Imagine a startup to take care of thousands of trees across the globe?
If you thought this is an exotic idea, you are mistaken.
Two schoolmates from Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, who believe in the cause of the environment, has given wings to this idea.
Tree Tag, the startup founded by Abhijith Kumar Meenakumari and Aashuthosh B Sai as a result of their concerns regarding environmental issues, has already won laurels for its climate-conscious efforts in the field of conservation.
The green-tech initiative finds its business opportunities in the efforts to reduce carbon emissions through tech-integrated afforestation projects.
The company was adjudged the winner of Climathon-2022, a hackathon organised by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM).
Tree Tag follows a simple business model of providing a web platform that records and tracks the growth and maintenance of saplings planted by its clients as part of various conservation projects.
The web platform helps those involved in such projects with accurate data recorded at frequent intervals.
“We basically digitise the process of taking care of a plant,” Abhijith told Onmanorama.
A graduate in mechanical engineering, Abhijith has always been passionate about projects for environmental conservation. It was this passion for nature that got him associated with the works of Thanal, a prominent NGO in the state that focuses on environmental awareness.
It is Jayakumar C of Thanal who, in a way, planted the idea of the startup in Abhijith’s mind as he sought the youngster’s help for an ambitious project.
“In 2019, Jayakumar wanted me to develop a platform for the now famous tree banking initiative of Meenangadi village in Wayanad. Thus a platform to track over 7,000 trees in the village was developed. As it became a success, there was demand from other nature enthusiasts also for similar services,” Abhijith remembered.
Tree Tag was founded as a company in 2021 only. It already counts over 50 clients across the world within a short span of its existence.
Tree Tag's clients include Mahindra Logistics, Young Indians, Confederation of Indian Industry and Hyundai Explorers.
The company finds its business opportunities prominently in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects focussing on environmental conservation.
Tree Tag helps these companies track the status of the afforestation projects they have funded in association with other organisations, often NGOs.
Tree Tag also makes available the service of prominent NGOs to carry out afforestation projects for companies if they require it.
The NGOs tied up with Tree Tag include Thanal, Rasta and Sustera.
It is also associated with a mega project tracking one million trees in the Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world. It has signed a five-year contract with a London-based company which is engaged in afforestation project in the Amazon involving the tribal people there.
The company maps the growth of its client canopy manually and uploads the data on its platform for the clients.
Tree Tag is coming up with satellite and drone-based service for larger projects. The services will be launched in January, Abhijith said.
Revenue stream and future plans
Tree Tag finds its revenues from the service charge collected from the clients. Usually, the service is offered for three years. The charges vary according to the nature and size of the projects.
In terms of future plans, the company aims to create a better environment through their voluntary awareness and capacity-building programmes in schools and colleges.
It is already running a free programme with over 10,000 student volunteers. Students of the National Service Scheme Cell at the APJ Abdul Kalam Kerala Technological University have been actively participating in its tree planting activities.
“We are aiming to raise funds for the expansion of the student awareness programme to the national and international level,” Abhijith said.
Tree Tag received a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh in the hackathon held in Kerala Technology Innovation Zone (KTIZ), Kochi, earlier this week. The hackathon was organised by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in collaboration with EY Global Delivery Services, UNDP, Startup India, Global Shapers Kochi, NASSCOM, TiE Kerala.
“The award shows that there is a promising chance for similar concepts backed with well-articulated solutions. Team Tree Tag is now more confident that we can confidently scale this idea to national and international status by next year,” Abhijith said on winning the recognition.
Apart from Abhijith who is the CEO, the team Tree Tag includes Aashuthosh B Sai – chief technology officer, Mohamed Wazeer – chief operating officer and Anoop Babu – chief strategy officer.