Everyone is talking about climate change and climate goals right now and the Munich startup Worldwatchers is taking action. With its ‘Wow’ app, the startup wants to make it easy to measure your carbon footprint. For every user, carbon tracking in real time should become firmly anchored in everyday life. To make that a reality, Worldwatchers started a crowdfunding campaign. Our questions were answered by Michael Kochs, CFO of the Munich startup.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Michael Kochs: We’re developing an app to get closer to the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius with a lot of small but steady steps. With our Wow app, consumers can gauge the climate-related consequences of their behavior. Anytime and anywhere. We create transparency first, then awareness, which in turn paves the way to sustainable lifestyles.
To do so, the originator of the idea Christoph Kunz (53) took off on his quest to find companions. He found Andy Rennet (52) as his technical guy, Viola Hasani (28) as his marketing expert and Jonas Scheyrer (36) as his eco-balance guru. I’m Michael Kochs, and I take care of finances. Together, we’re Worldwatchers — or, in short: Wow!
2. But that’s nothing out of the box!
But it is! While there are many carbon footprint calculators and apps on the market, the solutions we’re familiar with provide general recommendations and, in terms of carbon calculation, determine the annual personal CO2 emissions based on 15 to 20 questions. That gives results in a definite direction, a kind of “snapshot.” But these solutions are unsuitable for differentiated analysis, useful planning or use in daily life.
User friendly for climate protection
To make a long-term contribution to climate protection, the app needs to be an integral part of users’ lives. For us, that means we’re not only constantly delivering added value, but also optimizing user friendliness.
We also start by evaluating the situation, but do so in a much more detailed and specific manner. Based on that, a differentiated analysis of the six areas of consumption (housing, mobility, …) is performed. That allows a user to recognize where they can cut back and to set new personal goals as they see fit. The app then converts those goals into the relevant values and the CO2 live tracking begins.
An important aspect is that the app is set up so you don’t have to constantly look for and enter values yourself. Thanks to modern algorithms, pre-settings and elements of artificial intelligence, the majority happens automatically. In terms of convenience, it’s comparable to modern fitness apps combined with diet and financing planning apps.
3. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The two biggest challenges are interrelated: First: Keeping the balance between what is possible and what is feasible and being interesting to as many users as possible. Second: The ambitious goal to create an app with lots of functionality, added value and user friendliness that also animates as many users as possible is a costly endeavor. That’s why we started a crowdfunding campaign.
Worldwatchers wants to determine your carbon footprint
4. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?
We’ve already had a lot of positive feedback. Because the app will be free, we hope it will be used by a large number of consumers. That on its own would be a success.
We plan to go live with the Wow app in early 2020. We could then finance ourselves with the use of Worldwatchers. An additional source of income is B2B business in which we advise companies on how to ecologically optimize their manufacturing processes and determine the carbon footprint of their products.
5. What does Munich mean to you?
Two of the five founders are from the Frankfurt area, and two are from the Stuttgart area. So I’m actually a minority. The good infrastructure for young companies speaks in favor of Munich. That includes the district court and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and much more. There are also lots of networking opportunities, for example with the large founder scene, but also with important companies. The latter is particularly active in the field of sustainability, which could make them interesting partners for startups.
6. How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?
From our perspective, two parameters will measure our success. On the one hand, that our Wow app will help cut back on as much CO2 as possible. If that is achieved, we can all be pleased. On the other hand, and despite all altruism, it would of course also be nice for investors and capital markets to share our vision.
We’re convinced that we’re doing something that is necessary. We’re convinced that we’re doing it right. And we’re convinced that this is the perfect point in time. So that means without a doubt: unicorn.
7. Early birds or late risers?
Four of us are definitely early birds. Jonas is the only one who usually goes to bed when others are getting up.