Platform where you can purchase collectible digital tokens that support specific natural areas and wildlife around the world
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
New York City
Where are you making a difference?
Kenya, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Guatemala, USA, Cambodia
Website or social media url(s)
August / 2018
Start-up (first few activities have happened)
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
When I learned that there were only 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild, I was in shock: how could such a popular animal be endangered? I I researched numerous charities online that would allow me to donate directly the conservation of cheetahs, but none of the major charities offered this option. Even the smaller charities did not provide transparency into the specific projects that my money would support. Soon after, I realized that it was not just cheetahs: it was also lions, giraffes, lemurs and many other species whose populations in the wild are quickly declining. I decided to get more hands-on and apply my strategy and innovation experience towards developing new ways for people to engage with helping nature (see full story on website).
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The current nature conservation experience lacks transparency and personalization. People are not able to build a connection to wildlife and habitats or make progress in their journey to protect nature. The experience has fundamentally not changed in the last 40 years and, therefore, there is an opportunity to transform it to meet new consumer expectations and increase engagement.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Zooterra is a first-of-its-kind patent-pending platform providing transparency and gamifying nature conservation. On the platform, users can purchase collectible digital tokens. Each token is represented by a specific species and supports a natural area linked to that species through projects on the ground from around the world. With each token purchase, users unlock exclusive stories about the areas and the conservation teams working on the ground. As users support more habitats and wildlife, they grow their collection of digital wildlife and country and project badges to build their Guardian of Nature profile showing how they are having an impact in conservation.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
We conducted a landscape analysis, market research and consumer interviews to identify gaps in the current experience. We then applied design-thinking and several layers of innovation to transform the current consumer engagement model through:
(a) Ownership and gamification through digital collectible tokens linked to specific natural areas and wildlife
(b) Transparency by supporting specific projects
(c) Understanding impact through stories and project updates
(d) Personalization and progress through a unique Guardian profile
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
Zooterra is bringing together projects and organizations from around the world, which would normally compete for donors, into one platform. We currently support 4M acres of natural areas in 7 countries working in collaboration with several partners on the ground.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
We have been able to engage 9 organizations on the ground, cover 4M acres of land through the projects we feature. So far, we have contributed funding to 9 of the projects on the platform. One example of the impact is from Kasigua Wildlife Corridor in Kenya, where we have supported a vertical garden project benefiting local women groups and reducing pressure on the local habitat.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
We have been focusing on consumers as our end customer, but we see a significant opportunity to target institutional customers (investment funds, corporations, foundations, high net worth individuals) showcasing the data from our network of projects and partners as more organizations move towards being more sustainable and applying the ESG (environment, social, governance) framework
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
Zooterra's activities are directly tied to supporting Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life below water, and Goal 15, Life on land. Therefore, the platform success directly correlates with increased funding for conservation and protection of forests, habitats and wildlife. Furthermore, by having currently active projects and the conservation status of natural areas (through our satellite image analysis) together on one platform, we have a better chance to provide a full feedback loop for people to see the value of nature and how to do something to protect it.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
We are fundraising to support the next phase of product development and growth. In the long term, the company would be self funding through product sales.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
The collective experience of the team gives us the ability to execute on an innovative model for nature conservation. Our 5-member team, includes experiences in innovation, sustainability-product marketing, conservation NGOs, tech development and satellite image analytics. We also have advisors with experience in conservation and multi-lateral organizations. The team would need to grow in all functions to support future growth.
11. How did you hear about this challenge?