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Meet Growth Studio: helping planet-friendly start-ups to thrive

Words by Abi Scaife

Money makes the world go round - and whatever your opinion on that, it has a tendency to be true.

Still, that doesn’t mean that the for-profit sector only thinks of profit; Smiley News has reported on plenty of businesses that have good deeds at their heart.

Growth Studio runs accelerator programmes that guide and inspire startups dedicated to helping the planet. Co-founded by Paul Finch & Rayan Jawad, the business is dedicated to making a real difference in our world, through others.

“We realized we were at a place where our business could be making the world a better place,” Rayan tells Smiley News. “That was a turning point for us - now [with] all of our efforts, we measure ourselves against how much good we do [and] how much good we help others do.”

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“We work with founders who are solving some of the most serious problems in the world,” adds Paul. “What we’re attracted to is that the reason they're doing that - because they're super passionate.”

The start-ups tackle a number of issues, specifically those that impact the future of the planet and its resources. Everything from protecting biodiversity, to improving access to clean water is up for grabs - including their most recent programme, Breathable Cities.

Paul says: “I think we've always been attracted to those markets or sectors or challenges that other people don't necessarily see or realize the problems behind. And actually, air quality is one of the biggest global health challenges that we've got.”

Air pollution is a huge problem, particularly in inner cities, or cities with a huge amount of traffic and infrastructure - like London. If you’ve ever blown your nose after a trip on the tube and had the fright of your life, you’ll know what we mean.

Pollutants exist in the air just like they do in the water - but unlike water, there are very few filtration systems currently working at improving our atmosphere.

“It's a social justice issue. It's a global issue. It affects every single person in pretty much every single country on Earth,” Paul adds. “And although the problem is vast, there aren't actually that many solutions out there … because it's so intangible.”

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Paul and Rayan’s commitment to change is reflected in the masses of start-ups and passionate people who take part in their accelerator programmes. It’s not just a place for them to get business advice from those who came before them, but an opportunity to connect with other start-ups, and other people, that have the same goal as them.

“Myself and Paul, are not going to be the people who change the world. It's the people we're working [with],” explains Rayan. “They're the ones who we need to empower and look after - they're the ones who are the heroes. We need to make sure that they're able to do what they can.”

The start-ups that work with Growth Studios come with passion and an incredible idea for something that could change the world - but, as with all start-ups, it's their business sense that is often more important than their idea. 

They need to learn how to make investors give to climate-friendly start-ups, and how to market themselves as a business, not just a brilliant concept - and that is where Rayan and Paul come in.

During the accelerator programmes, they are also connected with others like them - who understand the trials and tribulations of the sector. Because everyone at the table is passionate about helping our world to be more sustainable, there doesn’t need to be the same level of competition as there might be ordinarily; the success of each business will, ultimately, benefit everyone else.

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“That enthusiasm and passion that people have are important and a byproduct of that is when you get sort of 10 or 12 founding teams together,” says Paul. “They all know what each other is going through - you can make light of the stresses, you can have fun because you're on the same page as everybody else.”

Rayan adds: “We're really proud that we're one of the only programmes that takes the mental health of our founders as seriously as we do. We have mental health sessions, workshops, we have a mentor that they can approach whenever they startups feel overwhelmed.”

Smiley News was also able to catch up with Alessandro Di Trapani, the co-founder of Grub Club, and a graduate of one of Growth Studio’s accelerator programmes.

Grub Club is an incredibly cool business that is tackling the impact of pet food on our environment, and on the world’s resources. Their vet-approved dog food and treats are made from insects - an amazing source of protein, and far more sustainable than what is used currently.

Plus, it’s also pet-vetted and approved (including by Peggy, one of Smiley News’ four-legged mascots).

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“It's so easy to get bogged down in making sure you're pushing every single lever as hard as possible and as quickly as possible,” says Alessandro, of the early days of Grub Club. “What was really good about [the accelerator programme] was that it forced us to zoom out a little bit and really prioritize our time and resources in the most effective way to achieve what we're trying to achieve.” 

He adds: “[It was] an amazing part of the experiences meeting the other startups - we still share office space with a lot of the companies from the accelerator and they've been a critical part of our learning, development and growth over the last two years.”

Thanks to Growth Studio’s accelerator programmes, more and more companies are entering the world of business with positive change at their heart. And if the heart of your business is in the right place, you’re well on your way to making an incredible impact on people - and our planet.

Find out more about Growth Studio and their accelerator programmes by visiting their website. Learn more about Grub Club and their planet-friendly pet food by visiting their website.

Plus, stay tuned to hear more from Grub Club co-founder Alessandro!

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article. 

The Climate Coalition. This is the UK's largest group of people dedicated to action against climate change. Find out more and support them here.

Climate Reframe.  Climate Reframe is committed to supporting the climate and environment movement in its transformation towards greater justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). Find out more.

Trees For Cities. They are working to plant more trees within large metropolitan areas, for the betterment of people and planet. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Climate Action, and Partnerships for the Goals.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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