Meet Carbmee: The Berlin-based startup helping companies decarbonise

Based in Berlin, Carbmee is a startup joining the growing market of carbon management. As carbon reduction becomes a key priority for both the private and public sectors, software tools such as Carbmee’s are becoming pivotal in the path to Net-Zero. 

In 2021, Dr. Christian Heinrich, together with co-founders Hendrik Beneke and Robin Spickers, embarked on a mission to help companies reduce their carbon footprint. They launched Carbmee with a belief in the power of collaboration to impact change. The greentech startup offers a pioneering Environmental Intelligence System that enables companies to reduce their carbon footprint by analyzing supply chains – and it’s picking up steam. 

Collaboration between enterprises and startups allows big, slower-moving teams to integrate and embed innovative and dynamic solutions. In the fight against climate change, it’s an approach that is reaping big rewards and it’s exciting to see how startups can contribute to achieving net-zero and ambitious climate targets. 

We chatted to Christian Heinrich to find out more about Carbmee, exploring how digitization is helping us reach carbon neutrality, how collaborations can provide a boost to these goals and more.

Can you tell us about Carbmee’s backstory? How did you launch the company?

Prior to Carbmee, I was co-founder of Scoutbee – one of the most successful procurement start-ups – where I was responsible for the Market & Growth division. My co-founder, Robin is a trained mechanical engineer with several years of experience, specializing in procurement, supply chain, data management, and digitalization, and worked at Siemens shortly before Carbmee. And finally, Hendrik is a software engineer and developer, who has also co-founded before and worked at companies like SAP and Walmart in the past.

When Robin and I first met and started talking about this topic, Robin had to explain scope 1, 2, and 3 to me. And I thought, my goodness! Scope 3 emissions is such a huge problem and nobody is focusing on solving it. In many cases, scope 3 is responsible for over 80% of the total emissions within one company. We immediately reached within our networks to our first potential customers and started deep-diving with them into the challenges they were facing. We were able to gain tremendous insights already then. At that point, we came together with Hendrik, our Technical Lead, and started developing our product.

What are the main services that Carbmee offers?

The most key service we offer to our customers is at the core of our EIS Carbon Management Solution – it’s the ability to not only ensure carbon transparency over the most complex parts of their value chain, but the ability to allocate emissions within their supply chain while also working collaboratively either within their company, or externally with suppliers to reduce them. We break down what our Solution offers into four parts which are to Measure, Decide, Take Action, and Report. To accomplish the latter two parts, the former, which are Measure and Decide, are absolutely essential to complete first and this is done with our EIS™ Carbon Footprint Automation and EIS™ Analytics.

What are the main segments where Carbmee has clients today?

It’s important to us that we focus on industries with some of the largest carbon footprints and most extensive value chains globally. This means we work mostly with industry leaders in logistics, automotive, manufacturing, chemicals, and FMCG.

How do you see the future of ESG adoption in Europe? And of decarbonization?

I see the future of both as inextricably linked and also part of a larger, more pressing shift. Right now the climate crisis is only growing direr, and the subsequent pressures coming from the market, customers, investors, and regulators – this is all driving the adoption of ESG and corporate decarbonization strategies in general. Companies need to incorporate these into their overall strategies to operate in a way that we call “carbon-aware”, which means that they take carbon into consideration throughout every step of their daily operations, to be conscious of the carbon perspective for every important decision. All that to say, I think ESG adoption and decarbonization will continue to become a higher priority for companies not only in Europe, but companies globally.

What does onboarding customers like Kärcher, KWS Saat, Infineon and Infarm, mean for your ongoing strategy? 

It’s been quite exciting to work with and speak publicly about these large German companies – they’re big names with influence and working with them has helped us to attract international companies that we are currently onboarding. I think it’s helped us to continue developing the company with more confidence, as we’ve been generating revenue almost since the beginning. With the way VC funding is leaning now, it’s clearly important that companies are able to show the results and customers they’ve been able to not only secure but deliver to, so I think Carbmee is in a great position right now.

Are there any plans for expansion? How much of your business revenue is coming from regions outside Europe?

We definitely have plans to expand outside of the German market, since we’ve seen huge interest in our solution on an international level. As I said, being able to speak about our experiences thus far with the German companies we’ve already been working with has helped to build trust and confidence with existing and new customers in the UK and North American markets. There’s also growing interest in Asia, but one step at a time, as they say.

What do you think could ease the adoption of real Net Zero corporate strategies in the EU? 

I think a huge help in this would be clearer guidance and support from the government. It’s understandable that they want to get emissions under control for the good of society and the planet, and that industries across all sectors need to do their part – no one is arguing with that. However, the reality is that these industries and activities drive economies and livelihoods. It’s crucial that we find a way for companies to comply with net-zero requirements, while still remaining profitable. To achieve this, the government needs to do more than set ambitious goals;  it needs to also provide companies with the clarity and direction they need to ensure they can not only comply, but also thrive. An example of this would be to work together with organizations like SBTi or GRI to work backwards from targets, translating the goal into possible actions needed to get there. This is in addition to grants and funds that go into projects, programs, and solutions that all contribute to the achievement of net-zero emissions.

If companies see a clear and doable path to net-zero, that is supported by the tools they need, then they’re more confident in tackling the challenge of decarbonizing their value chains.

What do you look for when hiring a new team member?

I really look for the right combination of experience and ambition. Unlike some start-ups, our team does lean a bit senior with considerable years of industry experience. We do have incredibly ambitious junior team members, but part of the reason we’ve been able to hit the ground running since the start is that we really look for team members with a fair bit of experience, even if it’s not in one exact field or another. Often skills can translate from one industry to another, but having learned from past successes and mistakes takes time – and I really value that.

Looking back at your experience, what would you do differently today?

To be honest, I think we would listen even more to our gut instinct and then push even harder to empower companies to own and communicate the decarbonization journeys that they’re on. It’s daunting for many of them to be as transparent as possible when they’re not positive if they’re doing everything right on their own. With tools like Carbmee’s the journey is outlined and they can be confident in their strategies. So we’ve now been emphasizing this, but I think we could have started even earlier with that.