This week we talk to Evan Michaels of HELPFUL.
HELPFUL is one of the businesses on the Decksender platform that I was really keen to talk to and luckily founder Evan Michaels agreed to be interviewed as part of our meet the member series.
Evan started HELPFUL with his long time business partner William Hakan Nordh on a mission to make sustainable living accessible and rewarding for everyone. They were driven to create a solution to the scourge of single-use plastics, packaging and that solution would incentive people to take part.
Started in 2019 HELPFUL first created an app which they launched in Canary Wharf. The product helped users find recycling points, directed them to water fountains and enabled sustainability. Incentives were quickly added and the results were impressive. The visibility quickly drew the attention of the local corporate businesses and retailers and led directly to the development of their HELPFUL Circles product. Circles allows businesses to engage their employees to promote sustainable living by issuing rewards and incentives. Traction has been great and wider take up is imminent.
The lockdown question?
Like a lot of start-ups we talk to, HELPFUL didn’t meet the governments idea of a cookie cutter business. Both founders weren’t on the payroll and the development team sat outside the UK. This meant accessing funding has been virtually impossible. However lockdown has enabled the team to focus on developing their Fintech product. Something I believe will ensure a bright future.
HELPFUL Zero is their vision of the future. One in which throw away packaging and sustainable shopping are the norm. To get there they want to make the use of reusable packaging easy and rewarding and they’ll do that by building a platform that makes use of reusable containers simple and easy all wrapped up into a Fintech solution that sits across the retailer and consumer.
Initial funding came from the founders and via their business network but they’re now embarking on a larger funding round.
HELPFUL are looking to raise £500,000 through their SEIS and EIS qualified round. One could argue it’s not the best time to be raising but I disagree. I believe lockdown has put sustainability more into focus than ever. It’s taken a harsh lesson but people are slowly waking up to the value in things and the world around us and I think this positions HELPFUL in exactly the right place.
Learn more about the funding round here.
The sustainable future
As it’s a topic close to my heart I was keen to get Evans take on the future. Whilst we’ve seen pollution plummet Evan also points out lockdown has pushed many companies back into old habits. The throw away coffee cup has replaced the reusable one alarmingly quickly. As he points out it’s small acts that this that bring into question the motivations behind some businesses sustainability initiatives. Great Pr but when profits might be hit it’s out the window.
However, on the plus side Evan has been able to go cycling with his son without fear of the dreaded London traffic. I totally agree though that as he points out change is in the hands of the individual. We often don’t like change and it takes a harsh reality to make it real. Let’s hope that if anything good comes from coronavirus it’s that we have a new found respect for our planet and resources.
Founded in 2019, in London by Evan Michaels and William Hakan Nordh.