If we look at how the venture investing world has changed over the past 10 years, one aspect that really stands out is the ever-increasing focus on sustainability. The European Union is steadily moving towards a future where any business and financial activity has to be tracked, measured, and reported according to the degree in which it harms the environment. The idea is that innovations should be incentivized when they get us closer to achieving the climate goals, and disincentivized when they don’t.
And those goals are as simple as they are seemingly impossibly ambitious: to keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C, as called for in the Paris Agreement, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
This means that we need to consume radically less, or radically smarter. Consumption is a huge contributor to the pollution and energy usage that cause emissions, and if we don’t want to consume less (which we don’t), we need to smarten up, and build technology that allows us to consume the same without taxing the environment as much.
Consumer electronics are an important switch in this process. As the world became digital and then went online, each one of us got armed with an array of powerful computing devices, which became mandatory gear for productivity and connectivity. As a result however, today smartphones alone account for over 10% of the entire global carbon footprint.
This is why earlier, we invested in Swipe.bg, who have built the region’s biggest marketplace for pre-used smartphones, a market that is expected to triple by 2030. And this is why now we’re taking the next step in the upcycling effort, investing in a company that helps lengthen the lifespans of the equipment we alread have. Meet Twisted Technology.
Twisted started out a few years back, when the team consisting of Christian, Teodor, Martin, and Valentin were still classmates in high school. Having the reputation of “cable guys”, they were the go-to people for all smartphone and notebook problems among their friends, and they set up and improvised business to fix and upgrade devices on their own. Very quickly they realized two things: they didn’t have the time to serve all of their “clients” next to school work, but also, they noticed that having built a simple website with basic SEO optimization, they started getting requests from far outside their high school community.
“It’s very simple”, says Christian as we chat in the Vitosha meeting room at our office: “Most computer and phone repair shops are little kiosks in subway crossings, and they’re not online. They serve the neighborhood, and most of their clients are their friends and neighbors with their families.”
However, it turns out that people do search online for computer repairs, and Twisted pivoted to become a marketplace for repair shops to list their services online. Having graduated high school, the team has switched to pursuing the business as a full-time activity, and having met them in the national startup competition which was hosted by Fund of Funds Bulgaria and Sofia University, we at Vitosha decided to support them towards completing their MVP and launching the platform.
According to the Twisted team, more than 50% of smartphones and notebooks that are broken beyond usability, can be fixed or upgraded for less than EUR 100 and have their lifetime extended by 1 to 2 years. This means that next to refurbishing and selling pre-owned devices, a big win in reducing the 10% of all global carbon footprint that comes from these devices lies in fixing the ones that aren’t replaced yet. Although it’s an early start in a relatively limited market, we are thrilled to be able to join Twisted on this journey, and are inspired about what the team will be able to achieve in Sofia first, and then in the rest of Bulgaria and hopefully beyond.