The Three Questions: Project Wren

Welcome to the first installment of The Three Questions!

Learn more about what T3Q is all about here. The first company I am writing about is Project Wren:

What does Project Wren do?

Wren is a website that makes it easy for anyone to calculate and offset their carbon footprint through a monthly subscription. Through a series of questions, Wren calculates your CO2 emissions and then automatically offsets your emissions, so you can live carbon neutral. Subscribers choose to offset through a specific project, and then monthly updates are sent showing the progress their project made, like photos of the trees planted or satellite imagery of the rainforest protected.

What do I, Dalton, like about Project Wren?

Project Wren is a company I originally interviewed and funded for YC in November, 2019. The company was part of the first ever batch of YC Early Decision companies. Some quick context around early decision is that it is a program to fund promising teams during the fall while they were still in school with the team going fulltime a few months later, the summer after graduation. 

The initial idea this team was working on was called Skipper and the founders described it as “analytics tools for the employee lifecycle” on their YC application. The team consisted of 3 talented USC undergrads. They had a working prototype that looked pretty good and several agreements for pilots that we discussed at their YC interview. 

By the time April rolled around, before the S19 batch started, we had an office hours over Skype and the team told me they wanted to pivot. I recall that we discussed a few ideas, one of which I recall had something to do with making vegetarian snacks :) 

At any rate, in the coming weeks we had a few emails back and forth brainstorming ideas, and then one day I got this email:

I responded with some feedback and then I as the thread progressed I suggested they talk to my colleague and fellow group partner Gustaf about the Carbon Neutrality idea and they ran with it. And that is the story of how Project Wren was born.

What I like about the Project Wren team is they didn’t give up and found a promising startup idea. It’s rewarding when these pivot stories work out!

Why should people care about Project Wren?

A lot of consumers pay for digital subscriptions. Netflix has 158M subscribers and made $16B in revenue in 2018. Spotify has 248M subscribers. Their customers all pay a monthly fee via credit card where no physical object gets delivered, rather the customer gets access to 1s and 0s on the Internet.

I like to think that all people paying for digital subscriptions could and should subscribe to Wren. It’s not a stretch for me to imagine carbon offset becoming as mainstream of a subscription to have as video, music, gym membership, etc. 

There are a great deal of people in the world (maybe you!) that have the abstract idea of “hey I should offset my carbon” but Project Wren is a company that can actually make that abstract idea a simple quick reality. It seems like a product that should already exist but it’s not that simple - a product don’t just appear out of thin air even if there is a big need - someone has to actually build a great, easy to use consumer experience that customers will want to use forever, not as a one-off. 

I feel lucky to be one of the first handful customers before they launched were in the YC batch and once I set it up I haven’t looked back. I think anyone reading this should consider offsetting their carbon footprint with Wren, it’s really easy. As easy as signing up for Netflix. 

You can sign up and learn more about Project Wren here