With the SB Innovation Open finals taking place this week at SB ’15 San Diego, we wanted to give you a glimpse of some of the amazing sustainable startups competing this year. From cricket-powered cookies to an app that helps you get the most from your purchases, this year’s crop of SBIO semi-finalists are set to revolutionize their respective industries (see part 1).
A baby deserves the best. This is the principle that guides Baby Hero, an organic baby clothing line founded by two mothers, Allie Wieser and Samar Shaheryar. With small children of their own (and one more on the way!), Wieser and Shaheryar recognized a growing market for organic, fair-trade clothing for children. They also noted the challenges for mothers in developing countries where babies were dying from mostly preventable causes.
Baby Hero’s unique model provides a superior product while also creating a lasting impact on the lives of the most underserved children in the world. The company makes ethically produced, non-toxic baby clothes at a competitive price point around the world — and for every Baby Hero purchase, it donates a neo-natal survival kit to mothers in developing countries, as a part of an international health study funded by notable organizations, including the Gates Foundation.
In a world of instant gratification, where consumers are isolated from the impact of their choices, people often find it hard to know how they positively impact their surroundings. Treedom creates an opportunity to change the world by helping consumers understand the CO2 impact of their lifestyle, get recommendations on how to plant their own tree, track its impact, see it wherever it has been planted on Google Maps.
Users begin by “planting” a tree for a nominal fee. A farmer will then plant and take care of your tree for you. Then you can enter in information about your daily lifestyle to see how much of an impact you have on CO2 emissions and change how you operate. Treedom makes it easy for anyone, anywhere, anytime to make a positive impact on the environment.
Plug Solar (Veeyah)
Imagine if someone told you that you could individually choose the kind of power you use to charge your laptop, or your phone. This is exactly what Plug Solar does.
One of the biggest challenges with renewable energy is that it involves a large-scale implementation at a significant cost. Though there are subsidies and programs, most participants often end up simply contributing into the grid, pulling in energy from unknown sources. Plug Solar’s Sun Port is designed and programmed with bluetooth communications and energy consumption metrics technology to communicate with an app on your phone and other servers. You can put the port into any plug, then attach your device to it. The device then communicates credits from solar right into the Sun Port and matches your device’s energy use against the solar energy being fed into the Port. The app is a gamified method of engaging users in a friendly competition of who extracts more solar energy from the grid.
As founder and CEO Paul Drogey, a 20-year veteran of the energy industry, explains: “While the system is complicated, Plug Solar makes it possible for individuals to drive demand for certain types of energy simply by choosing to utilize the Sun Port. The technology in the port takes care of all of the back end. It’s an extremely easy-to-use plug that makes solar energy accessible and usable for any type of consumer.”
In the U.S., there is an estimated $7,000 worth of unused items in a person’s home, with $24 billion per year spent on self-storage — that adds up to seven square feet of self-storage for every man, woman and child in the U.S. alone.
After extensive startup experience with companies such as MusicNet, RealNetworks and Getaround, John Atcheson and Steve Gutmann wanted to “change the way [the world] interacts with things; to change the way things are treated once things are purchased, you have to get it into the system right.”
Their solution, Stuffstr, is an app that encourages resale of items no longer in use, by creating a closed-loop data system of your belongings so that you know what you have, what you don’t need, and what to do with it. Through partnerships with retailers, the app logs manufacturer data about items that you purchase and tracks their resale value; it then provides instructions on how to fix items if they break; and connects you with methods of selling, donating, or responsibly disposing of products at the end of their life.
The world cannot continue to accommodate our current consumption of animal production, nor the rate at which we grow wheat for agriculture. Inspired by the growing challenge of feeding an ever-increasing population of people without using traditional protein sources, Miller and Ziegler founded Bitty Foods, which has created a line of delicious baked goods comprised of a protein-rich flour, full of Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, made from crickets. Unlike most other sources of protein, cricket flour is highly sustainable, using only about one gallon of water per unit, without any grain (gluten-free), and no processed sugars. Finally, the flour — made without any dairy products so it’s likely digestible for everyone — is used to create a wide variety of delicious Bitty cookies (stop by the SBIO booth at the Target Lounge this week to try some!).
The United Nations estimates that through the adoption of insects as a routine component of the world’s diet, greenhouse gases can be reduced by 18 percent with an additional 33 percent discount on food prices.