The ClimateLaunchpad is an annual green technology competition run by Climate-KIC Europe across more than 30 countries to recognise the most promising early stage business solutions to climate mitigation and adaptation challenges. Climate-KIC Australia brought the competition to Australia this year as part of a delivery of programs for climate change innovation.  It acts as a platform for teams to gain profile and mentoring and provides access to investors and markets. It also forms another pipeline of candidates for the Acceleration program that will expand nationally in 2018.

Less than a month ago I was trawling through the Queensland Government’s Climate Transition Strategy Document – as one does for a bit of light reading on a Friday night – and I stumbled across a reference to ClimateLaunchpad. Fast forward two hours, and I found myself in a vortex of innovation and amazement; electricity from grass? Sewage sludge to plastic? My mind was reeling and I wanted in.

Through our current start up The Circular Experiment, Ash (my co-founder and sister) and I have spoken to many small business owners. One common experience we’ve found within these groups is that many don’t understand how, or feel empowered enough to reduce electricity bills for the sake of the planet. So the timing was right, we had identified a problem and our solution; ‘ My Impact’ was born.

Ash and Jaine present ‘My Impact’ at the ClimateLaunchpad bootcamp in Sydney

‘My Impact’ is a service for restaurants to reduce their electricity bills. We integrate the ‘best of the breed’ of monitoring devices, an app, and a service element to enable restaurants owners, managers and staff to reduce their electricity consumption easily. We aim to create communities of people in the hospitality industry whom empower one another to reduce their energy consumption and thus reduce their dependence on finite resources.

Less than a week after submitting our application to ClimateLaunchpad, we received an email from the ever-positive Dr Vanessa Rauland, notifying us that we had been accepted and that we would be attending the boot-camp in Sydney the following week – cue the ecstatic dance break.

We began the boot camp by expressing our vision. What were we determined to bring to the world, and more importantly, why? The most common reason that startups fail is because of unhealthy team dynamics, so great emphasis was placed on ensuring that each co-founder’s vision was complementary and not counterproductive to the team’s ultimate goal.

We began the boot camp by expressing our vision. What were we determined to bring to the world, and more importantly, why?

We then dove into ‘the deal’ and market segmentation. Who were we selling what to and for just how much? This portion of the boot camp really forced us to get clear about our business model and identify our initial target market. By the end of the two days we had prepared our slides and were ready to pitch. Well “ready” is probably a vast overstatement, but nevertheless pitch we did.

We now eagerly wait for our follow up mentoring sessions whilst Ash and I get stuck into the real work of building relationships with the people that will eventually invest in our dream of creating a sustainable economy and tackling the problem of climate change.

The national finals take place at the end of this month, and will see us deliver our polished pitches to a jury that will decide whether we make the cut to attend the international grand final in Cyrpus. We couldn’t be more grateful for the Climate Launchpad experience and would encourage anyone with an idea to tackle climate change to check it out and throw your hat in the ring – it might just be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

The ClimateLaunchpad finals will be held in Sydney and Melbourne on Thursday the 21st Sept at 4.30pm in Adelaide on Monday the 25th at 4.30pm. For more information and to register for the free event, visit the Eventbrite page here, and the Climate-KIC Australia website here.

– Jane Morris