Play It Green went from a bright idea between two friends to a fully-fledged business backed by £150,000 of investment thanks to support from a range of Growth Hub services.
Founded by friends Richard Dickson and Chris Thair in 2020, Play It Green provides a monthly subscription service that offers individuals and businesses a simple and easy route to Net Zero whilst making an immediate environmental and social impact.
Its three-step ‘Repair, Reduce, Regive’ process offsets members’ carbon footprints through tree planting; provides weekly tips and product discounts to reduce their environmental impact; and then gives 10 per cent back to a charitable cause of their choice.
Business members can benefit from a ‘Climate Positive Workforce’ and additional perks such as green energy brokerage, carbon literacy training, carbon footprint reporting and a Net Zero business framework.
Co-founder Richard Dickson explains: “What we’re trying to do is make sustainability accessible and understandable to everyone, and to bridge the gap between good intentions and real action.”
While developing their concept, the founders approached the Growth Hub for support to commercialise their service and expand their network of prospective members, partners and experts for their advisory board.
Richard and Chris joined the Innovation team’s Innov8 programme, where they gained knowledge and ideas to bring their service to market, as well as opportunities to partner with other members of their cohort. They also received one-to-one advice from an Eco Innovation specialist, including support to improve their digital presence and develop their professional network.
“The Eco Innovation team helped us tremendously in launching our service,” Richard says. “At the beginning it was just Chris and I – we needed as much help as we could get. From identifying areas we needed help with to supporting our investment pitch, everyone has been super helpful from the early days all the way through to our launch and beyond.”
Play It Green also benefitted from the Hub’s Access to Finance service to finetune its investment pitch and prepare for investment. This additional support, which included a practice pitch session with angel investors, proved pivotal in gaining early-stage investment of £150,000.
“Our pitch deck was constantly evolving and the help we received with it was definitely instrumental in us securing our first round of investment,” Richard says. “We wouldn’t have been able to launch without it, and we wouldn’t have got that money without the Growth Hub.”
With investment secured, Play It Green entered its second phase of website development towards the end of 2021.
The plan is to become a fully functioning e-commerce platform, giving members access to wide range of additional benefits, Richard highlights.
“Business members will have access to all sorts of widgets and charts that they can display on their own website, and there will be a Facebook-style community so they can communicate and share best practice with other.”
That is far from the end of the story. Play It Green has also worked closely with the Hub’s Green Technologies and Services team to increase its profile in Greater Manchester and explore new opportunities. A specialist advisor provided market research on the potential to bring Play It Green’s service to the UK airport market, as well as securing an opportunity for Richard to speak at Greater Manchester’s landmark PROGRESS21 event in 2021.
“PROGRESS21 was a fabulous opportunity because we were able to make important connections with local leaders on the Net Zero agenda. We planted a tree for every person attending the event and gave delegates the opportunity to plant more by visiting our exhibition stand. All in all, we planted over 3,000 trees!”
Going forward, Richard has bold ambitions to make Play It Green a household name.
“We have so many plans and ideas – most of our 80-page business plan hasn’t been activated yet and the opportunities are unlimited. Behind the scenes, we’re talking to some of the biggest brands on the planet about partnership opportunities.
“It's great to know that the level of support provided to us is so available and accessible. As a business owner, it's much easier running a business knowing that there is a network there to back you up – thank you Growth Hub!”