We are Phyto, a carbon-footprint tracker focused on the corporate setting, yet designed for the individual.

Photo of Will Leonard
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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of humanity’s carbon emissions. In response to growing global consciousness of climate change, many are attempting to reduce their carbon footprints—primarily through manufacturing, product design, sustainable sourcing etc. However, these approaches do not address the emissions of each employee who’s commute and other actions contribute to the corporate carbon footprint. That’s where Phyto comes in.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Phyto is a carbon footprint tracking app marketed toward companies. It guides corporations to reduce their carbon footprints by evaluating each employee’s company related emissions and empowering these individuals to combat the impending climate crisis. Phyto evaluates a user’s carbon footprint by employing background data collection and user input data to issue a score corresponding to emissions in three categories: Commute, Food and Travel. Scores give employees an opportunity to track their emissions overtime and compete with their peers through a leaderboard that publicizes lowest emission and most improved employees within a company. The Phyto app also offers tips and goals with associated rewards, generated by the app or the employee’s company, to encourage employee improvement. Goals may be personalized to each individual such as a suggested public transit route to work or general such as a company goal to reduce commute emissions by 5% Meanwhile, all carbon emission data is sent to the company’s administrative account. This gives companies a much more complete view of their carbon footprint and allows them to address larger scale trends they see in employee habits.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

Though—as an app—Phyto is inherently a STEM product, the technology is most specialized in how it gathers data. The Commute function is the most important of three we envision the app taking on. Commute functions through the Phyto app in the background on each employee’s phone and will require users to answer a few initial questions (e.g. employee’s type of car). Subsequently it will record route and speed in an employee’s commute to work to record how employees get to work—car, bike, etc.—and the emissions associated with each commute. This data is collected and used without needing periodic input of data from the user. Food and Travel are different from Commute in that the data associated with them are collected in part through periodic user interaction and that accordingly they are optional. Food measures the carbon emissions from what employees eat at work, while Travel measures the emissions for non-commute work related transportation like air travel. Feedback from users will be elicited via questions based on data the app gathers. For example, Phyto tracks if an employee spent thirty minutes at Chipotle during lunch but will ask the employee if their burrito contained meat.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Phyto began as a 60 second pitch at a start-up camp. In that pitch, Green Goals—Phyto’s precursor—was just a half baked idea for a non-distinct corporate carbon footprint calculator. Yet despite the ideas apparent limitations, our team came together because of our shared recognition of the urgent need to fight climate change and our mutual uncertainty about how we specifically could make a difference. We united around the idea of preserving the beauty of humanity and nature in our world by employing the bountiful powers of STEM. Over that weekend and since then, through extensive brainstorming, research, product designing, and mentor feedback, Green Goals evolved into the feasible (though still theoretical) Phyto app—that we are pitching to you today. We view Phyto as our opportunity to take initiative in addressing the climate crisis and continue to remain dedicated to that mission.

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

Our team has overcome many obstacles—from creative differences to a pandemic—to develop our idea. So far, our team attended seminars on leadership, business models, marketing/social media strategies; worked with app development specialists and an industry-professional from our target market; conducted market research (128) all with positive results and helpful feedback; are in contact with Intel’s Rapid Prototyping Unit; and gave a professional 15 minute pitch of Phyto in a startup competition.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

EcoCred is one of many carbon footprint tracker apps on the market—specifically focused on rewarding environmentally-conscious behaviors and offering suggestions to develop sustainable habits based on user self-reporting. In a single year, they reduced ~960K lbs of carbon emissions. Though sharing a similar format, Phyto is unique in that it promotes environmental sustainability through corporate partnerships, not just individual initiative. We made this decision because we felt the corporate environment would be most effective at promoting, incentivizing and maintaining sustainable habits.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Though Phyto’s relatively short existence has not yet produced any measurable change in carbon footprints—due to still being in the prototyping stage—it has still been productive. Our work with Phyto has inspired us, our peers and mentors to whom we have pitched our idea (primarily at the Portland Global Youth Entrepreneurship Startup Camp weekend) to take the climate crisis seriously and consider technological solutions to relatively difficult to address facets of the larger climate crisis—like corporate emissions associated with employees.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Once the world opens up again, we have organized an opportunity to work with the Intel Prototyping Unit to begin the first stages of producing a viable prototype, to aid us in demonstrating our product to prospective clients. Then, with the help of adult mentors and student coders, we will begin to actually develop our app. Our go-to-market plan will be laid-out later on in the application. Though we plan on our product initially focusing on the emissions of a corporation’s employees that that company is most responsible for and can collect data on most easily (i.e. Commute), once established Phyto could expand to address other employee emissions such as Food and Travel, and provide more tools to help companies reduce carbon footprints.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

Phyto emerged as a concept from the work of teens who met and participated in a startup weekend. In addition to garnering support from interested teens, Phyto and the broader idea of environmental consciousness, were pitched to hundreds of diverse community members in our market research. Since its inception, Phyto has continued to seek connections with young people through our social media, online presence, and recruitment of new members to help make our idea a reality.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

While developing our app, we will welcome the contributions of other changemakers experienced in app development. Even once developed, Phyto is not a stand alone product. Without others interested in using Phyto (and tools to address different facets of the corporate carbon footprint) to go green we will be virtually inconsequential. Our go-to-market strategy involves a passionate coalition of early-adopters. Who better than our fellow Changemakers united under the goal of environmental action?

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

In addition to establishing our market and social media presence to amplify our brand, we plan to reach out to industry connections on Linkedin and other social platforms to pitch our product—in hopes of gaining early-adopters and product advocates. Our business-model is currently subscription-based. We plan to partner with companies looking to further alleviate their carbon-footprint by emphasizing our value of strengthening their brand identity in an environmentally-conscious consumer base.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 20%

Probably - 40%

Maybe - 20%

Probably not - 20%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 20%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 60%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 0%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 20%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4 - Yes, I think so - 60%

3 - Maybe - 20%

2 - Probably not. - 20%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4 - Yes, I think so - 100%

3 - Maybe - 50%

2 - Probably not - 50%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4 - Yes, I think so - 60%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 20%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

4- Yes, I think so - 33.3%

3- Maybe - 33.3%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 33.3%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 0%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 33.3%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 50%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 100%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of aarushi agrawal

Hey Phyto! This is an amazing idea! I love the sleek design and the easy-to-use interface! I love how Phyto is catered to the user and provides specific feedback on their daily routines :)

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