Ecologi Wants to Make Climate Action Easy for Everyone | Interview with Co Founder and CEO Elliot Coad #StartUps - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Monday, November 7, 2022

Ecologi Wants to Make Climate Action Easy for Everyone | Interview with Co Founder and CEO Elliot Coad #StartUps


With its end-to-end platform for climate action, UK-based startup Ecologi is on a mission to reduce half the world’s projected greenhouse gas emission by 2040. With Ecologi, businesses and individuals can fund planet-positive projects and offset carbon through subscription services.

Since launch in 2019, Ecologi has funded planting 50 million trees and offset over two million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is around 6% of London’s annual emissions in 2021. This year the company was listed in the top 5% of B-Corps globally, for Environment and Governance categories. Moreover, its revenue grew 200% year on year, with over 80% of its profits going directly into climate action. The startup has raised nearly $10 million in capital so far and is now working towards its Series A round.

Ecologi’s platform helps people and companies to fund the best climate solutions worldwide, ranging from verified carbon avoidance to reforestation projects. To date, over 35,000 individual users and 15,000 companies have signed up, including HSBC, BAFTA, BBC, and Lloyd’s Bank.

To better understand the idea behind Ecologi and the team’s plans for its further development, we interviewed Elliot Coad, CEO and cofounder. 

What was the idea behind founding the company? 

One morning in 2019 on my commute to work, I bought a coffee – something I had done countless times. But this time, I had a thought: what impact could I have if I spent this money on some form of climate action instead? By applying this concept on a wider scale, I realised that the loose change millions of us have in our pockets could make a huge impact on the planet. So the idea for Ecologi was born: a subscription service for the planet. 

What are the main benefits of joining your platform? What are Ecologi’s plans ahead? 

The platform makes it way easier to take climate action. The research we undertook earlier this year revealed that 8 in 10 businesses want to be greener but don’t know where to start. We help them to take their first step. 

Our monthly subscriptions support reforestation projects around the world, as well as a broad range of carbon avoidance projects – from renewable energy to cleaner cookstoves – that are certified at the very highest level by Gold Standard or the Verified Carbon Standard

We’ll soon be launching a pay-as-you-go marketplace, where customers can fund projects including wildflower meadow restoration and biochar, one of the most effective natural carbon dioxide removal methods. 

How can Ecologi’s individual and business users track progress to feel that they really make an impact on climate change? 

When signing up to Ecologi, our members can choose a monthly subscription plan that works for them. Subscribers can watch their personal forest grow through their virtual profile and see which carbon avoidance and reforestation projects they have supported.

Our new pay-as-you-go marketplace will personalise the experience even further, as customers will be able to tailor climate action to their interests. So if they’re a business that’s based on the coast, they could fund ocean conservation projects. 

For both our tree planting and carbon avoidance, we publish evidence of each order in our Public Impact and Operations Ledger. For carbon avoidance, retirement certificates show how many tonnes of CO2e we have avoided from going into the atmosphere through funding from our community. 

We’ve also recently teamed up with Sylvera, an innovative carbon ratings provider that will independently assess the quality of carbon reduction projects we support in the future, to ensure that we’re supporting the very best carbon reduction projects on the market. 

How do you choose partners to collaborate with? 

Any individual or organisation can sign up for our platform to pay a monthly subscription or make a one-off purchase to fund climate solutions. But we have strict criteria when purchases exceed a certain tonnage of offsets and when entering into partnerships. We are building out our Know Your Customer process to gauge suitability when it comes to potential partners. This process will help us to decide whether we can progress with partnerships based on the organisation’s level of oversight of their supply chain, ESG reporting, alignment with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), and their degree of separation from undesirable and high-emitting industries. 

Collective action is at Ecologi’s core. The team believes that with a little input from a lot of people, it’s possible to create real, tangible change.


What is the significance behind your collective action approach? 

Collective action can start with one business or individual sparking a movement in their industry. To give just one example from our network: a web-hosting company, Krystal, has referred over

220 other businesses to Ecologi already and funded over a million trees. That’s a staggering amount of climate action from just one small business! 

We’re already seeing effective collective action in response to the climate crisis being declared across a growing number of industries, including agriculture, tourism, music, fashion, and pharmaceuticals. Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, for instance, is a global community of hundreds of tourism organisations, companies, and professionals, committed to delivering a Climate Action Plan with the aim of halving emissions within the industry by 2030. This kind of initiative highlights the impact a small group can have by advocating for climate action through its networks. 

How does your company contribute to solving the collective action problem “if individuals believe change will happen without their participation, they’re inclined to let others do the work”? 

Millions of people around the world are concerned about climate change and the damage it is doing to the planet. This is the biggest challenge of our lifetimes, and it’s overwhelming. Funding tree-planting projects is a great place to start; it gets people really excited about the impact they’re having while encouraging them to go further to understand other solutions. The challenge ahead is undeniably enormous but with a little input from a lot of people, we will quickly start to see a lot of positive climate impact.

At Ecologi, we aim to make climate action trustworthy and tangible, removing the barriers businesses experience when getting started on their net-zero journey.

Climate-wise, what are the not-so-obvious advantages of collective action versus acting alone that people often don’t consider? 

The huge strides we’ve made in just three years would never have been possible without our 37,000 members. But to achieve the change that’s urgently needed, we’ll need to go much further. It’s undeniably a tall order but with collective action, we can get so much closer to this goal. By coming together, we can build a sense of community and solidarity, which are vital for mobilising en masse.

Do you think that any company can do something to tackle climate change? 

Yes! We want to remove the barriers to climate action so any business, no matter how small, can make a positive difference. A 2021 survey by the British Business Bank found that cost was the biggest barrier to measuring and reducing carbon for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (35%). SMEs contribute half of all business-driven carbon emissions in the UK but our Earth Day research found that while 91 percent of UK SME owners believe it’s important to be sustainable, many struggle due to a lack of guidance (42 percent), efficient carbon footprint data (37 percent), and time (37 percent). 

What are the first steps SMEs can take to be more climate-positive? 

It all begins with understanding your emissions hotspots and working towards reducing them. Switching to renewable energy sources and putting sustainability strategies in place is an important place to start. Our soon-to-launch carbon footprinting calculator, Ecologi Zero, will help SMEs to calculate their carbon footprint for free, so they can get started on their net-zero journey. And for unavoidable emissions, carbon offsets have an important role to play. 

What can being climate-positive bring to the business itself? 

There are multiple benefits to being a sustainability-driven and climate-positive business. In this age of heightened corporate accountability and consumer scrutiny, growth is intrinsically linked to a company’s environmental stance. Recent research showed that 44% of investors won’t even invest in companies with poor sustainability performances. At the most fundamental level, a sustainable and transparent business strategy is crucial to strengthening your brand, gaining investment, and attracting top talent to your business. 

Based on your observations, what motivates businesses to take action to tackle climate change? 

Earlier this year, we conducted research surveying 500 SMEs owners and their sustainability attitudes and efforts. The vast majority of SMEs who responded to the survey said they’re taking steps to be greener, with almost three-quarters (72 percent) of owners believing sustainable

initiatives are worthwhile and an encouraging 85 percent recognise that it’s important for their company to be considered sustainable. Our research also found that organisations are feeling pressure from younger employees (80 percent) to improve their environmental credentials. 

Unfortunately, greenwashing is becoming increasingly commonplace nowadays. How can we identify companies that really care about being climate-positive versus those that do it because of their image? And how can a company ensure its credibility in the matter of being climate positive? 

We want to take as many people as possible on the climate action journey: solving this crisis is all of our responsibility. A good place to start is by aligning with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), which is leading the way in terms of corporate climate action plans. You can also look at an organisation’s level of oversight of its supply chain and its ESG reporting. We strongly advocate the path to net-zero, which clearly demands avoiding emissions before taking the final step of offsetting them. 


November 7, 2022 at 05:12AM by (Patrycja Bilinska), Khareem Sudlow