The Finterview - Fintech Exposed episode 9. The Founder Diaries series
Slowing down carbon emissions is not enough anymore. Participating in carbon removal is the new priority.
This is David Contreras’ conviction as he Co-Founded Zeru.Earth and the battle he has decided to lead. From fossil fuel engineer, through venture capital and eventually finding redemption by founding a startup that will drive real climate change, David now strives to make the world a better place.
In this fascinating episode of The Finterview, David walks us through what led him to abandon the fossil fuel industry and start having a positive impact for the world. He explains what the main challenges of founding a startup are, how surrounding himself with his two co-founders (including one he has never met) helps him overcome his impostor syndrome and continue on his journey… And much more!
Join us and listen to Amar’s interview with our guest: entrepreneur, founder and member of the Fintech Foundation cohort: David Contreras.
The drive to found a startup come at any time in your life, when you are impact driven
David had a promising career in one of the most controversial industries of our time: Fossil Fuel.
With his engineering background, he could have led a comfortable life climbing the corporate ladder. But something felt wrong.
After a few years working in the field, he reflected on how his skills could instead be used to help the climate emergency, being well aware of the situation because of what he saw behind the scenes.
David asked himself the best way to encourage climate action and drive real change for people, and after trying to make a difference as a VC, felt that his Fintech idea would have more of an impact.
Banking is a very opaque industry if someone wants to know their carbon footprint. People are willing to make a change to reduce their environmental impact, but they don’t have access to the data showing them the impact of their actions.
That is where Zeru.Earth comes in.
How to become a climate super app
Like any startup, making a climate super app starts by partnering up with the right people. There is a huge ecosystem of startups, neobanks, alternative energy providers, carbon reducing and removing companies growing in the industry.
Mainstream companies have understood the critical importance of reducing their carbon footprint, not only for their corporate image, but because they recognise that if they want to be in business over the next few hundred years, they need to act on climate change now.
Zeru.Earth, a BTC (Business To Customer) app will aim at providing a clear, transparent overview of its users footprint, by breaking down after every transaction what the carbon footprint of the purchase was.
Customers will have live access, per category, of what their environmental impact is. Consuming red meat is one of the biggest factors - but transportation, household heating and finance are also huge contributors.
Zeru.Earth will then help the users reduce their footprint by advising on alternative energy providers, neobanks, and much more!
How to drive a market into mass-adoption
People can be oblivious, and most would rather not face the truth than feel ashamed or guilty about the daily choices they make.
Making people face the realities of their carbon impact is David’s biggest hurdle to driving mass adoption for his super app.
David points out that the worst enemy of Zeru.Earth is the status-quo itself.
David has found that the financial industry is one of the most opaque when it comes to carbon footprint. People want to make a difference and reduce their environmental impact, but they don’t have access to the data showing them the impact of their actions.
In addition, Zeru.Earth plans on adding rewards to their offer, in the form of discounts for green goods and services. This will encourage users to take action to reduce their carbon footprint while also saving money.
Who wouldn’t go for a 20% discount at Patagonia?
A modern day remote work startup
One of the unique aspects of Zeru.Earth is that it is a fully remote startup, with one co-founder in London, one in Switzerland, and one in Chile.
Remote work has become an integral part of our current economy after the pandemic accelerated the public’s technical capabilities in the field.
Now, the modern employee sees hybrid work as something they are entitled to rather than a perk. For companies, this has its pros and cons. While it is important to offer flexibility and improve work-life balance to retain talent, having a strong company culture is much more difficult, and you can’t have the same instantaneous brainstorming session.
David likes the fact that Zeru.Earth’s set up is so flexible, and being able to work across different time zones with his co-founders. At the same time, he is also looking forward to having offices set up in London as he feels he is lacking the hustling startup culture in his day-to-day life.
Listen to the full podcast interview with David Contreras from Zeru.Earth on The Finterview - Fintech Exposed episode 9 to learn more about his journey, the challenges of founding a startup, and the future of Zeru.Earth.
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