When the SEC announced that it planned to require companies under its purview to disclose their climate-related risks and emissions, plenty of companies started publicly clutching their pearls.
Tracking down the extent of their pollution would simply be either too expensive, too difficult or both, they said. No surprise there: Companies strike a similar tone every time a new regulation is proposed. The reality is that the requirement likely won’t be nearly as difficult as they claim, but what if tracking some of their most challenging emissions were as simple as swapping out their corporate spend cards?
“For most companies, 75% to 80% of their emissions typically are Scope 3 emissions, which is all the goods and services that they’re buying,” said Ted Power, co-founder and CEO of Bend. “And so what that means is that the best way for companies to reduce their missions is to address all of those goods and services they’re buying.”
Power and co-founder Thomas Moore started Bend to help companies tackle their Scope 3 emissions. The startup began by selling access to its API for carbon accounting, but the team soon shifted focus to the corporate spend market.
“The thesis is that by making it free and embedding it in a corporate card, there’s a much bigger addressable market, and we can engage more folks in what is essentially the same thing under the hood in terms of the carbon accounting,” Power said.
Like many other credit cards, Bend offers rewards, though not the usual cash back or points-based fare. Instead, it offers carbon offsets. The company is announcing a $2.5 million seed round, TechCrunch+ has exclusively learned.
Since it’s a small team, the company has piggybacked on a selection of projects from Frontier, the advanced market commitment created by Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify and others.
Carbon credits are transacted through Patch, the carbon market. That offers a few advantages compared with a DIY approach. For one, Patch has a relatively large market of vetted projects. And two, it offers a sort of insurance: If one of the projects goes bust or doesn’t deliver on its promises, buyers can swap credits for new ones. Bend only buys those that cost at least $100 per metric ton. “It’s investing in these very scalable carbon very sort of scientifically based carbon removal projects that, if successful, will come down the cost curve,” Power said.
Bend’s current roster of projects includes CarbonCapture, Charm Industrial and Living Carbon. The first two are different approaches to carbon capture and storage, while the latter uses engineered trees that grow faster and in theory sequester more carbon (experts have raised questions about whether they really do, however). That lineup may change, of course. “Ultimately, our goal is to support the best projects,” Power said.
A crowded market
TechCrunch+ has covered the corporate spend market exhaustively in recent years due to a hotbed of startup activity. Brex, Ramp and Airbase, among the better-known, yet-private unicorns competing from the U.S. market, have raised more than $3 billion in combined capital while private, according to Crunchbase data.