about Sustainable Start
& the people behind it

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Sustainable Start

Sustainable Start was founded shortly after Thomas and Elissa finished their Master in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability in Sweden, mid 2016. Thomas had done his thesis research exploring how a lean startup business development context could benefit from a systemic lens and principles for strategic sustainability.

He soon learned that the optimal leverage point to introduce a different way of thinking about business growth and business success was to introduce better questions from the very start of designing innovative value propositions and business models.

Based on proven concepts, tools, and frameworks, he initially developed a series of Trigger Questions especially crafted to invite a systems thinking perspective and sustainability focus to each of the building blocks of any business model.

Since then, the Sustainable Start Canvas Methodology has been continuously developed and tested, in workshops with entrepreneurs and business owners of various types organizations, into a simple and effective approach to accelerate sustainable business development through participatory business model innovation.

Thomas van der Molen

Co-Founder, Creator, Trainer & Advisor

Thomas is an intuitive and analytical systems thinker specializing in strategic sustainability, business model innovation, multi-stakeholder process facilitation and (inter-)personal leadership development. 

Thomas loves to work with people of diverse backgrounds and cultures to help them see things from a different perspective and develop a strong sense of shared purpose and vision, understand their current context and their position in it, spark creative ideas and innovative solutions and strategically transform into a future fit organization.

He holds an MSc in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, a BSc in International Business and Management Studies and has been trained in a variety of approaches for proces facilitation and leadership development, such as the Art of Hosting and Theory U. 

Over the past 10 years, Thomas has worked on export development projects with SMEs from low-income countries, led the implementation of a certification of sustainability in a mid-size hospitality company and has supported various organizations improve performance through consultancy and participatory process facilitation, in The Netherlands and Brazil. 

Elissa Cardoso

Co-Founder, Trainer & Advisor

Elissa is passionate about engaging people and supporting change in different organizations and territories to create a positive impact in the world. 

She focuses on system thinking, innovation, co-creation, education, public policy, social impact initiatives and business development are her main topics of interest.

She holds an MSc in Sustainability and Leadership and specializations in Social and Environmental Management and Project Management.

Over the last 10 years, Elissa has worked as a consultant and facilitator for small and big organizations from different sectors, focused on optimizing management processes, corporate social responsibility, business development, innovation, education, and strategy for sustainability. Originally from Brazil, she has lived in India and Sweden and currently lives in the Netherlands where she is completing an MSc in Public Policy & Governance.


Sustainable Start is a brand owned by Thomas van der Molen, registered in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce under 'TM Strategic Sustainable Development'.
CoC registration: 71999086 (KvK in Dutch)
VAT number: NL002181191B20 (BTW in Dutch)