Greencent: Sustainable Marketing and Rewards All in One

Greencent has developed a loyalty system to save CO2. With the app, users receive greencents as a reward for CO2 savings, which they can use to purchase products from partner businesses. We spoke with Enée Bussac, founder of Greencent, about his impact startup.

Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem are you solving? 

Enée Bussac, Greencent: Greencent is a loyalty system that rewards environmental friendliness. Through our app, individuals receive loyalty points. We award points based on the principle of “1 kg of CO2 saved = 1 greencent.” We do so by measuring and reporting our users’ CO2 emissions savings to the benefit of our customers, who are public or private organizations (such as a city). 

We then acquire partner businesses that add value to the greencent by putting listings on our marketplace. That is where our users can spend their greencents. For the businesses, we act as a marketing tool based solely on environmental friendliness. This allows us to help our customers meet their own goals as well as the requirements of European regulation regarding the environment. 

Interview with founder Enée Bussac. 

The less CO2, the more loyalty points 

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!  

Greencent: Many apps reward individuals for being on the move and saving CO2. What differentiates us from these companies is that our rewards are based solely on the most relevant and well-known unit for measuring pollution: CO2. As a result, our system offers three main advantages. The system: 

  • is scientific, because it’s based on the reference figures and measurements of a carbon footprint 
  • is educational, because users receive rewards that are directly linked to their CO2 emission savings 
  • can act as a kind of “compliance tool”: Greencents can be used to comply with the European regulation on commercial emissions. 

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?  

Greencent: At the beginning of 2020, I won an idea competition on payment methods held by the DLD in Munich. That’s what put me on the path of entrepreneurship. After a few months, I met Dénes through an online event for entrepreneurs that was organized by Zero21. We then participated in a few incubation programs in 2021 and won several prizes. Until the end of April, Dénes and I will also be taking part in the Future City Accelerator. I recruited Victor, on the other hand, through the Cofounders Lab in mid 2021. He created our app and backend. The three of us are currently founding the company together. 

Market test with pilot customers  

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?  

Greencent: Like many entrepreneurs, we’ve faced the chicken-and-egg problem several times. Our first challenge was finding a developer. We convinced Victor because I had already piqued the interest of businesses, especially German insurance groups and savings banks, in 2021. We then had as many people as possible test the app Victor developed and found a pilot customer at the same time. With our pilot customer in Austria, we now have to prove that our concept works on both the technical and commercial side before we turn to other customers or investors. 

Munich Startup: How is business going? 

Greencent: We currently have user numbers in the three-digit range and about a dozen businesses that accept our loyalty points – greencents – as a means of payment. We’re currently implementing our product in the Liezen district in Styria. Starting in May, the 80,000 inhabitants of the district will be able to earn greencents through the mobility app Limo (Liezen Mobil) and redeem them with our local partners. Just some partners we’re working with are the national park, a castle and various businesses in the culinary sector. 

At the moment, greencents can only be earned through environmentally friendly mobility: Because Liezen is a rural area, we’re starting with carpooling. Starting this summer, Limo app users will also be able to collect greencents from bus and train trips as well as cycling. Reviving the local economy is an important point for regional management. Our green measurement and reward system can also be adapted to cities and their mobility apps. At the moment, we’re in talks with a major German city as well as with the capital city of Hungary. 

Greencent: Support from the Munich ecosystem is crucial 

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far? 

Greencent: The support from various players in the Munich startup ecosystem was crucial from the very beginning! Thanks to Ebridge Alliance, now ‘Start for Future’ of the SCE of the Munich University of Applied Sciences, we’ve significantly improved our business model and presentations. It was also through the alliance that we found our first co-founders. We were then able to benefit from support from the MGIS. At the end of 2022, I was able to present Greencent at the Munich University of Applied Sciences and established contacts with the Munich city administration. I’m going to keep building Greencent from here in Munich, and hope for future cooperation with the city and the MVG. 

Munich Startup: Outsource it or do it yourself? 

Greencent: That depends on the subject. We had to build the app ourselves, which is why I contacted hundreds of developers through the Cofounders Lab and Linkedin until we found Victor. A graphic designer worked with us in 2022, so we also developed our design in-house after working with a few freelancers from abroad. Otherwise, I like to hire specialists in other areas: a notary and a tax advisor, of course, and also a consultant in the field of data protection. 

The general rule is: Either spend money or expect a lot of work and challenges.