The inspiration behind Capture and how we got started...
Updated: Aug 3
Capture's Head of Content, Ruwan Teodros, interviews Co-Founders Aziz & Josie to find out how Capture came to be.
Josie Stoker and Abdul Aziz met at Antler, a global startup generator that facilitates the meeting of exceptional minds and merging of ideas. A place where start-up dreams can come true! Antler helps people find a co-founder with similar values and goals to launch and build companies. In the case of Capture, it was two people who had separate pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly together. Josie, with the conviction that she could have a positive effect on the environment, and Aziz, armed with the ability and knowledge to bring the idea to life.
When I ask Josie about her personal investment in Capture and what motivated her, she tells me that it was her research with Indigenous tribes around the world - in Mongolia, Kalimantan, and Kenya that sparked her interest in environmental sustainability. She began to think about how the extensive flying that came with her job was having an effect on the environment.The facts were there: One long-haul flight emits nearly twice as much as giving up driving for a year. Josie looked into carbon offsetting and found it to be a ‘messy’ area, but interesting nonetheless.
If there are Fitbits for tracking movement, tracker apps for eating, meditating, and sleeping, why isn’t there a tracker for your carbon footprint? This was where her journey towards Capture really begins.
Cue Aziz to centre stage. He was intrigued by the concept of Capture and coming from a different background, creating a mobile application for tracking carbon emissions wasn’t an obvious idea. He had always heard about global warming and climate change, but he wasn’t aware of how he could have an impact as an individual.
Aziz’ journey began in research. Learning, reading about, and understanding the climate crisis and what needs to be done. He started to think about the improvements to be made, especially mindful of the futures of his two children. With his background in product development and mobile applications, Josie and Aziz were the perfect combination to develop Capture.
What you’re probably wondering is: How do the co-founders of a carbon emissions tracking app implement sustainable behaviour into their own lives?
Aziz explains that it has been a transformative experience working on Capture and implementing sustainability into his lifestyle. As a regular meat eater, he has explored many options and drastically cut down on his meat intake. Instead of ordering food online, he tries to cook at home, or at least visit a restaurant to avoid plastic packaging. While living in Singapore, he made sure to take advantage of the public transportation system to avoid taking an Uber or cab, but still has much more that he wants to do.
Josie on the other hand, Aziz laughs, has set the bar high in terms of living a sustainable lifestyle. Before Co-founding Capture, Josie was mindful of her impact on the environment. She has been a vegetarian for a long time, only eating fish occasionally. In the last 6 months, she has switched her savings account to Nutmeg, a socially responsible bank. She says, “It’s a super easy change and it’s a really good feeling, taking your money away from banks that are investing in oil, and being part of investing in climate-friendly projects.”
When asked about the most important change she is trying to make, it comes down to flights. She says, “Flights for me outweigh everything.” However, she understands that it’s not easy to cut out flying, especially when traveling long distances. She will be traveling from Islamabad, Pakistan, where she is working on developing Capture with Aziz and their design team, back to her hometown of London. She was interested in potentially traveling by car from Islamabad, but found it would be a complicated (and somewhat dangerous!) journey. Grudgingly, she will fly home.
See? Even the founders of a sustainable mobile app aren't perfect.
“No one can be perfect. This can be an issue with the environmental, sustainable movement in my opinion. There is a lot of pressure to make everyone perfect, and this ends up pushing people away,” Josie says. The best way to approach sustainability is to “do your best, be practical about it, and be aware of what you’re doing. Pick your battles.”
There have been challenges in developing Capture, which both of them discuss extensively. Aziz reflects on how complex the topic of carbon offsetting can be when he says that “you can’t just plant trees and [expect them] to capture carbon.” He has learned, once he dove into researching the topic, that there “are so many different kinds of offsetting projects available.”
This is why Capture will enable users to invest in various forms of carbon offsetting, focused on trees; protecting, regenerating, or planting new forests, or alternatively, cutting-edge 'Direct Air Capture' projects that remove CO2 from the air and safely store it underground as stone.
Sometimes, they struggle. It is an ever-evolving industry, with new information about the future of the environment cropping up every day. From rising sea levels to natural disasters to climate refugees, the list of casualties of the climate crisis is endless. “There isn’t a guideline or recipe book for us to follow in making Capture-all we can focus on is [making the app] the best it can be...we could have spent a year developing Capture, but time is of the essence. We want to make sure it comes out as fast as possible so people can start using it.”
Josie’s advice to people who are daunted by the climate crisis, or find themselves losing hope is simple: “Being worried, anxious, and stressed [about the imminent climate crisis] is not going to do anyone any good, including yourself.” She jokingly refers to the flight safety rule: “put your own mask on before helping others” to ensure you are well enough to spread the information you want to spread as a climate activist. Aziz agrees with this sentiment, reiterating “there is no point talking about it a lot and making noise.” The focus is on DOING something. Aziz leaves us with this, “Hopefully, what we’re doing right now is going to have a massive impact.”
Written by Ruwan Teodros, 19th November 2019