We live on a planet of finite resources so it makes a lot of sense to make the maximum possible use of all the resources we have. This is the fundamental tenet underlying the Circular Economy (which we have talked about previously on this podcast), and it is also the principle that Rheaply is building a platform to address.
Rheaply is a startup working with the SAP.io foundry in New York and they have developed a platform to allow organisations maximise use of their assets, saving money in the process, and avoiding unnecessarily sending items to landfill.
I invited Garr Punnett, Rheaply's Chief of Staff, and Head of Sustainability to join me on the podcast to come on the podcast and explain how Rheaply works. We had a fascinating conversation which I totally enjoyed, as I'm sure you will too.
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And once we really break it down to that component where we're saying, hey, we're going to save you money because all of your colleagues and peers are going to be able to see this and use it before it exits, sort of the company boundaries, procurement, finance, leadership generally doesn't have a problem with that. They want to make sure that they get the most out of the investment they made in their capital assets. And we're just trying to make sure that, again, we get a couple more looks before it heads out the door.Tom Raftery:
Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are in the world, this is the Digital Supply chain podcast, the number one podcast focussing on the digitisation of Supply chain. And I'm your host, Global vice president of SAP. Tom Raftery. Hi, everyone, welcome to the Digital Supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery with SAP and with me on the show today, I have my special guest, Garr. Would you like to introduce yourself?Garr Punnett:
Absolutely. Thanks, Tom, for having me. My name is Garr Punnet. I'm the chief of staff here at Rheaply.Tom Raftery:
Excellent. What's Rheaply?Garr Punnett:
Yeah, great question. So Rheaply right now is a is a growing Start-Up focussed on what I'd like to say is building the digital infrastructure to support the circular economy. And I'm sure we can dive into all the buzzwords. But but really, this is our goal as a as a company and as a growing software company is to help large enterprise clients scale their reuse of their existing fixed assets and their consumable assets as well. So that can mean anything from laptops to computers to office infrastructure like chairs and tables to some of our other clients that focus on manufacturing or pharmaceuticals, and that could encompass research equipment. It's really I like to say that the platform that we're building is asset agnostic. It doesn't matter what is being put on our platform or which client we are working with. Our software is meant to gain better visibility and accessibility into the assets that you already own as an organisation so that you're not procuring anything that you already own. So you're not double buying. You're making the most out of what you already own. And you're not so that you're you're really not spending unneeded capital or needed capital on unneeded storage of these idle assets. And then really the the crowning jewel of what we're going for is is reducing the impact to the environment and really reducing the amount of materials and and assets and stuff, frankly, that enters landfills and then has a negative impact on communities around the United States and around the world.Tom Raftery:
Garr, before we get further into that, let's come back to what you said at the start about you guys being a Start-Up. So I'm interested that because you are working with the SAP.io Start-Up Foundry in out of New York. Tell me a little bit about that. What how did you find out about that? And what's that doing for you? And what stage are you in as a Start-Up?Garr Punnett:
Absolutely. So we are we're in the growth stage. We're actually doing fairly well at the time that we're recording this. There's a there's, again, a national and global pandemic happening. And so what? Yeah, when it comes to being a Start-Up in this environment right now, we're growing. And so that's really impressive. And I kind of liked it to our or our own born and remind our team that we are dealing with unprecedented circumstances, or at least not often seen circumstances when it comes to our economy and when it comes to actually people working in the physical spaces that we usually see them in the workspaces. So we, you know, we're growing. So we actually recently doubled in size, which is great. And so that's that's very impressive from just the amount of talent that we're bringing onto the team. And we actually started working with SAP.io Foundry. Coming off of essentially a recommendation of a current project that we're working on, we had we had heard about it through work that we're doing with the city of Chicago, and we thought, oh, this would be a great opportunity to really potentially partner and explore with SAP how our solution can help current SAP enterprise clients in terms of gaining better visibility and accessibility to the assets that they have in those own client companies and SAP's on client companies. And then also how maybe we can partner together in expanding SAP's offerings to the organisations that we're engaging with. And so the partnership is really just us exploring. What does this mean in terms of scaling reuse for SAP's client base? And we think that there's a significant amount of waste that happens across enterprises and some of the totals coming out of innovative thought. Leaders like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is pushing circular economy, thought leadership, is that across the world and across the United States, there is around six hundred and thirty billion dollars worth of underutilised assets. And and we think that we can carve out our niche and continue to grow that that use case in that value in terms of reclaiming those those assets, getting those to actual use so that we can make those assets more productive and then also make sure that we're saving money in the in the short run as well. And then long term, where these these organisations that partner with us have the opportunity to save money by just realising that all of the stuff in the back room and on the shelf and in the warehouse actually has a purpose and that you can trade that with your colleagues to get the most out of it.Tom Raftery:
Now, for anyone who is new to the podcast, we've talked about circular economy on a couple of times before. But for anyone who's new, could you just give us a brief outline of what you think a circular economy is?Garr Punnett:
Absolutely. So to give a little bit of of my my background, I kind of skipped that in the beginning. So my whole focus was and traditionally has been focussing on how technology can scale the circular economy. So in my graduate research, I focussed on the actually the recycling economy. So how do we how do we use technology to scale the United States domestic recycling scheme? My all of my research was done post China's national soad policy, which I don't know if anybody's familiar with that. But China's national soad policy essentially said we're closing the borders. China was closing the borders on their recycling input and that sort of through the rest of the world for a loop. And it forced the United States to really immediately start to try to understand recycling when it comes to all of the output that we had in the United States. So everything that we were sending outside of our own borders, now we have to now put into landfill. And this was a huge problem. And so my whole journey into circular economy started with that and really trying to see how does technology allow for a better understanding of the problem and therefore more solutions around actually making. Commodity markets out of these recycling products, so we're that sort of gets factored into my work currently with the circular economy, is the whole idea around a circular economy is that we're no longer extracting resources out of our environment and out of our sort of biosphere to, to make make things that we as consumers use and and then dispose of. So it's the circular economy is getting rid of that take out of the environment that make into something, use it and then dispose of it. And it's making a more a looped process. Now, again, there's there's ongoing debates on whether something can actually ever be fully circular. So really, this is the whole goal of the circular economy, is to progress towards a future where we've got a more efficient recycling, reuse, remanufacturing refurbishing type economy, where everything's getting the highest amount of use possible before it gets broken down and turned into its materials again, but ultimately not put back in the ground, put towards another use, whether that's a manufacturing input or some sort of upside or downside gold product or.Tom Raftery:
Good, nice. Well, well, well put. Thank you. Yeah, far better than I could have ever explained it.Garr Punnett:
Good. Excellent. Well that's why. That's why I'm here.Tom Raftery:
So how is Rheaply helping with that?Garr Punnett:
Excellent question. We're tackling that in a couple of ways, so we our flagship product is called our asset exchange manager, AXM for short and our asset exchange manager again is focussed on scaling reuse in our large enterprise clients. So what that means is very simply, we have created technology that allows at scale colleagues and peers to interact with one another and trade things that might be of use to assets that might be of use to one another, while also an overarching admen of this type of programme in this platform can see the impact in real time. So you and I might I might have a piece of research equipment and we're two scientists or two researchers and we like to talk about our research, but we never really talk about the fact that I've got two machines in my lab that I don't use. And you just went to your procurement team and ask for those two same machines and we never talk about it. And so this is solving the problem of really breaking down departmental silos across these large organisations to make sure that those conversations happen a little more, friction less. And the whole goal then is if we increase the the sharing and we increase the reuse of these assets, that the savings happen automatically. You no longer have to go to your procurement team. They no longer have to go to finance. And the whole process can save a little bit of money as well as save a little bit of impact, because the machines that I have are perfectly fine. They're one year old. I've had I only use them for one trial run of something, but now you get to use them and make sure that the life cycle of that asset gets expanded. Part of what Ripley's now doing is not only connecting colleagues to one another, but I like to say that we're now connecting peers in an industry. So as a digital platform, we're now connecting the dots so that we, as scientists at one organisation, can actually now connect to a separate entire organisation and have conversations around the same asset that we're looking to procure. But just skipping the procurement team or the finance team of our of our organisation. So now, if you are a partner with ripply and you've got our software trading assets at your individual organisation, you can now see an entire separate organisation that a scientist not unlike myself. Has an asset that I need and now I can interact with them and we help you procure that asset from another organisation and it's a used asset, but it's perfectly good. And and that, again, helps scale the reuse and now starts to really bring in a network effect where we're we are connecting multiple organisations to one another so that really the barriers of sharing and reuse get diminished in some of those barriers include time latency. So really, how know when I have something, am I being efficiently connected to someone when they want it in the moment that they want it? We are we are solving almost a geographic barrier really by connecting local organisations to one another. So making sure that in Chicago we connect all of the academic universities to all the universities and our academic clients, how can we connect them to one another so that they can they can share procurement resources and share these assets. So we're keeping it local, which is probably a five to twenty five mile barrier or perimeter around a lot of these academic organisations. But we're really then solving the mechanical issue. There's really no technology that allows a user like myself, a scientist, to trade something with someone at another organisation. The current processes for that would involve. A lot of paperwork would involve a lot of connecting of financial systems, and so what we're trying to solve is that when these two scientists want to engage in a reuse opportunity, an opportunity that can reduce the impact on the environment, we want to make that as seamless as possible. And so when they interact with one another, all of the paperwork, all of the connexions have been taken care of on the back end so that when I as a scientist, use my credit card or my procurement card to buy that piece of machinery from another scientist, another organisation that's already taken care of. So we've we're trying to make reuse as simple as an Amazon purchase. And in that we think is the the the future for really scaling the circular economy.Tom Raftery:
Nice. Nice. Just from a practical perspective, I know that in organisations and larger organisations, there's usually lots of steps you have to go through to procure something, you know, to your point through a procurement organisation or finance or whatever. How do those organisations handle someone like Rheaply? Being there and taking out part of their processes are I mean, there's got to be some kind of ramifications. There has to be presumably done with the agreement of the finance and or procurement organisations.Garr Punnett:
It absolutely is. So part of when we're frankly selling lately to an organisation, we get a handful of stakeholders that are involved. So that might be procurement, that might be financed. We often are talking to the sustainability leaders of that organisation, but as well as the these sort of facilities managers and and really getting them all in the same conversation and on the same page of why this would be helpful. How does this solve the problem of supply? We often are talking to surplus stakeholders as well, and we hear quite often that surplus as an entity of an organisation, as a department of an organisation. We hear often that it's a black hole and that when something goes to surplus, it often is then sold for dimes on the dollar, maybe in a liquidation process. So when something goes to surplus, there's very little recovery of that investment internally. Often it's again, it's sold through a liquidation process. So when you give something to surplus, it's likely going to leave the organisation. So our whole goal is to recover that value and make sure that the value is maintained as much as possible internal to the organisation. And so when we're working with a surplus department, a lot of their goals are around investment recovery. So circular economy can really be seen as investment recovery. It can be seen as the the surplus department. Like there are a lot of objectives that are already baked into the organisation to recover the value of these assets. But again, when we engage with a surplus department, we're saying, hey, we don't want to interrupt the normal processes here. We just want to make sure that by using our system, your company is getting two or three extra looks at what the value of an asset might be before it leaves an organisation. And once we really break it down to that component where we're saying, hey, we're going to save you money because all of your colleagues and peers are going to be able to see this and use it before it exits, sort of the company boundaries, procurement, finance, leadership generally doesn't have a problem with that. They want to make sure that they get the most out of the investment they made in their capital assets. And we're just trying to make sure that, again, we get a couple more looks before it heads out the door.Tom Raftery:
OK, who are you selling to within organisations? Who who's your customer in an organisation?Garr Punnett:
That always varies. And that's what that's sort of an honest challenge for us, is we've we've been learning I mean, we really started thinking that this could be a grassroots effort almost where we were going to the managers and the directors and saying, hey, this could really help your department, this could help your colleagues departments. But what's really interesting about that is when we would begin our engagements on almost a director level, we'd see significant engagement with everybody that was sort of within their department. But expanding outside of those departmental boundaries was a real challenge, because then now you're dealing with other directors who don't really understand the priority here on this. And so really what we've just lately, within the last year decided to do is just go straight up the food chain and and talk to the heads of procurement, the heads of finance, the heads of sustainability, the heads of operations that includes facilities and surplus. And all of those stakeholders typically are in the conversation. And that's just the reality. It creates maybe a little bit of a longer lead cycle and sale generation cycle, but the impact that we're going for and the nature of our platform needs to be almost comprehensive and needs to be thought of as a solution to scale this across many departments so that the maximum amount of savings and impact can actually take place.Tom Raftery:
And if I'm an employee in one of these organisations, how do I become aware that Rheaply exists? That if I want to get a new widget, that there's this marketplace or platform for me to look on before I go over to Amazon or whatever?Garr Punnett:
Great question. This is where I'm sort of stumbling here because I keep naming the challenges that we have. And and but I, I want to just highlight that again, we're doing some great work. But this is that these are the challenges that we deal with all the time. Sure. I have an answer for this because we deal with this on every organisation that we are on board and that we partner with. We go from being a B2B company where we are selling our solution to an organisation. And once they sort of sign the paperwork, we immediately go to a be to see where our offering has to be using our marketing arm and our customer success department to now go and do the outreach to the individual colleagues and peers and users that would be using the platform. And so that is really the challenge. And so we do this in a couple of ways where when we are on board with a company, we're making sure that we're throwing out sort of digital parties or we're now there on site, or we've almost empowered the stakeholders to really know how we can do this without really being there in person. It then goes quickly into how do we spread the word. So having a lot of features around in app messaging so that people can message one another and start to spread the word through our platform. We're replacing often listservs which people don't really enjoy doing. So they don't like getting the reply all messages. They don't like that filling their inbox. This is an opportunity for users to engage in a new platform that streamlines that whole process. So there's not a whole lot of people holding on to the old technology of a listener. And then also we've got really gamification features where we're trying to make this an enjoyable user experience, where when you sign on to ripply, you're already using your your existing credentials as a company. So we work with a single sign on whatever that process might be at the organisation. So you're using your existing credentials. You sign on to reapply and when you sign on, you already see that? Oh, I've got three or four colleagues that are have significant points in the leader board. And so they might see the leader board that Susan down the hall actually has racked up 50 points by finally finding a use for the extra desk that she had in her office for whatever reason but could get at. Nobody ever really would take it because she wasn't talking to the right person at the right time. And when she signed on to replay, well, look what look what happened. She actually got rid of it in the first week. And and so a lot of that then gets recorded in the gamification feature and then we do monthly giveaways. So not only did Susan get rid of the desk in her office, but now she actually received a fifty dollar gift card to the local restaurant or or whatever it might be, because we work with the organisation to to make sure that this is an exciting, innovative process around getting new users and and then really making sure that those users understand the potential of what this could mean to their day to day and how to procure these assets without going through procurement. And as I said before. But these organisations are happy to supply a round of gift cards every month because the organisational benefits far outweigh really than any sort of gift cards that might be given out in terms of really scaling. We're in the savings that can come from scaling re-use.Tom Raftery:
Sure and probably helps a little bit with employee retention as well. If they're feeling good about making better use of assets and helping the company be more sustainable.Garr Punnett:
You're absolutely right. I've got a little bit of an anecdote for that. We did in the first week at the University of Chicago for our our engagement there. We got rid of and through over use, not disposition, not sent to landfill. We got around five hundred thousand dollars worth of assets reclaimed in the first week. And the lab manager at the time who is really helping us do this, she came to us with like these three labs and she said, hey, I've got all of these assets and I need help getting rid of them. The typical process might been sort of a scavenging process where they put up a flyer, the feeding frenzy takes place and then whatever is left typically would just be put in the trash. Well, now we've set up a more democratic process where people can sign up to ripply. They can shop online, they can come with their ticket, they can get the item, they can get whatever they need and what they purchased. It was a much more also equal process than that, that everybody that was signing up to Ripley across the campus could actually take place. Now, where this gets to almost a an employee retention standpoint or frankly, a point of pride, is she got to come back to us and say, hey, I can actually put this on my resume now that I helped save my organisation. Five hundred thousand dollars this year on on reusing assets by through ripply. And that is now a data point that I can now see in Ripley's platform that supports my more sustainable efforts to be a better sort of lab manager. So that's the simple wins almost too, that we're trying to make sure that people understand when everyone's looking about looking around, trying to figure out how they can impact the world positively. There's a lot going on right now. And and I think this is almost that simple case where if someone can say, hey, I just actually helped save my organisation money, I helped divert things from landfill. Those are some quick wins that Ripley is happy to keep scaling across any organisation.Tom Raftery:
Nice, nice. I guess one of the last question I have is and you you alluded to it is about reporting features for companies that sign up. How do they get reports on, to your point, money saved, stuff diverted from landfill, maybe carbon or something that that if there's that kind of reporting in it as well. What what kind of reports are you are you putting out there? And do you have an overall one for the company itself, for you, for for Rheaply to say amongst all our customers this year we did X.Garr Punnett:
Excellent question. I. Yes, so every company is supported with three in realtime, actually, four real time metrics, so one of them is how many transactions are taking place? OK, what are the. So that's the volume of transactions. How much money is that saving the organisation and then how much waste is diverted from landfill? So we do the we base that on a a weight metric. So that's something that the user generates when they, when they almost create the post to to get this shared, they're instructed to approximate the weight of the item. We haven't quite done a CO2 type of equivalency or any other sort of greenhouse gas equivalency, mostly because that's still kind of the Holy Grail in general of of a sort of scaled system is how do you equate fixed assets or just random things to their carbon equivalency at scale. But we're still working on it. That's going to come in part, I think, from really incentivising and educating our users on how to break down an asset if we can help them better understand. This thing that they're posting that they said was a table is roughly made up of what and we can maybe help instruct them and say, hey, I think this is roughly made out of 50 percent of a wood composite, 50 percent, some type of metal alloy. And then we can do on the back end again a rough estimation of what that would look like from a carbon footprint. So we're still working on that. We've done some research into that. And then sort of the last metric, too, is we provide each organisation with a breakdown of departments and asset category types that are moving through their organisation. So they might see we actually have furniture, a high amount of furniture that's available for reuse, but it's not going anywhere. Why is that? I know that I'm hearing a couple of departments request new office chairs. Well, it appears as though there's 10 office chairs right here. Why aren't those being connected? And so we provide those metrics so that anybody who's from an administrative perspective, who's seeing the movement of these materials in these goods through these organisations, they can start to connect the dots on how to make sure that this is scaling appropriately and that reuse is taking place across the organisation. And then from there, we break down again, all sort of down the as SAP type. So whether that's the research equipment or whether that's whatever it is they can see and almost piece together and create a solution internally around how do we increase the scale of our impact in a certain category to date. And I should have gotten this from my marketing team and I'm so apologetic that I can't announce anything on this podcast, but I don't have any I don't have any numbers on what we've done to date. Why I bring that up is. In line with connecting similar organisations to one another, we are also scaling, again, a more circular aspect to this, where there might be an organisation to peer organisations that have equally decided we don't need this these computers, we don't need these chairs, we don't need these desks. And so as ripply, we don't want it just sitting on the platform anymore. We want to connect those assets to their next lifecycle. So a lot of our organisations have typical depreciation cycles where they might be going through assets every five to seven years. Well, we know a lot of nonprofits. We know a lot of high school programmes, a lot of public school programmes that would love to get potentially new chairs, new computers, new desks, whatever that is. And when I say new, it might be five years old, but that's still better than maybe the 10 year old computer that someone's working on. And so that's where we've started to connect what we call sort of reuse enabler organisations, where we connect these organisations into the greater ecosystem where they can now take on and either purchase or receive as a donation these items directly from these organisations. And and that's a process that we're enabling, because essentially when we're at an organisation, we give permission to every asset that comes through that organisation that says if it's circulating for forty five days, 90 days in an organisation and nobody wants it, it's a pretty good indicator that it doesn't really have any value at the organisation anymore and it should be put to better use somewhere else. So that might be selling it. But that also, again, might be donating it to the local organisation. That's a part of ripply that's looking to take these assets off these organisations hands and put it to further use in the community.Tom Raftery:
Nice. So we're well over the 20 minute mark. In fact, we're a lot closer to the 30 minute mark.Garr Punnett:
Thank you. Sorry, I tend to be a go a little long.Tom Raftery:
That's fine. Go. You're fine. You're fine. You're passionate about your topic and that's always great. That makes it more interesting to listen to. So hopefully the listeners are getting a lot out of this. And the second last question I ask, and every podcast which usually happens 10 minutes ago is, is there any question I've not asked that you think I should have? Is there any points we've not brought up that you think people should be aware of?Garr Punnett:
Yes, I'm obsessed with how are we connecting these dots from a supply chain perspective and from a logistics standpoint. And so part of our next our next stage of our platform is how are we enabling the services of the circular economy to make, again, this circular nature of driving material flows and asset flows all that more efficient? And I think this is I mentioned it earlier that we're keeping these networks kind of local. We're keeping them sort of the five to twenty five mile range right now. But we really want to be able to want to be the one stop platform for all the services that also go into making it a local economy more circular. So when it comes to the logistics and the supply chain aspect, when someone saying, hey, I want to get rid of this expensive piece of research equipment. What we're looking at and what I'd love for people to reach out to me about is what sort of ideas do they have on how we can enable last mile logistics? How do we make sure that there's a more efficient system from getting one one piece of research equipment across town so that it can be used in the and there's less impact around getting that from one place to another? I think there's a lot for people to focus on in the supply chain and logistics around how a circular economy will actually function. And I'm sure your audience will be very interested in that. And I would love to hear from people who are willing to reach out looking super superb.Tom Raftery:
So that leads me nicely into the last question, which is if people want to know more about GHA are about ripply or any of the conversation that we had today, where would you have me direct them?Garr Punnett:
Excellent. You can go to our website at www DOT rheaply spelled r h e a p l y dot com. There will be an info at the email available. You can reach out to that. That will likely go still right to my inbox as well. So and then anybody else who might find interest or relevance in what you would want to learn more about or have questions about, we'll answer that email as well. And so feel free to reach out. Also, we're very active in any of our social channels, so please subscribe to our our newsletter on LinkedIn. We've got a great sustainability newsletter that you can find that our founder, Dr. Gary Cooper, writes every month and along with the team. And so we're just we want more people to be engaged with the circular economy. And so if you have any questions, feel free to reach out. You can also reach out to me personally on LinkedIn and Garr Punnetts as you'll see in this podcast. So please reach out and I will do my best to get back to you. But I love talking about this as you can probably tell at this point,.Tom Raftery:
You hide it well.Garr Punnett:
Yeah, exactly. I do my best.Tom Raftery:
Superb, Garr that's been brilliant. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.Garr Punnett:
Excellent. Thank you so much, Tom. It's been a pleasure. I look forward to talking to you again soon.Tom Raftery:
OK, we've come to the end of the show, thanks, everyone, for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chain to head on over to SAP dot com slash digital supply chain or or simply drop me an email to Tom Dot Raftery at SAP dot com if you'd like to show, please don't forget to subscribe to it on your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.