Carbon footprint tracking expert Cogo has kicked off a US$20m Series A funding round just weeks ahead of the COP26 UN climate summit.
The impact-led fintech has announced partnerships with several of the world’s 50 largest banks ahead of the raise, including NatWest (UK), CommBank (Australia) and Santander (Spain), as well as world-leading accounting platform Xero. NatWest, a sponsor of the summit, has named Cogo and Microsoft as its technology partners, supporting the bank’s customers to take meaningful action on climate change.
Cogo plans to open up the round to its users in a move that, according to Ben Gleisner, CEO and founder of Cogo, will “place the power of ownership in the hands of those who are creating value for the company. Already, over 300 of our shareholders are staff, customers or users, and we believe that further decentralising our ownership model is simply the right thing to do. Too many tech company ownership models are benefiting only a few; and we want to be a platform owned by, and built for, the people.”
The round has garnered major interest from global impact and Fintech funds and a number of Cogo’s corporate customers, and there is significant follow-on demand from their existing shareholder base.
Gleisner comments: "The investment round was not something we had planned so early, but we simply can’t keep up with the opportunities arriving in our inboxes. With this in mind we are raising funds to help grow our company; decentralise its ownership and, ultimately, scale our impact. Businesses and consumers are looking for greater transparency around their carbon footprint and we’re moving as fast as we can to make Cogo the go-to solution for the world’s largest enterprises.”
Impressive traction driving large-scale change
In August, Cogo announced a first-of-its kind collaboration with Experian (Australia), the world's leading global information services company. This month, it has entered into a partnership with accounting software giant Xero to explore making sustainability easier for SMEs, including understanding, reducing and reporting their own carbon footprint.
“It’s one thing for large businesses to embark on a sustainability journey. It’s quite another for them to invite customers or subscribers to take that journey with them. Now, using Cogo, that second step is easy and will enable us to harness the power of millions of consumers worldwide to make a powerful collective difference,” explains Gleisner.
Cogo’s applications and APIs help consumers and businesses to understand, reduce and offset their carbon footprints, and align their spending with their environmental and social values. The team behind Cogo is based in Wellington (NZ), London (UK), Melbourne (AUS) and New York (USA) but is expanding rapidly as what the company calls the ‘conscious consumerism’ movement grows. Cogo’s API will shortly go live to 8,000,000 NatWest customers, after launching earlier this month with CommBank Australia. Meanwhile it’s app (powered by open-banking and available in the UK) has had over 100,000 downloads.
The impact potential
For NatWest, Cogo enables customers to see the CO2 emissions associated with their daily spending, as well as tips on going greener and resources for doing so. Users log their commitments and behaviour changes in-app in what NatWest calls ‘a UK banking first’. (NatWest) For CommBank, Cogo enables retail customers to view their carbon footprint and offset their previous month’s transactions by purchasing carbon credits. The partnership represents Australia’s first carbon tracking feature (CommBank).
Insights from the NatWest pilot showed the average user saved approximately 11 kg of CO2 emissions per month by committing to behavioural changes that used less carbon – such as composting, reducing meat consumption, or switching utilities providers. If this behaviour was replicated across NatWest’s 8 million customers who use the mobile app, it would save more than 1 billion kg of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to planting 17 million trees.
Gleisner says the Series A funding will be used to invest in the scalability of its product, and launch into the North American, European and Asian markets. Due to early interest, the round is expected to close in early December.
“There’s never been a more important time to impact the world’s carbon footprint by enabling repeatable, purposeful exchanges between the two biggest global contributors to over-consumption: businesses and consumers. That's where real change starts,” concludes Gleisner.