Pledge raises $4.5M seed round to build a carbon-measurement and removal API

With the climate crisis looming, lots of companies want to do their part. But asking customers to “offset the CO2 emission of this delivery” is usually a hammer to crack a nut. There is very little transparency around carbon offsets. Plus, smaller companies want to access high-quality carbon credits, but calculate their impact at a product, services and transactional level, and be able to purchase a fraction of a carbon credit rather than a very inaccurate “scheme.”

Pledge is a startup aimed at industries like freight forwarding, ride-hailing, travel and last-mile delivery, where customers can be presented with how to add offsets to their transactions.

It’s now raised a $4.5 million seed round led by Visionaries Club with participation from Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital and Zinal Growth, the investment vehicle of Guillaume Pousaz (founder and CEO of Pledge has been operating in closed beta until now.

Founded by early Revolut employees David de Picciotto and Thomas Lucas, as well as Freetrade’s co-founder and former CTO André Mohamed, Pledge will start with logistics and transportation. Pledge says companies will be able to measure and mitigate their shipments, rides, deliveries or travels to reach carbon neutrality by integrating the Pledge API. The platform aims to provide customers with analytics and insights as well as recommendations on how to reduce their emissions over time.

Pledge says its emissions calculations will follow global standards, including the GHG protocol, the GLEC framework as well as the ICAO methodology while complying with ISO standards.

The key to it all is that Pledge says its platform will allow companies able to purchase a fraction of a carbon credit (similar to retail investors purchasing a fraction of a stock) while offering access to balanced portfolios encompassing different methodologies and geographies (similar to an ETF).

David de Picciotto, co-founder and CEO of Pledge said: “Currently, there is no easy and scalable way exists for companies of any size to understand and remove their emissions. Traditional carbon measurement and offsetting solutions are costly and difficult to implement and so only accessible to a restricted group of larger companies. We started Pledge to enable any company to launch high quality and verified climate products in the easiest and fastest way possible.”

Robert Lacher, co-founder and partner of Visionaries Club said: “Pledge is building pipes for any business to launch applications to measure and mitigate their environmental impact. Similar to the flurry of financial infrastructure providers allowing any company to become a fintech, Pledge will become the enabler of climate initiatives by providing the relevant tools and software infrastructure to build on top of.”

Clay Dumas, partner at Lowercarbon Capital added: “The biggest bottleneck to scaling carbon removal will be connecting supply with demand. The team at Pledge is applying what they learned building the world’s top financial products to unlock euros, dollars and pounds to suck carbon out of the sky.”

Picciotto says that while working in a large private equity firm and sitting right next to the ESG team, he saw firsthand the increasing number of requests from LPs, mostly pension funds, requesting further transparency and reporting on ESG and specifically climate KPIs of portfolio companies. He realised that there must be a way to streamline this reporting/calculation and access high-quality carbon credits, providing more transparency and tools for internal and external stakeholders.

“The more we looked into the mechanisms on which the carbon market has been built, the more parallels we saw with the financial services industry. Our research kicked off with the belief that our experience founding or helping build category-leading companies, such as Freetrade and Revolut, could provide a unique angle to help reverse climate change,” he said.