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"We want to change what home ownership means for this generation"

ECCI-backed start-up Quoin compete today in the 2020 Global Grand Final of the world’s biggest green ideas competition, ClimateLaunchpad.

On a mission to “change sustainable home ownership”, Quoin join start-ups from 50 countries worldwide pitching for the grand prize of €10,000 and a place on the renowned EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator.

We caught up with the Quoin team to get the lowdown on their world-beating idea and hear their hopes for today’s final.

What is your company and product all about, in a nutshell? 

Quoin tackles the housing crisis by making sustainable homes affordable.

Secure housing is a fundamental human need, but people have struggled with decades of monotony in the housing market, forced to buy houses that are inefficient and increasingly unaffordable. Quoin builds carbon neutral homes and offers them to first time buyers through our rent-to-deposit service that allows them to save their deposit while living in their home.

Using off-site construction, our homes are made in less than half the time and produce less than half the carbon footprint of a traditional home. We offset the remaining environmental impact by using sequestered carbon, sourcing our supplies locally, and implementing sustainable technologies which allow homeowners to live utilities free.

Our “rent-to-deposit” service is like a lease-to-buy car loan where customers establish ownership through monthly rent payments. By the end of the rental (or lease) agreement, they will save enough money to put a deposit on a traditional loan to fully fund their home and situate themselves on the property ladder.

Tell us about your background. 

Quoin was launched by five MSc. students studying at the University of Edinburgh who connected over our passion to make housing more affordable and sustainable. Our five founders hail from across the globe representing Ireland, the United States, Romania, India, and Italy. Each member brings their own unique expertise, collectively representing industries such as design, financial planning and business management, robotics and automation, engineering, and marketing.

What plans do you have for expansion? 

Ideally, Quoin will launch a pilot site in either Manchester, Bristol, or Edinburgh but the long-term goal is to bring affordable and sustainable homes to the UK and rest of Europe. We think our financial service is pretty cool, too. We plan to extend our rent-to-deposit service to those looking to buy pre-existing properties so more first-time homebuyers have more flexibility in where they buy. 

What’s your ultimate goal? 

Quoin’s goal is to change what home ownership means for this generation. We’re challenging decades of stagnation in the housing industry—stagnation that has forced consumers to choose between environmentally sustainable or affordable homes. By offering a sustainable and affordable alternative to traditional homes, they no longer have to.

What is your greatest achievement? 

Winning the European Climate Launchpad has been our crowning achievement to date. It’s an incredible honor for Quoin to win support of this program and is the opportunity we need to break through this industry.

Your views on Scotland and Edinburgh’s sustainability scene? 

We chose to found Quoin in Edinburgh because of the vibrant start-up culture and the access it gives us to with incredible organisations like ECCI that support sustainability.  It would be great to see the ecosystem develop to have a similar sense of connection and cohesion that the technology and financial sectors has in the city. 

What role did the support offered to you by ECCI/ClimateLaunchpad play in your success? 

The support from ECCI and ClimateLaunchpad have been pivotal to help our business idea grow and reach the next level.

This has been an incredible experience for us that’s generated a lot of momentum to really accelerate the business. Being part of this program has made us even more dedicated to tackling climate change and more able to make a positive impact.   

Why are competitions that support green innovation important during Covid-19? 

There is a real risk that the rush to rebuild economies and all the new hygiene measures that our carbon footprint, and use of raw materials, will be greater than ever. However, this time also presents the opportunity to reset the scales and focus investment into businesses that foster green initiatives. These competitions are crucial to support new business ideas that will help ensure a positive recovery from Covid-19.

How do you relax? 

Even though we met at university, this year has meant that as a team we’ve been working remotely and so to relax we each put the kettle on, grab our favorite cup and hang out digitally. Though we are all looking forward to reconnecting over a game of table tennis or in our favorite café. 

Team Profile 

Richard Murphy, Ireland, 34. With a background in design and sustainability Richard will be using his 10 years of experience in leading and coaching start-ups to lead us CEO. His career gave him the opportunity to work across a range of sectors from leading product design in tech scale-ups to delivering brand-driven interior designs.

Alexander Koveleski, America, 26. As our CFO Alex uses his extensive experience in the field of financial planning and analysis to oversee the complex financial development Quoin requires. In his career he has created models in preparation for acquisition activities while working extensively with investment bankers. He has also built and maintained financial modeling/forecasts for capital expenditure projects, enterprise revenue, and budgeting for client programs and company cost centers.  

Supraja Balasundaram, India, 23. With a background in Robotics and Automation, Supraja is the operations lead for Quoin. As COO she is tasked with overall project management and logistics of properties to be purchased by Quoin. Supraja’s experience in operations, management of engineering and automation projects mean she is uniquely qualified to oversee off-site construction.

Federico Moro, Italy, 22. As a natural networker Federico is the Chief Marketing Officer for Quoin. He is responsible for communications, PR, community outreach, and customer relations. He has extensive experience in the marketing industry, having covered different roles across the globe. 

Alexandra Filimon, Romania, 26. Alexa’s experience in leading business development and service development, in the 3rd sector make her a natural fit for Chief Commercial Officer Alexa and runs all market research and is responsible for market expansion. Previously, Alexa had a leading role in Business Development for a local charity in Edinburgh, after which she worked on product and service development for three years.

ClimateLaunchpad at ECCI

ClimateLaunchpad is delivered by ECCI in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, alongside ECCI’s three-stage programme for low carbon entrepreneurs and start-ups in the UK - the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator. Since launching in 2017 ECCI's Accelerator businesses have secured more than £2.5m worth of investments and won more than 70 awards.

In 2018 ECCI hosted the Global Grand Final of ClimateLaunchpad in Edinburgh for the first time, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon giving the keynote address. ECCI-supported start-up Crover beat off stiff competition from hundreds of competitors to bag third place, becoming the top performing Scottish team in the competition ever.

Get behind Scotland's ClimateLaunchpad finalist!

Each year the ClimateLaunchpad Global Grand Final presents the world’s crème de la crème of green start-ups. This year the event take place online: accessible to all and unconstrained by time, space, travel or CO2.