Get to know ACE startup founders & find out what drives them!
The ACE-List: We are proud and excited to introduce our awesome startup founders. The ACE-List is a regular installment where startup teams from the ACE Incubation Program introduce themselves and share a little insight into their startup journey!
Industry: Platform / Sustainability
Founded in: 2020
Meet the founders!
We all met during our bachelor at University College Utrecht where we became close friends. The four of us got along well as we all had similar interests and an ambition to tackle the greatest challenges of our generation. We always realized that we had very complimentary skills that fit like a 4 piece puzzle in terms of setting up a company, but never had the idea that gave the ‘wow we need to do this’ factor. That only came a few years later with CarbonCancel.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make and turn this into your raison d’etre.
How did you come up with your startup idea?
We went on a holiday together to a place called New Forest which is close to Southampton. During the holiday we started a discussion about who emitted the most carbon on their journey to New Forest and also if anyone offset their emissions. We quickly realized that there is a big gap that needs to be filled within current society about the awareness of your carbon footprint and the need for tools to empower people to take responsibility over their own carbon emissions. Not long after that discussion, CarbonCancel was born.
What is your company’s unique proposition?
Our USP is threefold. The first and most important is that we offer more than just the ability to offset your emissions. Through products like our dashboard our aim is to empower people to take responsibility over their carbon emissions. Through our discounts on sustainable products we also try to nudge people to make more eco-friendly choices. Secondly, we built a calculator that is both accurate and user-friendly. There are a lot of carbon calculators out there but the large majority of them do not cover all aspects of your lifestyle. We are in the process of finalizing our CarbonCalculator 2.0 which we believe will be the most accurate footprint measurement tool out there.
What has been your ACE moment?
We are currently doing another round of customer interviews to better understand the current market. Whenever we talk to our customers, and they express the value that the platform gives them always feels like an ACE moment and gives a lot of validation in what we are doing. In several cases our customers really become like ambassadors of our products and promote us in all kinds of fantastic ways. In one case one of our customers even placed a giant logo of CarbonCancel on their car as promotion, that was quite exhilarating.
How has your academic background benefited you in running a company?
Seeing that we all come from University College Utrecht (UCU) our academic background has given us more than just the critical skills that are required when running a company. Having said that, UCU is a great place where peers with very different backgrounds and ideas live amongst each other which allows for great discussions and the opportunity to expand your horizon. We still have a very valuable connection with our university as we also see it as a place where we can find great talent to expand our team.
How did the pandemic (positively or negatively) affect you in the past year?
The pandemic definitely brought a lot of challenges and I think for us one of the main ones was (understandably) the shift in priority from climate change to the coronavirus in a lot of key nodes of society. However, it did also give us the opportunity to further solidify our USP, business model and marketing strategy. So with every crisis there is also always an opportunity to grasp.
A second challenge, which probably goes for a lot of people out there, is the lack of face-to-face meetings where there is a more human connection with the person you are talking to. It is much more challenging to really build new relationships over a Zoom call for example.
How did the ACE incubation program contribute to your growth?
One of the most valuable aspects of the ACE incubation program is that it allows you to seek experts and mentors that are capable of helping you prioritize and solve your roadblocks, in some cases even roadblocks that we weren’t aware of ourselves. On top of that there are also weekly growth sessions in which you tackle the core challenges that you are facing at the moment. I would say that such guidance is essential to any early stage start-up.
What is the best advice you could give someone who wants to start their own business?
Find your dream team. Having the right team in place and people you can count on makes all the difference in overcoming the barriers that early stage start-ups deal with.
What are your next steps for the new year?
In 2021, we will test and validate a couple more growth strategies for our current products. We also have several other business models in the pipeline that we will try to validate which could be very exciting.
How can someone who is interested in you or your startup contact you?
If you want to get a better understanding of what we do or read some of our latest blogs I recommend visiting www.carboncancel.com/en. Otherwise you can always get in touch with us through any of our social media channels or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to overview