By Param Jaggi and Jonny Cohen
Param Jaggi (20 years old) and Jonny Cohen (19 years old) were first introduced to CEF members during a “rising stars” panel discussion at the 2013 Annual Meeting. The two have been designing and building green technologies since the age of 13. After meeting through the Forbes “30 Under 30: Energy” list, they founded Ecoviate to build the sustainable future that they want to see.
Whether it’s a billboard of a polar bear or the most recent documentary highlighting global pollution, we see sustainability initiatives all around us. Even walking around our college campus, we can’t help but notice the vibrant recycling signs, the constant protesting by activists, or even the vague—yet very inspirational—statistics written on posters all over the place.
Plain and simple: being “green” has become a fad.
Don’t get us wrong—we’re environmentalists at heart. What we fail to understand is that if all of these initiatives are in place, why hasn’t it translated into a cleaner and more sustainable planet? We surmise that even though proper publicity has surrounded these efforts, the incentive structures just aren’t in place for wide-scale change. Until we understand what drives an individual to make a decision and align those incentives with the sustainability initiatives, being “green” will always be a fad and not a commonplace ideology.
This problem became the focal point of our company. A few years ago we founded Ecoviate, and we originally set out to be a green product company. We thought up a few products, including a device that reduces carbon emissions from cars and another that makes school buses more aerodynamic. As we went through the typical process of bringing hardware technologies to the marketplace, we soon realized that the concept of “sustainability” could be so much more than just a few singular products that environmentalists would love to have.
Being full-time students, we went back to the drawing board to pinpoint why young people aren’t incentivized to live more sustainably. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the two things that drive most individuals:
- Monetary Incentives: We typically try to find the best deal to extend our dollar as far as possible.
- Personal Reputation: We are constantly trying to project the best versions of ourselves, whether through our resumes, social media, or clothing.
Why can’t living a sustainable life encompass both of these traits? That was our problem in hand, and after many sleepless nights, we think we may have come up with the perfect solution. Over the past two months, we have been designing and coding our upcoming flagship product: the Ecoviate app. The app, which will be available on both iOS and Android, incentivizes people to live more sustainably with monetary discounts from stores and brands.
Here’s how it works: Snap a picture of something eco-friendly or sustainable (recycling, carpooling, etc.). Post it directly to your Facebook or Twitter account from the app. Redeem discounts from popular stores or brands.
We have created a business model where everyone wins: consumers using the app boost both their wallets and their eco-friendly reputations; companies providing discounts promote pre-existing promotions, while allocating their brand to a sustainable initiative. Even more, to satisfy the pure environmentalist inside of us, we have partnered with a reforestation organization to plant one tree for every download of the app.
You may be wondering why we are talking about the app before we launch in October? Well, we need your help.
To make this app a reality, we want to give our users discounts to stores and brands that already have sustainability initiatives in place. Because the Ecoviate team spoke at the 2013 Corporate Eco-Forum event as “rising stars” in the industry, we thought to reach out to the CEF community first.
We are believers that if you do something the right way, with the right intentions, then others will follow. At Ecoviate, we are passionate about making sustainability economical and fun—we only hope that our upcoming app can hasten the arrival of the inevitable green movement. Throughout this entire process, we have learned a lot about sustainability, human nature, design, programming, and midnight coffee runs. But the most important thing that we’ve learned is that no singular app or product will shift the “green” fad into a commonplace ideology—it will require a valiant effort from us all.
If you are interested in learning more about partnering with the Ecoviate app to provide product discounts to customers and ultimately change the way our society thinks about sustainability, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.ecoviate.com.