Feature article by Climate KIC with the Greener team's key learnings and progress since winning #1 Cleantech Start-up in 2019
April 27, 2021
They wanted to build a solution that would help people to repair the planet with every dollar they spend. Through their ClimateLaunchpad journey, they iterated and tested with customers, and built out a product idea that ultimately landed them the winning spot at the ClimateLaunchpad National Final that year.
Since being crowned the #1 cleantech startup in Australia, they have spent the last 18 months bringing their idea to life.
Founders Tom Ferrier and Neil McVeigh realised that everything has a hidden price tag: the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. From our morning coffee, to our favourite jeans, to our mobile phone plan – the materials, manufacturing and transportation of everything we buy takes a toll on the planet.
Greener solves the intent-action gap when it comes to the climate crisis. Tom explains, “people want to be greener, but don’t know where to start. Our app makes it easy to understand your impact on the planet, then make sure that impact is a positive one. We guide people to genuine green businesses for everything they buy, and then remove the emissions of their purchases. It’s a ‘merchant pays’ model, so there’s never any cost to members.”
When a new user signs up to Greener, open banking technology alongside data and expertise from the world’s leading climate scientists, enables the Greener app to instantly calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of the user’s spending.
The app shows the user greener options for everything they buy. When the user purchases from pre-screened Greener businesses, those businesses fund reforestation projects, to clean up and store the emissions equivalent to those created by each purchase. This effectively completely offsets the emissions associated with those purchases.
Tom explains, “our pilot has taught us that mainstream customers want the feel-good factor of being green, without paying for it. And green businesses want to attract these customers, at lower cost. We bring Greener businesses and customers together to repair the planet.” By promoting Greener businesses, the app is 100% free, seamless, automatic and secure for users.
Australians are more afraid of climate change than they are of catching Covid-19. Especially among the emerging Gen-Z consumer base, climate change is a central concern, with 80% of young people reporting they worry about the impact of climate change on their futures. And it’s already changing how this market thinks about what they buy, and from whom.
At the same time, trillions of dollars and entire economies are shifting towards a net zero emissions by 2050 target, and Australia is under increasing pressure to set more ambitious climate targets. To accelerate this transition at the speed and scale the climate challenge requires, we’ll need strong climate policy, for businesses to prioritise decarbonisation, and for regular people to make smart consumer choices for the planet. Greener’s ambition is to help consumers make those smart choices and accelerate the shift to net zero emissions – for free.
Greener’s ClimateLaunchpad win drew the attention of some of the world’s leading climate and behavioural scientists, including Professor Michael Hiscox of Harvard University’s Behavioural Insights Group. Hiscox dubbed Greener a “genuine world first” and has since become an integral part of the team, helping to build out the 2020 pilot. Greener is also collaborating with WWF and Duke University to optimise their communications strategy. All that to say – find good people united by a shared purpose, and great things can happen.
Greener’s 2020 pilot demonstrated that they could bring green businesses 5-21% of customers from their non-green competitors across various retail categories. This attracted brands for the initial launch, including Grill’d, Aveda, Lush, Koala, and The Body Shop – the first of at least 50 retail partners projected to come on board over the next two months.
This momentum attracted 200% of their first-round funding target in just 3 weeks. Investors on board include Phil Vernon, former CEO of Australian Ethical and Beyond Zero Emissions, Kerry Series of Inspire Impact, Mark Venhoek, CEO of Suez Waste Management, and Sonder founder Chris Marr.
Greener knew that they couldn’t just ask other brands to be better, they also had to do their bit for the planet. That’s why they:
– Became a member of the UN Global Compact Network Australia
– Joined leaders for Climate Action with a commitment to become 100% carbon neutral
– Pledged 1% of their equity, profit, product and time to the planet. This pledge is enshrined into their constitution – an Australian first!
– Applied to become a B-Corp with a score well above the required threshold
Greener is iterating, testing and improving to build a product that consumers and businesses can’t live without. The team is gearing up to a high-profile launch later this year.
“We’re so excited to see the progress that Greener have made over the past 18 months since winning the ClimateLaunchpad Australian National Final in 2019,” said Chris Lee, CEO of Climate-KIC Australia. “The Greener team have made a product that truly has potential to generate real climate impact.”