Entrepreneurship Case Studies

Applied Sustainability LLC: Making a Business Case for By-Product Synergy

Company: Applied Sustainability LLC
Publisher: Stanford
Call Number: E-118
Year Published: 2006

Environmental entrepreneur Andrew Mangan promoted by-product synergy (BPS) programs as a means to achieve sustainable development goals. BPS is a process that helps companies discover new ways to convert their wastes into saleable commodities. Mangan's goals were twofold: to promote wider adoption of BPS programs and to create a business out of helping companies adopt such programs.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Is it a good time for Mangan to reinvest in Applied Sustainability?

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=65262&R=E118-PDF-ENG&conversationId=107743


Mobility Innovation for a Better Place (A)

Company: Better Place
Publisher: INSEAD
Call Number: 809-040-1
Year Published: 2009

In 2007, Shai Agassi raised $200 million to launch Better Place. By deploying a network of charge spots, switch stations and systems that optimised the use of electric vehicles, the company had the potential to become a major player in the transport industry. To succeed, however, it had to overcome major implementation challenges, among them the need to achieve a minimum level of standardisation for the interface between vehicles and the recharging grid, and the continuous need to finance its market expansion. The case allows students to explore: (1) how an innovative business model has the potential to create new market space and reduce environmental impacts; (2) the emergence of cross-industry reconfigurations for a low-carbon economy; and (3) the commercial risks of sustainability-driven business in the realm of transportation.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
the commercial risks of sustainability-driven business in the realm of transportation.

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.caseplace.org/d.asp?d=5096


Clarke: Transformation for Environmental Sustainability

Company: Clarke
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B12C012
Year Published: 2012

Clarke, a pesticide-selling company, has a core business that is environmentally harmful by its very nature. Its journey to sustainability faced unique challenges even when innovation led to new green products, processes, technologies and business models. As such, its leadership had to cope with the overwhelming task of engaging both its employees and customers in the idea that sustainability can be effective and profitable.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
How does a company overcome the challenges involved in acquiring the necessary buy-in from employees and customers who are skeptical about environmental sustainability as a potential driver of business strategy?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=53788


A Model of Clean Energy Entrepreneurship in Africa: E+Co's Path to Scale

Company: E+Co
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 907M59
Year Published: 2009

The founder and executive director of E+Co faces the challenge of ten-fold growth and reviews the core parts of the company's innovative business model, the changes in the energy markets around the world, and the rationale for local solutions to energy scarcity and inefficiency. Also presented is a set of entrepreneurial growth strategies that preserve the core of the model - i.e., simultaneously tackling energy poverty and energy waste, and bringing people up the energy ladder with locally suitable and affordable solutions.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
challenge of ten-fold growth and reviews the core parts of the company's innovative business model, the changes in the energy markets around the world, and the rationale for local solutions to energy scarcity and inefficiency

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=59126&R=907M59-PDF-ENG&conversationId=108186


Ecovative Design LLC: A Biological Materials Startup

Company: Ecovative Design LLC
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B13M125
Year Published: 2013

Ecovative Designs (Ecovative), a start-up company in upstate New York, uses an innovative process to combine agricultural waste and mycelium (mushroom “roots”) to grow forms for use in a wide variety of applications, especially a protective packaging material. Not only does this new product replace the need for the environmentally harmful alternative, extruded polystyrene, but the production process is less energy intensive. It exemplifies the cradle-to-cradle design indicative of a sustainably embedded product and attractive to companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint. In 2013, the partners are considering whether to sign a contract with Sealed Air, one of the largest distributors of packaging materials in the world, but the deal would mean relinquishing control over the only profitable segment of their company. They are considering alternative growth strategies to find the one that fits best with their goal: to have the largest impact on the planet while remaining profitable.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
How can a start-up’s radical sustainability innovation be scaled up (and with who) to meet both the founders’ needs for financial viability and to achieve significant environmental impact?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=60902


Fairmount Minerals

Company: Fairmount Minerals
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B11M059
Year Published: 2011

Fairmount Minerals, a producer of industrial sand, is an excellent example of a company that adopted a holistic approach to sustainable development. In 2005, CEO and sustainability champion, Chuck Fowler challenged the mining industry’s undesirable reputation by bringing together both shareholders and stakeholders around the three broad themes of people, planet and prosperity. Innovative practices were then embedded into every step along the value chain, from mine acquisition to end product to land restoration. Doing so did not only bring great benefit to the people and to the planet, but it also brought with it a competitive advantage to the company itself.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
How can a company maintain its competitive advantage and personal growth as well as continue to meet to stakeholders’ needs while upholding its mission of best standards and collaborative efforts with other companies in the field?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=51418


The Freeplay Energy Group and Foundation

Company: Freeplay Energy Goup
Publisher: IESE Business School
Call Number: 0-305-005
Year Published: 2004

The Freeplay Energy Group was founded in 1995 to produce wind up radios. It took its social responsibilities seriously from the beginning and in 1998 founded the Freeplay Foundation to enable the sustained delivery of radio information and education to the most vulnerable populations via self-powered radios. At the beginning of 2004 The Freeplay Energy Group and the Freeplay Foundation faced important decisions about their future to ensure the future growth and sustainability of both organizations.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
How can FEG continue to expand and deal with lack of capital to introduce new products while balancing the interests of its Foundation?

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.caseplace.org/d.asp?d=422


IDEAAS and PSA: Replication in the Amazon

Company: IDEAAS and PSA
Publisher: Stanford
Call Number: E-264
Year Published: 2007

The case describes two social ventures' experience of collaborating with each other through a replication project. Each venture served different purposes: IDEAAS installed and operated alternative solar energy equipment in locations without access to Brazil's electricity grid, and Saude & Alegria educated populations in the Brazilian Amazon jungle on matters of health, environment conservation, and self-sustainable wealth generation. It highlights the core success factors that possibly led to the project's ultimate outcomes.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Students can debate and discuss as to what factors led to this success

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=65501&R=E264-PDF-ENG&conversationId=235657


Impact Makers

Company: Impact Makers
Publisher: Darden (UVA)
Call Number: UV1042
Year Published: 2009

Michael Pirron was a health care services consultant who had always dreamed of starting a "Nonprofit Competitive Business" with a social mission. In 2006, he launched Impact Makers, a new hybrid entity that crossed the nonprofit/for-profit lines. Impact Makers had several unique components: It would contribute strategic consulting, and all profits, to charitable community organizations; there was no stock and equity ownership; it had a volunteer board of directors and its financial information was open to the public. How would Impact Makers raise investment capital with its unique organizational structure? And how would the company survive?

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
How would Impact Makers get more customers, revenue, business etc?

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=1044154&R=UV1042-PDF-ENG&conversationId=236746


Kiva vs MYC4-Business Model Innovation in Social Lending

Company: Kiva, MYC4
Publisher: INSEAD, ECCH
Call Number: 809-024-1
Year Published: 2009

The case describes the launch, growth and current challenges of two innovative ventures in the nascent social lending market. Kiva is based on good-will while MYC4 is based on market incentives. Which model is more likely to succeed?

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Which model is more likely to succeed?

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.caseplace.org/d.asp?d=4353


La Vaca Independiente: Should a Social Enterprise Adopt a For-Profit Business Model?

Company: La Vaca Independiente
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B13C033
Year Published: 2013

This case presents a social enterprise considering whether a for-profit model might be an effective way to scale its impact. Mexico City-based La Vaca Independiente (The Independent Cow) was founded to bring art to underprivileged children. The founder observed that many global problems are caused by humanity’s increasing state of isolation, with individuals disconnected from the planet and from each other. La Vaca focused exclusively on a program called Developing Intelligence through Art (DIA). Using artwork as a stimulus for thought and discussion, DIA provided individuals with opportunities to develop meaning in their lives. She believed, based on evidence that companies lose annual revenue due to the effects of isolationism on their employees, that she and her team could pursue a for-profit business model in order to expose La Vaca to markets and opportunities inaccessible to a charitable organization.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
What was La Vaca's value proposition? Was it to expand the original DIA model, which had already proven to be successful, or should it attempt to expand into markets other than education? Would it be better to stay true to its original model at a small scale or to branch out and risk the integrity of the program? What internal changes might they need to make in order to become profitable?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=60289


Living Homes

Company: Living Homes
Publisher: Oikos
Call Number: N/A
Year Published: 2008

Steve Glenn, a successful internet start-up entrepreneur, returned to his love of architecture and commitment to sustainability by creating a company that would provide signature, green, prefabricated homes to the “cultural creative” market. The case outlines the state of both the housing industry and the green building industry in 2007.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Can Living Homes merge prefabrication, green and high end in the housing market?

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.oikos-international.org/academic/case-collection/inspection-copies/alphabetical-list/living-homes.html


Towards a Sustainable Model and Ecological Integrity in South Africa

Company: Londolozi - KNP
Publisher: Harvard
Call Number: 9-709-001
Year Published: 2008

The Londolozi game viewing reserve in South Africa became a defining icon of ecotourism during the 1990s and early 2000s--that is, a tourist business promoting ecological land management and, at the same time, local economic development. The Sabi Sand Game reserve (within which Londolozi was located) was initially created by the government to provide hunters with an area in which to hunt wildlife. Through the 1980s and 1990s, the farms within the Sabi Sand Game reserve converted their functions from hunting to wildlife viewing, and the fence was taken down.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
The new challenge for the farms while transforming into wildlife viewing became land management and local economic development

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=46698&R=709001-PDF-ENG&conversationId=107842


The SEKEM Initiative

Company: SEKEM
Publisher: IESE Business School
Call Number: 0-304-072
Year Published: 2004

Sekem was founded by Ibrahim Abouleish, an Egyptian who had been living, studying and working in Austria prior to his return to Egypt in 1977, the year he established Sekem. In 2003 it consisted of three main parts: the Sekem group of companies, the Egyptian Society for Cultural Development and the Cooperative of Sekem Employees, together employing more than 2,000 people. This case portrays the complex set of circumstances that frames Sekem's decisions to further grow and develop the initiative along its historical path of holistic development in the social, economic and cultural spheres.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
To initiate holistic development able to create economic, social and cultural value in a sustainable manner.

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.caseplace.org/d.asp?d=427


Sensible Life Products (A and B)

Company: Sensible Life Products
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B09M057
Year Published: 2007

An entrepreneur and chief executive officer (CEO) of Sensible Life Products has developed a revolutionary botanical disinfectant called Benefect, the flagship product of his company. This new product is unique among disinfectant products in that it is non-toxic, unlike the majority of conventional disinfectants containing harmful chemicals, such as ammonia, alcohol and chlorine. As a result of the unique properties of the product, the CEO has received numerous offers to purchase or license the technology and is faced with the decision regarding which offer, if any, he should accept.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Which offer from outside companies to accept?

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.caseplace.org/d.asp?d=364


Tennant Company: Can “Chemical-Free” Be a Pathway to Competitive Advantage?

Company: Tennant
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B12M020
Year Published: 2012

The case of Tennant Company is one that describes a floor-cleaning company that differentiated itself by introducing chemical-free cleaning equipment. Not only did it strategically evolve as an environmentally responsible sustainable business, it also used that same principle to its competitive advantage. By marketing its products as equally effective in performance, competitive in price and “greener” on the environment, the revamp was a success to all involved parties.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Is a proven ecological innovation without any customer or financial trades-off enough of a business proposition to meet customers’ expectations, investors’ ambitions, and the company’s goals? And if so, where do you draw the line in making superior environmental performance the basis for competitive advantage?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=53837


TerraMai: Reclaimed Woods from Around the World

Company: Terra Mai
Publisher: Stanford
Call Number: E-192
Year Published: 2005

This case follows the business ventures of former river guides Erika Carpenter and Richard McFarland in the early days of the reclaimed wood industry. Reclaimed wood suppliers mill wood from deconstructed structures--material that typically is burned, sent to landfills, or otherwise wasted--and sell the products to consumers. Beginning in 2003, the partners embarked on an ambitious growth plan with the goal of becoming the No.1 reclaimed wood supplier.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
How to address challenges to the successful partnership?

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=65361&R=E192-PDF-ENG&conversationId=139632


Sustainability at Tetra Pak: Recycling Post-Consumer Cartons

Company: Tetra Pak
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B12M069
Year Published: 2012

Tetra Pack India aimed to uphold its image of an environmentally responsible company by meeting its goals for recycling post consumer cartons (PCC). While Tetra Pack’s ‘Renew’, ‘Reduce’, ‘Recycle’, ‘be Responsible’ philosophy succeeded in other regions of the world, the particular geographical, socioeconomic and political climate in India posed various challenges. Tetra Pak India’s team redefined its strategy by forging partnerships and alliances with non-governmental organizations, scrap dealers, rag-pickers, commercial establishments and organizations that champion the cause of the environment.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
With ever-changing mindsets, increasing regulations and growing customer expectations, how can Tetra Pak face the future challenges to ensure that its success from the PCC recycling initiative can be sustained and scaled up?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=55259


Building a Sustainable Venture: TMI's Earth Brick Machine

Company: The Mountain Institute
Publisher: Oikos
Call Number: N/A
Year Published: 2005

The Mountain Institute (TMI), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organisation, received a patent for a machine that makes environmentally friendly bricks from dirt, allowing for low cost construction of housing and other structures. TMI saw this technology not only as an environmental win but also as a tool for economic development in emerging economies, and as a vehicle for serving the housing needs of the poor at the base of the economic pyramid.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Should TMI start a for profit business selling its brick making machine?

Website where case study can be found:
http://www.oikos-international.org/academic/case-collection/inspection-copies/alphabetical-list/mountains-institutes-earth-brick-machine.html


Viridity Energy: The Challenge and Opportunity of Promoting Clean Energy Solutions

Company: Viridity Energy, Inc.
Publisher: Ivey
Call Number: 9B12M035
Year Published: 2012

Viridity Energy, a smart grid company, is engaged in sustainability for two reasons. On one hand, it finds profitable opportunities by helping its customers cut energy bills. And on the other hand, it’s getting credit for that environmental responsibility. This case highlights the challenges and opportunities of smart grid companies to promote clean energy solutions, especially the challenge of doing less harm to include progressively greater eco-effectiveness in competitive markets.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
Will consuming fewer ‘dirty’ watts be enough of an objective in a future facing rising societal expectations and competitors offering similar benefits?

Website where case study can be found:
https://www.iveycases.com/ProductView.aspx?id=54018


Waste Concern

Company: Waste Concern
Publisher: Stanford
Call Number: SI-71
Year Published: 2006

Iftekhar Enayetullah and Maqsood Sinha, co-founders of Waste Concern in Bangladesh, had earned an international reputation for their innovative approach to dealing with the vast quantities of waste that threatened to overwhelm the overcrowded city of Dhaka. Having just been recognized by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship as "outstanding social entrepreneurs," the two were eager to take Waste Concern to the next level. Their ambitions included scaling up their waste processing operations, introducing new technology, and creating a new trading business selling credits for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under the framework develop by the Kyoto Protocol.

What is the dilemma or tough decision?
To take decisions consistent with Kyoto-protocol related projects

Website where case study can be found:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=73291&R=SI71-PDF-ENG&conversationId=112906