Member Spotlight: Mitsuharu Enatsu
We all have our own personal values and morals. For entrepreneurs, such values can be a main driver for their business. Mitsuharu Enatsu, an entrepreneur based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is very passionate about sustainability. His values for sustainability inspired him to start GreenHive, a business to business platform for sustainable sourcing.
What is GreenHive?
“Greenhive is a business to business platform whose mission is to connect environment-oriented entrepreneurs with suppliers, manufacturers, and consultants that unanimously value sustainability. It’s basically an online directory for eco-friendly businesses”.
What does sustainability mean to you?
“Sustainability means humanity living their daily lives and trailblazing towards the future without depleting the ecological resources.”. While sustainability has a different meaning to everyone, Mitsuharu interprets it as an issue relating to people, the planet, and profit. He is realistic in the sense that in order for eco-friendly companies to continue caring for the earth in the future, they need to generate revenue and scale.
How did your entrepreneurial journey start?
“The original idea was an online business-to-consumer platform that made it easier for consumers to buy eco-friendly products based on their values. But there were already many small webshops doing that. In fact, you have some players in the US that are getting big in that space. We realized that we did not have the scale to achieve such a venture early on. Doing B2C had a lot of operational intricacies; and none of us were experts in retail and sales. So, our first (and not last) pivot was to start small and just focus on selling one product. But while doing some R&D on potential products to sell, we realized there was another problem we could potentially address”.
GreenHive is the result of four friends who share a love and passion for sustainability. From a B2C platform, their first pivot was to make one eco-friendly product. However, in their efforts to make a product come together, they realized that it was troublesome finding suppliers and manufacturers that could help them manufacture the product that is eco-friendly in each step of the supply chain.
“You can have a bamboo toothbrush, but the packaging is plastic or the bristles have toxic chemicals. There are many aspects of a product and its supply chain that contribute to its overall environmental impact. We realized that there was no directory or platform to enable entrepreneurs to maximize the sustainability of their brand and product; it was a pain point that we wanted to solve”.
So, in their attempt to start a business, they realized that a very useful tool to have would be one that helped entrepreneurs meet their business and sustainability needs. They decided to pivot their idea to creating a business-to-business directory that featured eco-friendly suppliers and manufacturers.
Who is your target customer?
“At the moment, we are trying to solve the pain points of two segments: (1) first-time entrepreneurs who want to create an eco-friendly business, and (2) Existing brands that want to improve their product’s sustainability.
Mitsuharu is first starting off by targeting customers that have an existing interest in sustainability. Therefore, he is making it easier for them to find the eco-friendly partners that they otherwise would have spent hours searching for.
Hypothetically, how would you encourage businesses that do not care to enter the eco-friendly space to take a more sustainable approach?
“I would consider sustainability like veganism or vegetarianism. Everyone knows about animal cruelty but you have to internalize it before you can take action”. Mitsuharu understands that people will not care about the environment if they do not “internalize”, as he says, it’s importance. While everyone recognizes that caring for the environment is crucial, it is not an inherent value for some people. “You cannot tell someone to become a vegetarian just by sharing what you’ve watched on Youtube. That person has to have a strong emotional or rational attachment to it. Although we aren’t targeting businesses that don’t value sustainability, theoretically if we try to get them onboard, then our strategy would be to present credible facts mixed with emotionally compelling arguments”.
What is your advice for startup owners, sustainable and not?
“If you're not an expert in a specific field, or haven’t been exposed to the intricacies and pain points of an industry, then find a consultant who is willing to guide you (for free if possible). You also have to consider the simplicity of your idea. Is it easy to execute? If it's simple enough and there isn’t a lot of risk involved, then you can do it. If it will substantially consume your money, finances, and time with loved ones, then you’ll be going uphill a little too much. And once you’ve taken the leap, enjoy the process and surround yourself with a support group. Be attentive to your mental and emotional health too, because there will be ups and downs. Most of all, be passionate about what you will be doing”.
Where do you want your company to be 10 years from now?
Being a directory is just the first stage; it’s great but we envision our business to be modern and dynamic. Our short-term goal is to be able to add credible, actionable, and engaging learning materials onto the platform. Long term goals include objective quantifications of the ecological impact of each supplier. 10 years from now, we aim to be the largest, most trusted platform that entrepreneurs will use to meet their business and sustainability needs.
As you can see, Mitsuharu’s business is driven by his passion and value: sustainability. While other people may not be as passionate about the environment, he is definitely working to reach those that are. While he is currently working with a niche target audience, he predicts that the market for eco-friendly businesses will grow exponentially down the line. “Sustainability is not a fad. You are going to miss out when the upcoming generation, which is more environmentally conscious than any other, starts to let their wallets and actions speak”. To stay grounded in his passion for people and the planet, he works closely with those that feel the same way. Overall, he recommends “surround yourself with people that share the same values. Don’t swim against the tide, don’t climb uphill. Let things flow organically, and don’t solve the world’s problems all alone”.