This Telluride Startup Rewards Users for Reducing Their Climate Footprint

Sustaio recently launched an upgraded version of its platform, making it easier for users to track their carbon footprint.

Written by Cassidy Ritter
Published on May. 03, 2023
This Telluride Startup Rewards Users for Reducing Their Climate Footprint
Sustaio founder and CEO Olivia Pedersen poses for a photo.
Sustaio founder and CEO Olivia Pedersen. | Photo: Sustaio

If you could save money by living more sustainably, would you do it? A Telluride-based greentech startup wants to create a world in which having a healthier climate impact unlocks better pricing for consumers.

Sustaio’s web-based app offers personalized tracking that can help users reduce their carbon footprint. The platform looks at a user’s utility data, location and local emissions factors to track their water and emissions footprint. It then encourages them to live more sustainably.

“Sustaio empowers people to live climate-smarter by quantifying and incentivizing emissions-reducing behavior, like a Mint for sustainability,” Olivia Pedersen, Sustaio founder and CEO, told Built In via email. “Sustaio provides real-time tracking and information for the everyday individual to take immediate action in reducing their footprint.”

The app helps consumers learn ways they can minimize their economic impact and save money on their utilities. The company describes the first version of its platform as an educational tool for social change. It recently launched Sustaio 2.0 to reward users for putting this education to use.

Sustaio 2.0 grants users credits for taking action toward reducing their climate impact, such as reducing their water consumption and conserving energy. These credits can be redeemed in the Sustaio Marketplace to unlock discounts from Sustaio’s partner companies.

Sustaio partners with consumer brands that sell sustainable products or help people engage in outdoor activities. Pedersen said its partnerships help brands connect with their customers on an ongoing basis. 

I want to build something that improves people’s quality of life and mitigates climate change.”

Prior to launching Sustaio, Pedersen worked in the athletic and outdoor industries as a graphic designer and chief experience officer. She also ran her own creative firm focused on how innovative design and solutions could create positive change. After reading The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman in 2011, Pedersen said her focus shifted to finding a way to help solve climate change. 

“I love the outdoors and being in nature; I want to build something that improves people’s quality of life and mitigates climate change,” she said.

Pedersen went back to school in 2017 to get her master’s degree in sustainable design. This program, which focused on systems thinking and circular economics, solidified her desire to make a change.

“Sustaio was the brainchild of my master’s thesis research. I became obsessed with trying to figure out what my personal comprehensive climate footprint is and what behavioral changes are needed to help the majority change habits to reduce our collective impact,” Pedersen said.

Pedersen has been working on Sustaio since 2020. With the recent launch of Sustaio 2.0, the upgraded platform now allows users to track their climate footprint automatically. This capability is a low lift for the consumer to quantify and reduce their impact, Pedersen said.

Sustaio was one of nine companies to participate in the 2021 Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator. According to Crunchbase, Sustaio has raised $120,000 to date with the capital coming from Techstars.

Having recently launched Sustaio 2.0, the startup now plans to build out its internal team. Pedersen said its team is currently made up of herself, contractors and firms, and she plans to hire more people throughout the year.

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