Globechain: Making a Difference We Can Feel
Meet the business embodiment of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”!
In recent years, waste and sustainability have been a significant topic and are no longer mere fluff words used by marketing and PR teams. Globechain aims to make a difference by pioneering an online circular economy as a new way of handling waste.
Many resources companies use are thrown away and replaced, even if they’re as good as new. Founder May Al-Karooni understands this well, having witnessed firsthand how carelessly businesses dispose of material resources.
The company is a B2B waste solution that connects businesses, charities, and people, hoping to benefit everyone involved. The aim is resource optimization, waste cost reduction, and influence positive environmental changes.
May created Globechain in London in 2015, and today, the business collaborates with household brand names and leads a new market for enterprises. However, as a novel idea, this start-up has had a somewhat rocky journey, so stick around to read all about it.
Early Life Ventures
May was born in Iraq but moved to Leeds when she was young. She was always driven and hard-working, so naturally, she went on to obtain a higher education. However, this was in the late 90s when classic career options such as doctor, lawyer, or accountant were more or less your only choice.
Thus, in 2001, May earned an honors degree in Accountancy and Finance. It wasn’t long before she started working as an accountant for Alfa Romeo and stayed with the company for 5 months before deciding it was time to spread her wings and explore
May then moved to London and went into insurance. Being business-curious, May didn’t stand still and explored a lot of industries. Later on, May found success working in the investment banking and asset management industry.
Although young May did well at all her jobs, she always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to do something on her own - so, in 2006, she founded MySkip Corporation Limited. Even though this wouldn’t be a lasting business for her, it was a valuable experience as she got to work on all facets of a start-up.
The lessons she learned during the 2 years she worked on the start-up would undoubtedly help her develop her future company into a massive success.
After 2018, young May would continue her investment and banking work, which would lead her to sketch the idea of Globechain and become one of the most influential entrepreneurs of the present day.
Reshaping the Business Model
As mentioned, it was her job that led May to found Globechain. One day the bank she was working for was moving offices, which meant that all of the furniture from the former bank office was disposed of and replaced.
This was done even though the items were in pristine condition. What’s worse, the bank was only moving across the street. As she stood and observed, May estimated that this move cost the company around a whipping sum of £50,000 per person. Considering there were around 300 people in the building, it was a considerable expense that was harmful to both the bank and the environment.
May knew that these resources could be used by many charities, non-profits, or everyday people. Instead, it all ended up as waste in a landfill. And yet, when higher-ups were asked why these items couldn’t be donated, the problem was simply that the company didn’t feel like it was their concern.
However, connection-based solutions like Airbnb and Uber were just hitting the market, and May felt inspired to apply this solution to business waste disposal.
Thus, in 2015, she decided to digitalize the process and create Globechain - a B2B data-centric waste solution. Following her “light-bulb” moment, May quit her job and used £800 to set up the Globechain website.
The company works based on a circular economy, which means it aims to reuse existing materials as long as possible.
Globechain offers internal redistribution through its loaning asset inventory system. This means allocating material resources across different company stores, distribution centers, offices, and facilities.
The company also provides the opportunity for external reuse via Globechain’s online marketplace. This works by allowing businesses to list their unwanted items, and charities, non-profits, small businesses, or individuals could sign up for use.
Globechain charges donor companies to make a listing. This money would otherwise be spent on incineration costs or man-and-van costs and a landfill tax. The taker of the items only needs to pay for the transport.
This initial period required much work, but May believed in her vision and was ready to put in the blood, sweat, and tears to see her idea make a change. She made cold calls to large corporations and finally lucked out with Arcadia Group, which landed her a year-long trial to rehome shop fixtures and fittings for 60 stores.
However, even with May’s previous work in investment banking, financing remained difficult to acquire.
The Risky Business of Novelties
The circular economy wasn’t as easy to explain in 2015 as it is now, and sustainability was more a marketing and PR tactic than anything else. This made launching the business much more challenging than it would be today. However, entrepreneurs like May have paved the way for this with their efforts.
Even though May had worked with fundraising money over the previous decade and raised over £120 million, financing her own start-up would prove complicated.
Since there was no market cap at the time, it was impossible to locate investors and funding. Another issue was that although Globechain helped companies save on waste disposal costs, this was often not a good enough incentive for retailers to use their services.
May started to gather environmental, social, and governance data, ESG for short, to solve these issues. The ESG data is used for sustainability reports and tax offsetting, credit financing, bond risk, share pricing, and IPOs. Such data gathering made the service Globechain was providing a lot more desirable to businesses and showed an emerging market.
Young May had to bootstrap the company for the first four years until it was reported that a new circular economy was emerging with an estimated market cap of $5 trillion by 2025.
It took 4 hard years for Globechain to turn a profit, and in April of 2019, the company raised £750,000 in a seed funding round.
Nowadays, Globechain is a growing success, as the environmental movement continues to grow and customers are increasingly motivated to buy into a brand due to shared values.
The Future Is Circular
It may have taken years of blood, sweat, and tears of the hardworking, dedicated individuals to raise Globechain off the ground. However, it was well worth it, since, over the years, the company’s been recognized many times.
However, before Globechain became known as the enterprise that’s looking after the environment, it had to face competition coming from companies like Benevity, Goodera, and Your Cause, among a few more.
In 2018, Globechain won the BusinessGreen Leaders circular economy of the year award. The following year, 2019, Globechain was named one of Forbes Start-Ups to Watch.
Even the founder herself has been recognized many times for her environmentalist and entrepreneurial efforts. Forbes listed her as one of the top 100 UK Leading Environmentalists in 2020, and in 2021 as one of Forbes Next 1000.
Although people didn’t see the value of Globechain straight away, there’s no denying that everyone’s watching now.
The company was started in London, UK, and the headquarters is still located here. However, the start-up has expanded and operates in Spain, the UAE, and New York.
Over 10,000 members have exchanged around 460,000 items, diverting 17 million pounds of waste, and all of this is only the beginning for Globechain. The company’s stated mission is to divert 100 million tons from landfills by 2025.
Globechain helps businesses make more environmentally friendly decisions, supports charities, and is paving the way towards a brighter, cleaner future.