Interview with Loral Quinn, Co-Founder and CEO of Sustainably

Named Richard Branson start up of the year 2019, and counting Founders Factory, founder of Lastminute.com as investors, Sustainably combines frictionless tech with gamification.  

You choose a charity and connect your card in the app.  Then you get impact points and levels to show the difference you’re making. Impact points will become a currency in the future for loyalty rewards from your employer and the retailers you shop at.  Sustainably reward doing good so you get that do good, feel good feeling. 

Sustainably is the brainchild of Loral Quinn and Eishel Quinn. They teamed up with Mark McLauchlan who was formerly head of technology architecture at RBS/NatWest.

Trethowans
Trethowans

What’s your career background?  

Loral is CEO and co-founder of Sustainably, an award-winning fitnech for social good startup, which she co-founded with her daughter Eishel. Loral is an award winning global digital marketer and strategist with a background in scaling business.

Prior to setting up Sustainably, she was head of digital strategy and head of digital marketing for Aberdeen Asset Management where she was responsible for digital marketing in 30 countries, building and managing a multi award-winning team, and scaling the business from $40bn in assets in six countries to over $400bn in 30 countries in 10 years. She was recently named in BIMA’s top 100 people in digital in the UK. 

Eishel, at only 25 years old, is Chief Product Officer, is responsible for creating the Sustainably brand and user experience for the multi award winning product.

Sustainably won Best of Show at Finovate, was nominated for a BIMA award for technology with conscience, named top three startup Startup Grind Europe, won AccelerateHER, top 10 Virgin Startup, WeWork Creator awards and Richard Branson’s startup of the year 2019. Eishel has a background in ethical retail, most recently working with Neal’s Yard remedies and was recently named top 10 Young Digital Leader. 

Where did the idea for your business come from?  

Inspired by fintech, augmented reality, gamification, the internet of things and big technology businesses who had become part of everyone’s daily lives, we merged Loral’s experience in FTSE100 digital strategy with Eishel’s background in ethical retail, and together we came up with the idea of Sustainably.

Sustainably is a mix of Tom’s Shoes (when you buy something you do something good), Acorns Investing (which rounded up your spare change to your investment portfolio) and Pokemon Go (gamifying within reality) but we wanted to create tech that did good. 

How did you move from idea to actual business?  

It all began with an idea back in 2015, and a lot of post-it notes on our kitchen wall. Our challenge? Could we design a tech product that would be completely sustainable and allow everyone to have a positive impact every day?  

It’s been a long road, designing a proof of concept first, then building our incredible team to help us get a product to market, which we launched for Monzo Bank customers in 2017.

What’s your USP?  

Tech for giving has not evolved with consumer behaviour. But SaaS and subscription models like Spotify, passive rounding up savings and investing like Monzo, Revolut and Moneybox, and payments in the background like Uber are the norm.

At the same time, corporate giving programmes have limited adoption with payroll giving accounting for less than 2% of giving, and brands struggling to connect and engage with employees and customers.

There is a multi-billion dollar market of people and businesses who would love to give if it was easier. Sustainably replaces a multitude of fragmented point solutions – point of sale, one off, corporate, payroll and event-led – with a simple platform for consumers, retailers, employers and charities.

A single platform for all your giving ensures you don’t have to share your data with multiple charities or platforms, enables visibility of impact in one place and takes restrictive admin out of managing payroll giving, making it accessible for all sizes of businesses.

We’ll enable point of sale, event, one off, monthly and corporate giving, connecting corporate and individual giving on one platform.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?  

The current gender statistics for startups are shocking. With just 17% having a female co-founder and only 9% of them going on to ever get funded. 

A tiny 4% of VC backed startups have all female teams. This is unsurprising when we know that only 7% of VC partners are women, which is a frustrating fact considering it’s the most powerful and influential form of finance in the world. 

We’re lucky enough to have some great investors, but things have to change in the industry to reach a level playing field across gender and race.

And your proudest moment so far?  

I remember thinking at the time ‘wow’ about the founder of Playmob, Jude Ower, who Richard Branson had supported. We set out to solve a real problem. Never at that time did we actually think that Richard Branson would support us!  

There were also various serendipitous moments including hearing Charity Water founder Scott Harrison, speaking at Startup Grind, where I heard Miguel Mckelvery the co-founder of WeWork talking about the Creator Awards.

Again, never did we think we’d be on the same stage as Scott coming in the top three startups out of 2,000 globally at Startup Grind Europe, or winning the WeWork Creator Awards, securing WeWork as an investor and lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman’s Founders Factory. We’re also really proud of the product we’ve created and the team we’ve built.

Why is work so important to you?  

In the UK GenZ and Millennials now account for the largest giving segment in the UK. 11 million currently give over £2.7bn to approximately 6 good causes a year. 

They don’t want letters, direct debits and hassled to give more. They want to give on their own terms, using their mobile and see the difference they’re making, and they want to shop at retailers who have products with social or environmental benefits. 

They care about the impact of where they work and what they consume and we’re creating a platform that makes that easier.

Who inspires you?  

Every single female founder inspires me. I’ve just been on a programme specifically designed for female founders by Barclays Techstars and met so many amazing people doing brilliant things. My mother – who is one of the most amazing, resilient women I’ve ever met.

And my daughter – who inspires me to be better every day .

I also want to give a shout out to all the amazing men who help me everyday. 50% of our advisory board is male and they are brilliant too. 

Find out more about Sustainably.