WE MADE IT!!!
Tremendous thanks to all of you who contributed and spread the word!
Now stay-tuned to your inboxes, Facebook, Twitter and oroeco.com for more news about our impending beta launch...
"Oroeco’s mission is to fundamentally shift the global economy towards sustainability" - Forbes
"The Captain Planet of Web 2.0" - VentureBeat
"Oroeco rewards you for personal climate action" - Clean Technica
"See how purchases directly impact climate change" - Discovery
"Oroeco tackles climate change, one purchase at a time" - Reuters
"A big, intriguing idea" - Boston Globe
What's awesome about Oroeco?
Hi Indiegogoers! Welcome to Oroeco, the app that tracks how your personal values link to your everyday life, then rewards you for improving upon the things you care about most.
What exactly do we mean by that? Well, we're building a system that automatically links your spending and investment transactions to scientific data that calculates the impacts of each decision. You'll be able to see how your personal impacts compare to your neighbors, as well as your Facebook friends, and even (we hope) celebrities. AND (even better), you'll be able to compete to improve vs. yourself and your friends, get personalized tips, and earn "oro" points to cash in for both virtual and real world prizes.
We're aiming to empower you with information to sort out big choices from small. We think you deserve to get rewarded when you put your money where your heart is, and the more information and incentives you have for making better choices, the more companies will be encouraged to make more sustainable products (since they won't get your money if they don't).
Oroeco 1.0 & OPTIMUM
What we're launching through Indiegogo is our first web app. This app will automatically track your spending and investments (initially through Mint.com), then add social and environmental impacts, starting with greenhouse gas emissions. So our first app will essentially be a fun, social, real-time carbon calculator that shows how all aspects of your life impact global climate change. Then you'll get rewarded for helping us refine your figures, reducing your impacts, and sharing and competing with friends.
All Oroeco users will get the ability to track their spending impacts for free. Oroeco OPTIMUM subscribers will also be able to track the impacts of their investments. For those of you who love bullet points, here's the scoop on Oroeco 1.0 and Oroeco OPTIMUM:
Oroeco 1.0 app:
- Automatically track spending transactions;
- Visualize the climate change impacts of each transaction;
- Get personalized tips for improvement;
- Set goals for yourself, and be reminded to fulfill them;
- Compare and compete with Facebook friends;
- Earn "oro" points, virtual prizes, and real world rewards.
Get personalized tips, set goals, and add reminders to help meet them. [Product mockup. With your help our 1.0 app will look a lot better!]
Dissect your impacts and watch them improve over time.
Estimate impacts from individual purchases.
Challenge yourself and your friends.
Earn "oro" points, along with both real and virtual rewards.
Track your community's progress and watch your influence grow!
Oroeco OPTIMUM app (all of the above + the following):
- Automatically track the climate impacts of your stock portfolio;
- Get personalized tips for improving investment impacts;
- Compare, compete, and earn rewards for better investments;
- Ability to customize the appearance of your entire Oroeco profile.
Oroeco OPTIMUM visualizes your investment impacts. [Product mockup. The real deal will look better than this, with your help!]
Find investments that return profits while protecting people and the planet.
Our Master Plan (and why we need your $$$)
Climate change is just the first of many personal value-related impacts that we plan to eventually let you track through Oroeco. We're also looking at some great databases that will link your spending and investments to a bunch of other important social, environmental, and personal health indicators (like living wages, forced labor, local sourcing, water quality, air pollution, biodiversity, health impacts related to your diet and exercise habits, and the influence of corporate money in politics).
We're focusing on climate change because we have to start somewhere, and it's an important issue our team is passionate about. We also already have all the climate data we need to make a very cool proof-of-concept product.
So what we've got now is a solid team of scientists and engineers who have already linked up a spending data feed from Mint.com to climate change data. And we just added Facebook friend comparisons, along with personalized improvement tips.
What we're lacking is the ability to pay a user-interface (UI) designer to make our app fun, intuitive, and utterly gorgeous. What you see above are just mockups to give a sense of the functionality we're initially going for, so please don't hold the clunkiness of the current design against us! Our current alpha product has most of this functionality illustrated above, but we're planning to substantially improve the aesthetics and UI before our 1.0 launch (we just need $$ to do it).
We'd also like to raise enough funding for a mobile design specialist who can turn our web app into a sexy little portable package (initially HTML5, then native iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile). There are also server hosting fees we'll need to cover as we grow, and plenty of other development costs that have been piling up.
So that's why we're reaching out to all y'all Indiegogoers to help turn our Master Plan into reality. We're fully "bootstrapping" at the moment, so all our costs have been coming out of our own (quite limited) pockets. We're hoping to far exceed our $15k goal, but that's the minimum amount we need to launch our first version of Oroeco. The more money we can raise, the more resources we'll have to add in other environmental, social and health impact indicators, and the more useful (and fun!) Oroeco will become.
Master Plan = you use Oroeco and get your friends to do the same >> good companies get rewarded, bad companies are encouraged to clean up (or close) >> a sustainability revolution driven by informed citizens!
What you get out of the deal
All of our Backers who pledge $5 or more get access to our private beta. So you'll get to start using Oroeco before we launch it to the public, and you'll also have the opportunity to tell us how to improve our functionality and design to suit your needs and aesthetic sensibilities.
Those of you who pledge more will get access to Oroeco OPTIMUM, which tracks impacts from your investments, as well as your spending decisions (see above for more info on Oroeco 1.0 vs. Oroeco OPTIMUM). We'll be launching Oroeco OPTIMUM as a paid subscription service, so our Backers will get a discount (that varies based on how much you pledge).
Folks who donate even more will get some spiffy artistic goodies as tokens of our undying affection.
Organic cotton T-shirts take Oroeco style to the streets.
Kirstin Cummings: After wrapping up grad school at Stanford, Kirstin began her career researching machine learning at Stanford's Center for the Study of Language and Information, writing code to help computer programs learn how to do things like solve math problems and navigate virtual cars down virtual roads. Moving into the start-up world, she became one of the first software engineers at imeem, an early music-streaming service. She's proudly earned certificates in both graphic design and artisan cheesemaking, and she's a founding member of women's vocal ensemble Musae.
Yang Ruan: Currently a grad student at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Yang is building bridges between policymakers and engineers (fancying herself a bit of both). With an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from MIT, she has experience in private sector supply chains from working on various stages of product development. Yang also worked on MIT's Climate CoLab project, attempting to make climate-economic models a bit more accessible to the public. She dabbles in a multitude of computer programming languages, and she's excited to delve into the intricacies of environmental finance and sustainability gaming with Oroeco.
Ian Monroe: Raised on a small farm in the wilds of Mendocino County, CA, Ian picked up undergrad and grad degrees in Earth Systems from Stanford. He spent most of the last decade bouncing around the world on projects linked to clean energy, international development, and sustainable business, working with clients ranging from ginormous corporations and government agencies to NGOs and family farmer cooperatives. He's rather obsessed with the power of environmental life cycle assessment (LCA), as well as edible mushroom hunting. He also moonlights as a Visiting Scholar and Lecturer at Stanford, where he teaches courses on climate change and renewable energy technologies.
There are a bunch of other quality humans who have contributed substantial time, ideas, and/or artwork to the Oroeco endeavor. We didn't cram them all into the video, but check out our Team page for their bios and sexy pics. Plus, we've rounded up over 40 fabulous advisors, who are constantly tossing in more ideas and connections to help nudge Oroeco in the right direction.
Our Story (as told by Ian)
The idea for Oroeco started brewing slowly, and it's grown through hundreds of conversations, personal experiences, and technical experimentation.
I've been working around the globe for much of the past decade. From Asia and Africa, to Latin America, Europe and all over the US, I've gotten a chance to poke my head into many of the complex supply chains that make up our global economy. I've seen plenty of companies exploiting workers and the environment. But I've also seen a growing number of companies that take corporate responsibility quite seriously, spurred on by both aware consumers and internal champions for change.
The piece that's still missing though, is better information transfer, particularly information that makes it all the way from raw materials production and manufacturing to individual shoppers and investors (i.e. all of us). While many companies have realized it can pay to be "green," many just go far enough to get a label (organic, fair trade, etc) then blow the rest of their budgets on marketing. Governments can force companies into better practices, but politics and conflicts of interest keep much from happening, and globalization makes it easy to sweep unsightly images under someone else's rug.
Seeing this made me wonder whether the best way to drive a real, systemic shift towards sustainability would be to create a system that empowers all of us with better information and incentives. The easiest way to do this is to track the impacts of how we spend and invest our money, since many of the things we care about (both big and small) are ultimately driven by the collective power of our wallets.
Oroeco estimates full "life cycle" impacts of products and services.
Around the same time these thoughts were bubbling to the surface, I started doing research on environmental life cycle assessment, a scientific method for evaluating net impacts. This research made me realize that there are already huge databases that calculate the impacts of our choices, from how we get to work and power our homes, to what we eat for lunch. The problem has been that this data sits tucked away in the nooks and crannies of academia, industry, and high-priced consultants. Even when data is publicly available, it's generally not packaged in a way that's relatable, and it's certainly not automatically linked to our decisions in a way that's engaging.
The idea for Oroeco really clicked when I realized we can now combine life cycle data with smart phones, online banking (via Mint.com, and similar sites), social networks, and gaming mechanics to create a service that's informative, rewarding, and (most importantly) FUN!
So "Oroeco" ("oro" for gold, "eco" for both ecology and economics) was born in the spring of 2011, and I set off on a quest to round up teammates. First was my friend David, a Stanford physicist and journalist who had just biked 21,000 miles around the Americas researching and talking about climate change. A few months later I reconnected with Kirstin, another college friend with a passion for personal sustainability, and the tech skills to turn ideas into actual app development.
Yang enthusiastically joined our crew last winter, adding more app developer mojo and life cycle assessment experience to the team (from her research at MIT and UC Berkeley). Then Yang roped in her friend Dav, a Berkeley+MIT guru of behavioral psychology, climate informatics, and database programming, who's PhD research is a perfect fit for what we're building.
Team Oroeco has now evolved from a network of friends into the first version of a product we hope takes the world by storm. We're mostly scientists and engineers, with some artists and (do-gooder) lawyers tossed in for good measure. We are all passionate about this project, and we're convinced we've got the technical skills to pull it off. Now we just need your help to fund us along the way!
Oroeco = happier, healthier planet + happier, healthier you!
you + Oroeco + your friends = a better world (cheesy, but we're convinced it's true)
We've got all the data and tech we need to breathe life into Oroeco. The more money we raise, the better our first version of Oroeco will be. But even more fabulous is the fact that each one of you who pledges your support is demonstrating that you care about the impacts of your everyday decisions, and that you're willing to help create a system that makes these impacts more transparent.
Once we launch Oroeco 1.0, our biggest challenge will be finding and engaging users. Ultimately, Oroeco's positive influence on the planet will depend on 1) the number of users we have, and 2) the amount our users use Oroeco to inform their decisions. Thus, we'll constantly be looking for ways to improve our user experience, beautify our UI, create more enticing rewards, and spread the word far and wide. We hope you and our other first users from Indiegogo will play a large role in all these endeavors. The more you encourage your friends to use Oroeco, the more our impacts will scale, and the more leverage we'll have for shaping the world we really want to live in.
Thanks for your support, and spread the word!