Business Clean tech and energy Diversity

Something Ventured Part 6: A First-Time Founder Earns Big Validation For Her Dream Of A Lower-Carbon Future

Sanchali Pal, Joro

Editor’s note: This profile is the final interview with Sanchali Pal for Something Ventured, a year-long series by Crunchbase News that examined diversity and access to capital in the venture-backed startup ecosystem. As part of this project, we followed seven seed-stage entrepreneurs over the course of a year as they built their businesses. Read our previous profiles of Pal and her road as a startup founder here, here, here, here and here, and access the full project here.

Two years ago, Sanchali Pal was struggling to even get investors’ attention for Joro, a consumer app that helps consumers track their carbon footprint and purchase offsets. Although Pal believed strongly that Joro had the potential to spur huge collective action to help humankind avoid a future of climate-change disasters, convincing venture capitalists that it could also be a viable business wasn’t easy.

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So it was especially validating last month when her startup was named as an Innovator in the Time100 Most Influential Companies of 2022 list, a prestigious ranking of companies around the world that Time magazine sees as “making an extraordinary impact around the world.”

Pal said the recognition for the company she founded in 2018 was a big moment.

“It’s just a great recognition of the power of our ideas, and a validation that what we’re building is becoming mainstream,” said Pal, who believes that “like meditation and mindfulness, or tracking your finances using your phone, the next frontier for personal tracking and management is carbon.”

In the past two years, Joro overcame initial rejection from investors to raise its pre-seed and seed rounds, both led by Sequoia Capital. That put her in the small minority of first-time, solo female founders who successfully raise capital from venture investors.

She has navigated remote work and a return to the office in the midst of a pandemic. But most significantly, she’s started to scale Joro into a small but growing army of users who show how individuals can change the course of our planet’s future through everyday actions.

Decarbonize people’s lifestyles

The Time100 list came out the same day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report highlighting the significant impact consumers can make on our climate future. While average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels between 2010 and 2019, the report noted, the rate of growth has slowed more recently due to “climate action.”

The report concluded that it’s still possible for humans to cut global emissions in half by 2030.

Pal said the IPCC report is “a recognition from the scientific community that consumers have a really important role to play in reducing global emissions and that, in fact, consumers changing their lifestyles could reduce global emissions by 40 percent to 70 percent by 2050.”

Among the key consumer actions the report highlighted are changes in transportation and dietary habits.

Joro has two core value propositions. First, the app aims to make it possible and effective for users to get their carbon impacts to net-zero. It does that by helping them track their purchases and pairing that data with emissions tracking. It then offers ways for users to purchase carbon offsets to counteract their impact.

Second, the app sets out to help users understand and implement habits and actions to actually reduce the carbon emissions their lifestyles generate. Pal calls this “carbon coaching” and describes it as investing in ongoing behavior and lifestyle change to discover “a more sustainable way of living, which is a much longer journey.”

Climate action in your pocket

A year ago, when we started this series and first talked with Pal, there were still big open questions about the product which launched on Earth Day in April 2020.

Would it actually help users reduce emissions? And would consumers pay for it?

As it turns out, yes and yes.

Joro says its users have reduced emissions by 21 percent year over year as of the end of 2021, a significant achievement as users have been vaccinated and emerged from the pandemic. Users on the app are not only saving on carbon, according to Pal, but also saving money as they consume less or consume differently.

And the app has found a core group of users who are very willing to pay for such a service.

Raising a Series A

Pal is now focused on raising Joro’s Series A.

She said speaking with other founders who are a couple of stages ahead of Joro has been incredibly helpful. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how willing people are to be informal and to just pick up the phone and chat,” said Pal. “The way that founders support founders is really incredible.”

And alongside receiving advice from existing investors, she’s also talking with investors who are new to Joro to get their perspective.

The Joro team has also expanded to 11 members, including some who have celebrated two years at the company. Joro recently brought on a social media manager, data analyst and a designer, and it’s currently hiring a head of growth.

“There’s real potential for this to infiltrate the mainstream, but we haven’t proven that yet,” Pal said.

“That’s what this next round will be about,” she said. “It’s demonstrating that we can grow.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

 

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