As the year winds down, and before we sign off for a break, here’s a quick look back at the year that was. Licious became India’s first D2C unicorn. Mamaearth, which has been neck-and-neck with Licious in leading the D2C phenomenon in India, now serves customers from 11,000 pin codes, and is available offline in over 70 cities. boAt is now one of the world’s top five headphone brands. And Avendus projects the Indian D2C space to be a $100-billion market by 2025.

About this time last year, we articulated our vision of responsible investing, and “giving back” to the entrepreneur community, as The Value of Good. This year, we have been working to convert this vision into action.

We now have a Chief of Staff dedicated to leading the initiative, and partnering with our portfolio companies to help them achieve their goals. We have worked with PwC to develop a framework to help us track and measure progress in startups. We have organised sensitivity-training workshops, and defined and refined some of our own policies.

As a fund, and as individuals, we have all spent considerable time learning this year: The difficulties involved. The behavioural challenges. The immense scope for greenwashing.  And on the positive side, the excellent work already being done by partners and vendors in areas like packaging, recycling, diversity, and more.

Perhaps the most important thing we have learned is that we cannot do this alone – what is needed is collective action.

Today, six of our portfolio companies are completely plastic-neutral, and one, carbon-neutral, as well. Three of them are donating a percentage of their revenues to not-for-profits: one plants trees, another educates tea estate workers’ children, while the third supports free meals in government schools. And finally, one of our companies already publishes a Sustainability Report annually.

Fireside Ventures: The Value of Good 2021

It’s these individual steps that will lead us to a larger movement towards sustainability and more equitable, inclusive business. For example, our six plastic-neutral companies recycle between 1,000 and 5,000 kgs. each, every month – which takes out almost 2,000 tons of plastic waste from our landfills every year and turns them into reusable plastic granules. Now imagine this taking place across all twenty-eight companies of our fund. And then, other D2C brands in India. And then finally, the startup ecosystem as we know it.

In the spirit of giving back – early next year, we will be sharing a guideline that any new-age company can use to chart out their own ESG journey, complete with checklists, examples, and a directory of partners and vendors. The Value of Good isn’t for Fireside alone, it’s for everyone – entrepreneurs, investors, and the D2C ecosystem at large.

Four years of Fireside Ventures, and I’m pleased to report that The Value of Good isn’t just a plaque in our conference room, it’s how we do what we do.

Thank you, and best wishes for a safe and happy 2022.