Munich startup Icomio wants to help companies generate less CO2. Employees are rewarded for traveling in a climate friendly manner. Your biggest competition? Mile Hunters at Miles & More.
In her job as a management consultant, Katharina Rieder traveled a lot. Like most of her colleagues at Roland Berger, she booked a seat in business class on long-haul flights – there she could stretch her legs as well as cover a decent amount of miles.
“As long as I was within travel guidelines, I didn’t care much about the cost of these trips or the carbon footprint behind them. My miles were always important to me,” the Munich native looked back.
Algorithm calculates “greening” options
That’s exactly the problem for many companies: How can employees be motivated to travel in a climate-friendly way if they have to give up their frequent flyer status or say goodbye to free points upgrades? How do you inspire employees to appreciate more sustainable travel and stand up to competitive offers from Miles & More?
29-year-old idea: Icomio, software that can be integrated into the company’s existing travel booking system. The algorithm calculates green options and shows how much CO2 emissions and what costs can be saved by climate-friendly travel.
“For business trips, 90 percent eco-friendly travel goes hand in hand with savings,” says the founder. Companies can then pay the difference directly to their employees or convert it into their own points program. This more environmentally friendly alternative to existing bonus programs is intended to help companies achieve their own climate goals more quickly.
In November 2020, Riederer brought Sarah Banare and her fellow student Mario Blatter on board to make their vision a reality. He financed his work with 90,000 euros in grants from Riederer and Blatter’s alma mater, ETH Zurich.
Lee-Sophie Cramer has also invested
The Ecomio team now consists of ten people and has raised fresh capital through business messengers. The financing round, led by top Austrian investor Hansi Hansmann, brought in 650,000 euros. Amorelli founder Lee-Sophie Kramer, Runtastic co-founder Alfred Luger, business travel specialist Patrick Diemer – who, among other things, managed the Miles & More program for four years – as well as private equity and venture capital experts. Volker attended Rofalsky. and Nicole Buttner, founder of the AI consulting firm Merantix.
There’s currently no competition, says Reeder, but the software still isn’t live. Icomio’s rollout is set for early next year, and collaborations with corporations like Deloitte are already underway. The customers are large and medium sized companies as the software should have access to the data of the existing booking platforms.
According to the founder, the challenge for the target customers is to adapt the algorithms to the individual needs of the company while ensuring data security. As Rieder explains: “Startups as customers are not initially in question, as they often book trips through Kayak and Expedia and their travel expenses are best noted on some excel sheet.” So if there are significantly more business travelers sitting on the train next year than traveling on the plane, it could only be due for more than a 9-euro ticket.
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