Cleantech start-up Greener has successfully raised £142,000 in pre-seed funding – with part coming from the Innovate UK Sustainable Innovation Fund – to take their algorithmic matchmaking platform live and advance their mission of making sustainability accessible and affordable for small businesses.
"Ultimately, sustainability cannot be improved in isolation. Sustainability is about building better supply chains and working with the right partners," noted Co-Founder Dan Yates.
In the face of significant interest in building back better and the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses, Greener aims to make it easy for food and drink SMEs to create genuinely sustainable operations around their businesses without the usual barriers of time and money. The current funding allows the team to take their product to market, and to test and iterate its core technology with the aim to launch later in 2021.
After exploring a range of different solutions to help small businesses become more sustainable, Greener co-founders Mehrnaz Tajmir and Dan Yates were at a crossroads (figuratively and literally, they had their breakthrough while stranded at a train station due to a cancellation).
“Research has shown that the vast majority of small businesses want to incorporate more sustainability into their practices, but we knew that the existing methods and processes were too time-consuming, too complicated and too resource-intensive for them to implement,” Yates explained.
“We also knew that SMEs are the driving force of the economy, especially in the food and drink industry. We had a clear problem, we had a large market, and the solution became apparent: we need to make sustainability simple.”
The Greener approach to sustainability is less about isolated data points and more about taking a systems-thinking approach to the problem.
“Ultimately, sustainability cannot be improved in isolation, whether by a single firm or a single person. Sustainability is about building better supply chains and working with the right partners,” commented Co-Founder Mehrnaz Tajmir, a PhD candidate in Sustainable Supply Chain Management at Bath University.
“But finding those partners is actually really hard if you don’t know what you’re looking for and knowing where to start – especially after a year like this – is daunting. That’s where we decided we can help.”
Greener is built around a process of “sustainability matchmaking” that generates tailored matches across the breadth of the food and drink industry. The team are secretive about the details of their core algorithm but are happy to share that it incorporates elements of supply chain modelling and organisational psychology. In effect, the two-sided marketplace mimics a dating platform by connecting businesses looking for green solutions with suitable partners providing a range of sustainability products or services.
After their early successes in the research, development, and testing stages, Greener is now focused solely on growing their user base and learning how they can improve their platform as they plan for future growth.
“The next stage is to start getting more businesses on board and gaining as much feedback as possible. That is the key to getting the platform performing at the levels we are striving for. We believe this is a hugely important moment for green innovation in the UK and based on our early interactions with users we know we are not alone,” concluded Yates.