We’ve always been waste conscious, but the desire to do more to protect the environment definitely increased once we had children. At that point, we began prioritising sustainable options and sourcing as many second hand things as we could for the kids and for us.
The inspiration for YoungPlanet came when we were living in New York and came across a yard sale on our way to lunch. Our son, Freddie (aged 2 at the time) fell in love with a bright red Radio Flyer truck, and he was so captivated by it that the seller gave it to us for free.
Around the same time, a friend of ours confessed that she took her children’s old clothes and toys to the skip because it was “the easiest” way to get rid of them. These encounters sparked the idea for an app that uses the circular economy to make it easy for parents to pass on no-longer-used toys and children’s items and avoid overburdening landfills.
Tell me about the business?
YoungPlanet is a circular economy platform designed to help families declutter whilst reducing the waste burden on the planet. It’s an app which helps families source parenting and children’s items for free – from clothing and toys, to buggies and changing stations. We’re effectively digitising and scaling the concept of ‘hand-me-downs’ to allow parents to save valuable money, source items sustainably, and reduce how many items are unnecessarily manufactured.
How has the business evolved since its launch?
We ‘micro launched’ in 2019; initially rolling out access to the platform in Hackney, London. We gained brilliant traction there and were able to use our committed community of early adopters to refine the model. Then we took the app London-wide and then expanded to the whole of the UK.
To date, YoungPlanet has helped 160,000 users to divert over one million pounds worth of pre-loved items from landfill.
Tell us about the working culture at YoungPlanet
We’re a husband and wife founding duo, so it’s not marketing speak to say that our culture feels like a family! Whilst juggling work and parenting does come with its difficulties, it’s brilliant being on the same team and being able to support each other’s schedules. Quite a few members of our wider team were app users first, which means we truly have built a community around shared values.
How are you funded?
We’ve successfully raised over £1M to grow our business through private funding and via two Crowdcube campaigns to date and now we’re exploring additional pre-Seed funding from institutional investors.
What has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome this?
During the height of the pandemic, exchanging physical goods and making new friends suddenly felt risky for families. In the early months of the pandemic, we therefore advised our community to pause in-person exchanges whilst we figured out how to make sure they were safe. This obviously meant we saw a big drop in activity. However, once we introduced no contact exchanges, the pandemic was actually a productive time for us – everyone was thinking deeply about the value of community, how they could help each other, and lots were also having a thorough spring clean!
Despite facing the challenges of the pandemic, YoungPlanet has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, with our community of users tripling in size over the last 18 months.