12 of 2022’s most exciting sustainable start-ups
Each year, Virgin StartUp runs the Collective Impact Programme, bringing together some of the most exciting sustainable start-ups from across the UK to help them scale and thrive.
Collective Impact is run in partnership with Crowcude, and with support from Tribe First, Capital Pilot, Finerva and Marlborough House Partners. It’s a six-week course to help UK start-ups that want to create positive change in the world and are ready to accelerate their growth through equity crowdfunding.
Let’s meet the 2022 cohort:
30 Minute Chat
30 Minute Chat was launched by Anup Mehta to help people looking for career advice to access high-profile professionals. It removes the need to network, or send a cold message, and helps people to go further – in the time it takes to have a coffee.
After having a preventative mastectomy in her twenties, Eleanor Howie found it difficult to find suitable underwear that she loved. Not wanting other young women to go through the same experience, she founded Valiant Lingerie. The start-up creates beautiful lingerie that is also functional for women who have been through the same surgery.
Eleanor said: “I applied for Collective Impact because I was excited about a programme designed with impact and purpose at its heart. We live in a world that is facing significant social and environmental challenges and I feel so strongly that businesses need to increasingly be a force for good. Starting a business in 2020 has been challenging and I believe that the support of the Collective Impact programme is a real game-changer for purpose-driven businesses. I am really looking forward to working with the incredible experts involved in the programme to really refine our understanding of the investment landscape and, ultimately, scale our positive impact.”
Aquoprotein founder Xiaobin Zhao was part of a team that invented a carbon-neutral adhesive product called Cambond. Xiaobin discovered a new application for Cambond’s products: aquatic protein growing modules. This led him to found Aquoprotein in collaboration with the Lim Shrimp Organisation.
Aquoprotein has developed modules built from agricultural waste that grow sea-cucumber protein in a green and efficient way – helping to reduce the carbon emissions from the food production industry.
Angel Watch Company
The Angel Watch is a child-safe cellular GPS smartwatch. It was created to be fun for kids and a device to help parents keep their children safe.
The Angel Watch Company was founded by Alex Clavel when he realised how his young twins could operate his iPhone before they could even feed themselves. They set out to create a product that uses the best of cellular technology, and is highly restricted, controllable, safe, and allows parents to see and know everything.
Following the tragic loss of his grandmother due to a fall at home, Kelvin Summoogum founded MiiCare and devoted his life to preventing such a thing from happening to others. He spent over a year working closely with a group of older people from lunch clubs and churches to understand the pain points and then worked backward towards a solution – MiiCube, the AI-based assistive technology.
Kevin spent a lot of time understanding why other assistive technologies hadn’t gained traction. He understood that he needed to develop something which is ‘person-centred’, simple to use, and adapts to the older users and not the other way round. He needed to design something which interacts with them as a companion. This approach underpins all the innovations taking place at MiiCare.
Gusto Snacks makes air-dried snacks using “wonky fruit” that would otherwise end up in landfill because it is rejected by retailers for not being the right shape, size or colour. Founded by Giuseppe Baidoo and Claudio Owusu, Gusto Snacks is helping to reduce food waste – and also the carbon impact of snacking.
StoriBoard is on a mission to encourage the sharing of life experiences for a better world. When faced with tough situations in life, it can be helpful to talk to someone who has been through something similar. StoriBoard makes it easy to find others like you, form connections and build supportive communities – all through sharing authentic, human stories.
Tiwani Heritage was founded two years ago with a focus on recyclable hair extensions – specifically for women who like to wear their hair in curly or afro styles. Founders Carol and Lola knew that there was a lack of options in the UK for these products so they launched with 16 different styles that could all be recycled.
Carol said: “I initially applied to Virgin StartUp for an approved start-up loan but also gained a support system and a strong community of entrepreneurs, experts and mentors. The Collective Impact accelerator was the natural progression to help equip us to grow and scale our business. The programme is fully comprehensive with credible and inspiring contributors and facilitators. I feel incredibly honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to gain the tools to hopefully launch a successful campaign.”
Greenr is a one-stop shop for planet-friendly products – from kitchenware to cleaning products. It’s aiming to take the pain out of finding genuinely sustainable products as everything on the platform will need to meet certain criteria. That way, every time you buy something on Greenr you know you’re making a difference and reducing your environmental impact.
OHMG has developed a number of beverages that address magnesium deficiency – something that many people are affected by. Every can of OHMG contains 60mg of magnesium – about as much as an avocado. The drinks are infused with fruit extracts, flavours and botanicals, to provide an amazingly tasty range of drinks that deliver real benefits, including reducing stress, improving sleep and easing anxiety.
Satatland Circular Fashion
Satatland creates sustainable fashion with a vision to see a positive change in the industry, by connecting producers, buyers, and the natural world. Karishma founded Satatland with her dream to create a zero-compromise fashion brand, beautiful, sustainable and ownership-free. She has seen the negative environmental impacts of fast fashion with her own eyes in different countries. Because of what she has experienced, she decided to put an end to the madness and start Satatland.
Satatland users have the freedom to shop based on how often they repeat outfits. They also have the choice to rent or buy, and they save more than money.
Stocked offers nutritious, chef-cooked award-winning meals with a difference. The meals are frozen into blocks to give consumers the freedom to choose how they want to serve them – and how much of a portion they want to use at one time. The fact that blocks stack so well in the freezer also means it’s easier to organise – and Stocked has committed to always having at least a 50% plant-based menu.
Previous success stories from Virgin StartUp’s Collective Impact programme include OxWash, a sustainable laundry company, which is re-engineering the laundry process to reverse the sector’s adverse impact on the planet. The company completed the programme in 2021 and raised £500,000 in 15 hours on Crowdcube – twice its initial target. The company has gone on to secure more than £5 million in private investment, including support from Holly Branson. In total, 70 businesses have completed the programme so far, raising more than £17 million in funding.
Visit Virgin StartUp to find out more.