Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Path2Zero will help companies buy sustainably, thank to Wings

Everyone wants to help the environment. And we know that the decisions we make about what we buy and use are part of that. Unfortunately, we also know that sometimes it’s not easy to make the green, sustainable choice.

With the help they’ve received from the Wings Accelerator, Path2Zero founders plan to make it easier for companies in the Kingston area to make the right environmental choices, affordably.

Simone Santos and Ricardo Giuliani (together with a third partner, Claudio Righetto) share a passion for the environment and a desire to use their marketing skills to do something about it. One thing they’d noticed about businesses bothered them. When it came to purchasing, be it coffee cups or printer paper, whatever a company’s feelings on sustainability and environmentally friendly choices, says Giuliani, good intentions go out the window and they default to whatever is cheapest. That informed an idea. “What if we coordinated their buying?” says Giuliani. “And we got them good, high quality, sustainable and eco-friendly products,” at a more affordable price because several companies were going in together.

A useful idea, but as Giuliani admits, “not very sexy.” Santos had enrolled in programs offered as part of Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation’s WE-CAN Project for women entrepreneurs and through her connection to QPI learned about the Wings Accelerator program, which they joined in June 2020.

The timing could not have been better. “We were almost at a point where we had given up,” says Santos. “And then Wings was there to motivate us.” The Wings Accelerator program was designed specifically for companies like theirs, with an idea or some sort of prototype, but pre-revenue. Through workshops and various assignments, course directors Andrew Jackson and Elza Seregelyi prepare fledgling companies to take their next steps.

“They liked our idea,” says Santos, “but said it was still rough.” The three of them had seen Path2Zero primarily as distributors; Wings helped them to think outside that box. “The exercises put some challenges in front of us,” Giuliani says. Believing that there was a local community that was very motivated to make environmental choices, Path2Zero would function instead as a crowd-buying platform. “We are going to run campaigns about products so the community can go in and buy,” says Giuliani.  They’ll set an attractive price and when enough people opt in, they’ll be able to unlock that product at that price for their customers.  Customer discovery, a key part of the Wings program, let them put their idea in front of their potential customers and showed them they were on track. “We kept trying to prove it wrong,” says Giuliani, “and it was great, we couldn’t.”

Now, says Giuliani, “We’re working really hard on the minimum viable product” – a web interface, a database and an ecommerce element that he says, “is actually quite technology heavy.” The goal is to create “something potential customers can look at and get excited about.  We’re also trying to secure manufacturers who would like to work with us. You have to start selling and that’s what we’re doing now.”

“What we have now,” says Santos, “is because we went through Wings.”

 

The Wings/Growth Acceleration program was made possible with support from the Government of Canada to Queen’s University through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Scale-up Platform Project which is led by Invest Ottawa in eastern Ontario and by Queen’s in the Kingston region.

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