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RECOTHINK: How to Reduce Your CO2 Emissions Playfully

The business model of RECOTHINK was born during a seminar on sustainable entrepreneurship at the TUM School of Management. The students Jakob and Yilun pitched the initial idea, Julius, Philipp and Tobi joined the vision to build the business model. The team just clicked, they were all very eager and motivated to think of new ways to improve sustainability and challenged each other whenever possible. The idea was to take the user on a journey in order to reach a carbon-neutral lifestyle in a fun and effortless way by making CO2 emissions prominent and tangible. RECOTHINK aims to counteract climate change by making people aware of their emissions and reducing it actively in a sustainable way. The business model that combines several aspects of emission reduction in a holistic gamified approach won the 2nd place at the Social Impact Award awarded annually by the TUM Management Alumni e.V.

Every free minute was used to overthrow old ideas and improve new ones. The team kept developing and changed the idea several times. The starting point was to create a tool that helps people calculate and reduce their carbon footprint. The biggest challenge was to build a business model that meets the triple-bottom-line: 1. Jointly generate social, 2. economic and environmental value and 3. not at the cost of others. During the whole development process, the team received support and expertise from their mentor and professor at the TUM School of Management. Their guidance helped them to look at problems in a more holistic way, enabling them to successfully integrate the triple bottom line into their model.  After a quick market search, it became clear, that a lot of apps for CO2 reduction already existed on the market.  However, the team wondered, why they have never heard of them before. After trying out some of the apps, they discovered why: It is incredibly difficult to convince people of a sustainable lifestyle in an everyday life, where decisions only have a marginal impact. Thus, the team set out to make sustainable lifestyle fun, not only once, but every day.

The goal is to motivate the user to become CO2 neutral using a gamification approach along the way. The team is developing the app with four levels of usability, which allows them to attract several different types of users at once, using segments with general information on CO2 consumption, a CO2 calculator, and a Journey program where the user gets helpful step-by-step tips to reduce his or her CO2 level according to his or her preferences. To keep the user engaged the gamification part called “RECOTHINK – GARDEN” was integrated. This allows the user to plant trees in a virtual garden by collecting “Energy Points”, which the user collects along the way of his or her user experience. In order to increase the engagement and offer a connection to the real world, each time the user plants a tree in the application, a real tree is planted by RECOTHINK.

However, for the developers of RECOTHINK this is not enough. The users can additionally compensate their emissions by supporting sustainable projects via a one-time donation to help communities with climate saving projects. For this, RECOTHINK aims to partner with companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and universities in order to offer compensation to sustainable projects with ecological and social improvement efforts. RECOTHINK wants to spearhead a new and more sustainable way of making business.

Jakob, Yilun, Julius, Philipp and Tobi are still in the process of launching the app but already have made some valuable experience throughout the past nine months. Their advice for starting your own business include: 1. Talk to people about your idea and challenge each other in the team. 2. Be brave to think about new ways of doing old things. 3. No idea is ever perfect and no idea is ever finished. So get out there, get started and learn as you go.

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