Get to know Canopey - Techstars Sustainability Paris Accelerator

Oct 31, 2023

Abrar Rauf (CTO) | Hugo Douglas-Deane (CMO) | Thomas Panton (CEO)

Canopey is the Home for Buying Better. Verified, sustainable products, and access to powerful impact stats to make buying better easier for everyone.

1. Describe the problem/the industry that you are trying to mediate (and precise the UN SDG-s you are solving).

Fast fashion retailers and cheap plastic products are wrecking our planet and choking our waterways. We need to buy better. But big retailers are consistently greenwashing, misleading the very people who are trying to do their bit. It's left nearly half of consumers finding it too complicated to even try to shop sustainably.

Shopping sustainably is a confusing mess. Shoppers have to look across different websites, apps and platforms – all of which are trying to solve different parts of the problem. Checking green claims, learning about how to make swaps, buying sustainable products, and finally tracking your impact accurately are all separate and difficult to do.

We’re primarily tackling Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and Goal 13 (Climate Action), leading to Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). That being said, the great thing about working with a huge variety of impact-driven brands is there are several other SDGs we are working towards, and we’re also forging partnerships with charities which mean we’re tackling goals like 14 (Life Below Water), Goal 15 (Life On Land), and Goal 5 (Gender Equality).

2. How did the idea to create the company come to mind? How did your team come to be?

Forget Jeff Bezos starting Amazon in a garage – Canopey was founded in a field! After the better half of a decade campaigning for Greenpeace and working in the events industry, our founder and CEO Thomas Panton was working with co-founder Hugo Douglas-Deane at a music festival.

We’d already spent a decade bringing thousands into the climate change movement. Now we were getting our hands dirty by (literally!) preventing waste from going into the incinerator. Thomas had founded the first company in the UK that was paid to collect and upcycle waste at the end of festivals and events.

We were stood in a sea of plastic waste at the end of a festival, angry that not enough was being done to stop the world filling with junk. We had pulled together a team of amazing people and ended up collecting hundreds of tents and camping equipment. But we were trying to solve the symptoms of a bigger problem: we need to buy better to begin with! So we started working on something bigger – we started Canopey, to help make buying better easier for everyone.

3. Why did you choose to participate in the Paris Techstars accelerator program? What are you looking forward to the most?

From the very beginning of our journey we had the ambition of joining Techstars – but we also knew the time had to be right. We’re picky with accelerators and have always chosen them based on addressing a specific focus for the business, when we needed it.

We’ve now officially launched the platform and are preparing to raise Seed investment in Q1, so now is the perfect time for us to be part of this incredible programme. Being surrounded by an international cohort of the most exciting companies building solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges is really pushing us to up our game and get super focused. It’s also supercharging our work as we build our market-leading tech, with Techstars’ focus on tech and its unparalleled network getting us into meetings with the world’s leading minds.

We have an ambitious growth plan so we were looking for a partner to ride this journey with us and reap the rewards from it too – Techstars is the perfect partner.

4. What are you the most proud of in your initial journey with your company?

Despite only having officially launched in late September, the impact we have already measured with the Canopey Calculator – which allows customers to see and track the impact they have by choosing better products on Canopey – is nothing short of momentous.

At the time of writing our community has already saved 1,265 kg CO2e, 614 kg plastic waste, and 190,899 litres of water waste. That’s the CO2 equivalent of 1,782 miles driven, 3,961 barbies worth of plastic, and 1,061 bathtubs of water. We’ve also planted more than 13,629 trees, and funded 39 tonnes CO2e avoidance projects as part of our partnership with Ecologi. This includes projects that distribute cleaner cooking stoves, funding wind power projects, and peatland restoration.

5. How do you plan to measure the positive impact of your company in the next 5 years?

Our Canopey Calculator is the most direct and measurable way we can see our positive impact. As a marketplace, our impact doesn’t just reside in what servers and office we use, it’s dependent on the brands and products we sell, so this is the main way we measure our impact.

As a startup with sustainability and impact at the absolute heart of what we’re doing – we include our impact metrics from the Calculator in all our investor updates, and seeing these numbers rack up has been incredibly rewarding, not just for us but for the people who are backing us. We can’t wait to see that add up over the next five years, as we enter an exciting growth period for Canopey, building the UK’s Home For Buying Better into The World’s Home For Sustainable Living.

Knowing that we’re preventing massive amounts of emissions and waste, and helping people live with lower impact, gives us a higher mission and a large goal for the business.

For the latest news on our applications, please visit our page.