My Startup: Giki App

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Giki is a mobile app that encourages users to live more sustainably by cutting their own environmental impact. 

The app informs people about the environmental impact of UK supermarket products, enabling them to make more environmentally conscious decisions when shopping. 

There is a range of badges associated with products within the app, ranging from symbols representing Greener cosmetics, Healthier Options, Responsibly sourced, no animal testing and so on.  

Founders: Jo and James Hand

Founded: 2017

Website: gikibadges.com

We spoke to Jo to find out more about the app. 

Jo Hand, Co-founder of Giki

Why did you start Giki? 

We set up Giki Social Enterprise to help everyone reduce their environmental impact. We believe human impacts on our planet are too great and we provide a simple, easy-to-use, free app that helps you understand what’s in the products you use, and what impact they have on the planet.

Our aim is to empower people to make sustainable choices by providing independent, easy to access, transparent information.

What makes the Giki app different from other similar companies?

We provide sustainability, health and ethical information for 280,000 UK supermarket products covering fourteen areas including  carbon footprint; sustainable palm oil, responsible sourcing, healthiness, animal welfare and better packaging. 

This information is delivered through our free mobile app. This simplicity is possible because we have built a comprehensive supermarket product dataset which we analyse with a series of algorithms rating products in near real-time. This covers branded and own-label goods including Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op, Asda and Sainsbury’s.   

Our aim is to make it really easy for everyone, at no cost, to understand the impacts of our decisions, so they can make informed choices.

We haven’t found anyone else providing the service we provide, but there are lots of other great apps providing services around environmental issues, for example, Olio, the Food Waste app and Drivy, a car-sharing app. There are lots of innovations in providing support to live more sustainably. Thankfully!

We are also really pleased to work with many charities and NGOs who are also encouraging more sustainably, healthy and ethical living, for example, WWF, Soil Association, RSPCA Assured and Breast Cancer UK. 

Some of the badges associated with products on the app

What exciting updates have happened recently?

Giki’s brand new hero badge has just gone live. It is a quick and easy way to identify the most sustainable, healthy products in a UK supermarket. If you decided to choose a basket of hero products, over a regular shopping basket, you’d be able to cut your environmental impact on food and drink by 20-30%!

This is important as 25% of our total environmental impact, as individuals, comes from what we eat and drink.

What were your aims early on?

We were aiming for 10,000 downloads in our first year and we’re delighted that we have nearly doubled that since launch in May 2018.

We wish to continue to help everyone reduce their environmental impact in all the areas we have control over, so alongside the Giki app on supermarket shopping, we are also working on tools to help people understand and cut their impact across the totality of our lifestyles.

As individuals, we have the potential to make a real difference, both in terms of our actions and in terms of working with our communities. We work with schools, universities and other communities to help people live more sustainably.

 

Users can easily look up the impact of products whilst shopping on the app

What’s been the hardest thing about getting Giki off the ground?

Of course, every day has challenges and things to celebrate, and we always try to celebrate the successes, as there are plenty of things to worry about!

Access to data and analysis is a huge task, which my co-founder (and husband) James undertakes in painstaking detail. This is a crucial part of what we do and without this, Giki wouldn’t be possible. It is a matter of unearthing numerous different data sources and then analysing them and building models to draw out the key information for consumers to be able to make informed choices.

Access to capital to fund the technology is also tough. As a social enterprise, with our social purpose front and centre of everything we do, this can limit the places we can find funding and it means we have to be really creative in terms of getting things done on small budgets! We have also been lucky to find support from a small group of committed funders who see the social importance of what we do.

Why should more people be using Giki?

Giki is a totally free way to understand the products we buy and to find out what impacts they are having on the environment and on our health.

Giki is here to make it easy to shop sustainably. We believe we can all reduce our environmental impact one step at a time and play a part in protecting the planet for now and for future generations. 

How much will it cost people to use? and why is it worth it? 

Using Giki is totally free. We work with lots of partners and individuals in many different ways. We have lots of amazing volunteers who want to get involved because they believe in our mission.

Our aim is to spread the word and make it easy for everyone to live sustainably. Please get in touch if you want to get involved!