CCell is transforming coastal protection while enhancing the marine ecosystems. They are an innovative CleanTech company that grows coral reefs using energy from the waves to form rock from seawater minerals. CCell is looking for investors or individuals who want to help plant corals.
Our interview with Will, Founder and CEO of CCell
Describe your mission in a sentence or two
CCell is an innovative cleantech company that grows coral reefs using energy from the ocean waves to form rock from seawater minerals. It’s a high tech solution that seeks to transform coastal protection while enhancing the marine ecosystems.
Who are your clients?
At present we are looking to hotels and beachfront businesses, to purchase our reefs. In our initial target market, Quintana Roo, Mexico, there are over 240 beachfront hotels, of which 80% of them could benefit from our solution. In this sector, we predict an addressable market of $150 million over the next five year. But our solution is not limited to just hotels; any beachfront property should eventually be able to afford and apply our solution. We hope to implement a B1G1 (Buy one give one) model to grow coral reefs in areas that need them most but can’t afford them on their own.
What stage are you at in your business?
We are beginning a round of equity crowdfunding for our full-scale validation project in the heart of our target market. Here, we are in conversation with several hotels who, once the validation project is underway, will begin to purchase our reefs to protect their eroding beaches. Our project will consist of 200m of reef, three wave paddles to catch wave energy and transplanted coral restoration with the help of INAPESCA.
What is your business model?
We have a B2B business model, with initial sales to hotels, governments and landowners in major tourist destinations (e.g. Mexico), many of whom are already spend the equivalent of £1M/km on beach maintenance per year. We are offering an end-to-end solution to coastal erosion, which includes surveying, modelling, installation and maintenance. Our goal is to transform this into an ongoing service, with continual monitoring that generates data and video, and provides a beautiful dive tourism attraction.
Our passion for both the environment and engineering has focussed our work, creating a product that is both scientifically cutting edge and environmentally sound. By using 100% renewable energy, captured by our patented paddle technology, we can use the power of ocean waves to create protection from the sea itself. We have established a manufacturing base in Mexico, where we are continually refining our methods for making our paddle in the most sustainable way possible. Our numerical modelling capabilities in London allow us to predict conditions and adapt the solution to different areas before installation. The modular design of our solution makes installation easy, using only local divers and a small boat.
The reefs we grow, using a 25 year old electrolysis process, provide a backbone for lab-grown coral (and free-floating spores) to be planted onto our reef allowing their diverse ecosystem to flourish. In nature, coral reefs can reduce wave energy by up to 97% thus providing comprehensive coastal protection.
By creating a highly personalised coastal erosion solution, which works with nature to protect beaches, we aim to revolutionise the coastal protection industry.
How much funding have you raised to date?
We have had over £2 million in funding from Innovate UK and other UK/EU government partners and are now looking to begin equity investment.
What does "impact" mean to you as a profit-driven company?
At the core of what we do is a drive to leave the world a better place than we inherited. This is what “impact” means to us: make a lasting positive change to the lives of others and the natural world.
What is your current biggest challenge, and how are you seeking to address it?
To begin selling in our target region, we need first to prove our method works. We have proof that each of the constituent elements of our solution are viable, from the reef growth to energy capture, the coastal protection and the electricity modulation. Still, we need to be sure that combined they will work as intended. This is why we are focusing on our full-scale validation project, which will show our customers what we are capable of and allow us to improve our method further.
What kind of partnerships do you have in place to grow your business?
We are in conversations with several hotels in our target region, having secured permission from the local government, as well as Mexico’s second-largest NGO, to allow us to build our validator project. The project will protect a 200m stretch of shore on which a coral growth laboratory is situated. From this lab, run by INAPESCA, we will use the corals they grow to populate our reef. This will build on the ongoing research we are doing with the Living Reefs Foundation in Bermuda on the accelerated growth of corals through the electrolysis process.
What does 2030 look like in your mind?
2030 looks hopeful in my mind. There are a lot of really bright people in the world working on solutions to some of the most significant problems humankind has yet to face. 2030 will see lots of these solutions becoming mainstream, be it carbon capture, crowdsourcing or clean water; there is hope for our future through the choices and connections we make over the next ten years.
Through community effort and widespread adoption of our solution, we believe by 2030 we will have begun to turn the tide on coral reef destruction.
What other UK impactful startup do you love and why?
I think the work that Colorifix is doing to transform the fashion industry is revolutionary. They are using the power of nature to create pigments for fabric that don’t contribute to the pollution of waterways. With over 20% of industrial water pollution coming from the textile industry alone, their work is incredibly valuable.
On a smaller scale, I love businesses such as OLIO and Go Jauntly which allow people to easily make more sustainable choices, either by collecting and using up unwanted food or by finding new walks to go on.
What’s next for your company?
Our next step is our validation project in the heart of our target market; from there, we will begin projects with early adopters and continue to spread our solution to other regions.
We also want to expand our research with local coral hatcheries to other regions. There are 1000s of different coral species, we need to establish those that are most viable for the changing climate in each area, allowing us to support their restoration.
How can the SeedTribe community be involved in helping you scale your impact?
Joining our equity investment round would be a fantastic way to get involved in our project. By supporting us, you will not only help us to build and validate a full-scale reef project, demonstrating our value to early adopters. You will also be supporting the restoration of coral reefs and the education of local partners in sustainable practices. From there, we will be able to begin implementing our solution within our target market and then expand across the world.
You can even join us in the field to help plant corals, just remember to wear reef-safe sunscreen.
CCell are currently crowdfunding on Crowdcube.
To be put in touch with Will, send us an email.