Meet CO2IN: The Innovative Solution to Voluntary Carbon Credits

Today we have the pleasure of sitting down with Jan Palaščák, the founder and CEO of CO2IN, to learn more about their groundbreaking approach to tackling voluntary carbon offsetting and the role of blockchain technology in their solution.

Hi Jan, how did you come up with the idea of CO2IN?

Our journey began in fall 2020. Having built an energy group focusing on energy efficiency and renewable sources, I saw a large issue with the last step of the decarbonization process – offsetting. It was a small, but extremely fast growing market fraught with problems. Given the lack of a universal regulation on the subject, I was looking to create a benchmark solution. One, which would deliver guaranteed quality and scalability. Something most credits on the market are sorely lacking.

Jan Palaščák speaking at the ESG conference in Žďár nad Sázavou

Who is CO2IN for and what problem are you solving?

CO2IN is a tool for companies and individuals to compensate for their emissions and their impact on our climate. Our main goal is to create a clear benchmark in terms of quality and price in this highly fragmented market. That is why we create our credits from the emission allowances in the much larger and highly regulated mandatory EU market. We believe that by providing a trustworthy solution to the voluntary market, we can drive meaningful change in the way carbon emissions are compensated and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable future.

You are not the first startup to try solving this problem, and there are already available proven solutions. Why should a company look at CO2IN?

While there are many innovative solutions in this market, none of them address the general issue with the voluntary carbon credit space as a whole. We believe that CO2IN offers a unique value proposition. With CO2IN you can be sure that you will have a direct impact on emissions, ultimately guaranteed by the EU. By leveraging our know-how of this space, we’re able to provide our clients with access to the most trustworthy carbon asset in the world in a way that is certified for use as a voluntary offset. This gives our clients an important competitive edge, especially in marketing.

How big is the team and why are they a good match for this project?

Our team currently consists of a dozen people, each bringing a diverse range of skills and expertise to the table. We have people with extensive experiences in trading, as well as regulation, people from successful startups that enable us to tackle the multifaceted challenges associated with carbon offsets. The passion and dedication of our team members are what make CO2IN a powerful force in this industry.

What did you see as fundamentally wrong with the carbon offset industry?

One of the key issues we identified in the carbon emission industry was methodological. There are many standards and none of them are above scrutiny. While some are better, all major certification companies are facing serious claims about the efficacy of the projects they vetted. This problem often leads to projects significantly underdelivering on their nominal carbon sequestration amounts, which in turn perpetuates a cycle of accusations of greenwashing and reputation issues for many large companies. We felt that by addressing this issue head-on, CO2IN could make a significant difference in the way businesses approach carbon offsets.

Climate Sustainability Leaders Conference held at CO2IN HQ

What got you interested in working on blockchain?

Our interest in blockchain is built around trust. We recognized the potential of a blockchain ledger to record all transactions with CO2IN in a way that cannot be modified. This allows anyone who is verifying our claims to do so not only at one point in time, but for the whole duration of the project. I would say that today this should be a requirement for any serious project in this space.

Let’s talk more about your product. What would you say distinguishes you from other solutions?

What truly sets CO2IN apart from other solutions is that our offset is based on the most trustworthy carbon market out there – EU ETS. While not accessible to individuals and even most companies, it is by far the largest, most robust and well regulated market in the world. While its main target is to use market forces to lower emissions in the most polluting sectors of our economies, it also offers the best reference for price and quality for the reduction of carbon emissions. In fact, this market alone is almost two orders of magnitude larger than the global voluntary offset market. 

Our “secret sauce” is in not only providing our clients access to a typically unaccessible market, but making this secondary market very liquid and cost effective. Finally, our credits are certified, which makes them compliant with all major carbon reduction frameworks. This combination creates a highly scalable commoditized product. Our clients can buy as much as they need, when they need it at the current market price and they always receive the same superior offset.

Can you tell us a bit more about how your technology really works? How unique is your solution?

We harness the benefits of blockchain technology without compromising the planet or our clients’ privacy. We are building a trustworthy solution for businesses, which permeates our technical solution which includes a proprietary frontend and backend solutions. This approach is fairly unique compared to most other projects, which rely on carbon credit marketplaces of which many charge hefty fees. We have complete control over our whole ecosystem.

What have been your team’s biggest personal or professional challenges in making this project a reality?

Throughout the development of CO2IN, our team has faced many challenges. It was especially difficult at the very beginning to make our solution compatible with all appropriate KYC and AML requirements. This slowed us down significantly. We have also faced challenges optimizing our backend for scale. Luckily all of these issues had no significant impact. It helped that we ran a beta version of the app for several months to work many of these issues out. These challenges have served only to strengthen our team and drive us forward in our quest to create a more sustainable future.

Who is the ideal customer for CO2IN? What do people need to get started with CO2IN?

The ideal customer for CO2IN is someone who takes emission reduction seriously. Typically these are organizations for whom their reputation in the environmental sphere is very important. 

Screenshots from the CO2IN application

To get started with CO2IN, potential users simply need to register an account online or in our app. For corporate customers, our team is there to guide them through the whole onboarding process, ensuring a seamless transition.

Why would a company use CO2IN?

Companies choose to use CO2IN for its quality and clarity. As more and more traditional offsets fall prey to various kinds of manipulations and problems, they prefer understanding how the offset works and being sure that the value is being delivered. Our solution is also much more flexible. Every credit is the same and can be bought, sold, sent, or retired as needed. Ultimately, CO2IN empowers companies to make a tangible difference in the fight against climate change on their terms.

What do you hope that CO2IN will be able to do for its users in the next few years that they can’t do now?

We have a large task ahead of us. The market for voluntary carbon credits is growing fast and dealing with many issues. In the coming years, we envision CO2IN expanding its reach both geographically and reach other mature carbon markets. This is in line with our overarching mission to create a global carbon benchmark, which would help us efficiently combat climate change. By continuously innovating and refining our solution, we aim to stay at the forefront of carbon emission management and help our users navigate the evolving landscape of sustainability.

Talk a bit about your experience with StartupYard. What were the surprises, challenges, highs, and lows?

Our journey with StartupYard has been an incredible experience. We were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and breadth of feedback we received. The only challenge was to stay on track delivering new features, while engulfed in a stream of mentor meetings. We’re especially grateful for the guidance regarding core product and focus. The support and resources provided by StartupYard have been instrumental in helping us refine our vision and accelerate the growth of CO2IN.