Jacob Wedderburn-Day of Treepoints: “I think any effort you make to leave the world better than you found it counts”

I think any effort you make to leave the world better than you found it counts. I don’t think economic measures are the best at capturing this by any stretch. Things you do to help others live more enjoyable lives are things that make a difference in my mind. Stasher is a simple business model, […]

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I think any effort you make to leave the world better than you found it counts. I don’t think economic measures are the best at capturing this by any stretch. Things you do to help others live more enjoyable lives are things that make a difference in my mind. Stasher is a simple business model, but we have over 20,000 reviews of people telling quite sweet stories about what a difference it has made, ranging from making their day a little bit more convenient to completely saving a situation. With Treepoints, as I’m just about to explain, making a difference is all about impact on climate change.


As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacob Wedderburn-Day.

Jacob Wedderburn-Day is the co-founder of Treepoints — a climate tech startup that helps businesses mitigate their carbon footprint. Prior to Treepoints, Jacob co-founded Stasher — a travel tech startup that connects travellers looking to store luggage with shops and hotels providing storage space. He has grown it from the initial idea back when he was a student to being a venture-backed company, valued at over 12 million dollars, present in 250 cities worldwide. He was recognised this year on Europe’s Forbes 30 under 30 list.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

I think my childhood was pretty normal and pretty enjoyable for that. I had very supportive parents, I was a bit of a nerd at school, but I also liked sports. I always liked the idea of running my own business. I know some entrepreneurs start because their passion is for the product they’re working on, whereas for me, I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I was looking for a good opportunity. I used to spend hours chatting about business ideas with my co-founder Anthony, before we created Stasher, back when we were university roommates at Oxford.

I liked all the subjects I studied at school — I just liked learning, really, which is something that stays with me to this day. I loved maths and the sciences, but my interest in business pushed me down the path of studying economics and management at university.

I’m a millennial (nearly a gen-Z) and so I grew up learning actively about climate change in school. For our generation, it’s never been a question of if it’s a problem, in the way that previous generations have wasted time debating. I feel quite privileged to spend my days actively working to fight climate change by running Treepoints.

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. It’s my favourite non-fiction book and a very formative book generally. It tells the story of Frankl’s experiences surviving the Holocaust, as a psychologist, and how our search for meaning is what sustains us through suffering. It’s just a very powerful read and I think any life philosophy that’s been put to that much of a test is one worth being interested in.

For my own part, Treepoints was born out of a feeling of watching the pandemic force Stasher into a state of hibernation. Stasher is a great business — it’s very robust — so it will be absolutely fine when people are travelling again. But in the absence of working on that, both Anthony and I found ourselves yearning to work on something impactful. I’m not the kind of person who can sit around waiting not doing much — I expect most people aren’t really — so you have to turn a crisis into an opportunity to do something new. That’s how we got into founding a climate tech startup.

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I think any effort you make to leave the world better than you found it counts. I don’t think economic measures are the best at capturing this by any stretch. Things you do to help others live more enjoyable lives are things that make a difference in my mind. Stasher is a simple business model, but we have over 20,000 reviews of people telling quite sweet stories about what a difference it has made, ranging from making their day a little bit more convenient to completely saving a situation. With Treepoints, as I’m just about to explain, making a difference is all about impact on climate change.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

Sure, so let me tell you about Treepoints. If you go to Treepoints.green you’ll see it in more detail. Essentially, we help people and businesses offset their carbon footprint and fight climate change. We do this by curating some of the best climate crisis projects out there and offering people subscriptions to support them. It’s half the price of a Netflix subscription, and for that money, you’ll be investing in renewable energy and we can quantify your impact. For businesses, we also have technology that embeds carbon offsetting or tree planting in a website checkout flow. For example, we can help calculate the carbon footprint of a product like a t-shirt and then the company can offset exactly that amount every time they sell a t-shirt (or offer the customer to cover it).

With Treepoints, making a difference is easier to define. For us, making a difference can be measured in terms of trees planted and carbon offset, which all goes towards mitigating the drastic effects of climate change.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Climate change is a funny one — I really do think it’s the biggest crisis facing the world. One of the concerns I have had during the pandemic — and while the Trump show was still going on in the White House — was that climate change, which is the defining existential threat of our time, was being sidelined as an issue.

On the flip side, the pandemic has shown us what we can achieve when a crisis forces our hand — the collaboration and ingenuity that went into the vaccine race was remarkable. My hope is that following the pandemic, we can redirect people’s attention towards climate tech.

We started this journey as the kind of people who care about climate change but didn’t know how best to make an impact. So we built a product for people like us — your everyday folk who want to know what they can do that will be high impact.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

With Treepoints, it was borne out of seeing the second wave of the pandemic starting to threaten Europe. At that point, we knew travel (and therefore Stasher) would be subdued for many more months. As entrepreneurs, we were like “Nope, we can’t face six more months of sitting around waiting”, so we sat down and said, “What are the problems we care about most?”

We singled out climate change and financial inequity. From this base, we built out this idea of a green investment platform, but then scaled that back to something that we knew we could build and MVP ourselves. The resulting product is Treepoints.The more I learn about the space, the more excited I am to be a part of it, as the potential to expand and develop Treepoints seems huge.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

It helped that we had prior experience from starting Stasher. Actually, that’s made everything incredibly speedy second time around. Here are some of the tricks.

1) It’s easy to over-focus on product, but the key is actually marketing. You have to have an idea of how you will distribute this and reach people.

2) Keep the product simple to begin with and if you can, build it yourself. Lean startup methodology: iterate and release.

3) The admin around starting a company seems more off-putting and burdensome than it really is. We did all of that very quickly — modern day fintechs make it so easy to open a bank account and registering a company is also easy. You can do literally all of it online.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I am not a sustainability expert. I would like to be, and I find every day and week that passes I am learning lots more. I’m making a conscious effort to read everything I can — my most recent favourite book is Mike Berners-Lee’s “There is No Planet B”.

Amusingly, whenever we appear on podcasts or talk shows, people have started treating us as if we are experts. I always make a point of down-playing this, but I notice myself becoming more and more impassioned. I was on a talk show recently where I ended up ranting for a minute about the need for us to ban fossil fuel extraction, ending on “We need to leave fossil fuels in the ground!” and earned a round of applause. Moments like that make you reflect on the distance you have travelled.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

Something ironic, considering we call ourselves Treepoints, is that tree-planting was not a feature in our initial release. I am all in favour of tree planting as a tool for fighting climate change, but I think its impact is less per dollar spent than other carbon offsetting projects. Anyway, people used to assume trees were the core of what we offered and in the end we stopped trying to fight the tide and embraced it into the product! Interestingly, and perhaps because it is more tangible (whereas offsetting carbon takes various forms and is harder to visualise), tree planting has proven to be a very popular add-on in our business API — a lot of companies elect to offer “plant a tree for every sale” as their method of choice.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Founding Treepoints put us in a unique position, because of course we are still employed as the founders of Stasher, which is a venture-backed startup. But the pandemic is an incredibly unusual circumstance, especially for a company like Stasher, which was doing extremely well before it suddenly ground to a halt.

Our Stasher investors, particularly the ones that sit on our board, have always been very supportive of us as entrepreneurs — I think it helps that all of them have prior experience of being entrepreneurs themselves so can empathise and relate. In any case, they granted us permission to pursue Treepoints while Stasher is quiet and have been supportive of its growth. Having experienced entrepreneurs onside is valuable — they are always a great sounding board for advice.

Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

In the case of climate change, it is important to recognise that it is a global issue, affecting everyone. True, there will be relative winners and losers, but nobody will be untouched. However, one of the things we do is support great climate crisis projects, which provides employment to people as well as helping the world develop more renewable energy technologies. We get reports from the projects we support that will tell us tales about specific individuals, and how the projects have given them an empowering livelihood and they feel positive to be fighting climate change on the ground.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Absolutely! Climate change is a complex problem, but that means there are a range of solutions which add up to combating it.

First off, climate change can be understood in terms of stocks and flows. Every year there is a flow of CO2 equivalents into the atmosphere and a flow back out that is captured by our trees and oceans. There is also a stock of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. That stock amount keeps growing, because in spite of our efforts to emit less, we still emit more than we capture, so the problem is only getting worse year by year.

This means the three things are: 1) We have to agree to leave fossil fuels in the ground. We can’t afford to use them all up until they run out, we need to stop before then. This needs international cooperation

2) People and businesses should switch their investments away from fossil fuel companies and others with bad ESG practices. This is a powerful tool to incentivize companies to change their policies.

3) Everyone, no matter how much they can afford, can go carbon neutral using Treepoints. Sign up for an account today and we can plant trees and get you supporting great projects around the world.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Life is too short to not work on something you enjoy and that matters. I strongly hope that the way we assess our economic systems will change in the coming years — it’s happening already with the emergence of social enterprises (of which Treepoints is one) and B-Corps, which are all businesses committed to impact over profits. It is crucial that we recognise, on a macro-economic level, that measuring GDP is neither the best nor the only measure of what counts in our world. We need to factor human wellbeing and environmental wellbeing into the equation.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

If Jeff Bezos does see this, it would be pretty cool. I mention him because he’s just committed to the single biggest climate change investment we’ve ever seen and I want to know what he’s planning with it. Up next would be either Bill Gates or Mike Berners-Lee, since they’ve both written books I massively enjoyed and are seriously interesting dudes in their own rights!.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: @treepoints.green

Twitter: @_Treepoints

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacob-wedderburn-day-499258111/

And sign up at https://treepoints.green

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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