My Startup: eevie
eevie is an eco habit tracker that is designed to help you improve your carbon impact by making small changes every day.
It's a community-based platform with the ambition of getting people to work together, one habit at a time, to build a sustainable future for everyone.
We spoke to Tono Willms to find out more about why he and his colleagues get together to create eevie...
Founders: Antonius (Tono) Willms, Raphael Ferretti and Lennart Paar
Why did you start eevie?
We started working on eevie because our time is running out and because we did not want to just sit there waiting for “someone else” to solve the climate problem.
Having had this conviction, we quickly realized that this is more easily said than done... Just looking at ourselves as an example; even though we cared so much about the environment, we failed daily to live up to our own expectations. We still drove everywhere in our cars or flew around the world, our homes were flooded with plastic waste and our pantries stocked with exotic food. We were having heated discussions about the importance of renewable energies while heating our homes with oil. It was all talk and little action, and the three of us understood that this could not continue.
We, therefore, started spending a lot of time trying to understand what was preventing us, and so many other people, from living more sustainable lives. We soon came to realize that we were lacking actionable guidance to help us change our behaviour, and most importantly, clarity why every little action matters.
Tell us more about the company?
eevie is a pro-active eco-guide that can help anyone live a more mindful and sustainable life. eevie helps us make small changes on a daily basis by nudging us with actionable information in the right moments and by giving immediate feedback on how making conscious decisions affects our carbon footprint.
With eevie, we want to make being an eco-warrior as easy as counting your steps. We developed an amazing system that uses machine learning to understand our behaviour, such as whether we are shopping, eating out or commuting to work. This way we could carefully design eevie to suit everyone's individual lifestyle and give useful guidance when we need it instead of giving generic, and out of place, solutions.
By doing so, eevie instantly helps anyone gain a greater sense of awareness about their environment, and over time helps us adopt new habits to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It makes it really easy to recycle, reuse bags, cups and bottles, shop local, organic and seasonal food, eat less meat or adopt a plant-based diet, be water and energy-aware, waste less, go plastic or package-free, compost at home, understand labels and travel sustainably.
We believe that our technology has the power to bring together a global community of people and empower them to change their ways, giving every individual the ability to contribute meaningfully in protecting our environment.
What exciting updates have happened recently?
The most exciting update is that, after a couple of years of beta testing and development, and so many alterations, we have finally arrived at a point where eevie is ready to be launched.
We did a soft launch and the reception was just amazing. eevie is being downloaded all over the world, from the US over Europe to Russia and Asia! This really reflects that the environmental movement is global and that society is ready for change.
What are your aims for the next year?
Our goal for next year is to become the leading guide for sustainability. Our focus will be to give people the power to act and therefore contribute meaningfully in fighting climate change.
This means that we need to move beyond the point where we are the creators of actionable information towards giving users that ability. Essentially we want users to share their experiences with each other on how they manage to live more sustainably all over the world and focus our efforts on the most impactful distribution of this knowledge.
What’s been the hardest thing about getting eevie off the ground?
Truthfully there were two equally difficult things about starting eevie.
Firstly, the technical ability to understand user behaviour was and still is a really hard nut to crack and the way that eevie does it has only become possible in the last couple of years through the improvement of smartphone sensor technology and democratization of machine learning knowledge. On top of this, none of us had experience with this kind of technology development before so it was all learning by doing along the way.
Secondly, it was and still is really hard to be taken seriously as a business by investors. One stigma that kept following us on our pursuit of finding investor backing was the idea that one cannot create a successful business while doing something “good”, especially considering this being enabled by software technology.
Even with the very evident market trends and revenue potential, the fact that we wanted to help people live “better” immediately labelled us as an 'NGO-type' charity that would have to rely on philanthropic support. One potential investor even asked us if we were addressing the business side of his brain or his philanthropic side. I must add that we definitely had access to a specific type of Angel Investor and also found that this conception wasn’t equally carried everywhere, but this theme definitely followed us extensively in our fundraising efforts.
Why should more people be using eevie?
Because small changes matter, because time is running out, and because it can be so easy to make a very meaningful impact if we all work together on this by making small changes every day.
Besides this, eevie is just a really beautifully designed, fun and useful app to have. Once you start using eevie, you will immediately notice that sense of awareness about your impact on the environment quickly improves.
The notifications help you identify all the points where you could make more eco-friendly decisions. The impact score helps you understand what difference these decisions make. And over time and with enough repetition, eevie will actually enable you to adopt new habits and ultimately change your lifestyle!
How much will it cost clients to work with you? And why is it worth it?
While eevie is free for any individual to use, anywhere in the world, we definitely plan to partner with sustainable businesses in the near future.
One obvious part of the problem is that people just don’t know about all the amazing products and services that are out there that can help us live more sustainably. We want to solve this problem by enabling sustainable businesses to advertise their solutions on eevie.
Our users are actually using eevie to improve themselves, and are actively looking for solutions to help them do so. Making this connection, especially in the right moments, will hopefully serve as a win for everyone.