- Return lets people buy carbon credits to offset their crypto activity. It’s raised $2.5 million.
- Cofounder and CEO Kieran White previously worked at Tesla, where he got interested in climate tech.
- White told Insider Return aims to encourage crypto users to become more climate-friendly.
Given the gigantic energy demands of mining bitcoin, climate tech and Web3 haven’t necessarily sat alongside each other so easily.
It’s a conflict Kieran White noticed years ago. He first bought bitcoin and ether more than five years ago and started his career at Tesla in London, working at the company as its Model 3 came to Europe. What jumped out at White, however, was another line of business at Tesla: the sale of carbon credits.
White’s company, Return, aims to reconcile the two. It’s raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Cherry Ventures, with participation from Climate Capital, Eniac Ventures and several angel investors, including the soccer player Mario Götze; Markus Ament, the founder of Centrifuge; and Henrik Gebbing, the founder of Finoa. The funding values Return at $22.5 million, White, the company’s cofounder and CEO, told Insider.
Companies, organizations, and individuals buy carbon credits to offset greenhouse-gas emissions from their activities. The proceeds are generally intended to fund climate-friendly projects, such as reforestation, but one criticism of the credits is that those projects may not truly mitigate the emissions they supposedly offset. Several projects — such as Toucan Protocol, with which Return has partnered — aim to bring transparency to carbon credits by listing them on blockchains.
But not all carbon credits are of high quality, White said. So Return vets their quality, then calculates how many credits its users need to buy, based upon their crypto activity. The company aims to make it easy for people to purchase credits. It also gives them a way to demonstrate their commitment to bettering the climate, by way of a non-transferable, non-fungible token — known as a “soulbound” token, in crypto parlance.
Here’s an exclusive look at the pitch deck that helped White raise seed funding: