services into that larger machine… We’ve gone global from day one because supply chains are global. We’ve taken trips to the UK and the US – we reach out via LinkedIn for coffee and cake and say, ‘This is how carbon accounting could be done’, and that’s evolved into discussions about how to roll this out. We have a mining customer in Finland, our first accounting firm at the enterprise level is in the US and we have another in Canada. The European Union, UK and US are already equal with Australia in terms of our focus.”

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