Founder & CEO of UCapture, Avery Michaelson, has always had a passion for the environment and a belief in solving the world’s problems with market-based solutions. Needless to say, founding UCapture came naturally – the green-tech platform harnesses the power of consumers to put the cost of carbon into consumption in a win-win-win situation for consumers, companies and the climate.
We recently caught up with Avery to find out what keeps him motivated, the challenges and rewards of scaling a start-up company with global ambitions – and why the team behind UCapture doesn’t consider itself to have succeeded… yet!
What inspires you to get out of bed in the morning (literally and professionally)?
Avery Michaelson (AM): The unrealized potential of UCapture. I’m privileged to be at the helm of a company I'm confident can make an enormous impact on the face of climate change. However, for this to materialize, it will take tireless effort day after day. It’s my conviction that UCapture can help solve the problem of climate change that keeps me going.
Tell us about a typical working day…
AM: Climate change is a global problem, and UCapture seeks to be a global solution. Therefore, days start early and end late in order to span multiple time zones. Most frequently I’m communicating with environmental organizations and our Campus Ambassadors (the students and young graduates helping to spread the word about UCapture) about how we can grow our user base. But as a small company with few full-time resources, I must be flexible and wear many hats.
What skills do you need in your role and what are the biggest challenges you currently face?
AM: My job requires a bit of everything – communications skills, marketing, business strategy, project management, business development, and plenty more in between! With so many moving parts and responsibilities, often I find it difficult to carve out quiet time for more reflective tasks. Sometimes it’s important to put my cell phone on Do Not Disturb.
What goals do you have, and what are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
AM: We intend to make UCapture one of the leading forces in combating climate change. We’ve already built a very useful first product with our browser extension. Next, we hope to move into more real-world consumption with the release of our mobile app. Our success metrics are straightforward – user growth and revenue (carbon offset) per user.
How do you talk about your successes in public/with clients/partners?
AM: In terms of potential success – we don’t feel we’ve succeeded just yet. We’re confident in the efficacy of our climate change solution, and happy to trumpet its innovative nature. However, a great idea needs to be actualized before it can be called a success. When success does come, it will be the result of the hard work of many motivated individuals, so we’ll likely highlight their efforts.
How do you drive change in more sustainable consumption?
AM: UCapture is unique in putting the “cost of carbon” into a consumption in a way that is both free and easy for consumers. As such, we believe UCapture addresses the real problems of climate change: (1) who is going to pay for the solution; and (2) motivating a relatively apathetic public to make the necessary behavioral changes.
Tell us about the most recent sustainability milestone you’ve managed to complete?
AM: Through our partnership with South Pole we’ve been able to provide a meaningful contribution to the Kariba REDD+ carbon offset project in Zimbabwe.
I’m particularly fond of this project as it not only provides verified emission reductions through forest protection and biodiversity conservation – it also acts as a valuable wildlife preserve, and promotes income opportunities for local communities that advance sustainable development. In our first 6 months funding this project alone, we offset over 2.5 million pounds of CO2!
What books or articles that you’re reading at the moment would you recommend? What inspires you at the moment?
AM: The Economist. I’m driven by finding market-based solutions to some of the world’s largest problems. I find their journalism and commentary to be a consistent beacon when it comes to finding the right policy approaches for all manner of issues. I’m inspired by the efforts of our many Campus Ambassadors and other marketing partners who are engaging in their communities in our platform in hopes of reversing the course of climate change.
What advice do you have for people who want to drive change by working to combat climate change?
AM: Have a thick skin and forge your own resolve! There are still plenty of naysayers, and many more who are indifferent about climate change. Maintaining your own personal dedication to the mission is crucial because there will be adversity. Personally, I take heart in knowing I’m working to solve a near-existential threat to humanity. So, I’ve got that goin’ for me… which is nice.
You can download the UCapture browser extension to be part of the growing movement when you shop online – and don’t forget to follow Avery on LinkedIn, and UCapture on Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date with the journey!
Want to learn even more about how UCapture is Walking the Talk with us? Read our UCapture case study to find out.