Trace Proves Demand For Small Business Carbon Management Software

February 2022

What do the experts think...

Co-founders of Trace, Catherine (Cat) Long and Joanna Auburn, have taken what started as a goal to build their own sustainable brand and turned it into a rapidly growing start up. Trace has raised $1.9m to-date and is on a mission to help thousands of SMEs make their own businesses ‘Climate Positive’.

Cat and Joanna know from their own experience of launching a sustainable fashion brand, that building an environmentally-conscious business is not as easy as one might hope - particularly for small and scaling businesses.

Cat saw first-hand the value of in-house expert sustainability teams whilst working at Macquarie Group, but access to these resources for her own small business was out of reach, making sustainable solutions difficult to implement. Leveraging Joanna’s experience as a product manager for one of Australia’s fastest growing tech companies, Finder, the pair were determined to solve this issue for SMEs, using technology to achieve positive impact at-scale. Their recent seed round suggests they’re well on their way to achieving that vision.

The $1.5 million round was raised from a group of 21 passionate investors including 5 Pillars Capital (a private family office associated with Kilara Capital), The Fund, Epoch Capital, Existential Capital and several angel investors - demonstrating the wide-ranging appeal and potential of the Trace solution.

Since joining the Antler accelerator program and securing $400k in pre-seed funding, Trace has pursued its mission to remove the barriers for individuals and businesses to take climate action, with a focus on tech tools that make the process of becoming carbon neutral accessible and engaging.

Antler continues to support Trace, also participating in this most recent round of funding. Associate Partner, Laura Falconer commenting; "We’re proud to be a long-term supporter and investor of Trace since our pre-seed investment in 2020…As people and organisations around the world become increasingly aware of their impact and seek innovative ways to offset their carbon footprint, Trace is well-positioned to provide a way forward. We like that Trace is a low-cost, easy to use platform and that it has already found strong early traction in a growing market." 

Trace’s business model is a stark contrast to industry competitors, including the Australian Government’s own Climate Active program, which poses significant barriers to entry for start-ups and SMEs from a cost, time and technical expertise perspective. By comparison, Trace’s streamlined data collection portal and powerful emissions calculation engine, enable them to measure a company’s carbon footprint in a matter of days, at an accessible price point for any size business, wherever they are on their sustainability journey.

Phil Link, Managing Director of EnergyLink Services, an environmental consulting firm, which is Climate Active certified and a Trace customer explains, 

“We receive a lot of requests from SMEs looking to become carbon neutral who don’t have the resources to undergo the extensive Government certification process, Climate Active. Trace is the perfect solution for them. Plus, their footprint visualization dashboard and employee engagement tools are great value adds to our existing customers.”

The price of carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market has soared in recent months, and is expected to continue, which Trace’s CEO Catherine Long sees as a positive trend.

“This is what carbon is worth. It's not expensive, it's the cost of fixing the planet and creates a stronger imperative for businesses to decarbonise faster. We’re encouraged to see that demand from SMEs willing to invest in taking action is accelerating.”

The surge in prices is driven by the huge uptick in demand from businesses looking to take responsibility for their emissions and set net-zero targets. This includes SMEs which, despite having a relatively small footprint individually, play an important role in decarbonising the business sector and are facing increased scrutiny over their sustainability practices. This is largely due to their role in the supply chains of larger organisations, who are seeking low-emissions suppliers to reduce Scope 3 emissions and achieve their own net-zero targets.

With over 120 businesses already on board after only 12 months, Trace is well positioned to help meet this need and reach their goal of welcoming at least 1,000 Climate Positive businesses onto the Trace platform by the end of 2022, whilst meaningfully engaging their staff and communities along the way.

It’s this engagement-focused approach that particularly attracted investors,

"Trace's unique people-powered approach to making change in everyday businesses' climate impact really hit a chord with us. Fuelled by two founders with a lot of hustle and grit, we think Trace is in a great spot to help businesses around Australia (and the world!) take steps to reduce and offset their impact, and we're excited to back them in their seed investment round." - Collis Ta’eed (Co-founder of Envato)

And the proof truly is in the pudding. Trace has demonstrated that their customers see the immense value of the product, with six of its current Climate Positive customers (including Epoch Capital, Terem Technologies, The Lab17 and We Discover) joining the round.

"Epoch is proud and excited to support Trace, first as a client and now as an investor….Trace's approach is both engaging and simplifying, taking away the frictions individuals and companies experience when navigating the journey to Net Zero." - Michael Humphreys (Founder & Managing Director, Epoch Capital)

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