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Episode
98

Katharina Davids

CEO & Founder at seedtrace GmbH

Ep
98

Tracing Impact Through Supply Chain Transparency - Katharina Davids of seedtrace GmbH

Feb 15, 2022
With
Katharina Davids
52:38

Tracing Impact Through Supply Chain Transparency

With consumers becoming more conscious and aware of the sustainability and overall impact of the products they buy, one major area under inspection is the supply chain process. And so, armed with the goal of sustainable consumption, Seedtrace CEO and co-founder Katharina Davids shares how their software empowers both businesses and consumers through product transparency.


On the one hand, Seedtrace enables companies to manage supply chain data, prove it, and then communicate it. On the other hand, Seedtrace also allows consumers to trace products back to their roots and ensure that environmental, ethical, or sustainable standards are met. Their software is actually blockchain-based, which Katharina herself deliberately doesn’t mention immediately nor is it mentioned on their website, because though blockchain does help them verify claims, it doesn’t help them prove where data is coming from. So, their focus is really more on providing transparency for sustainable consumption and production.


One case study Katharina gives is a cacao fruit pulp producer, Koa, and how they use Seedtrace to prove that their farmers are being paid fair wages. Apart from this, she also talks about the struggles she and her co-founder faced being two female founders, the challenges when it came to finding investors, especially female-led VCs, and the lessons they learned from these experiences. Listen to this episode to find out more.


Katharina’s key lessons and quotes from this episode were:

  • “50% of consumers often don't know which is the better choice, because there's so much confusion and information lack and greenwashing that is happening around us as well.” (14:46)
  • “Do we rather go that route to grow faster and maybe don't really stay true to ourselves? Or do we go the route where we might grow a bit slower and lose some clients on the way, or potential clients, but really do what we believe in?” (30:51)
  • “We have the goal for ourselves that transparency in supply chains is the norm rather than the exception.” (38:54)


In this episode, we also talked about:

  • Katharina’s background and what led her to creating Seedtrace (2:53)
  • Current supply chain processes and regulations (9:24)
  • The three main offerings of Seedtrace (17:46)
  • Seedtrace’s two main stakeholders (26:58)
  • The biggest challenge for Katharina in building Seedtrace (33:40)

Transcript of the episode

Maiko Schaffrath  00:00

This episode is brought to you by Content Multiplied. It's not a secret anymore that content creation is really important, but very few people talk about the importance of consistency, and I myself have really struggled with that consistency. And for that reason, I looked for a solution, and Content Multiplied was a really good one for me. Since using them, I've been able to focus on what I enjoy the most which is recording podcasts while Mhyla and her team are really taking care of everything else. Whether you have a podcast, you're holding keynote speeches, you're doing a YouTube series, you're writing a blog, a newsletter, a book, the Content Multiplied team can really take whatever you're producing and repurpose it into a series of micro content. And suddenly, you have dozens and dozens of pieces that can be shared for you, and Content Multiplied even takes care of that for you. Unlock your content superpower with Content Multiplied and go to contentmultiplied.com today. That's contentmultiplied.com. Thanks, Mhyla, and let's go into the show. You are listening to Impact Hustlers, and I am your host, Maiko Schaffrath. I have made it my mission to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to solve some of the world's biggest social and environmental problems. And for this reason, I am speaking to some of the best entrepreneurs out there who are solving problems such as food waste, climate change, poverty, and homelessness. My goal is that Impact Hustlers will inspire you, either by starting an impact business yourself, by joining the team of one, or by taking a small step, whatever that may be, towards being part of the solution to the world's biggest problems. In today's episode, I speak to Katharina Davids, the CEO and founder of Seedtrace. Seedtrace has built a blockchain-based software that helps companies manage and prove the social and environmental impact of their supply chains. It allows companies to make substantial progress on creating sustainable supply chains while also helping consumers understand the exact impact that their purchases are actually having. It's great to have you on the show, Katharina. Thanks for joining.


Katharina Davids  02:37

It's super great to be here. Thank you.


Maiko Schaffrath  02:40

Thank you. So, give us a brief introduction to your own personal journey as an entrepreneur, or in general to your personal journey. I'd like to understand, why are you doing what you do?


Katharina Davids  02:53

Yeah, sure. Actually, my background was originally psychology and international management. And then, I was lucky enough that I got accepted to an MBA program in South Africa, where I studied for a while. Why this matters, maybe it's easier to understand in a little bit. My journey brought me back there a bit later. But before that, I was working for digital ventures of Deloitte for roughly three years. I think in that time, you get confronted with a lot of problems initially, and then you have to ideate, and I realized how much I like actually building solutions, and my role was, most of that time, being a product owner, so really thinking about how can a product work, launching it in different markets. But what I also realized is, yeah, I was questioning, especially in consultancy, you work so many hours, why am I doing this every day? Why am I putting so much time into this? What is the impact I'm creating with what I'm doing? And I was missing that a bit. Yeah, my brain was going into, "Okay, I'm going to go away from the digital world for a bit, and [I] had a very different idea to what we're doing now was actually exporting a healing plant called moringa. I'm not sure if you've heard of it. It's actually an interesting plant. If you Google it, you'll find out a lot of a lot about it. I went back to different African countries in Ghana, Malawi, also Limpopo, which is in the north of South Africa, and wanted to build fair and direct trade with these farmers to export Moringa to the European market. And with that idea in my head, after quite a short amount of time, I was so impressed by the work that was happening at the origin of these products and what incredible work is not arriving at the consumer in the end. There's such a disconnect between these two ends. Yeah, I think I also realized trying to export a product or actually exporting your product, how much comes with the supply chain of consumer goods, and that brought me back to the digital solution and thinking about, why can't we build a platform that helps, on one side, the producers and also distributors, but on the other side of also the consumer kind of bridges that gap between the two? And I'm very, very lucky because I have my oldest friend as my co-founder and co-CEO, which was my neighbor 20 years ago. And yeah, so we are now a team of four co-founders and the whole team, we are roughly 12 people. And yeah, that led us to building the platform Seedtrace and the journey in a nutshell.


Maiko Schaffrath  06:00

Love it. I will dive into Seedtrace in a moment, but I'd love to understand, you actually started sourcing products yourself before you set up the platform and selling products. Was that the case?


Katharina Davids  06:13

Exactly, not for a long time, but we started with like something like Moringa pesto, with our pasta manufacturer in the Black Forest, and things like that, for porridges and things like that. But then, I was trying to have one foot in one project and one foot in the other and very fast realized, "Okay, I have to focus on one, otherwise, I'm trying too much at once and not really focusing on anything."


Maiko Schaffrath  06:45

Got it. I can definitely relate to that. With that, did you encounter very specific challenges in terms of managing the supply chain? Did that help you generate insights for Seedtrace as well? How did things go from there?


Katharina Davids  07:04

Absolutely. On one side, I think once you get started, you have to source the products, then it gets manufactured, then it travels also, sometimes multiple times, then you have sometimes different ingredients all having their unique supply chains. You're so busy with so many things, that staying transparent and also staying sustainable and focusing on social and environmental impact can easily get lost on the way except [if] you really say, "Okay, this is my focus, and I want to do it differently than other players on the market." And then, there's also a lot of being price-driven, and you think about the price a lot and how you can keep the price low. And so, I think it helps a lot to sometimes understand the challenges of players, that it's not always just people not caring. It's just also sometimes hard to keep on top of the agenda.


Maiko Schaffrath  08:02

Got it. Maybe before we dive into your solution, I'd love to cover a bit more how supply chains currently work. I actually remember an event with the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever which I attended, and he was sharing some of their challenges and how they're trying to solve it. I guess in the corporate world, Unilever is probably amongst the companies that are a bit further ahead compared to others. But, it was still super interesting to see how much they still struggled and how much they still had to do to really understand their own supply chains to the extent that they started using satellite data to figure out whether the regions from where they sourced the product, whether there was any deforestation going on that could be attributed to their suppliers and things like that. They had to almost be like detectives, trying to understand what's actually going on versus what their suppliers told them is going on. Can you give us a bit of an overview what's a typical supply chain nowadays? What's the current accepted way of doing supply chain for products and what are the biggest problems in there?


Katharina Davids  09:24

Yeah, it's interesting, because I feel like we almost have to distinguish between different kinds of companies. As you just mentioned, someone like Unilever or a startup based in Berlin or somewhere, they have often very contrasting supply chains. I would say we work with three different kinds of companies. One would be more like the startup companies then like the medium size and then the really large enterprises. And for all of them, it looks very different, how it looks these days, I would say, and then also obviously product-dependent. If you have something like coffee or cacao or nuts or superfoods, often, it's way easier to have close collaboration and know exactly what's going on at what point of time besides like all the problematic issues at the origin of some of these products, because the supply chain naturally is just leaner. It's one ingredient, it's one product, it has processes. But then, something like frozen pizza has, for example, way more ingredients and steps. So, I would say all these factors come into play. Some of the people we're very close with, they know every single supplier along the supply chain, and others actually just know one downstream supplier and then give the responsibility to that downstream supplier to all the downstream suppliers, again, for this person, and they have to rely on what they're saying. I mean, we can chat about it later, but also the supply chain as we see it now, the first step is only one downstream. And then, if you know about things that are going wrong further down, you're responsible. But if you don't know about it, you're actually not reliable for it yet. So, yeah, it's a lot of work to do for sure.


Maiko Schaffrath  11:21

Let's cover that, actually. There's some relatively new regulation, I think, coming from EU level right on transparent supply chains and putting responsibility on companies to ensure that supply chains are sustainable. Can you give us a brief introduction to that and what it currently covers and what it doesn't cover?


Katharina Davids  11:44

Yeah, sure. I mean, there's, for example, German Supply Chain Act, Lieferkettensorgfaltspflichtengesetz, and for that one right now, it is just for bigger companies. And then, over two years' timeframe, they're always going to do it also for smaller companies, so they measure it, and how many employees a company has, and the other aspect to it is what I just mentioned, they look at the supply chain and say, "Okay, you as a company are reliable for everything your downstream supplier's doing, so no matter if you know about or you don't know about it, it's your responsibility to know that everything is going right." The focus I should maybe mention is very strongly human rights laws and human rights in general, but there's also some environmental aspects in it as well. But yeah, you're reliable for that one. And for the other ones, it's really just if you find out about it, if you know about it, then you're responsible. It's planned to get stricter, but it's not that strict yet. I think what we can actually see is that especially bigger companies still get moving right now, because for them, they move so much slower. And even if something only comes in two years, they have to start now. If they have to have all that information, it can't just be two weeks before these laws are coming like, "Okay, now we have to be transparent."


Maiko Schaffrath  13:22

So, do you have the feeling that companies are like, "Okay, something is going to come, and this is going to only get stricter, so we may as well just get started as soon as possible"? But, do you feel it's very much driven by the regulation or [are] the other factors driving companies to adopt solutions like this?


Katharina Davids  13:41

Yeah. It's definitely a driving factor. We can see that. We feel it already in our daily lives right now, but there are for sure other factors. I think one factor is also that, by now for everyone, it's visible that consumers change also and that their perspectives change, their needs change, and also there is the decision in the power of the consumers' wallet, and they can vote for different things. I think it's not deniable anymore, even though we see there's quite a gap. If you look at statistics, and then you look at what's actually happening on the markets, what people say, 80% would say they would rather buy a sustainable product than a not sustainable product, but what they do often then is still buy the cheaper product. And what is really interesting [is] that there's also statistics that show, for example, 50% of consumers often don't know which is the better choice, because there's so much confusion and information lack and greenwashing that is happening around us as well. Yeah, I think that's also definitely a driving factor for companies. Besides risk assurance, quality assurance, these factors obviously also play a role.


Maiko Schaffrath  15:12

Got it. And to give people listening to this an overview, from my perspective, I think there's such a broad landscape of different things that you can use as a consumer to decide whether or not to buy a product, and whether or not their supply chain is more or less sustainable. But from my own experience, it's super confusing. Obviously, you have all kinds of certifications and labels, some of which are basically just marketing claims, others which are actually proven or audited in some ways, so you can trust them a little bit more, then you have companies claiming certain things. Especially in the climate change-related space, there's all kinds of claims being made that sometimes, the definitions are not quite clear. What does net zero mean? What does carbon neutral mean? What's the difference between all these things? I think it's just a very confusing space where the average consumer really struggles to understand, what's actually a sustainable product and what does sustainable even mean? I guess your impression would be very similar on that. But, what do you think is the biggest challenge? Is it the lack of transparency or just different standards? What's the biggest issue with supply chains at the moment?


Katharina Davids  16:40

Yeah, I think it's definitely a lack of transparency, but then also the confusion that you just mentioned. For example, the certificates, they actually multiplied by 10 in the last five years, and I think it's so hard to keep up with, what can I trust? What can't I trust? And a lot of scandals happening. Yeah, it's just confusing. And then, there [are] so many things happening in our daily lives, and when we choose products and when we buy products, it has to be very easily understandable. Yeah, I can't do 10 minutes or, let's say, an hour research about every single thing I'm consuming or buying, so that has to change.


Maiko Schaffrath  17:29

Got it. Alright, let's talk about the change. Give us a brief overview of how Seedtrace is solving this problem and how is it different from existing solutions, let's say, certifications and things like that.


Katharina Davids  17:46

Yeah, basically, the platform allows three different things: it's to manage supply chain data, to prove it, and then also to communicate it. For us, it was just very important that businesses can show the journey of their products, from origin to the point of sales, by mapping all steps along the supply chain. As a business, you can make impact claims, we call them. They're either on social or environmental level. You mentioned a few already actually. Social could be something like paying farmers at the origin fairly. It could be supporting education. And then, on the other side, environmental will be something like 70% recyclable packaging or carbon footprint measured. And for each of these claims, because you just mentioned, what do they actually sometimes mean? On one side, our clients can internally manage these claims and understand, "What exactly do I have to do in order to give myself that claim?" And also, for the consumer to understand, "Okay, if that company or that product or just that supplier," it can be on these three levels obviously, it not always has to be the whole company, "Why do they say they support education? What are they doing? So, I can see immediately what is the acceptance criteria for that." We work with third parties as well, depending on the claim that it has to be approved by third parties. You see also who is allowed to confirm that. And then, maybe to add on this, because you mentioned in the beginning blockchain, yeah, maybe I should say this first, maybe you recognized that I didn't say 'blockchain' in the first sentence. That is a very conscious choice, because we realized in that space or in general, blockchain right now is labeled everywhere. Blockchain decides how data is saved or stored, but not where it's coming from. So, with blockchain, we also verify claims, but only if we really know where's the data coming from, and does it make sense to store it on the blockchain? Or does it actually not have any benefit? But there is, for example, I can go into detail with that if you're curious, there's a project we engage where we, for example, use blockchain for fair payments at the origin of a product. So, yeah, that's also part of the whole platform and how we prove impact.


Maiko Schaffrath  20:35

Yeah, I'd love to go into that a little bit, and I was almost not going to include it in the introduction, and I was quite keen to see that you are not putting it everywhere on your website. Especially in the blockchain space, there [are] a lot of solutions looking for a problem, so to say, that sometimes it's like, "Oh, blockchain-based but okay, what's the actual problem you're solving?" Whereas with you, it seems like you focus on the problem-solving, and if blockchain is useful technology, you can use it, but it's the same way as you wouldn't say now, "We are [an] electricity-based company, and we're using electricity to solve problems." I guess it's a useful technology for certain applications. So, maybe let's dive a little bit deeper into that. How is blockchain useful for you and what are the limitations maybe as well? Let's go a bit deeper into that.


Katharina Davids  21:32

Yeah, I can maybe start with actually taking that example. We engaged in a project with our partner Koa who are a food, like a cacao fruit pulp producer. That means they take their product around the cacao bean, which most people use, which is usually a waste product and make fruit juice out of it, which is like a natural sweetener for ice cream, chocolate, and lots of nice desserts, or lemonade. They always pay their farmers fairly, but they could never prove it. So, everyone in the supply chain after them could say, "Okay, nice that you say that you're paying fairly, but everyone can say that." And so, we decided with them, "Okay, how can we actually prove every single transaction to these farmers?" In that case, we built a three-level verification process, meaning that we connected to the mobile payment provider that they're using, which is MTN in that case, and we in our system know exactly if the client paid or triggered the payment, then if it got sent from the mobile payment provider, and then on the widget. It becomes the third factor if it actually arrived at the connected phone number of this farmer. And only if these three transactions match, it gets stored on the blockchain and in real time. Because they're mainly B2B, they sell to very big chocolate producers, and no one in the chain, not them, not anyone else, not a producer, not a seller can manipulate the data anymore. And also, for the consumer, I can scan a QR code, for example, on the chocolate, or go into the webshop and see exactly how much money has been paid to which community or which farmer in real time, which is really cool, because it takes that manipulation at the origin out. It can't happen anymore. Yeah, so this is an example where we feel like it makes a lot of sense.


Maiko Schaffrath  23:52

Got it. So, you're validating the financial transactions. I can make sure farmers actually get paid fair wages and things like that. What are limitations? I guess there [are] other factors that are maybe a bit more difficult to validate like working conditions. Blockchain is great, but somebody has to go there and validate they're good. Somebody's got to look at it. You can't just automatically assess them. How would you look at other factors like working conditions, sustainability criteria? Do you need to collaborate with organizations that check that? How would that work? Just a really quick break from this episode to let you know a little bit more about our podcast producer and content agency, Content Multiplied. With all the moving pieces of a business, you can't be stuck managing and creating new content all the time. That's why I've started using Mhyla and her team at Content Multiplied. It's really an all-in-one content management and repurposing solution that can handle all your content needs. Visit them at contentmultiplied.com today. Contentmultiplied.com. Okay, let's get back to the episode.


Katharina Davids  25:06

Yeah, that's a very big thing that you just mentioned. Because in the end, especially if you talk about not data-driven things, we are lucky enough now that with, for example, mobile payments, it's digital. Often, something like, engaging, for example, in educational programs or no child labor, there has to be a human component in it. You can't extract the data from [an] Excel sheet or anything. It's something that's happening with humans. So, just because it's stored on a blockchain, and no one can manipulate it anymore, and it's decentralized, it's not going to make the conditions fairer or more fair. So, that's a big factor that also we have to do actually a lot of educational work with people we work with, because they say, "Oh, we want to work with blockchain to be more transparent." We have to educate or tell them and engage with them and say, "Yeah, but we first need to see, where's actually your data? What are you doing? Who's involved? Which NGOs? Which third parties can be involved to not just have the data maybe also coming out of your hands?" So, yeah, that's definitely a limitation we see.


Maiko Schaffrath  26:26

Got it. And then, where do you see the most demand? I guess, for any startup, it's always probably easier to start working with other startups/maybe scale-ups that still have a culture of innovation and move faster than maybe Unilever or big corporates, or whatever it may be. Where do you see the biggest push from at the moment? And what's been your strategy in terms of getting people to use your product?


Katharina Davids  26:58

Yeah, that again, I would split it into two parts or two groups. One is more of the companies that are already very impact-driven. They have it at the core of their business. From the beginning, they did really conscious choices and still do. They have a close relationship to their buyers, and they want to mainly really get that message across and really tell the story and also leverage that as a USP, because they work so differently. It is almost sad if that just gets lost, that message, on the way. So, they're using it a lot also for communication purposes and education purposes. And then, there's the other group that is also on the journey of actually working on social and environmental impact, improving the transparency a lot, and that is also quite a few of medium-sized companies, and then the large ones, which I would say almost all large companies right now have their agenda, or already tackled something, or is changing the approach right now. That's also what we're seeing. You can see Aviva who had a banana and put a QR code on all their bananas. But when you scan it, you landed on their website, and there was a promotional video of one farm, and they realized very quickly I think that that might not be the right path, because consumers are not stupid. They will see that Aviva doesn't have one farm; they have hundreds. And yeah, I think a lot of companies are also learning and changing and want to do it the proper way.


Maiko Schaffrath  28:53

On that note, I'd like to actually cover one topic in specific. In the past, I was actually involved in a similar company based in London, not actively, but let's say I've been working a little bit with them, collaborated with them. I guess one of the challenges I saw with solutions, and that was like a few years back, solutions in this space is that you're kind of sitting in between marketing and supply chains with the companies that you're working with. So, your supply chain solution, you're helping, let's say, the head of supply chain to have a sustainable supply chain and, let's say, to be compliant with all the different laws and stuff like that. On the other hand, it's a big marketing thing as well to then go out to your customers and shout about it. First of all, you already have two different stakeholders. And then, I think sometimes, you have this move of maybe with the example you just gave, with the bananas, was maybe quite a marketing-driven initiative. It's like, "Hey, let's put a QR code and record a video. We're not actually tracking things properly, but we have one example, and that should be good enough." But now, companies are like, "Actually, that's not enough. We need to really track things properly." I guess my question is, you're trying to really bring two big topics together, which I can imagine, especially with larger companies, is probably quite challenging, because the mindsets of to these two different departments is probably quite different. Talk to us a little bit about how that works for you and what the challenges are when you're going into companies and working with these different departments.


Katharina Davids  30:41

Yeah, it's really interesting that you're mentioning that, because we, also as a team, had this question for ourselves quite a few times. Do we rather go that route to grow faster and maybe don't really stay true to ourselves? Or do we go the route where we might grow a bit slower and lose some clients on the way, or potential clients, but really do what we believe in? And I think it comes back to why myself and my partner, who is in the impact investment sphere [for] seven years, and we both came with the motivation, we want to do that properly, and we'd rather grow a bit slower and say no to some things, because we had questions like, "Could we rather do a recipe there and no tracing, or just stay on the communication side, but there's no proof behind it?" We call it the theory of change for ourselves. We want to go there. You can imagine it like a circle. The first part would be to actually understand, map, and manage impact along the supply chain, then the next step would be to prove claims through a network and independent third parties, then the next step is actually, and that is where maybe the marketing side comes into place, make that information reachable, attractive, and also understandable, so people can also understand on one side, and that's a balance, because we say just data-driven is also if I scan a QR code of milk, and I see when it is, where exactly time-stamped, and which temperature it had, I can't really connect with it so well. So, there has to be data to back it up why I'm actually allowed to do this, but it's also important to show maybe the humans behind it, the story behind it. So, that's what we try to do. There is data, but there is also the actual individual story of the product, and that has to go together, and not the one and not the other one. So, not just marketing, not just data, if that makes sense. So, yeah, that's our stake on that.


Maiko Schaffrath  33:04

Got it. I guess it's quite challenging, because you're trying to solve two different problems at the same time, which are quite different problems as well, right. 


Katharina Davids  33:12

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. 


Maiko Schaffrath  33:14

Got it. Alright. That's super interesting. I think on that journey, you came from a background of consultancy. You actually co-founded the company with a really long-term friend. What's been the biggest challenge on this journey for you in building Seedtrace?


Katharina Davids  33:40

I mean, I think one part is always the balance between fundraising and actually doing what you want to do. You need money in order to keep going, but you also have to want to focus on what you're actually doing, which also helps to get money. And so, I think finding that balance, and I think what we learned for ourselves also, it's maybe not so common in this space that we are two female founders and CEOs. Maybe just a little war story. We were in a few VC calls, and we learned it the hard way and actually, one investor told us afterwards, he was like, "You're being so honest with your numbers and with your estimates and calculations, but everyone we talked to over-promises by 10. So, if you don't do that, you look really bad in comparison," and we were like, "That's such a bullshit game. Why should we tell things that we're not believing in?" But being conscious about that helped so much, because we could just address it in calls and be like, "This is not over-promising. This is actually what we believe in. These are the numbers." By addressing it, we could not play the game but still get the message across, so I think that's definitely a lesson learned too. You can do it differently sometimes in certain situations if you understood how it's actually going.


Maiko Schaffrath  35:17

And that generally works, or do you still get VCs that say, "Yeah, everybody says that their numbers are realistic, but we know that all the founders overestimate them”? Does it seem to work?


Katharina Davids  35:33

Yeah, I think it's a bit of both worlds. I guess we got a bit bolder in our estimates as well and bit more optimistic. But on the other side, we feel like people hear us, because they know as well, and so I feel like it is working, yeah. We will find out in the future.


Maiko Schaffrath  35:54

Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, you brought up both of you being female founders, and if you look at all the statistics in terms of funding raised by female founders, the odds are really stacked against you and the biases of investors. I'm sure you've faced that. But how did you navigate that? How did you experience those biases when you were fundraising, and how did you navigate that?


Katharina Davids  36:34

Yeah, I have to say, we definitely had moments where we were feeling these biases, absolutely, and I think a lot had to deal with it as being a bit more bold and a bit harder sometimes than we would naturally maybe be, but I think there's a balance to be found. There [are] so many qualities, that if you really live them and are not shy to hide them, that they will also be an advantage. But what has been a real challenge, also in the investment space particularly, is finding also female-led investors and female-led VCs. First of all, there are so few out there. It's becoming more luckily, but it's just not a lot, and we would really love to have some female power also in our cap table, because that resonates with us too. So, I think that it has been a little bit of a frustration, but it just helps to go out there, be part of FeMentor now, programs like that, and actually also search for these programs, push each other, also share your journey. We have mentors for ourselves, but we're also mentoring others now. I think just being conscious about it and trying to be part of the of the change, that's the way to go.


Maiko Schaffrath  38:04

Yeah. And have you approached investors mainly in Germany or also in other places?


Katharina Davids  38:11

Also in other places, for sure. Also, our company is, I would say, half remote, half Berlin-based. You don't have to be in Berlin. You can be in Berlin and work with us, but you can also be somewhere else. Because if it's not necessary that someone is here for meetings or something, you are free to be wherever. And so, the same for us is with our investments that we're looking for. So, yeah, we're not just looking in Germany.


Maiko Schaffrath  38:40

Got it. I've got one more question for you, and that's about the future. And if you think about 10 years from now, how does the world look like if Seedtrace succeeds?


Katharina Davids  38:54

We have the goal for ourselves that transparency in supply chains is the norm rather than the exception. Because right now, it is the exception we're working with, and we really hope to transform that into the norm, that both consumers and businesses are able to understand and improve their choices, not just one side. That is really our big, big goal, and that big part also plays collaboration, so that people are way more connected. Also, you mentioned some things earlier, like deforestation, carbon measurement. I feel like no one alone will solve all these problems and all social and environmental issue issues and create the impact by themselves. So, I feel like we have to build way more networks and collaborate and work together in order to make supply chain transparency the norm.


Maiko Schaffrath  39:52

Amazing. That's a great mission, and I'd love to follow your journey and support where I can, but I hope a lot of people listening got inspired. Maybe some female-led VCs listen to this and get in touch with you. I hope so. Thanks so much for making the time, Katharina. I really, really enjoyed the conversation.


Katharina Davids  40:12

Thank you so much, Maiko. lt was amazing being here. 


Maiko Schaffrath  40:16

Thank you.


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