Shareholders to fans. Fans to advocates.

Cleantech Invest recently announced that we signed our first ever brand ambassador to communicate our mission and impact to the world. This ambassador was none other than Finnish world champion cross country skier Matti Heikkinen, who is preparing as I write to bring home the gold in Korea at next year’s winter Olympics.

This was a big moment for all of us at Cleantech Invest, which came after an inspired idea by our CoB Lassi Noponen to have a conversation with Matti and check his interest. Matti was already a shareholder in Cleantech Invest and had no problem taking the relationship further and promoting us to a wider audience. It is the development of this relationship and role of Matti that this quick blog post is all about.

When I started with Cleantech Invest a year and a half ago I told CEO Bigge Lidgren that my goal was to give shareholders more reasons to own our share than just money. Of course, returns are important, but from a communications perspective, I wanted to turn our investors into fans. Fans aren’t hanging around you because of money alone, and purpose is quite rightly more and more important for employees and customers alike.

In some ways, you could say that we are taking the ‘fiduciary responsibility’ very seriously, and beyond the curve when compared to many other companies.

Internally, the team at Cleantech Invest interprets ‘value’ in a way that is beyond the financial only. This is why we released our first impact report this year — the value we create isn’t only measureable in dollars and cents, but in carbon and water savings, reductions in chemicals being used in our manufacturing and pesticides in the cultivation of our food. In some ways, you could say that we are taking the ‘fiduciary responsibility’ very seriously, and beyond the curve when compared to many other companies.

These shareholders became ‘fans’ the moment they shared a post or engaged with us, asking for more online, and in under 2 years their numbers are swelling.

With such value creation attached to our share it made sense to me that the motivations of shareholders to invest us in many cases had to be due to factors beyond just financial return. In the past year, and during meetings, networking events like our Sexy Truth evenings, video interviews like on Cleantech and Coffee, I have only been more convinced of this assumption. While there are many investors who are only motivated by financial return (who are happy, because the value appreciation in our share during my time has made such investors very happy indeed), there are a large number of them who are in it for more than money.

An advocate is someone who is willing to yell loud and clear from the top of a mountain about what we and our companies do.

The ‘more than money’ investors are the ‘fans’ who you could say we have been targeting through our social media this past year and a half quite purposefully. In my work as Communications Director at Cleantech Invest, I have been testing out ideas and approaches to give such shareholders value that reminds them of the huge impact they are having by investing in us. These shareholders became ‘fans’ the moment they shared a post or engaged with us, asking for more online, and in under 2 years their numbers are swelling. Matti Heikkinen was such a fan (and we ourselves are fans of his attitude), but through this new brand ambassador arrangement with us, he is now an advocate.

The world needs people who will put their money where their mouth is, and make decisions that change the world for the better.

An advocate is someone who is willing to yell loud and clear from the top of a mountain about what we and our companies do. They let their friends know at fikas (which are small coffee breaks in Sweden) and barbecues that they are proud shareholders in Cleantech Invest, and they regale to their friends at dinner parties the impact data we have on our website. They type the number of shares they own in our share impact calculator, and they share the numbers on their Facebook, not to brag, but to inspire others to consider doing the same thing. Advocates of Cleantech Invest don’t need to be Olympians like Matti Heikkinen, they can be everyday cleantech heroes like you or me.

The world needs people who will put their money where their mouth is, and make decisions that change the world for the better. My goal is to increase the number of ‘Matti Heikkinens’ in the world who are climbing the big mountains and struggling against the status quo to reveal a future that is worthy of our greatest aspirations. I want all of our shareholders/fans to become advocates, and this article is a call to action to find ways to make this happen.

I don’t have all the answers (although I can act like I do) and I have been told often enough that creating a dialogue and collaborating with people who have a shared vision can be the best way to make change happen. So please, send me an email, connect with me here on LinkedIn, share this post with your friends, or tag people in this post who you think can be a part of this big change my colleagues and I are trying to make at Cleantech Invest.

At Cleantech Invest we say that we are ‘investing on the right side of history’. I want to work with you to create a future to be proud of.