Who is Roy Weissbach?
Roy is an entrepreneur and event management professional with 10 years of experience growing businesses and establishing networks across the APAC region. Throughout his career, Roy has worked for start-ups in food and beverage, music tech, yachting, health, and well-being sectors. Roy has a wealth of international experience having been raised in Germany, studied in Austria and South Korea while having worked in Europe Asia and the Middle East. He most recently headed up Business Development and Partnerships for a Hong Kong-based carbon management startup, organized Asia’s first Impact NFT exhibition in Hong Kong to create digital assets that track and measure impact alongside the 17 UN-SDGs by using NFT technology, and co-founded ClubDAO, HK’s first private member club for crypto, blockchain, DeFi and NFT enthusiasts.
Roy holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Studies from the University of Applied Science in Kufstein (Austria)during which time he spent two semesters on an exchange at Yonsei University in Seoul (South Korea). He is a certified event manager by the AHK Munich – German Chamber of Commerce. With a strong passion for social impact, Roy became one of the founding members of Impact Circles, the social impact community, with chapters in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and San Francisco with over 2,000 members globally.
Hi Roy, what’s your background?
I am a certified event manager working several years in the industry in Germany and I hold a bachelor degree in International Business Studies. For the last 10 years I have been working and living across countries in Asia and the Middle East including China, South Korea,UAE and Hong Kong. I am experienced in business development and sales and I am passionate about connecting and empowering people through the power of networking. When I came to Hong Kong in 2016, I worked for a luxury yacht charter company where I organized high-end yacht experiences including yacht-golf, floating parties and VIP birthday celebrations.
Since leaving the luxury / yacht space, what have you been working on?
Following my stint in yachting, I worked for a variety of health-tech start-ups providing employee and corporate well-being services. My passion for sustainability led me to a role supporting a climate-tech start-up that helps companies to calculate their carbon emission and offset it as well as uses blockchain and NFT technology to help charities and artists with fundraising. Recently, we held the Impact NFT exhibition at Soho House in late October with the aim of increasing awareness of NFT’s for good.
Tell us about NFT’s in a nutshell
NFTs (Non-Fungible Token) are scarce digital assets with unique identification codes and data information stored on a digital ledger, the blockchain. An NFT allows you to prove ownership over a digital asset like a JPG or a video which was not possible before. This transparency and certification provide room for endless possibilities not just in the gaming, art and music world but also for charities to raise funds or corporates to use them as part of their sustainability efforts.
How can NFTs support the authentication of corporate sustainability plans?
Most companies set their CSR strategy and goals for the year and ideally review it over the course of the year. Companies with good and transparent CSR will report on its achievements at least annually. By putting that report on the blockchain and making it an NFT, it can’t be changed as the blockchain won’t allow it.
Why is this even needed?
It enhances security and transparency while fostering a culture of accountability. Some companies provide technology that allows NFTs to be linked to real world events. For example, if a company sets a target to reduce its carbon emission, and achieves it, the NFT will react to it, if not and if the company has missed its target, this is flagged to the company’s shareholders and stakeholders who can call them out to do better and commit to their targets/promises.
How can NFT’s be leveraged to support brand loyalty, PR, and marketing?
Let me explain this with an example. Say for instance, a sneaker brand whose Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for 2022 would be to support cleaner oceans and beaches (which FYI falls under the UN SDG 13 – Climate Action and 14 – Life Below Water). As part of that strategy the brand launches a sneakers edition made from recycled plastics cleaned-up from the oceans (which also addresses UN SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption & Production). To ensure continuous support of the sustainability efforts, 10% of the sales of this product will be allocated to fund projects that support ocean and beach clean-ups. This is where NFT’s come in. Embedded into the sneaker is a RFID or NFC chip that is linked to an NFT that stores information about the shoe. The NFT contains information such as how much recycled plastic was used to create it, where it was made and if its authenticity can be verified. The opportunities for customer engagement are endless. Companies can design loyalty programs in a couple of ways, one is to link the NFTs to real world milestones achieved from the sustainability efforts i.e., 100KG, 500KG or 1,000KG of plastics collected and provide benefits to the NFT holder (customer) once reached. The second option is to design the NFTs in different colors, once a customer holds let’s say 3 NFTs with the same color, then the NFT holder receives certain benefits which can be access to brand events, VIP limited editions, celebrity meet and greets, discounts and so on. It’s up to the brand how to gamify it, once they have incorporated the technology A further possibility is for companies to link it to the Metaverse which are virtual online worlds, where users can play to receive benefits, attend virtual concerts and so on. The sky really is the limit.
How are you involved in sustainability?
After my time working across all these different industries, I realized I love helping and empowering others. With that in mind, I started off by helping a friend of mine co-organize monthly meet-up events for social entrepreneurs. In only a few months, the community grew, and we launched www.impact-circles.org. We are proud to say that Impact Circles is now a community with chapters in HK, Taiwan and San Francisco that brings like-minded people who are passionate about sustainability, health and mental well-being, the future of education or any other topic related to one of the 17 UN SDG’s together. Besides Impact Circles, I am planning to work on a software solution that helps companies to calculate and measure their sustainability impact in a more transparent way.
Can you give an example of a sustainability project that has a ripple effect?
Sure, one of my favorite examples is the replacement of cooking stoves in developing countries with solar-powered cooking stoves. Even today we have over 2 billion people cooking with open fire. Not only is this bad for the environment but it also adversely affects the health of the person cooking, which are often women (mothers & daughters). By switching to a solar cooking stove not only do they create carbon credits that can be sold and generate another source of income, but they also confer a host of other benefits such as creating a safer and healthier cooking environment, saves women from unproductive and labor-intensive tasks like collecting food from forests, reduced deforestation while freeing up time on the above to allow children and women from low-income families to access schooling and education. These factors support the achievement of several SDG’s such as achieving gender equality, fighting poverty and fighting climate change. One action taken; many benefits created. Watch this short video for more information.
What are some of the problems with getting organizations to become more sustainable?
In my opinion, it is costly. Implementing more sustainable practices requires significant additional efforts and planning which often come at an upfront cost (we say investment!). If you are the only company that is working towards being more sustainable and your competition is not, they might be able to offer the same quality product at a lower cost, which we believe is just in the short run. While it ultimately comes down to the buyer’s decision, we see more customers demanding sustainable products. Thus, corporations cannot ignore sustainability for much longer. On the other side, is the government. Governments need to be committed to sustainability and the UN SDG’s and incorporate policies to enhance CSR among companies in their jurisdiction. Lastly, sustainability measurement and reporting rules must be unambiguous and consistent. There are so many sustainability frameworks across the world each with its unique criteria. In order for consumers to be able to assess a company’s sustainability initiatives against its competitors, sustainability reports must be comparable. This is possible only if the government, in the case of companies listed in the HK Stock Exchange, develops a single consistent framework for companies to report on. Current reporting can be quite onerous and complex. Simplifying these reports will allow consumers to better understand a company’s sustainability efforts.
What are the solutions?
As mentioned before, it starts from the top. We need governments to put policies, laws, and regulations in place for companies to adhere to, holding them to greater sustainability standards. When the regulations are set, action should follow. Another measure is to increase awareness among the population. Education leaders to empowerment. Empowered consumers make better decisions. Educating individuals on ways to make more sustainable choices in their daily lives is a great first step. The same applies to companies, the idea is simple, once a company starts tracking how good or bad they do, they can rethink their operation and take action to do better and become better. One such step could be installing LED lights in the office building, purchasing more energy-efficient machinery and using renewable energy to run the business. For those aspects of the business that cannot be improved, the purchase of carbon credits is a good alternative. This is only effective as long as it occurs alongside a strong sustainability strategy. This is especially the case if you purchase carbon credits from projects like solar cooking stove replacements or forest protection projects which require funding through the sales of carbon credits as they don’t generate income vs. solar and wind farms that are often government-funded to generate income by selling the energy they create.
Many organizations feel concerned about perceptions and how to get started, what would you say to this?
The perception often relates to Green Washing which is doing business as usual without improving a company’s operation to become more sustainable and only purchase carbon credits to balance out the damage they have done. I agree this should be addressed and ideally a company is working out a plan like described before to become greener, however, I would argue if all companies in the world buy carbon credits to become carbon neutral, we would have a happy problem to work on. Often it is not so easy to change a whole supply chain in a short period to meet the sustainability targets, hence my belief that carbon credits can be a good first step while working in parallel work to become greener. My suggestion to start is to start doing. Start with your office, the air-conditioning and electricity that is consumed, speak with employees and colleagues, and ask their opinion on what they think can be done. It’s important to get everyone on board, educate them and execute together. If the team is on board, take inventory, measure your carbon footprint and make a plan.
How can people find out more about your work?
The best way is to add or follow me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/royweissbach/), I post regularly about the projects I am involved in or what is happening in the space. Additionally please join our Impact Circles community via Discord (https://discord.gg/8C5X3fsW) or find me at Soho House or at a soon to be opened private member club for crypto, blockchain, DeFi and NFT enthusiasts, called ClubDAO.