1 min read

Search the web to plant trees

Which comes first for a business: profit or purpose? While profit is always a lagging indicator, purpose can give you a head start.
Search the web to plant trees

The teenager mentioned that she’d planted her first tree. What? ‘Since when did you take an interest in gardening?’ I asked.

What she meant was that she had started using a new search engine where for every 50 searches they’d plant a tree. ‘Everyone’ at her school is now using it.

This sounded too interesting to ignore. So I had to do some digging of my own.

Sure enough there’s a site called Ecosia where you can “Search the web to plant trees…” Last time I checked they were closing in on planting 51 million trees.

If I’d told you about a new search engine that was super easy to use and got you results as fast as Google then you could be forgiven for thinking: ‘Meh. Who needs another search engine?’

And you’d probably be right.

But there might be some people who want a new search engine if it also meets some emotional need. Fulfils a purpose beyond the purely functional.

Mechanically doing stuff is no longer enough. A slick user-experience is par for the course.

Being first can give you a temporary edge but you can’t count on it for long.

Tapping into a wider purpose can however make all the difference. And different is better than better.

Will Ecosia supplant Google? Probably not but who knows. Does it need to? No.

All other things being equal, having a purpose is a clear advantage but… it’s still not enough.

For a business to succeed, you need to find and turn enough people who care into loyal and profitable customers to make it worthwhile. And that takes skill and patience.

Meanwhile, I wiped away a tear as my daughter set off to join thousands of others around the world for the School strike for climate.