Disruptive crackers. It might not sound like the next revolution in industry but, in fact, it could be. Aiming to be the world’s first carbon negative food company, Bright Future LLC is on a mission to reverse climate change through nutrients. Financed by Post—the business behind Raisin Bran and Chips Ahoy! cookies, among many other products—it’s been given the freedom to operate with the agility and ingenuity of a disrupter. Airly, as its new brand is called, produces a snack described as “oat clouds” in flavors ranging from cheddar cheese to salted caramel.
And yet: How can Bright Future Foods be certain its products are helping in the fight against climate change and, if they are, how much? Can they be guaranteed down to the last gram of carbon? Enter Specright, one of the startups that went through SAP’s SAP.iO Foundries, a no equity ask global accelerator program. Created by 25 year packaging industry veteran Matthew Wright, Specright provides digitized exact and reliable data on the thousands of specifications that go into even simple-seeming products. Think about all the elements that have to be considered. Everything from a red lipstick’s gold label to its teeny-tiny measurements to its printed foil packaging materials must be accounted for. The same would go for, say, a tractor, down to the last screw. Yet, prior to Specright, such details for products were generally handled with little common language, and circulated within companies using primitive methods like email and spreadsheets, if they were managed at all.
Wright calls this new category of software “Specification Management” and Specrright’s software solution is the first patented, cloud-based Specification Management Platform. Clients ranging from Jack in the Box to Johnson & Johnson to Colgate extol its clean look and ease of use. Wright cites Steve Jobs as his inspiration. “I remember the days when you bought a computer and it was a day project to try to get something operating. Even then you had to read a book to use it. All of a sudden these Apple computers came out, and you took it out of the box and were doing stuff in ten minutes…I’m trying to do the same thing with industrial software.”
SAP.iO, which operates 11 global “foundries” for startups (though the pandemic has led some to operate virtually), is highly selective. Out of a field of company candidates that typically can reach as many as 700, just six to eight startups are chosen per “cohort,” or individual group. SAP works with the companies for three months around a theme; Specright’s group was focused on consumer and retail sustainability solutions. Upon graduation, the companies are integrated into SAP’s cloud software offerings as vetted and safe tools.
SAP prioritizes the program because it gives its clients opportunities to contribute to a zero waste economy and a path towards priorities like decarbonization, through working with disruptive small companies that put sustainability first. “It’s the fastest way for startups to launch a relationship with SAP,” says Kange Kaneene, vice president for SAP.iO Foundries in North and Latin America and the Caribbean. Startups receive high-level mentor support and access to SAP’s top-quality instruction, of course, but they’re also vetted to make sure they’re ready for the opportunity to work with SAP’s partners. “We want them to have at least three or more enterprise customers before joining,” says Kaneene, “which to us means a company that has $1 billion annual revenue or more. Otherwise, when SAP is introducing them to customers it’s hard. I can’t just say, ‘Okay, here’s an introduction to L’Oreal and P&G and Google.’ We have to make sure they have the capacity to consume that business.”
Specright doesn’t focus just on the carbon implications of products and environmental responsibility. It helps companies overcome numerous broad challenges wrought by the rise of big box retailers and consumers that demand ever-faster service and ever more diversified products. (Insiders call this phenomenon “SKUzilla”.) But even in other scenarios, sustainability is highlighted by its software. When rampant SKU duplication is eradicated, companies can more strategically optimize packaging across their product portfolio or when a supplier is chosen by factoring in its eco credentials as well as its broader track record, the environment wins too.
Specright completed the Foundry program earlier this year, culminating in working with the SAP team on an integration that is now available as part of the Specright solution listed in the SAP store. “We just had a huge expansion with Caterpillar today,” Wright says, and cites Colgate as another company integrating it more globally because of SAP’s imprimatur. “Those types of companies care that SAP supports and integrates with our solution.”
Sounds like a sustainable business—and a sustainability win. And yes, one that was helped along by cracker “clouds.”
For more on SAP’s sustainability solutions and software, visit their portfolio here.