Alex Lassiter is the Founder and CEO of Raleigh-based GreenPlaces, a platform to make achieving sustainability easy for all businesses. Prior to GreenPlaces, Alex co-founded Gather, an enterprise software startup serving the hospitality industry that was acquired by General Atlantic for $500M. Alex was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina. He’s an active venture investor, lecturer and advisor to software companies.
1. What is in your pockets?
I’ve got my AirPods, iPhone, and wallet and that’s basically it. Beyond just credit cards and money, I keep my fishing license on me at all times. My sons and I like to go fishing and I keep their mini fishing poles in the back of my car. We like to get out wherever we can possibly and throw a line in.
2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
We started this business a couple of years ago when the idea of a sustainability platform was new for a lot of businesses. Fast forward two years, and I was on a panel with the head of ESG and sustainability with the New York Stock Exchange talking about how this has become a requirement and expectation for almost every business in the country. We are staring down regulation around required carbon reporting. We’ve got businesses that are using us and our platform to not only understand and report their emissions, but in many cases, they actually use our tools to save money on utilities and be more profitable and operate their business in a smarter way. It is exciting because two years ago, this was something that was not on anyone’s mind. And sometimes you find yourself in the right place at the right time.
Sustainability is pretty quickly becoming an expectation amongst customers, investors, and employees, and in many cases becoming a regulatory compliance for a lot of types of businesses. But for a long time, it’s been something that has been reserved for the businesses that can afford the sustainability teams and have the profit margins to support it.
We started GreenPlaces because while Starbucks, Nike, and Patagonia have good solutions, the rest of the market doesn’t. Our goal with GreenPlaces is to make sustainability accessible to everyday businesses that want to map a path towards net zero, to meet their client demands, and in a lot of cases want to be able to operate in a smarter, more efficient way. We fundamentally believe that sustainability is not just about reporting, it’s about operating smarter. And it’s connecting this idea that sustainability is not about just being good for the planet. It can combine that with being a smarter way to run your business, which is really cool.
3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
Third Place Coffee. I live less than two blocks away. I’m there almost every weekend and probably at least once or twice during the week. It’s my place that I can hide and put my phone down and hang out with neighbors and talk to folks, and I absolutely love it.
4. What keeps you up at night?
Business-wise, what keeps me up at night is making sure that we are the number one place to work in climate for anybody that wants to take their skill set, be it computer development, engineering, sales, or strategy. It keeps you up at night thinking about how to attract the best talent.
Otherwise, what keeps me up at night are the concerns of anyone who runs a business but also has three kids and cares a lot about their family. Having enough time to do all the things that I want to is a challenge. I really love what I’m doing professionally, but I also want to spend time with my kids. It’s figuring out how to do both without compromising either thing.
5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
I absolutely love the Players Retreat. I think it is as much of a community center as it is anything else. You’ve got college students, you’ve got young people, you’ve got young professionals, you’ve got 70 year and 80-year-old guys all hanging out there. There are certainly places that I think cuisine-wise maybe nicer or fancier but I just can’t think of a better place just to go and spend time. It’s a Raleigh staple.
6. What is next for you or your organization?
We’re about to enter big growth mode. We just crossed 20 employees. We are going to be at least doubling in size in the next 12 months. This is the time period in our business where we’re really going to see if we can become a lasting organization and enter the national stage.
There’s a time period where you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you do. And that’s agonizing. And we’ve crossed through that. We know who we are. We know who we serve. We do it really well. The next phase in our business over the next two to three years is really about distilling that value to make sure that everybody who buys services from us has a consistent experience.
This is a unique moment because we’ve absolutely surpassed every expectation that I had in this business and the next three years will be by far and away some of the most exciting.