The Munich startup Ecomio wants to help companies generate less CO2. Employees are rewarded for traveling in a climate-friendly way. your biggest competition? Miles hunters at Miles & More.
In her job as a management consultant, Katharina Riederer traveled a lot. Like most of her colleagues at Roland Berger, she booked a business class seat on long-haul flights: there she could stretch her legs and rack up a good number of miles at the same time.
“As long as I followed the travel guidelines, I didn’t care much about the cost of these trips or the carbon footprint behind them. My miles were always important to me,” says the Munich native, looking back.
Algorithm calculates “greener” alternatives
This is exactly the problem for many companies: how can employees be inspired to travel in a climate-friendly way if they have to give up their frequent flyer status or say goodbye to free points upgrades? How do you motivate employees to value more sustainable travel and take on offers from Miles & More competitors?
The 29-year-old’s idea: Ecomio, a software that can be integrated into a company’s existing travel reservation system. The algorithm calculates greener alternatives and shows how many CO2 emissions and costs can be saved by climate-friendly travel.
“For business travel, 90 percent of green travel goes hand in hand with savings,” says the founder. Companies can then pay the difference directly to their employees or convert it into their own points program. This more environmentally friendly alternative to existing rebate programs aims to help companies reach their own climate goals faster.
In November 2020, Riederer brought in Sarah Benarey and fellow student Mario Blatter to bring his vision to life. They funded their work with €90,000 in grants from Riederer and Blatter’s alma mater, ETH Zurich.
Lea-Sophie Cramer has also invested
The Ecomio team now has ten people and has raised fresh capital through business angels. The financing round, led by the main Austrian investor Hansi Hansmann, contributed 650,000 euros. Amorelie founder Lea-Sophie Cramer, Runtastic co-founder Alfred Luger, business travel expert Patrick Diemer, who, among other things, ran the Miles & More program for four years, as well as private equity and venture capital, the expert Volker Rofalski, and the founder of the AI consultancy Merantix, Nicole Büttner, also participated.
There is currently no competition, says Riederer, but the software is not yet available either. Ecomio is scheduled to launch early next year and cooperation with corporations such as Deloitte is already underway. The clients are large and medium-sized companies because the software must have access to data from an existing reservation platform.
According to the founder, the challenge for target customers is to adapt the algorithm to the individual requirements of the company and to ensure data security. As Riederer explains: “Initially, start-ups are out of the question as customers, because they often just book travel through Kayak and Expedia and their travel expenses are noted down, at best, in some Excel sheet.” “. So if significantly more business travelers sit on the train rather than the plane next year, it could be due to more than just the €9 ticket.
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