Spotlight Series: Interview with Jessi Baker, CEO and Founder of Provenance

05 May 2020

Jessi Baker - Spotlight Series

Who are you?

I am Jessi Baker, CEO and Founder of Provenance. We use tech to power the transparency movement – bringing the supply chain and impact behind products to shoppers. We enable more conscious, fair and low-impact consumption. 

What inspired you to come up with the idea of Provenance?

Provenance was born out of personal frustration about the lack of information available about the things we buy. I wanted to buy products from brands that are making robust efforts to better the environment and society.

Sell it to us – how does it work?

Provenance is a software service for product making businesses to easily share the story and impact behind their products at the point of sale without having to invest in bespoke web development, and in a way that shoppers can trust. 

The Provenance platform lets businesses easily collate their supplier, impact and traceability data and verify key “Proof Points” about their business and products on the blockchain.

Provenance then enables this data to be surfaced easily in a brand’s own website - using our plugins to show the Proof Points at the point of sale or show the full journey behind a product from a unique ID on the pack.

What’s the best thing about working at Provenance?

Working on solving a hard problem that’s so vital for a sustainable future. We have a long way to go until the impact behind our product is as commonly accessible as a consumer review. But we must enable that future if we are to shop with our values.

What is the hardest thing about working at Provenance?

Timing has been our biggest challenge. We came to market in early 2017 thinking the market was ready - businesses were all talking about being more open, the “conscious consumer” trend looked like it was on fire! But we were wrong. We have had to be very patient - but impact is becoming more important to every brand now.

What’s your biggest achievement so far?

Being one of the first companies in the world to apply blockchain tech to impact and supply chains was a big achievement. Since then managing to build a world class team of people I am so honoured to work with every day - and together seeing that we’re shifting the needle in terms of consumer behaviour and brand impact is what makes me most proud. 

What does the future hold?

In five years, we aim to be the de facto way for businesses to manage their supply chain and impact transparency. You’ll see Provenance powered information at the point of sale online and in store just like you see consumer reviews powered by Trustpilot everywhere today. 

What advice you would give to future entrepreneurs?

A social enterprise can be a prototype for the world you want to live in - be kind to people, hire awesome people and have fun from day one. In January I wrote a LinkedIn post about my top five lessons during my time as a social entrepreneur, which you can view here.

What impact has the SME Leaders Programme had on your business? What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt? 

I’ve really enjoyed working with my coach, she’s been extremely supportive, and I’ve learnt a lot working with her. I hadn’t focused enough on developing my skills and capabilities as a leader so having the space to do this has been amazing. The events organised by the programme are also very pertinent and well organised. I loved the session on Negotiation, this has helped in all aspects of life. 

What advice would you give to potential applicants? 

Don’t be afraid to be bold. Be clear what you’re hoping to achieve. It also pays to be vulnerable - understand what you need to work on, that’s what the programme is here to help you address! 

And finally, if you received an infinite sum of cash, what’s the first thing you would do for your business?

I would build our community further. I’d love to expand our customer base and office network internationally and build a developer community around our digital tools, so web agencies could easily pick them up to use with clients and spend more time building our shopper community. We have grown an organic community of thousands of shoppers, but to do this well requires more people for sure! 

Quick fire questions

Who is your role model? All entrepreneurs working on fixing a broken system.  I particularly admire the late Anita Roddick (Founder of The Body Shop, a ethical cosmetics company). 

What is your secret talent? Getting everyone on the dancefloor 

What’s your guilty pleasure? Rom-coms

I don’t understand why… men and women aren’t equal. 

When I’m not working at Provenance, I am… spending time with friends, eating nice foods, watching films, playing board games, making cards, hiking in the wilderness

What makes you happiest in business? When we all work well together as a team and hit a goal. 

Do you have any business regrets? So many. It’s a rollercoaster and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I wish I had stood up for myself more. 

If I could have a superpower, it would be… end all wars.

If you could switch places with any famous entrepreneur, who would it be? I’d love to shadow Elon Musk for a day or two. 

The tech that I could not live without is… Google Calendar and my phone 

Ever told a white lie to get what you wanted in business? I’m sure I have. I certainly often embroider the truth a little on a product feature and then have to quickly build the extras... 

Which fellow Hub Member are you most impressed by? I am really impressed with the team at Notpla - Pierre and Lise are on the programme, and I am super impressed and excited about what they have built so far

If you had to choose another sector to work in, what would it be? I’d like to be physical product designer and maker - I love materials, designing and making things 

And finally, if you could invent a new piece of tech, what would it be and what problem would it solve? I’d invent an empathy enhancing drug that gets leaked into the water supply, so we all care about each other and the planet more. 


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