Ecolytiq calculates your carbon footprint to boost sustainable finances | Jobs Recent

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About Ecolytique

  • Founders: Ulrich Pietsch and David Lais
  • Year of establishment: 2020
  • Employees: 50
  • Money raised: €30.5 million
  • Ultimate goal: Become a digital assistant to help people reduce their carbon footprint.

Believe it or not, your personal financial choices have an impact on the environment. If someone suddenly became vegan, how much of a difference would that make to their carbon footprint? This is the mission of Berlin-based start-up Ecolytiq, which provides a banking support tool that calculates a carbon footprint. The start-up uses AI technology to measure the environmental impact of a person’s spending and offers insights on how to reduce it. Company co-founder David Lais spoke to IO about the concept of sustainable finance that his business uses in today’s Start-up of the Day episode.

Where did the idea for a start-up come from?

“A few years ago, I took a sabbatical to travel the world, and that’s when I came across the issue of sustainability. Sitting on the beach, I saw a lot of garbage lying around. I had heard about climate change before, but realized it had never really affected me. Then I started to think about my impact on the environment as an individual. There were climate footprint calculators available at the time, but people still need to understand what they can do to reduce their footprint, and that’s how I came up with the idea for a start-up.”

What problems did you have to overcome?

“The public has not been concerned about climate change before, so initially our start-up was not commercially viable. In the beginning, it was a non-profit initiative that relied solely on donations. Four years ago, I attended an event dedicated to sustainability, which made me realize that it had become a hot topic. After that, we started as a fully profitable company and luckily we hit the right time and managed to attract a lot of interest from the industry.”

“In the beginning, it took a lot of time and talk to build the product. At some point, we were sure of the product and we were aware of the interest of the market. So by then we had a great product when sustainability was the order of the day.”

Do you think the pandemic affected it?

“It definitely changed something, and the pandemic accelerated many processes. For the first time, people around the world realized that we live on a very fragile planet and things like a pandemic can happen overnight.”

How it’s working?

“Ecolytiq is a tool, a small part of the banking application. That’s why every time you make a purchase, we help you understand WHAT2 impact of this purchase and the science behind it. We also show how you can improve by breaking things down into simple measurements.”

What was the process of creating technology for your company like?

“We looked at the scientific perspective, but it was a complicated process. There were no guidelines or established standardizations, so we contacted the researchers for feedback. We developed ecoAware, CO2 an impact calculator and ecoEngage that makes sense of these numbers. Then ecoAction helps you take action to change that CO2 make an impact and make better investments. At the touch of a finger, our tool understands this impact based on your spending habits and gives you the transparency you need to make an informed decision.”

What about privacy?

“Most of our consumers are not direct consumers. We are a background service in the banking environment and banks implement our services on their existing applications so that data does not fall into our hands. Most customers support our initiative, but some climate change deniers are against it.”

What is your opinion about your work?

“Most say they are becoming more aware of their environmental impact. Some critics say “you don’t know what I’m buying and you don’t take it into account”. We understand those critics who are partly right. We need to know what you are buying, especially regional and seasonal products. Still, we leave it up to consumers to provide us with this information so that we can take it into account.”

How can you provide more accurate details?

“We are aware that we are not perfect, but we also have a huge obstacle because there is no global infrastructure that allows us to access transparent supply chains. We need manufacturers and companies to share their data and environmental impact of the product. If we have access to that, we can be more precise, and I consider the right to information about a product’s environmental impact to be part of my human rights.”

What are your future goals?

“The future is education and transparency. We believe we can help change behavior and empower consumers to take action. We want to personalize the experience to motivate people to take the next step and make informed decisions.”

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