Create, fund and grow companies with a mission to fight climate change

Published on July 22, 2021

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We are often asked: What is Time for the Planet? A start-up studio? An investment fund? An incubator?

Actually, it’s all that and more.

We are co-creators, not just an incubator or a support structure. Working with a team of scientists and entrepreneurs, we create companies together.

Our role is to finance. And more!


Time for the Planet plays four major roles within its subsidiaries:

- putting together the company’s management team;

- financing the company’s development as it grows;

- ensuring strategy is open source; and

- acting as counsel for strategic decisions.

The management team makes all decisions. We trust them with defining strategy, management style, organization and day-to-day activities, as long as they comply with the Time for the Planet charter. Most importantly, open source must be ensured.

The company president is selected from the management team and has delegated authority.

Our vision is to make an impact. A real impact.


We are guarantors for the company’s impact in the fight against global warming. The interests of the planet will always take priority over that of investors. When individuals and subsidiary founders open their capital to us, they trust us to anchor their company firmly in mankind’s history. They don’t want just a financial success story.

Open source: the secret weapon


The success rate for companies working in innovation is very low. Failure occurs for 70 to 90% of these new companies. Each failure represents years of lost effort in:

This failure rate is not a problem in a world where objectives are not subject to time constraints. The company will have created jobs and supplied sub-contractors with work. The economy will benefit from the experience.

However, in a world where the climate crisis deteriorates with every passing day and hour, and where the human cost is ever more important, this failure rate means one thing: We will not make it. Unless we think outside the box.

We can no longer waste billions of hours in entrepreneurial undertakings grounded in industrial secrecy and intellectual property protection.

It’s been customary to want entrepreneurs to base their business model on gain and secrecy. Yet, when analyzed, this business model is simply not reasonable and efficient.

Consequently, Time for the Planet will make all innovations created by its subsidiaries available to the entire world. Our economic models are not based on gain and secrecy. Quite the opposite, they are based on spreading information without obstacles. Anyone can create a company and copy, improve and sell our innovations. We are not afraid of repercussions on the economic development of our own businesses. We are certain this will speed up our own companies’ growth. In this article, we detail how open source creates an even larger impact and pushes our companies to grow faster.

Time for the Planet subsidiaries - steps for creation


We use the term “subsidiary” to designate all the companies we will create and finance.

We do not want to choose our investments based on forecasts and business plans. Often, they are not reliable indicators. Accordingly, we have developed a method based on a series of logical steps. They allow us to confirm impact, entrepreneurial opportunity and the team before moving forward with the big guns. 

Step 1: Choosing the scientific problem

Only one criterion is taken into account when choosing a scientific problem: its impact on greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) on a global scale.

The proposed solution must address a sufficiently large market. And it must have a significant measurable impact on GHG emissions and their capture. For example, we want to address CO2 emissions by the cement industry. They represent 5% of global CO2 emissions which is considerable.

View the scientific topics that interest us

We must be able to roll out the solution anywhere in the world, not just in a specific area.

Projects are reviewed by Time for the Planet’s scientific committee which validates their scientific relevance:

- the innovation’s impact on greenhouse gases; and

- the study of side and rebound effects, such as increased energy consumption further to improved efficiency

Step 2: Finding the scientific solution’s competitive advantage

Scientific problems are not always naturally and intrinsically in sync with a market problem. Take cement manufacturing. The fact that it emits CO2 will become a market problem as soon as there is a competitive advantage to building without cement: lower cost, better insulation quality, greater durability, etc.

We act as a think tank at Time for the Planet in conjunction with the inventor, the scientific committee and the entrepreneur committee.

Step 3: High-frequency market testing


At this point, the subsidiary has not yet been created.

Over a three- to six-week period and with a budget of €5,000 to €15,000, we use high-frequency testing techniques to determine:

- whether the product or service engages clients and customers. Does it meet a real need?

- Who are the clients and customers?

- What is the customer acquisition cost?

Real-life testing is conducted as though the solution were already available: meetings with prospective clients, creation of landing pages to present the solution, advertising on social media, or retargeting, to mention a few.

Examples:

Step 4: Recruiting the subsidiary’s initial team

In most cases, at this stage, other than the inventor and/or scientist, there is no team. Consequently, we put together the necessary team.

Step 5: Testing the team, creating the subsidiary

The company is created when all market testing is completed.

Time for the Planet creates companies “from scratch”.

That said, before becoming majority shareholders, we start with a minority share of 5 to 15% while the team is being tested. This phase can last three to nine months. During this period, we evaluate whether the team works well together; if they can create a common company culture; if they work intelligently with Time for the Planet; and whether they perform effectively.

At this stage, we invest between €50k and €300k.

If the team meets all expectations at this stage, we move on to step 6.

If the team does not meet expectations, we stay on as minority shareholders, and the project continues with other partners.

During this stage, we continue to advance several objectives:

Time for the Planet will handle creation of the company’s legal entity, the initial capital and registering the trade name.

As a general rule, the founders are asked to make a minimal investment to symbolize their commitment to the project. However, this amount is much lower than for a traditional business creation.

The Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, is the most minimalist version possible of the proposed product or service. Generally, in the previous step, using projections of the product or service, highly advanced sales approaches and first sales were made. In this step, we’ll move on to the real product or service.

The Time for the Planet method is based on rapid market access. We will pay particular attention to developing the MVP. It must be as quick and inexpensive as possible in order to start generating sales revenue. We will invest in product development once there are firm contracts or commitments to purchase. Until a product is the object of loudly expressed purchase intentions, no substantial investments will be made.

Step 6: Transition to majority shareholder, approval of overall investment in the company

By this point, Time for the Planet will have confirmed:

- the project’s scientific relevance, and specifically its impact on greenhouse gases;

- the market’s existence - first users who are ready to pay for the innovation; and

- that the team operates smoothly.

With the above, we have sufficient information to approve our investment.

In step 6, the project file and team are presented to the Time for the Planet Supervisory Board. It decides on the maximum amount to allocate to the project from 1 to 10 million euros.

Once the amount is voted by the Supervisory Board, the Investment Committee decides on the investment schedule. The Investment Committee meets every 15 days and its members rotate.

Generally, with startups, there are successive rounds of funding and increased shares. As majority shareholder, Time for the Planet provides the funding necessary at each step of the company’s development. As majority shareholder, we can guarantee the company’s rapid development and open-source philosophy.

Consequently, we invest in real time as needs arise, and within the limits of the budget approved by the Supervisory Board.

Time for the Planet as majority shareholder presents advantages for the subsidiary’s founders:

Time for the Planet invests in real time, over three to five years, injecting funds as needed.

In most cases, the companies created will have variable capital. Investments will be made without increases to the authorized share capital. Time for the Planet’s holdings as a percentage will increase mechanically as investments are made.

In addition:


Generally, at the company’s launch, the distribution of capital is as follows:

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Step 7: Creating the subsidiary’s Supervisory Board

The Supervisory Board is there to provide support to the company. It meets every two months. Members may be required to work in the field.

At a minimum, the board is composed of:

. one Time for the Planet board member

. one Time for the Planet investment team member

. one Time for the Planet scientific team member

. one Time for the Planet employee who monitors daily progress and attends the most important meetings

Step 8: Moving to open source

Once proof of concept is completed, Time for the Planet will send one of its R&D coordinators to assist the subsidiary in putting together the innovation’s technological documentation. To do so, the R&D coordinator will have access to:

Step 9: Consecutive investments during the company’s development

As previously indicated, Time for the Planet’s ambition is to finance subsidiaries throughout their development.

Rather than large funding rounds, we will opt for small successive investments at close intervals.

Over

time, Time for the Planet’s holdings as a percentage will increase

as investments are agreed upon.

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Advantages of staggered investment

Take a situation where the subsidiary needs €800k to recruit a team of engineers or €1 million to launch a radio advertising campaign.

Form of Investment

Time for the Planet subsidiaries are formed as French simplified joint stock companies with variable capital, or their equivalent under foreign law when necessary, such as in the US.

We finance the subsidiary through the purchase of shares in the variable capital.

Advantages of this form:

Advance funds and sequence of investments

When the company is launched, we will provide advance funds based on the company’s anticipated level of R&D. The range is from €1 million to €5 million to ensure the maximum financing possible to reach product-market fit.

Product-market fit

Generally speaking, product-market fit means a product corresponds to a given market. More specifically, the product sells itself in its market.

The product has such a good fit with its market that it doesn’t need costly advertising campaigns to convince potential buyers. They immediately understand how the product works and its utility.

The idea behind product-market fit is to reach a maximum number of potential consumers who convert on a large scale. There’s no need to convince each consumer individually.

Once product-market fit is reached, we then look at whether it’s opportune to make a second advance of €1 million to €5 million for further company development. Each time, the objective is to anticipate the company’s needs in a timely manner rather than to spend the entire advance.

The thresholds indicated above will vary based on periods and funds raised by Time for the Planet.

Time for the Planet will only invest in subsidiaries for specific and justifiable reasons. Investments will be made at the request of the subsidiary’s CEO or one of its board members. The request must be approved by the subsidiary board as well as the Time for the Planet Supervisory Board.

When the entire Time for the Planet budget envelope has been spent, and should the company still need capital, it must seek approval for a new request from the Board or look for financing from an outside source. In that situation, Time for the Planet could become a minority shareholder on the condition that the company’s open-source DNA remains intact. To ensure this is the case, we require "Golden Shares" so we can prevent decisions that go against open sourcing.

Co-investment

Time for the Planet is open to joint financing of its subsidiaries.

Different investment possibilities are available to outside investors:

Step 10: Time for the Planet exits the scene

Once the company is profitable and open-source distribution of its technology has been ensured, there’s the question of our departure. We must leave for three reasons:

Time for the Planet aims to sell all or part of its shares to the subsidiary itself. This is known as reducing capital. Depending on the companies, the buy-back price can vary between two and five times the original share price. This price is set when the company moves to variable capital.

Capital is reduced when the investors exit.

This innovative exit mode makes it possible to turn over the company to its founders, once the company’s economic success has been confirmed. In classic investment plans for startups, the founders’ share is often gradually "diluted" every time an investor enters the capital. If they initially own 100% of the company, they often find themselves at 20% after three funding rounds. By contrast, while founders and key employees start as minority shareholders, with Time for the Planet they get back 60% to 90% of the capital once the company is successful, that is, within an average of 8 to 15 years.

Inventor status

The project must afford the inventor a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. There must be three facets:

  1. Recognition: When their invention is rolled out in open source, the inventors’ names will be cited in all advertising and communication materials.
  2. Effectiveness: Time for the Planet guarantees that all human and financial means will be implemented so the invention changes the world.
  3. Capital guarantees: The inventors start out as minority shareholders. They, and the co-founders, become majority shareholders when Time for the Planet exits the scene.
  4. Financial security: The inventor receives remuneration from Time for the Planet as soon as the company launches.

Conclusion: Time for the Planet offers a new ecological deal 

The global economic system is highly criticized, most often rightly so. Yet it’s important to take a nuanced look. Only national governments can act on rampant financialization as well as social, ecological, and fiscal harmonization. However, entrepreneurial freedom to unite with science is an unprecedented opportunity for citizens to make a large-scale difference globally, and in the very short term.

Our method offers just that.

Now.

It’s urgent.

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