Young Innovators Success Stories: Rebecca Thompson, Ecosy Travel, London
The social enterprise that makes sustainable travel simple
Rebecca Thompson first had the idea for Ecosy Travel back in 2018, when she became concerned about the environmental impact of travelling. She decided to stop flying wherever possible and help others to travel sustainably as well.
“Ecosy Travel was still at the idea stage when I joined the Young Innovators programme. I had big ideas for the business I wanted to create, but needed support to make it happen,” she remembers.
Rebecca describes her time on the programme as “a continuous evolution of the business”. With the help of business specialists, she’s taken Ecosy Travel from an idea to a certified social enterprise and registered limited company.
“We launched the beta version of the web app for World Tourism Day on 27th September 2022, which has been a major turning point in stakeholder discussions,” she says.
“Ecosy has secured a further £50,000 of grant funding from Innovate UK through the Fast Start programme, with application support from Innovate UK EDGE. This has enabled another milestone: the hiring of our first full-time employee.”
The company’s first employee is a data scientist who will be developing Ecosy Travel’s algorithm to underpin its low-carbon journey planning.
The platform’s functionality will be a key focus for Rebecca over the next year. She’s already secured a number of commission agreements with green properties and low-carbon transport providers to feature on the platform.
“Over the next 12 months, we will be building out the core functionality of our trip planner, including emission-optimised journey planning and integrated availability and booking, with per trip emission transparency,” she says.
“In addition to the grant funding from Innovate UK, we’re looking to raise up to £250,000 of SEIS-eligible seed investment to finance the development of our bespoke, sustainable booking system. We also plan to grow our team from three to 10 people, focusing on R&D, marketing and customer support.”
An inspiring network
While there are still days where she feels a little out of her depth, Rebecca believes she’s growing in confidence all the time.
As she explains, being able to work with an innovation champion and meet other entrepreneurs through the Young Innovators programme has been hugely valuable.
“It was great to discuss Ecosy with lots of people and get different opinions about how to approach the challenges we were facing. I loved meeting the other Young Innovators Award winners – hearing their stories and successes has been really inspiring.
“I also loved the workshops on offer, especially the one on personal and business branding as I felt I learnt so much from that session.”
For future Award winners, Rebecca recommends going into the programme with an open mind. Take all the advice you can, then use it to refine your own thinking.
“It’s really important to know what you want to achieve so you can ask for the relevant support and maximise the benefit you get. The more conversations you have, the more interesting ideas you hear about how best to shape your business,” she says.
“I’m excited to be a climate innovator and social entrepreneur. I have really big plans for the future. I’m looking forward to taking the next steps for my business and excited for the impact I believe I can deliver.”
Join us and become part of the Young Innovators community. Find out more about the programme here.
Read the other Young Innovators’ success stories here.
The Young Innovators Awards are an annual competition from Innovate UK that finds, supports and celebrates young people with great business ideas.