Consumers want to be more sustainable. In fact, 80% of consumers are already making sustainability-based purchase choices. Unfortunately, consumers often encounter many barriers, including findability and affordability, to adopting sustainable behaviors and purchases. A new app from Greencom overcomes these challenges by rewarding consumers for going green.
In this episode of The Understory Podcast, we talk with Christian Mundy, Greencom’s Managing Director. Christian shares how consumers can use the Greencom app to earn cash back on daily purchases and spend it to fund environmental projects in their community. Greencom bridges commerce and sustainability, simplifying how to make purchases and positively impact the environment all at the same time. The platform also creates opportunities for businesses to showcase their support for the environment and local initiatives. Listen in to hear how Greencom is making it easier to live a sustainable lifestyle.
JJ (Host of The Understory Podcast): Hi everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Understory Podcast. Understory is a global community of innovators and entrepreneurs who are building interesting companies in the sustainability space, climate, tech, and so forth.
Today we are thrilled to have Christian Mundy, who is the Managing Director of Greencom, join this episode and talk about what Greencom is building. Welcome to this episode of The Understory Podcast.
Christian, tell us about your background and what do you do at Greencom.
Christian Mundy: Hi JJ. Thanks for having me on. My background is in finance and tech and some real estate. What we do at Greencom is we help individuals green up their purchases and communities by channeling savings from cash back towards local environmental projects that they enjoy and want to support financially or socially.
JJ: Before we talk about the product itself, can you break that further down for our community and the potential users, what's the motivation of creating Greencom? What is the mission of the company?
Christian: The mission is to help individuals engage their environment in a positive way. We wanted to provide incentives to help them live more sustainably, to make more eco-conscious choices. It's often a barrier that people simply don't have the choice to make a more sustainable purchase. Findability is a major concern for people. Affordability is another major concern for people. The Greencom app sets out to solve those two problems to help people live a more sustainable life in their consumption and have that be supported by local businesses.
JJ: Tell us more about how it works. I know Greencom has Green Pay. You talk about cash back and the important thing that you pointed out is that it must be of minimal friction in all aspects for consumers to incorporate this into their daily lives while making a difference. How does this work? How is it designed, and what makes Greencom and Green Pay different?
Christian: A good use case is that someone can make a purchase and buy some coffee with the Greencom app through mobile pay. They can earn cash back instantly within the Greencom app and walk across the street to their favorite park and they can enjoy their coffee and they can swipe to give away the cash back points that they just earned to that local park or project, or environmental initiative or green space.
The app simplifies the process of regularly supporting environmental initiatives. It should be super frictionless and simple for people to do this. Our app has a common listing site for environmental initiatives. It's also a library for people to discover new things that are going on around them that can be hard to discover, including sustainable projects that need support locally. Google is obviously the best resource, and there's some other listing sites to help you find these kinds of things. For the usual person, it's something that they must go out of their way to do. In Greencom we wanted to simplify that for people so that they can more easily discover these things and live more sustainably. It becomes a simpler process for them. The app is ultimately meant to be a big incentive platform so that people don't have to pay extra for sustainable choices and instead channel their cash back towards them.
JJ: I see that through the lens of the consumer. They use Green Pay to purchase at their favorite stores. Consumers earn cash back and usually people just save the cash backs for their next purchase. Here, there is a mechanism for Greencom to facilitate that cash back, so these users can take the cash that they earned to support projects in the sustainability space.
Let's talk about the commercial side. Who are the partners that you're working with, and do they know that their the cash back is going to be used by their customers, your users, to back those green projects?
Christian: We have several national brands that are currently offering cash back opportunities for the users in Greencom. We have hundreds of thousands of local businesses and more local brands that are offering coupons and savings opportunities for users in Greencom, including Barnes and Noble, the NFL Shop, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Those organizations are providing cash back so savings opportunities are available for anybody to access. The organizations that Greencom links with, we can create direct relationships with businesses so that they can also create more targeted offers to the Greencom users. They can directly showcase their sustainability, their support for sustainability through a cash back value or through promotions or campaigns to Greencom users. It's very a public way for them to showcase a little support for the environment from users purchases.
JJ: You have over 200 brands that you're working with for this cash back program. Do you tell them what type of projects that your users and their customers are supporting? What sort of analytics or data do you provide to brands to allow them to understand where their cash back value is being directed in terms of sustainability projects?
Christian: The cash back earned through purchases is available in each individual user’s account to give away. That's an important aspect. The cash back points are available for the user to direct towards any initiative that they'd like to support on Greencom. We have several environmental nonprofits, carbon offsets, and renewable energy certificates that people can purchase to directly offset their carbon. We are looking to include parks and local green spaces at a local government level into the platform. It's a very broad spectrum of environmental initiatives that we're facilitating funding and support for through that user experience.
It becomes the user’s choice on where they want to support and send their money. The brands are supporting via their cash back opportunities which are supporting the user sustainability choices.
JJ: That's interesting, in terms of both the business model and how you're connecting the brands the consumers and the sustainability projects.
How does Greencom pick your projects and partners? Can you give audience the sense of what these projects are that your users choose to back?
Christian: It's all meant to be complementary and not competitive to their existing revenue sources or social support platform systems. Greencom is an additional way in which these businesses can show their support for sustainability. It's a way for environmental organizations to receive funding from their local communities. Most importantly, it's there to help individuals meet their sustainability goals. We want to host as many environmental organizations as possible. People are already supporting these organizations in other ways, and if they can more easily discover them, then that's all the better for them. A rising tide floats all boats. We want to showcase the very specific work that they're doing to provide transparency for people and ease of use and other benefits.
JJ: How do you pick the environmental projects that are on Greencom? Do you have certain criteria to evaluate which environmental projects are relevant and appropriate for Greencom?
Christian: Nonprofits can register through a ‘.org’ email address and create a program account. Individuals can directly support that nonprofit or the nonprofit can create a project page, something that they specifically want to fundraise for, that would have a finite financial goal via a crowdfunding mechanism. Once they reach the goal, they can withdraw the funds to implement the project in their community or wherever. The option to directly support the nonprofits or through a project page as well as purchasing carbon offsets renewable energy certificates. We're also looking to onboard parks and local government spaces and green spaces.
JJ: That's great. How do users usually find out about Greencom and Green Pay? What's the typical path for people or for you to acquire users? Is it through your brand partners? Is it directly from you your own acquisition engine and community?
Christian: We're active in social media marketing to make people aware of Greencom’s presence. We get a lot of support through word of mouth and referrals and things like businesses if they wanted to provide a cash back opportunity through Greencom. Businesses can post a QR code at the table or near the cash register and people can ping that to pay them directly and earn a cash back value there. Even at local green spaces that are supported by Greencom, there is a QR code that will direct people to that project or page. All those visual cues constantly remind people to invest in their environment. We're trying to help people through visual cues. We also do a lot of stuff on social media and things like that to get the conversation going.
JJ: I know that you also have membership plans and so forth. Tell us a bit more about the Greencom business model. What is the membership plan, and what's the difference between the different plans?
Christian: We make money through subscriptions and transaction fees. The options to enroll as a member for individuals is that they can join for free by downloading the Greencom app. You can access the cash back opportunities and all the savings. You can access every environmental organization, or you can elect to be a sustaining member. As a sustaining member, you get a year's worth of carbon offsets to neutralize your carbon footprint
Businesses can join the Greencom community for free. They can create a cash back opportunity and they can access our audience or user that connects with the business, they can kind of interact with those members through that platform and they can also set a cash back value for free. If they wanted to become a paid member, they have more features to interact with the users and things like that. Our business model is to scale this opportunity to nationally to create local impact.
JJ: You have some of the most recognizable household brands as part of your partners. These are shops where people are spending a lot of money on a frequent basis. This works well with the cash back and the Green Pay program that you are you're talking about. There is also enormous opportunity as your green business platform continues to scale. I imagine that emerging brands want to do something similar where they can be part of consumer’s journey while allowing the user to take the cash back or the rewards and direct it to something more meaningful projects. Do you see that pattern as well?
Christian: It can be tough for businesses to portray their sustainability impact and any solutions on how they mitigate that impact, especially if you want to let your customers know of your efforts. Greencom is a very transparent way in which they can show their support for the environment. It goes throughout that individual and customer journey. It's a reward for the customer as well as for the environment. We think that it's important that everybody gets the opportunity to show their support.
JJ: Earlier, you mentioned Barnes & Nobles and NFL Shops, and there are many other iconic brands who are your partners. Do you tell them at the end of the year that their customers have directed X amount of NFL cash back or rewards toward these projects via Greencom? Do you give your businesses feedback with respect to where this cash back and rewards are being directed to?
Christian: We could absolutely help communicate that and show the businesses what impact their customers have made. I think it be cool to study that and see where people are spending and where they're supporting, because this is ultimately user choice, It's good that you keep a local circular economy of support and commerce. We could help people better understand how this creates local impact in their direct environments and their direct habitats, and the places where they're interacting the most.
JJ: I notice on your website that you also are talking about allowing people to use Bitcoin. Is that live or can you share a little bit more?
Christian: You can purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum on Greencom. These are just alternative payment methods for people. You can link an existing debit card for Greencom’s mobile pay system. There are all kinds of little settings that we have to make it super convenient for people. Our partner on this platform is Busy Card, and they've done a phenomenal job of building a great interface for people to customize the app. For example, you can set it so that whenever you make a purchase, you round up your purchase amount to the nearest dollar. The round up amount will go to a specific project that you want to support. This is an additional way in which you can use Greencom to support green projects in addition to the cash back options.
JJ: What’s interesting about Greencom, and what you're building Christian, is that it's a marketplace. It's fintech. It's leveraging the existing technology and innovation and make it easier for users to do something good for our planet at the same time as they are consuming or purchasing something. You also have that feedback loop to the brands and to the projects. I think it's a very innovative way of connecting all these dots and allowing people to make a difference every time they think about purchasing or consuming something.
I know you are at the Atlanta Green Market Fair in April. Tell us more about that.
Christian: Earth Day is on Friday, April 22nd. A phenomenal group called the ATL Green Market Fair is launching an event at the Ponce City Market in Atlanta on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022. They are showcasing a number of sustainable businesses in the southeast through booths and speakers. For example, Tim Echols, Public Commissioner of Georgia is going to be there. It's a great opportunity for people to come out and see sustainable businesses. They're doing things in an alternative way that's less impactful on the environment, so people need basic goods and services, and they're doing their best to make sure that that environmental impact is minimized. There will also be several nonprofits at the Atlanta Green Market Fair who are going to showcase the work that they're doing in the environment.
Greencom is going to attend, and we're looking forward to helping people facilitate financial and social support towards these companies and these nonprofits. We invite everybody to come. It'll be fun.
JJ: Excellent. The Atlanta Green Market Fair is on April 23rd, which is a Saturday, so everybody should show up.
Last question: where can people find out more about the app? Is it both on Android and iOS? Can I download it in the app store? And how do businesses who are interested in the Greencom business opportunity find out more about what you're offering?
Christian: The registration processes for businesses and nonprofits is all online. Go to Greencom.ioand register if you want to create an account. Individuals can download the app via the Android and Apple app stores for free. You can also find us on social media, find us on Instagram @greencom.io. Greencom.io is our website.
JJ: Thank you so much for coming on to talk about what you are building at Greencom. I really love the concept of Green Pay. We'll check it out ourselves, and hopefully we'll have you back to talk about some of the projects you're backing and the additional partners that you are working with as you continue to scale this. Thanks again Christian for coming to The Understory Podcast.
Christian: Thank you JJ for this opportunity. It's really cool to be on The Understory Podcast because we've been fans for a while now and have been following what you guys have been doing. We appreciate your impact in the community.
JJ: Thanks Christian. Talk soon. Thanks everybody for listening to The Understory Podcast with Christian Mundy, Managing Director of Greencom.