Since the 1970s, American consumption has grown by 400%. An increase in wealth and purchasing power has allowed the population to reach new levels of comfort and entertainment. But unfortunately, every good consumed has an impact on the environment. Manufacturing products requires large quantities of water in many industries and is responsible for massive greenhouse gas emissions.
While unsustainable goods, such as those produced by the fast fashion brand SHEIN, have a negative environmental impact, they still receive billions of dollars from investors. SHEIN recently raised $1 billion at a $100 billion valuation. By encouraging younger generations to repeatedly buy cheap, low-quality clothes and follow rapidly changing trends, the company generated $9.8 billion in revenue in 2020. In France, 22% of young women’s greenhouse gas emissions now come from SHEIN alone. As a consequence of rapidly changing trends and short-lived products, a third of young women consider clothes worn just once or twice to be old.
Fortunately, there are several solutions to help keep consumption at comfortable levels while reducing its negative impact on the environment. One option is to create long-lasting and sustainable goods. Products such as the jeans sold by SLO, which is now raising on Wefunder, are sold at higher prices than SHEIN products, but they’re also personalized and built to last. PANGEA Movement offers customers a lifelong repair service for its jackets, which are made out of recycled plastics. PANGEA Movement also uses bamboo to create sustainable towels and water bottles. MINNA, also raising online this month, offers sustainable, high-quality homeware goods while providing fair wages to artisans.
Secondhand offerings are also a solution to fight against clothing waste. Vinted, valued at $4.5 billion, and Craigslist, with yearly revenues of $760 million, are online platforms where consumers can exchange used goods at discounted prices. This is the model that the startup Sea N’ Soul, raising on Fundify, follows. The company specializes in the sale of outdoor secondhand goods.
Sustainable and secondhand goods are cheaper in the long run, and they cause drastically less pollution than newer, cheaper, and more disposable items. In the coming years, revenue from fast fashion is expected to drop by 10% to 30%. In the meantime, companies like Patagonia, with annual sales of $1 billion, are leading the way. And several startups raising online are offering investors the opportunity to generate returns from the sustainability trend.
Today we’re highlighting some of those startups. In May, 19 companies with positive social and environmental impacts started raising online. Keep reading to learn more about these impact-driven startups.
And happy impact investing!
Givsly – Deal to Watch
Profitable corporations have the power to impact communities through donations. And consumers want them to. They believe that products sold by companies giving to charitable organizations are higher in quality. Givsly is a suite of software products that allows businesses to connect their sales and marketing activities with nonprofit donations. Its purpose-driven marketing platform can drive better business results through giving back. Givsly generated gross revenue of $1.2 million in 2021, and its platform activity increased by 10x year over year.
MentalHappy – Neutral
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of anxiety and depression by 25% worldwide. As the demand for mental health services quickly rises, therapists are struggling to keep up — and suffering from burnout. Digital tools may be a way to help therapists support each other and their patients. MentalHappy is a platform that helps therapists hold group support sessions, collect fees, communicate with their groups, and more. The product is already used by licensed doctors and health professionals across the US, and MentalHappy has signed a partnership with a leading cancer patient recovery program.
Small businesses account for 44% of US economic activity and two-thirds of new jobs. But with small revenue flows and few credit opportunities, small businesses struggle to find financing. Kountable has developed a business-to-business marketplace that quickly unlocks trade opportunities. Its network helps finance transactions between small businesses and wholesalers. The marketplace promotes sustainable trade and gets large-scale impact projects over the finish line. Kountable has completed $70 million in contract sales in five years, resulting in $3.8 million in revenue.
Small Business Support
Localvore has developed a scalable platform to connect conscious consumers with local restaurants. The platform supports local restaurants and local food producers for free and includes a social feed. Through its “Everyone Eats” program, Localvore also helps people in need of food order free food from associated restaurants.
Intentionalist has developed a platform to connect consumers with small and diverse businesses. Intentionalist’s business directory features a wide range of companies, including Asian-owned, Black-owned, Latinx-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ-owned, and woman-owned businesses. The platform directs consumer spending toward a more inclusive economy.
To help small businesses gain online visibility, Beeotto has built a subscription-based digital ad agency for Main Street merchants. The platform offers digital advertising and cross-marketing (a method in which brands work together to reach their goals) exclusively for small businesses. Beeotto aims to help small businesses compete with corporate giants on equal footing.
PANGEA Movement – Neutral
PANGEA Movement is creating carbon-negative products that regenerate the environment with each purchase. PANGEA’s products include bamboo towels and jackets made entirely out of recycled plastic. At the same time, the company is removing waste from rivers using river barriers and planting mangroves to offset carbon dioxide emissions.
MINNA is a housewares brand that makes sustainable and handmade products in collaboration with traditional artisans. MINNA’s goods are ethically made by master artisans in Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay, and Bolivia. These artisans are paid 3.8x the fair wages of their countries.
Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion
MINWO has created a community-as-a-service platform to prioritize Black business development. The digital ecosystem helps to create generational wealth by scaling Black businesses. It connects businesses to each other, experts, resources, and capital.
To help bridge the pay gap for influencers of color, TipSnaps has developed a Black-owned platform focused on creators of color and underserved fans. The platform promotes creators of color who are often overlooked by other platforms, and it empowers fans to request the content they want. TipSnaps makes weekly payouts to creators, offers profile customization and crowdfunding for content, and has a monthly upload guarantee for fans.
Laminar Scientific is a revolutionary wave energy company that aims to innovate renewable energy tech for coastal communities. Laminar Scientific’s go-to-market wave energy product is a nearshore microgram solution that could reduce energy costs.
PurposeEnergy has developed solutions that transform food and beverage manufacturing waste into renewable energy, clean water, and fertilizer. PurposeEnergy’s solutions reduce the cost of waste remediation and produce carbon-neutral biogas (an eco-friendly energy source) to replace fossil fuels.
Victor Energy is working on developing thin-film solar technology for industrial buildings. Victor Energy’s technology takes advantage of the rooftop spaces on industrial buildings. This helps warehouses and communities power themselves while eliminating the need for solar farmland.
Food and Agriculture
To bring more quality vegan products to the market, Venganza Foods sells authentic plant-based Mexican food. All of its meats are made from tofu skin or vegetables, and all its cheeses are soy-based.
Vegpal has created a community-building platform to help vegans around the world connect and share their experiences. Vegpal’s social media app helps vegans meet like-minded people, share vegan products and content, and more.
To reduce food waste, The Conscious Pet makes healthy dog food by upcycling kitchen food scraps in Austin, Texas. The food scraps are gently cooked to kill pathogens and increase the bioavailability of amino acids. Thus, human food waste is converted into nutritious dog food that is easy to serve and easy to store.
World Tree – First Stage Investor startup recommendation
World Tree is teaming up with farmers and investors to produce sustainable timber. Its empress splendor trees reach maturity in just 10 years and regenerate after harvesting. The trees will be sold at maturity, transformed into long-lasting materials to store carbon, and used in several industries, such as construction. Investors will receive a share of the profit generated by the company.
Health and Medicine
CAO Pharmaceuticals is developing a treatment for cancer with less constraints than chemotherapy. The company specializes in oral and non-toxic cancer treatment options using camptothecin (CPT). The company is testing a CPT derivative, CZ48, for toxicity and efficacy against cancers of the bladder, breast, kidney, lungs, ovary, pancreas, and prostate.
EV Semi-Fleet aims to electrify the trucking industry with its fleet of all-electric Tesla semi-trucks. The technology will eliminate dependence on oil and fluctuating oil prices. EV Semi-Fleet hopes to make transportation safer, more reliable, and more efficient.
Wall Street has Morningstar, S&P, and Bloomberg
The equity crowdfunding market has KingsCrowd.
About: Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau
Léa is passionate about impact investing and sustainability. Prior to KingsCrowd, she worked for Stanford’s accelerator, StartX, helping to select the most promising entrepreneurs. She also led the first award-winning study on the Malawian startup ecosystem. In her free-time, she volunteers to help entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Brazil and Colombia. Léa holds a degree in Anthropology from France and is currently enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program.