Raise Green founding story
April 22, 2020 - Franz Hochstrasser, CEO and Co-Founder, Raise Green
Like many entrepreneurs before us, our early business plans had a lot of twists and turns. For Raise Green, those twists and turns were quite literal since our first business involved making air pollution sensors that live-tweeted from the handlebars of bikes.
Our earliest turn came in a press interview after winning a Climate Change Solutions grant from Yale. We were in the middle of sharing how our mobile air sensor business raised public awareness about the challenges of public health and climate change when we realized we were focused on the wrong half of the problem.
Most people know that polluted air and greenhouse gasses are disrupting our planet. Air pollution is actually even more deadly than the current pandemic in many ways, killing an estimated 8.8 million people annually around the world. That’s nearly 6x the monthly death rate of COVID-19, which killed 125,966 people in its current deadliest month. All of these problems disproportionately impact the poorest and most vulnerable. And while we may not see the same response to climate change as we’re seeing for COVID-19, we now know that systemic and individual behavioral changes can happen very quickly. We also know that the more long-standing crisis of climate change is disrupting lives and livelihoods, already displacing close to 70 million people.
As a community, many of us see these statistics and want to take action. We may protest, sign petitions and march in the streets, but it often feels like our efforts stop short of solving the problem. We need something to do after the march that affects meaningful change.
It was this realization that led us to the first big evolution of Raise Green, and after that interview we decided to grow Raise Green from a company that helped highlight the interrelated social injustices, climate and public health crises we are facing, to a company that solved the other half of the problem- providing everyone with direct ways to take climate action.
So, what does direct climate action look like?
First, we need to rebuild a clean energy and low-carbon climate resilient infrastructure, no small task. There needs to be at least $1T in global investment each year between now and 2050 into clean energy and climate solutions. In order for us to achieve this, we need affordable and reliable clean energy powering every block, and we need regular people literally buying-in to and benefiting from that infrastructure as a solution.
Community leaders taking direct action are the only ones that can ensure that we don’t just transition to a healthy and sustainable future, but that we have a just transition that we all own and benefit from. If we want to do something truly meaningful to counteract global problems that impact us everyday at the local scale, we need a lot more finance flowing to the technologies that need to be deployed to keep us safe and healthy, and we need a lot more local leaders taking responsibility to create, finance, build and run those projects.
We believe Raise Green can help empower individuals and communities to rapidly shift to clean power in 2 key ways:
1) Reduce barriers and complexity - We provide communities with the tools they need to create, finance, build and run their own clean energy projects or climate solution companies.
2) Fundamentally shift incentives- We give anyone the ability to invest directly in a climate action project with a chance to earn a return on their investment.
Most people want the ability to take real action, but they need support, they need funding, and crucially, they need to feel empowered to know that if they act, and they get their friends and families and neighbors to join them, that it will have an impact. In these days of uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic and economic freeze, community resiliency and natural security in the face of immediate and long-standing crises is even more pressing, and we’re all stuck at home wondering what we can do.
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Raise Green is the first marketplace in the U.S. for local and inclusive impact investment with verifiable and demonstrable environmental benefits. Up until 2016, most Americans were excluded from investing in private companies, but now participatory investment is possible for everyone.
#Give power back to the people.