We met with James Hand, co-founder of sustainable shopping app Giki, to understand his story, the challenges for app-based startups and the ethos behind the brand…
Tell us about Giki.
Giki is a sustainable shopping app that gives consumers the ability to link the product in their hand to issues that they care about. They can scan one of 250,000 supermarket products and find if it’s got recyclable packaging, sustainable palm oil, good animal welfare and so on.
Where did the idea come from?
My wife Jo and I were thinking about the types of things we wanted to buy, and talking to our friends about it, and everyone kept saying the same thing: there are lots of issues I care about, but I find it difficult to get the information. So we said, let’s go see if that’s possible. We spent the first couple of months in R&D finding out what people care about, and if the data and technology were available, and then we built a prototype in late 2017 and gave it a crack.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The data has been the biggest challenge. Some of it is taken from product packaging. Sometimes it’s brand or company-level information. We’ve worked with campaigning organisations to compile information on specific issues, and we have to bring it all together and present it in a way that’s simple and clear.
The second challenge we face now is that we’ve got this platform that’s really powerful in terms of what it can do, but only a few thousand people have downloaded it. So how do you as a very small brand get it out there?
Giki holds a spotlight up to big corporations and their sustainability credentials. Has that been difficult?
Our ethos is all about being positive. We’re into helping people find the right products to meet their values. The big brands are thinking about these things anyway, so if their action is in line with their intent, then what we do should be good for them. We haven’t had any confrontational discussions so far, but it’s early days.