This week, The Startup Club is happy to feature Solid World, a commodity production financing platform that makes prepaid carbon markets truly liquid and transparent.
Founded on 1 October 2021, Solid World enables anyone to participate in Climate Finance by becoming an automated match-maker for carbon credit buyers and sellers as a Liquidity Provider. The company's liquidity pools give projects access to working capital, and buyers access to quality prepaid carbon credits. Pools directly fund climate projects, which capture carbon, grow biodiversity and protect communities from climate change.
We spoke to Stenver Jerkku, CEO of Solid World, about the company and his entrepreneurial journey.
The Startup Club: Tell us about your company.
Stenver, Solid World: I work in climate markets, where I engage with individuals involved in carbon projects as well as investors and traders who handle carbon credits. As the founder of Solid World, my company focuses on providing liquidity infrastructure for prepaid carbon credits to support the financing of new carbon projects, thereby accelerating efforts to combat climate change. Solid World's innovative infrastructure transforms the financing of commodity production, starting initially with carbon removals. One of our notable initiatives is the Mangrove restoration pool, through which we acquire carbon removals at a discounted rate before their delivery. These removals are then made available to distributors, effectively establishing a transparent and liquid digital warehouse as an intermediary. Participants in this system can engage in the liquid market and get rewarded approximately 14% APR as rewards. To mitigate delivery risks, we have developed the AI-powered CRISP framework. Solid World was launched in May 2023, and our beta version has already attracted $1 million in Total Value Locked (TVL). We have also established strong partnerships with industry leaders such as Mastercard Lighthouse and SCB, with support from prominent T1 funds like Greycroft, Draft Ventures, and Taavet+Sten.
The Startup Club: What made you become an entrepreneur?
Stenver, Solid World: The decision to become an entrepreneur was driven by a combination of factors and experiences that shaped my journey, having been an early employee of unicorn startups like Glia. While Solid World is my latest venture, it is not the first business I founded. Prior to Solid World, I co-founded eAgronom, a company dedicated to assisting farmers in transitioning towards carbon farming practices. During my involvement with carbon farmers through eAgronom, I gained valuable insights into the carbon markets and identified areas that could be enhanced to maximize their effectiveness. Witnessing the potential for improvement and the urgent need to combat climate change, I felt compelled to take action. This led me to establish Solid World with the primary goal of enhancing the infrastructure of carbon markets. Every day, I am fueled by a deep motivation to contribute towards healing the planet and addressing the pressing issue of climate change. Through Solid World, I aim to make a meaningful impact by facilitating the funding of new carbon projects and accelerating the transition to sustainable practices. The opportunity to play a role in this critical fight against climate change drives my passion as an entrepreneur.
The Startup Club: What is the most challenging part of running your own startup?
Stenver, Solid World: Running a startup is a bit like captaining a ship in unexplored waters. One of the most challenging aspects is balancing innovation with risk. As we traverse this uncharted territory, we constantly re-evaluate our strategies, ensuring we're staying true to our mission while dealing with the uncertainties of the financial and environmental landscapes.
The Startup Club: What is the biggest challenge you have faced when looking for funding?
Stenver, Solid World: The largest challenge in seeking funding has been bridging the gap between our pioneering model and the traditional mindset of investors. We've combined forward financing, automated market-making (AMM), and elements of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) to create a unique and dynamic ecosystem that transforms carbon markets. It's an innovative approach that revolutionizes commodity financing, providing a high-yield, transparent, and inclusive platform. However, this novelty is a double-edged sword; while it's our greatest strength, it can also be a hurdle when communicating with conventional investors who are more accustomed to familiar structures and strategies. There's a learning curve associated with understanding how these disruptive tools can synergize to open new possibilities in the carbon market, and it takes a visionary mindset to appreciate this potential. Despite these challenges, we are persistent and confident that our unique approach will reshape the future of environmental finance.
The Startup Club: What is the most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship?
Stenver, Solid World: The most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship is the meaningful impact our work can have on the people whose lives we touch. There's one particular instance that stands out in my memory.
In the course of one of our projects, we developed an intuitive digital tool to help farmers manage their resources more efficiently. Our goal was to minimize waste, increase productivity, and ultimately, make their lives easier. I remember meeting a small-scale farmer named Timo, who had been manually tracking his farming activities on a clipboard for over 20 years. He was skeptical about the impact digitalization could have on his traditional farming methods.
We persisted, providing him with our tool and the necessary support to transition. There were challenges along the way - from reluctance to technology literacy, but we stuck by Timo's side. After an entire season, we revisited Timo. He greeted us with a warm smile and shared his experience. With our digital tool, he had been able to optimize his resources, reduce his costs, and increase his output. But what moved us the most was his emotional recounting of how, for the first time in years, he could afford a family vacation.
Seeing the joy in Timo's eyes and knowing that our work helped him achieve a better quality of life - that's the true reward of entrepreneurship. It's more than innovation and disruption; it's about using these tools to create real, positive change in people's lives.
For more information on Solid World, visit their website www.solid.world.