Ecologi, the carbon offsetting subscription service, has raised US$5.7 million from General Catalyst to continue growing its platform. Describing itself as the “Spotify of Sustainability”, the startup says that it plans to scale up its operations to “take on climate change in a significant way”.
British startup Ecologi has taken on US$5.7 million in financing from General Catalyst, the American venture capital firm that has backed big tech names such as Airbnb, Snapchat, Stripe, and Deliveroo. The investment will help the startup scale its carbon offsetting service, which offers individual users and businesses affordable monthly plans to fund tree planting and other climate projects around the world.
“We enter a new chapter with Ecologi that will be characterised with scale,” said CEO Elliot Coad, who co-founded the startup with Alex Price and Lucy Jack in 2019.
“Up to now, everything has been done on the tightest of budgets with our wonderful but tiny team. We look forward to progressing our climate impact exponentially as we race towards our target to reduce 50% of global emissions by 2040.”
‘There’s room for the Spotify of Sustainability’
The Bristol-based company spends around 85% of its revenue directly on funding planet-saving projects, including transaction fees and project costs. For tree planting, Ecologi works with Eden Reforestation, supporting its work in Madagascar. Other Gold Standard climate projects supported include a landfill-to-energy conversion site in Turkey, rainforest protection in Peru, and onshore wind power in Taiwan.
The rest of the money from its subscription plans goes towards keeping Ecologi’s operations afloat, marketing budget, staff, hosting, and licensing fees.
Originally set up with the aim to operate as a nonprofit, Ecologi publishes transparency reports for its users to track where their money is going. As the startup grew, Coad said that it became clear that while their mission remains altruistic, the nonprofit model wouldn’t lead to the biggest impact on reducing emissions.
“There isn’t the luxury of time to grow traditionally through donations and slower organic growth,” he explains. “We know there’s room for the Spotify of Sustainability, and it’s with the resources of a leading investor that we can make this a reality, in a timeframe suitable for turning the proverbial Titanic around and reversing climate change over the critical decade ahead.”
“It didn’t take long to understand that to achieve Spotify-level scale, then you need Spotify-level capital to fulfil our potential impact,” Coad added.
Crowdfunding campaign on the horizon
Ecologi said that the funding from General Catalyst marked the beginning of a new partnership with an investor that “wholly understands the delicate conditions which Ecologi needs to thrive.” It said it will continue “putting the planet first” and continuing its dedication to keeping its operational costs low and offering complete transparency to its users.
“Amongst 50 or so investors we spoke to, it was General Catalyst who fully understood this ethical tightrope with our long term plans to raise the bar on what it means to be a social enterprise,” said Coad.
“Also, they understood that the future of Ecologi should be part-owned by our community via crowdfunding – an exciting development to own a stake in Ecologi and our planet too.”
Ecologi says it is planning to launch a crowdfunder later this year, joining the growing number of social enterprise-minded startups who are taking on this approach, among them Spanish plant-based meat company Heura and vegan bacon maker THIS.
Lead image courtesy of Ecologi.