For those who have supported me along the way and those who are simply curious, I'd like to share my journey since July - from joining Antler Singapore with nothing but an idea, to being in Islamabad and just over a month away from launching Capture, the app enabling you to track, reduce and remove your climate footprint.
November 18, 2019
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Where did the idea come from?
Like millions of others, I've been becoming increasingly concerned about climate change. In my previous job, I was able to spend time with indigenous & nomadic communities across Asia & Africa and saw first-hand the effects of crippling droughts (Kenya), unusually extreme winters (Mongolia), and devastating rainforest fires (Kalimantan). I started to realise the awkward and uncomfortable truth that I was, and continue to be, a big part of the problem myself. I have a personal carbon footprint of over 30 tonnes per year (that's 3 times the 2020 UN personal carbon emission goal), largely due to the large amount of flights I had to take for work.
I started looking into carbon offsetting for flights, but was really uninspired by what I found. A tangled web of projects, massively varying prices, and at the end of the day, no way for me to actually track my progress and steps to reduce emissions - which is what really matters most. The final straw came when I offset a flight with Sri Lankan airlines and offset by 'accidentally' contributing to the funding of a hugely ecologically damaging hydro-electric power plant.
There are trackers for pretty much everything these days. Footsteps, eating, meditation, reproductive cycles, naps, productivity, spending... the list goes on. But why doesn't this exist for our climate footprint? Millions of people want to do good for the climate, yet there is a lack of technology available to help bridge the gap between concern and action.
Enter Capture, the app enabling users to track, reduce and remove their climate footprint. We will help you monitor emissions from daily mobility choices (via smart GPS tracking), reduce emissions through targets, games and a bit of healthy competition, then purchase forestry-based carbon offsets - so you know the equivalent amount of CO2 you've emitted has been absorbed
How do you go from an idea to a 'real' business?
I wanted to give this idea a real shot and decided to join Antler - a start-up 'generator' designed to bring together co-founders with complementary skills, pressure-test and then fund the ideas and teams they believe can make it big. Antler's designed to help entrepreneurs achieve impact on a huge scale. So, in July of this year in Singapore, I joined a room of 100 talented people from around the world, and began phase 1 of the program.
The first half of the antler program is set on-site in one of their locations around the world, and is structured to help you find a co-founder with complementary skills, align on a problem statement, and then test ideas as quickly as possible. I found an amazing co-founder, Aziz, and at the end of week 2, we began working together to build and test the concept of a tracker for your climate footprint.
Over those 10 weeks, Aziz and I built and tested a prototype tracker app (where users had to manually add daily mobility choices), and learned more about what individuals were looking for when it came to an app that would help them track their carbon emissions. A major question we were getting from advisors was 'will people really track?' - and happily, our prototype results proved we were onto something. After our investment committee, Aziz and I received funding from Antler to bring Capture to life.
What's next for Capture?
It's time to make the 'real' version. Aziz and I are now both in Islamabad, Pakistan (with the best office view in the world!) and are working with a brilliant team of developers to get the app ready for a launch in mid-December. We've hired amazing interns and have some wonderful advisors. The support from the Antler also continues until our demo day in Singapore in early January and beyond.
The next month in particular is a balance between speed, design and functionality when it comes to building the Capture app. We are also beginning to gather momentum on our social media following, and will be using our channels to ask for feedback on design, ideas and the types of offsetting projects we will offer to users.
How big could this get?
Our vision at Capture is to enable 10 million users to live a carbon-conscious life. We will be expanding our track, reduce, remove framework into other categories of life - clothing, home electricity, food purchases and more. We will also be launching Capture for events & conferences, enabling event managers to get truly accurate emissions data from travel for the first time. We will also be launching Capture for employers, helping companies whom want to engage and satisfy climate-conscious employees.
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