AMA: Michael Groves, founder of Topolytics

Data is such a powerful resource and companies that know how to mine and map it effectively will have a key role to play in shaping our future.

One such company is Topolytics, founded by Michael Groves. Topolytics helps private companies and government bodies make sense of the distribution of the world's waste materials.

michael groves

Hi Michael! Tell us a bit about your company.

Topolytics is a data aggregation and analytics business that is making the world’s waste visible, verifiable and valuable. 

Our data platform WasteMap® processes data on the world’s commercial, industrial and post-consumer waste from multiple sources and systems.

Then uses machine learning and mapping to make sense of this complex web of materials movements. In essence, generating actionable insights for companies that produce waste, the recycling industry, investors, regulators and policymakers. 

For example, the UK Government has commissioned Topolytics to create a system to digitally track the many hundreds of millions of waste movements across the UK each year – this system is built on WasteMap®. 

wastemap

In 2019, Topolytics was picked by Google Cloud and SAP (out of 250 companies worldwide) as the commercial technology that can enable the circular economy at scale.

Topolytics is a leading AI and analytics player in the €2Bn ‘waste tech’ sector. By using data science to make the world’s ‘downstream materials’ system more visible, so that the data is verifiable and generates insights that unlock the value in the material. 

This way we can dramatically reduce 70% of the world’s waste that is dumped and landfilled or leaks into the environment.

Fantastic. How did the idea for Topolytics come about?

I am a geographer and have worked in the fields of environmental management and sustainability for over 20 years. The idea of mapping analysing the environmental impact of companies was interesting.

Through developing an MVP, we realised that mapping where waste goes was of great interest to waste producers, the waste industry and the government. 

This has become more important as people have woken up to the environmental impact of waste leaking into the environment, especially our oceans.

environmental-impact

We ask all founders this next question. What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

Too many to mention!

Did you ever experience a business disappointment that led to something better?

All disappointment leads to something better – even if not directly.

Silver linings and all that. How do you keep your team aligned?

Communication, variety, interesting work and humour.

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

No too much Zoom Gloom, Teams Terror and Meets Misery. Though clearly, these cannot always be avoided! 

A good brisk walk first thing in the morning. Doing and offering a mental health first aid course to colleagues.

topolytics-team

Sounds like an excellent initiative. So, what does company culture mean to you?

Culture eats strategy for breakfast! We try and live up to our values – being resourceful, respectful and remarkable.

Love that. Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? If so, what impact has it made?

It's crucial to share the benefits of business success and growth.

Give us an interesting fact about yourself that the business community doesn’t know.

I have created, produced and hosted a show at the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Is that interesting?

It is! And on a similar performative note, who would play you in a film of your life?

Audie Murphy.

Maybe a relative inherited Audie's looks and talent. Great stuff. Thanks for your time Michael!