US-based Kayweb Angels has unveiled its inaugural investment – whoisgreen.com, an Australian-led website that allows consumers to search for businesses who employ sustainable environmental practises.
Speaking from New York, the CEO of Kayweb Angels, Haig Kayserian, tells StartupSmart whoisgreen.com was chosen by the firm as it fit their “investment ethos”.
“It is a start-up in the web and mobile industry. However, it is also a start-up that is going to deliver some social good. It’s got the ability to connect green businesses with green consumers,” he says.
The founder and CEO of whoisgreen.com, David Burns, is an Australian environmental chemist with an interest in environmentally sustainable living.
When he was building his sustainable home in Manly, he struggled to find sustainable materials and environmentally-minded contractors to work with. It was this experience that prompted him to start whoisgreen.com.
The website will work through businesses registering themselves and outlining their green credentials.
It will then rely on users of the business to post any deviation from stated principles on the profile of that service.
Users will be able to search for green businesses using keywords along with their country and postcode.
Burns says: “It was critical to us that whoisgreen.com was social and interactive.”
It will allow bulletin board entries to be broadcast to a user’s Twitter and Facebook page, “helping to spread the sustainability message”.
Kayweb Angels, which is based in New York, is the start-up investment arm of Sydney web-development agency Kayweb.
Unlike most angel investors, it offers technical help, rather than money, in return for equity.
Kayserian says: “We call ourselves angel developers or angel co-founders. There’s a technical talent and engineering shortage in many cities and companies around the world, most prominently in New York… We’re trying to solve that crisis by providing the services of our staff and the expertise of our board.”
The firm provides a range of services to start-ups including project management, quality assurance, design and other “holistic development services”.
Kayserian sees Kayweb Angels as a development partner rather than as a replacement to more traditional funding sources.
“Don’t go to the venture capitalists too quickly, for now let us be your co-founder,” he says.
“We won’t take more than 40% of your business, whereas the venture capitalist will probably want your majority. We’ll provide with prototype, a developed product, so you can pitch to whoever you want.”
The firm is partnering with another five start-ups it has yet to announce, and plans to select a few more every quarter.
Kayserian says: “One of the primary messages… here is that David Burns, a typical Australian dreamer, surfie at heart, wants to do right by the planet. He became a very successful businessman person in his own right, and was able to apply that globally”.
“[It] shows that it’s definitely possible to achieve that, you’ve just got to find the right partners and the right product.”
The whoisgreen.com, currently in beta, is encouraging businesses and individuals to sign up prior to the launch of its search functionality in a few weeks.