Startup Spotlight: Carbon Cash

Carbon Cash gives students the chance to change their energy habits and earn rewards at the same time. The app offers a fun and innovative way to educate college students on the amount of energy they use on a daily basis. The “behavioral energy efficiency app” tracks the amount of energy being used by students…

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Carbon Cash gives students the chance to change their energy habits and earn rewards at the same time. The app offers a fun and innovative way to educate college students on the amount of energy they use on a daily basis.

The “behavioral energy efficiency app” tracks the amount of energy being used by students in campus housing, gives feedback on how to conserve energy and offers rewards that users can redeem at local businesses. Rewards are earned when the amount of energy used by a building is less than the projected monthly amount. The app will offer comparisons to other users and educational materials to help students begin forming positive habits.

Founded:

In March 2013 by Patrick Schmitz, Jon Bauer, and Bernie Eisbrenner

Where the idea came from?

Bernie has always been interested in business but knew he also wanted to do something worthwhile. He decided on environmental studies as a major and he began to notice how his friends used electricity. Since they didn’t pay for it, they didn’t have an incentive to use less, and they had no idea how much they were wasting.

It started as an idea for an intro to sustainability class, and they were encouraged to take it out of the classroom. They decided to include businesses in their plan since most companies advertising to students are trying to be environmentally friendly. It made sense to ask students to reduce their carbon footprint in exchange for a type of currency to these businesses.

Problem They are Trying to Solve?

They are trying to make students conscious of the effects their consumption has on the environment.

What’s Exciting About the Problem?

Energy use is a huge problem and Bernie is excited about the chance to introduce students to the problem while they are in a time of personal development and forming habits. The beliefs and habits they pick up now will go with them the rest of their lives so it’s a great time to let them know how they are impacting the environment and what they can do about it. As the world begins to realize how they are negatively impacting the environment, Carbon Cash can show students how they fit in and give them the knowledge to do something as they head out into the world.

Exciting opportunities in the industry?

Bernie says there’s a huge opportunity in energy in general, especially with smart grids coming online. The way the world sees and tracks electricity is changing. There are many ways to use and value renewable energy, and as the energy landscape keeps changing there’s going to be a ton of disruption and opportunities.

Funding?

So far Carbon Cash has been using funds from competitions and grant money. They are looking to take out a loan or find a pre-seed investment.

What advice do you have for young or new entrepreneurs looking to get started?

Bernie advises others to be open to advice and to never be afraid to reach out. He also says, “You have to be the one that brings the confidence to every engagement or they won’t take you seriously or be excited to meet you.” He says that confidence will make things happen and take you further and that it led to Carbon Cash having two customers before they even had a product.

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