Changing his tune: Nashville musician launches tech startup
Arbuckle likens Viro to "MyFitnessPal for the Planet"
Six-years ago, Nick Arbuckle packed his bags and his Gibson guitar in hopes of “making it big in the Music City”. The Houston native’s dreams soon became a reality. He started touring with decorated artists like Kelsey Ballerini and Grammy-award winning groups such as The Rhett Walker Band and Shenandoah.
But last year, the 33-year-old bassist hung up his guitar and traded the stage for Nashville’s startup scene.
“While touring overseas, I witnessed the gravity of the global waste problem,” Arbuckle explains.
After seeing dark smog-filled skies in Beijing, garbage littered across Brazil’s landscape, and trash ridden rivers in Mexico City, Arbuckle decided to do something.
That something was Viro.
Viro — a play on enVIROnment — is an environmental activity tracker that enables users to set sustainability goals, track progress towards those targets and earn rewards for reducing their carbon footprint. Arbuckle likens it to, “MyFitnessPal for the planet.”
The app encourages people to be more climate conscious by replacing environmentally harmful habits — drinking out of disposable cups, tossing coffee grounds in the garbage and consuming carnivorous meals — with eco-friendly actions — refilling reusable water bottles, composting coffee grounds and substituting a steak supper for a plant-based plate.
The ambitious entrepreneur received a six-figure angel investment last February to launch his startup. Arbuckle has already achieved some success, since rolling out Viro a month ago.
The first time founder leveraged connections from his time in the music industry to wield a partnership with well-known water brand Liquid Death. The canned water company — who achieved a $700 million valuation in October — awarded Viro’s first one-hundred users with a case of the Adam’s ale.
Those cases were spoken for within the first 48 hours, Arbuckle humbly says.
In less than thirty days, the app has attracted more than a thousand users — a feat accomplished by fewer than 10-percent of apps. According to Statista, only 7.5-percent of new mobile applications receive 1,000 downloads within the first month.
“People are responding positively,” Arbuckle says. “Most (Viro users) are setting a goal to complete three to four eco-actions a day. On average, we’re seeing people reduce their carbon footprint by 3 to 4 lbs.”
Eco-actions are everyday sustainable steps derived from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of 100 Best Green Practices. Each action is attached to a pollution reduction metric verified by the EPA.
For example, recycling a single paper plate as opposed to tossing it in the trash, reduces carbon output by 0.6 lbs. Refilling a reusable water bottle twice in one day rather than drinking out of disposable ones narrows a person’s footprint by 1.2 lbs — the size of a standard outdoor trash can.
Depending on the distance, opting for alternative transportation — driving an electric vehicle, carpooling, biking or walking — can slash a person’s CO2 production by up to 12 lbs — the size of two six-seater hot tubs.
Users can share their steps towards sustainability on social media.
“What do you do after a hard work-out,” Arbuckle asks. “You post about it.”
He says sustainability should be celebrated just like a long run or a cardio class.
“Environmental fitness is fitness,” he says.
The green founder has grand plans for 2023. Arbuckle says he will seek out another six-figure investment to grow his three-person team, form reward partnerships with other ethical food and beverage brands, add new features and develop a B2B version of the app that guides companies on how to achieve a carbon neutral certification.
Despite being green to the tech scene, Arbuckle is finding his voice.
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