Israeli start-up seeks to tackle pollution with crowd clean-up platform
The CleanCoin app, which launched five weeks ago in Israel, allows users to easily report or clean up the garbage piles around them and earn prizes.
“I knew I wanted to start a business that would do good for the world, and I had a lot of ideas,” said Gal Lahat, co-founder and technical director of the company, 21. “I travel a lot and feel very connected to nature, and it’s heartbreaking to come across a big pile of garbage in a beautiful place or to see a fish trapped in plastic bags. I had an idea that I thought would be easy to implement and have a huge impact.
The app is easy to use. When you see a pile of trash outside, you can take photos and upload them to the app, where they’re tagged on a map and automatically given a score. Then you can either clean up the pile yourself or leave it to someone else to clean it up. Whoever cleans it can report it to the system and earn “CleanCoins”, which can be redeemed for real rewards.
“The rewards are actually pretty good and pay better than the food delivery,” Lahat said. “It works out to around NIS 10 for a garbage bag, which can take around two minutes to fill. We offer virtual rewards, like upgrading your avatar on the app and things like that. But we also offer great physical rewards, like a free night at Abraham hostels or free clothes at Billabong.
The awards are the product of agreements the company has made with suppliers, and many top brands have been more than happy to cooperate, Lahat said, adding, “We have agreements with travel agencies, surf clubs, climbing centers, Azrieli and more. “
Cash payments might also be possible in the future through partnerships with local municipalities, he said.
The reception of the app since its launch last month has been overwhelming, said Adam Ran, co-founder and CEO of CleanCoin. Around 18,000 users have already downloaded and registered the app, and more and more are joining every day.
“It’s amazing how quickly it took off,” he said. “Everyone wants to help and get involved. “
The company is based in Haifa and is supported by the IN-VENTech accelerator program, which first paired Lahat and Ran, 35, and also helped the team secure grants.
A seed investment round is now in preparation and is open to investments of $ 100,000 or more from people whose approach is consistent with the founders’ philosophy. The company currently has nine employees, many of whom work on a voluntary basis until funding is raised.
There is still a lot to learn, said Gal.
“This phase is very experimental,” he said. “We are learning every day, validating hypotheses, trying to better understand the local market and we are preparing to enter the global market. Once we put the whole system together, it’s very easy to scale. “
“We are developing formulas to improve the way we assess the value of a particular waste pile and the way people clean up,” Lahat said. “One of the most difficult things right now is developing a fraud detection mechanism to make sure people can’t try to trick us into getting free points. “
Lahav and Ran said they hope the app will slowly help bring about behavior change in people.
“We’re not just looking to change the world overnight,” Ran said. “We want people to make it part of their lives. People won’t clean up if they feel like a brother [sucker] after. We want to connect ecology to the community to make the world a better place.