There are occasions when Sara Smeath and I are so organised, we manage to get the kids to bed on time and remember to put a bottle of white in the fridge. These nights usually drag on into the early hours while we are discussing our next great startup idea. Some of them are actually pretty good. Those billion-dollar ideas live in a dusty, dogeared stack of A4 pages on my desk under the coffee cups.
But there was always this one idea that kept popping up by the third glass. Remember the waste you saw while visiting those factories overseas? Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a Tinder for trash where you could swap your waste as a resource? It’s the circular economy, made simple. The world needs this.
Startups are born out of a desire to solve a problem. For as long as I can remember, Sara had this problem on her mind because she saw it happening all over the world. And it’s a seriously big problem.
We’re collectively sending two billion tonnes of waste to landfill every year. Globally, a third of all food is lost or wasted before it even reaches the table. Maybe I’m not looking hard-enough, but it seems to me like the discussion around the climate crisis wasn’t particularly focused on waste.
So now was the perfect time to see if our solution could be put to work.
In March this year we created CiRCLR, the matchmaking platform that simplifies circular economies for businesses. We reduce waste going to landfill, create transparency for consumers and stop greenwashing. It was good stuff. We believed in the idea so much that we pitched it to KOKIRI and Creative HQ at the same time and got accepted into both of their startup programmes.
It was incredibly hard to have to turn away from Saara Tawha and her team as we went with CHQ into the Climate Response Accelerator. With the guidance of Ben Hamm Conard and Tian Wu and everyone involved in the wider NZ startup ecosystem like Saara, Aisha Ross and Andy Hamilton, we grew this simple idea into the CiRCLR solution we have today.
Since then, we have made some enormous leaps. Jeffrey Ling invited us to be a part of the Ministry of Awesome incubator, expanding our support network. He introduced us to the Orion Energy Accelerator along with Mike Brown, Zach Warder-Gabaldon, Chris Bacon and the whole team from Orion NZ Ltd who are helping us turn waste into sustainable energy. We even got to catch up with our mates Matthew Jackson and Harmaan Raj Madon!
But behind the scenes, we had another opportunity brewing.
Way back then when CiRCLR was only a few weeks old, we pitched to the The CivTech Alliance, a program founded by Alexander Holt to get the best sustainable startup tech in front of government decision makers all over the world. With the help of our Aron Hausler, our trans-tasman Kiwi rep from the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science, we have participated in ten intensive weeks of 2am conferences to listen, learn and pitch CiRCLR to global governments and investors who want to make an impact.
All of this was leading up to the big event: COP27. The United Nations Climate Conference, conveniently held 16,000 kilometres away in Egypt. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss, which is why we are asking for your support.
If startups are famous for two things, it’s making founders billionaires after a decade of living in destitution. Fortunately for us we aren’t quite there yet, but getting to Egypt moves CiRCLRs runway closer to the edge of a cliff, right as we are about to take off. But it’s a gamble we think will pay off because it all comes back to the big issue: we all have to live with the waste we make, so we better start doing something about it.
So help us make a real impact with CiRCLR. Show your support by sharing this post and/or donating a little bit to our GoFundMe. We have explored all other options, but this was it. Every contribution will go towards making a lasting impact on reducing waste sent to landfill.
The waste problem is too big to ignore. We stopped thinking about it over a glass of wine months ago. Now the problem is on our mind full time.