- Vaayu is a carbon-accounting tool specifically for the retail and e-commerce industries.
- The Berlin-based startup, founded in 2020, just raised an $11.5 million seed round from Atomico.
- Check out the 11-slide pitch deck the company used to raise the fresh funds.
In 1996, when Namrata Sandhu was 13, she launched her neighborhood’s first recycling scheme in Bombay, now Mumbai, India.
Today, Sandhu is the cofounder and CEO of Vaayu, a carbon-accounting startup specializing in reducing the carbon footprint of e-commerce and
The startup, founded in 2020 and based in Berlin, just landed $11.5 million in a seed round led by Atomico, which has backed Klarna, with follow-on investment from the climate-tech firm CapitalT and participation from Seven Seven Six, a firm that invests on behalf of the Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.
Sandhu, a former sustainability head at Zalando, spent the past decade working at the intersection of retail and sustainability. She spent a lot of time calculating carbon footprints on spreadsheets and handling large amounts of data.
“That’s not why you do what you do,” Sandhu told Insider. She added that sustainability teams want to understand the levers to pull to change the business but face a “huge” data and tooling gap, which Vaayu aims to plug by helping teams move away from calculations and toward action.
The platform, which operates a software-as-a-service model, is fully automated; through data and reports, it tells customers what to change and prioritize to reduce emissions in real time.
The company says it can calculate the carbon emissions of specific products. Rather than needing full transparency into a retailer’s supply chain, Vaayu matches data the retailer has with its proprietary database to fill in the gaps. A product’s carbon footprint could include data on its box size, delivery routes, and materials.
Vaayu says it aggregates all its footprint data so customers can see how they stack up against an industry average. “I think a huge part of calculating the product carbon footprint is around understanding what good and bad looks like,” Sandhu said.
After calculating and reducing emissions, companies can compensate for leftovers via Vaayu’s marketplace of offsetting and removal projects. The startup said it makes no money from this service.
Vaayu was founded amid a pandemic-fueled boom in e-commerce. “With that comes a lot of environmental change to the business and the footprint,” Sandhu said. She added that reducing the emissions caused by packaging and deliveries were often viewed as low-hanging fruit for online retailers – something brick-and-mortar stores don’t have to consider.
Vaayu plans to use the fresh funds to build its product capabilities, starting with the fashion industry. The startup has a headcount of 25 and aims to grow to 75 by the end of 2022. Vaayu has raised $13 million to date.
Terese Hougaard, a principal at Atomico, will join Vaayu’s board, making it 75% female in the male-dominated world of venture capital.
“I’m a female founder, and a huge part of what we do is try to ensure that the business has representation across the business, and I think it’s equally important at the board level,” Sandhu said.
Check out the 11-slide pitch deck the company used to raise the funds.