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  • Writer's picturepeterkdurant

The top start-ups helping us to create a better future

Who doesn’t want a better world? One where all people, planet and animals thrive? Most say they do, but too many don’t act on it. There are global organisations and leaders who could change just 5% to make huge positive impact, but refuse to take responsibility. On the flipside, there are those who’ve risked their financial security, time and relationships to pioneer a better future.

This is the first in a series where I highlight some of those jet skiers, weaving through the choppy waters where others fear to go, creating change by leading from the front. I’m talking about those start-up founders trying to forge a better future by creating organisations and products that have incredible impact on people, planet and animals. From wellness tech to FMCG, lifestyle to business tech, who are the exciting start-ups making big waves?

For the first five, we have companies focussing on healthcare, relationships, dog food, cotton wool buds and a recycling processor. A diverse range, but all brilliant businesses creating change.

1) Hertility Health London, UK.

Healthcare isn’t designed for women, so Hertility made it their mission to change that. Focusing on reproductive and hormone health, Hertility are not only providing a suite of products to help women track and identify medical issues, but also creating a movement and a unique voice to change the pervasive culture. Founded by twin sisters Dr Helen and Deirdre O’Neill with Dr Natalie Getreu, Hertility was born from their own journeys through countless convoluted, confusing and – importantly – expensive experiences, demonstrating a clear need for change. Hertility offer both a home hormone and fertility test and more bespoke clinical services such as consultations, counselling and scans.

Start-up Hertility Health founders Dr Helen and Deirdre O’Neill and Dr Natalie Getreu

In 2021, they secured £4.2m in seed funding, led by LocalGlobe, Venrux and key angel investors. This year, they completed a further $2.5m equity crowdfunding campaign.

What’s exciting about this is how Hertility are bringing this level of early interventional care to all female-identifying people, not just those who can afford to go private. With savings of over a grand in comparison, this brings women closer to their bodies and empowers them to take control. Having been a part of a long fertility journey myself, making this inclusive access a part of culture is a really exciting proposition.

2) Couply, Toronto, Canada.

Our mental health is at its best when our relationships are really flying. When we fly, we can achieve anything. Our partners can keep our minds healthy, but maintaining a connection in the modern world is difficult. Couply helps relationships flourish and promises to make them last forever (well, almost!). The app uses quizzes, courses, games, daily to-do-lists and leading relationship advice from professors, therapists and relationship coaches to bring people together. It creates personality types for you and your partner so you can learn more about each other to create better understanding. The app is free to a point, with a premium level around $69.99 + taxes a year: potentially much cheaper than divorce.

Start-up relationships app Couply

Founded by Tim Johnson and Denesh Raymond, Couply has powered to well into six-figure unique downloads via angel funding to date.

This is such a simple idea, with tech powering and connecting us with our partners, giving us access to tools and help before things reach breaking point. With so much focus in the start-up and business worlds on the finding love market, it’s refreshing to see a keeping love start-up pushing forward.

Plant-based pet food start-up The Pack

3) The Pack, London, UK.

Did you know that if all dogs were eating nutritionally-sound vegan diets, as many 6 billion land animals and billions more aquatic animals would be saved from slaughter? This is in turn would have a significant impact on our planet, saving as much freshwater as used in Denmark, freeing up land larger than Saudi Arabia and Mexico for regenerative programmes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the equivalent level as those created by the entire UK? Currently 8% of all global livestock consumption is for dog food, meaning a change to plant-based dog diets would have a huge impact on our world.

Founded by couple Judy Nadel and Damien Clarkson, The Pack adds a ‘drool inducing’ UK-based option to dog bowls via their nutritionally-complete wet and dry food. Each can or bag contains food made from premium, functional ingredients and superfoods, available online as one-off purchases or subscriptions.

The certified B-Corp raised £835,000 at the end of 2022 in a seed round through private investors such as Kale United, Veg Capital and Scelta Mycofriends and Aoloeo, angel investors Simon Newstead, Alicia Robb, Simon Day, Victoria Betoski, and Leo Groenewegen, and all done via the vegan investment platform, Vevolution.

I’ve personally seen my dog Scampy wolf down their food, even recently eating around his beloved carrots that I add to his morning bowl. You can’t say fairer than that! For more on feeding your dog a plant-based diet, check out here:

4) Recycleye, London, UK.

Have you ever been driven mad by what the council will and won’t take in the recycling boxes, only to see the contents dumped in the van at random? Did you know that traditional robotic machines have not been able to see the colours brown or black, hence making mushroom pots impossible to recycle? With 2 billion tonnnes of waste produced annually according to World Bank and the UK burning more waste than recycling, it’s mad, infuriating and ready for a revolution.

Up steps Recycleye. Founded by Victor Dewulf and Peter Hedley, Recycleye uses AI technology to power new robotics for recycling systems. It can detect all plastics, paper, cartons and aluminium to improve existing recycling processes. And the best thing: they can quickly and cost-effectively retrofit existing machines with their technology, making it possible to do better without barriers. How? By powering their AI with the world’s largest visual database of waste materials, meaning more things can be identified and kept away from landfill.

In 2021, they raised £2.5m (taking their funding to £4.7m to date) in a seed round led by Promus Ventures and existing investors Playfair Capital, MMC Ventures, Atypical Ventures and Creator Fund.

Start-up LostObject's LostSwab in green

5) Last Object’s LastSwab, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The amount of single-use waste finding its way into our oceans or burned in landfill is an embarrassment to us all. And one of the big offenders are cotton cue tips. Say hello to the LastSwab, a cotton cue tip nay cotton wool bud (depending on which side of the Atlantic you are) alternative that can be used at least 1,000 times due to its easy to clean design and different heads, meaning you can use one for multiple jobs (e.g. ear cleaning, make up application and removal). Simply by using one bud a thousand times instead of once, the impact we have on our planet is significantly reduced. Last Object, makers of the LastSwab, claim their product reduces your carbon footprint by 83%, water consumption by 92% and energy demand 80%. In addition to the product itself, Last Object invest in a wide range of people and planet initiatives to ensure the business progresses as well as supporting your hopes for a more responsible future.

The B Corp certified company, founded in 2016 by Isabel Aagaard, her brother Nicolas Aagaard and Kåre Frandsen, also has other multi-use projects for sale such as wash pads (LastPad), laundry detergent, cotton wool (LastRound), tissues (LastTissue) and laundry bags to help you catch all those nasty microplastics in your washing. Additionally, they’re superhot on their supply chain, using recycled plastics and properly certified materials.

Last Object begun their journey by crowdfunding over 1.6m euros before securing $980,000 in seed funding from the Danish Green Investment Fund.

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