March 31, 2020

Affiliate Spotlight: A Conversation With Avery Michaelson, UCapture CEO and Climate Change Leader

As you may have noticed last week, we kicked off our new ‘Affiliate Spotlight’ segment with Marni Gusman, Director of Partnerships at esteemed partner Honey.

As this year progresses, we will be taking affiliates that stand out to us as some of the best and most utilized within our network, telling their story and giving them the opportunity to advocate for themselves in a way that feels personal and direct from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

I’ve tapped Ad Purp Senior Partnerships Manager R.J. Kashare to help us in hand-selecting affiliates. We have quite a few in mind and can’t wait to share exclusive interviews with leaders at these companies for you to learn more about what makes them so special.

So, let’s begin!

We have had the pleasure of working closely with UCapture CEO Avery Michaelson, who like most of us understands the importance of reducing one’s carbon footprint. 

Where he differs from many of us, though, is that he has taken it upon himself to build a company that’s mission is to do something about it. 

His company, UCapture, helps users actively reduce their carbon footprint and do so in a seamless way that harnesses the power of affiliate marketing and sustainability.

His success as an affiliate in our space should come as no surprise after reading more about him, based on the care and detail he puts into everything he does. 

So let me go ahead and introduce you to him.

Avery is an entrepreneur who started his career in investment banking. His background in finance fueled a passion for implementing market-based solutions to address the world’s biggest challenges.

He brings a high-energy leadership approach and conviction that UCapture is the system-change the world needs to solve the climate crisis to his affiliate marketing relationships.

Avery graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and is a frequent speaker at environmental and financial conferences.

I hope you enjoy some of what he had to say about his journey and where he’s at today, as a clear pivotal leader and mover in helping to contribute to the eradication of the developing climate crisis.

What were you most passionate about growing up?

I grew up going to a summer camp in North Carolina, called Camp Sea Gull. It was my favorite place to be. I learned to sail there, made plenty of friends, and loved being outside in nature. However, beyond all the great things to do, Camp Sea Gull put an enormous focus on character development. Listen. Share. Try your best. Do what’s right. These were the core principles.

One of the things our camp director used to repeat was that we should all try to “Leave things better than you found it.” This could mean not walking past a piece of trash – but picking it up. Not just putting your own life jacket away properly but making sure the others were orderly. And on and on…

For me, this ethos carried through into my desire to build UCapture. The ambition of UCapture is to leave the planet better than I found it. There is a clear problem that needs to be addressed or else future generations will inherit a much less stable, and more dangerous planet than the one I was born into.

What was your career path after graduation?

I spent 13 years in investment banking working in New York. My background in finance and aptitude for numbers made this a fit. However, even more than these I have a strong interest in economics and markets-based systems.

In my career in finance I worked in a very specialized function dealing with longevity risk. This is the risk that people live longer than expected (which becomes a problem as they outlive their savings). My job as a financial structurer was to devise hedging systems that would reduce longevity risk for the pension funds and insurance companies that are responsible for providing retirement income to the elderly. 

There is a common thread here. Much like climate change, longevity risk is a slow-moving beast that people tend to ignore. It isn’t as poignant as a hurricane or earthquake where the damage is immediate and violent and visible. But both of these risks – climate change and longevity risk – have the potential to bankrupt our financial systems and disrupt society as we know it.

I’ve spent my entire career devising market-based solutions to address them both.

What led you to starting UCapture? And please describe UCapture’s mission.

I spent a lot of time searching for a system that could put the “cost of carbon” into consumption in a way that is free and frictionless for consumers. I believed this would be a fundamental breakthrough in the fight against climate change, as it would solve the huge question of how to go for the projects needed to go carbon neutral.

I spotted that existing technologies were providing consumers with cash back rewards when they shopped, and thought “what if the reward was carbon offsets, instead of cash?” I was surprised to find that technology was not already available but believed deeply that it would be a game-changer for climate change if it did exist.

This conviction prompted me to start working to develop UCapture in nights and weekends, while still working in investment banking to finance UCapture’s early growth. I was motivated to work long into the night because climate change was a long-standing concern of mine, having grown up watching governments continue to ignore the pleas of scientists. 

UCapture’s mission is as follows:

Problem: Combating climate change requires us to go carbon neutral; however, progress is slow because:

We don’t want to pay for it

We’re reluctant to change our habits

We require incentives to take action

Solution: UCapture provides a free, easy and rewarding way for anyone to go carbon neutral, thereby empowering consumers to build their own green-economy.

Importance: We believe that putting the “cost of carbon” into consumption in a free and easy way is a fundamental breakthrough in the fight against climate change.

UCapture solves the fundamental question of how to pay for the carbon offset projects needed to go carbon neutral, globally.  We do this by getting companies to offset our user’s carbon footprint when they shop, at no extra cost, thereby creating a win-win-win for consumers, companies and the planet.

UCapture creates a new form of sustainable capitalism that incentivizes companies to offset the carbon footprint of their products by connecting them with consumers who will reward them with loyalty for doing so.

In five years’ time, we hope to have millions of users engaged in the system and generating hundreds of millions of dollars for carbon offset projects worldwide. This is what it will take to start moving the needle on climate change. UCapture can do it. We could use your help.

How does UCapture help people reduce their carbon footprint?

UCapture is a green-tech platform that enables anyone to offset their carbon footprint – for free.

We’ve formed affiliate marketing relationships with over 25,000 online stores. Users install our browser extension on their computer and browse the internet like normal.

When a user visits a partner site, our extension activates automatically, triggering UCapture to earn a commission if the user makes a purchase. UCapture puts two-thirds of our commissions towards verified carbon offset projects, directly offsetting the user’s carbon footprint, at no extra cost. Our technology also automatically applies the best coupon code available, so users can save money while helping save the planet.

This solution is globally scalable, as online shopping occurs everywhere, browser extensions work everywhere, and climate change matters to everyone. Further, it does not rely on the actions of governments or regulators. It is a power-to-the-people approach to going carbon neutral and combating climate change!

Tell me a bit about some of the projects your team has worked on.

UCapture has already supported 24 different carbon offset projects, including reforestation, methane capture, and renewable energy. These projects all make quantifiable and independently verified reductions to net greenhouse gases. As such, they help combat climate change.

These projects have been sited all over the world, and many of them bring immense social co-benefits that address various other sustainable development goals: such as fighting poverty, providing affordable clean energy, improving economic opportunities, and protecting animals.

For example, one project in Rwanda distributes innovative cookstove technology that provides fuel savings that reduce deforestation. However, by also reducing smoke and indoor air pollution, this project improves health conditions for the low-income recipients and lets children spend less time collecting firewood.

Or our wind energy project in India which combats climate change by providing a renewable source of electricity for India’s Southern Grid, thereby reducing coal-fired electricity. Part of the revenue from this project is used to support two community camps which empower young women by educating them on their rights, creative abilities and skills in healthcare.

UCapture has also supported a forest conservation project in Zimbabwe that ensures 784,987 hectares of forest and wildlife are protected. It has created a contiguous preserve for dozens of endangered species, as well as providing sustainable livelihood opportunities for poor communities suffering heavily from deforestation, poverty, and drought.

How important to you is the fight against climate change?

Immensely important. I’ve dedicated my life (and my life savings) towards building a platform to solving it. So yeah – I’d say it’s important to me.

But it needs to be important to everyone! Scientists point to climate change as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” It threatens us all.

It is not an abstract concept; it carries real consequences. The impact has already begun:

  • Decreased arctic ice, leading to rising sea levels.
  • More frequent and powerful hurricanes and storms.
  • More frequent and severe droughts.
  • Longer and hotter heat waves.
  • Higher wildlife extinction rates.

Fortunately, we’re not left scratching our heads about what is causing it. We know global warming is caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. However, until we can fully decarbonize our economy, CO2 emissions will be a part of life.

Tell me a little about some of the partnerships you’ve made and how they’ve helped you grow the company?

One of our Affiliate Partners, Dropps, also cares about the environment and sustainability. They had already implemented certain actions like making their shipments carbon neutral.

Together we developed a system to make their entire product carbon neutral, at no extra cost!

Dropps created a blog post and featured us in their newsletter, encouraging their customers to join UCapture in order to join Dropps in living more sustainably.

Here’s how that partnership works to offset Dropps’ carbon footprint while also empowering their customers to live more sustainably:

  • We created a Corporate account and referral link –
  • Dropps encouraged customers join UCapture through this link using the blog and newsletter (there are plenty of other ways)
  • For each customer that joins UCapture, we instantly offset 100 lbs. of CO2
  • This reduces the carbon footprint of the customer’s purchase at no cost to Dropps or the customer
  • Then, as a UCapture user, the customer continues to offset their carbon footprint ? customer empowerment
  • As the one who referred them to UCapture, Dropps earns a 10% carbon offset bonus on the user’s activity ? reducing Dropps carbon footprint
  • We track and publish the total carbon offset done by the Dropps community:

This opportunity is available to any brand – so please reach out to me at [email protected] to get your company’s sustainability integration established!

What’s next for UCapture?

Here’s a look at what we have in development:

Mobile App: We’re building a mobile solution that will replicate our browser extension’s functionality for mobile shopping, thereby tapping UCapture into a growing segment of e-commerce and boosting the impact of each user.

In-Person: We’ve devised a system to bring UCapture’s business model to over 20,000 retail locations in the US. developing another free and frictionless way for consumers to live more sustainably when shopping in-store.

Payments: We’re working on expanding to payment technologies, such as developing a rewards credit card that funds carbon offsets with every purchase; we’ve been in discussions with a number of banks and card issuers about this opportunity.

I want to give a big thank you to Avery. I really appreciate your time and we at Advertise Purple look forward to further conversations about the importance of UCapture and synergistically putting together plans to help our clients utilize this amazing tool!

If we’ve learned anything from this global crisis, it’s that we need to take warning signs seriously about issues such as climate change. Onwards and upwards!

Are you getting started in affiliate marketing or looking to improve your current program?

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