Carbon accounting startup raises $11.5 million from Atomico

  • Vaayu is a carbon accounting tool specifically for the retail and e-commerce sectors.
  • The Berlin-based startup, founded in 2020, has just raised an $11.5 million seed round from Atomico.
  • Check out the 11-slide pitch deck the company used to raise the new funds.

In 1996, when Namrata Sandhu was 13 years old, she launched her neighborhood’s first recycling scheme in Bombay, now Mumbai, India.

Today, Sandhu is co-founder and CEO of Vaayu, a carbon accounting startup specializing in reducing the carbon footprint of e-commerce and


retail companies

.

The Berlin-based startup, founded in 2020, has just landed $11.5 million in a seed round led by Atomico, which backed Klarna, with subsequent investments from climate technology company CapitalT and participation from Seven Seven Six, a company that invests on behalf of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Sandhu, former head of sustainability at Zalando, has spent the last decade working at the intersection of retail and sustainability. She spent a lot of time calculating carbon footprints in spreadsheets and dealing with 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 for business change, but face a “huge” data and tools gap, which Vaayu aims to fill by helping teams move away from calculations and towards action.

The platform, which operates a software-as-a-service model, is fully automated; through data and reports, it informs 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 compares the data the retailer has with its proprietary database to fill in the gaps. A product’s carbon footprint can include data on box size, delivery routes, and materials.

Vaayu says it aggregates all of its footprint data so customers can see how it compares to the industry average. “I think a big part of calculating a product’s carbon footprint is understanding what’s good and bad,” said Sandhu.

After calculating and reducing emissions, companies can offset leftovers through Vaayu’s marketplace of offset and removal projects. The startup said it makes no money from this service.

Vaayu was founded amid an e-commerce boom fueled by a pandemic. “With that comes a lot of environmental changes in business and footprint,” said Sandhu. She added that reducing emissions from packaging and deliveries were often seen as easy fruits for online retailers – something brick and mortar stores don’t need to consider.

Vaayu plans to use the new funds to develop its product capabilities, starting with the fashion industry. The startup has 25 employees and aims to grow to 75 by the end of 2022. Vaayu has raised $13 million to date.

Terese Hougaard, director of Atomico, will join Vaayu’s board, making him 75% female in the male-dominated world of venture capital.

“I’m a founder and a big part of what we do is trying to make sure the company has representation across all the businesses, and I think that’s equally important at the board level,” said Sandhu.

Check out the 11-slide pitch deck the company used to raise the funds.

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