PowerOfMoss: bringing nature back into our cities, our homes, our offices
Born in 2019 during a discussion between two friends who, at a party, were wondering how to take action for the environment, PowerOfMoss aims to bring back nature within cities by vegetating indoors and roofs. We met Josse Le Blan, a 2016 graduate of IÉSEG and co-founder of this growing company.
Josse Le Blan, how did you come up with the idea to create PowerOfMoss?
I was lucky enough to grow up in the countryside and enjoy the pleasures of nature, and during these years in Lille and especially in Paris, I realized how almost non-existent it had become around me, whether in the city or in my workplace. So, I wanted to create a start-up with a positive impact on the environment, and to fight against the consequences of the absence of nature in the city ( contaminated atmosphere, over-use of air conditioning, creation of urban heat islands…), I looked for ways to reconnect people to nature by revegetating our cities. And so, one evening, while sharing my thoughts on this professional project with friends, I found my future partner, Arthur Lejeune, who had studied agro-industry and agricultural engineering. So, we both embarked on the wonderful adventure of creating a company.
PowerOfMoss’ objective is thus to bring back nature where it is missing…
With PowerOfMoss, we want to put nature back where it is missing, in our homes, in our companies, in our cities… Above all, we want to do it the right way: to be efficient (to have a maximum impact while limiting our energy consumption), to be responsible (using local, sustainable and resistant materials) and above all to be simple and ingenious so that vegetation can be integrated everywhere.
However, in order to fight against global warming, we talk a lot about “green cities”, but very few solutions are really emerging to vegetate our cities… We looked a lot into the reasons why very few roofs and walls were vegetated in cities. We realized that in fact, all the solutions today were based on traditional plants, which requires planting them in the ground and caring for them regularly. These solutions are complicated to implement on roofs, they are very heavy and therefore cannot be duplicated in many places and above all, they are not very effective, especially indoors: you need about 10 plants per person to start having a positive impact.
Arthur and I did some research to find a better solution, one that could be more easily duplicated in the city, and that’s how we came to look at plant moss, the type of moss that can be found on trees and stones in the forest, but also on the pavements and concrete in our cities and gardens. Now, plant moss has many qualities. First of all, it has no roots and therefore does not need soil to grow. It is very light, and takes all the nutrients it needs to grow from the air, which has a very positive impact on the surrounding air. Secondly, it is a very dense plant: in one square meter of moss, there are several million leaves, the equivalent of eight hundred-year-old trees! It allows a bacterial degradation of the organic particles present in the air and limits the suspension of particles and the propagation of viruses. Finally, it attracts in an electro-static way the fine particles present in the air and, thanks to a unique bacterial film on the surface of its leaves, will biodegrade them to transform them into phytomass. In a busy city street, thirteen grams of fine dust are emitted on average per year. One square meter of moss can eliminate between thirteen and twenty grams of this fine dust per day…
In the end, the choice of material was obvious given the impact goals we wanted to achieve, and that’s also why we chose to name our company PowerOfMoss.
Moreover, you protect the roofs and insulate the rooms of the houses.
Beyond these environmental impacts, greening the roofs allows to protect the coatings in the long term (by fighting against the heat shocks in summer, in particular zinc roofs), to better insulate the houses (against the cold in winter but also against the heat in summer), to better drain the rainwater… and especially you bring a real aesthetic plus: the greenness comes to your window!
After having started with the greening of roofs, we have also launched a range of moss totems (A forest, at home), to bring back nature indoors (which contributes to the decrease of heart rate and blood pressure, in particular), to reduce the use of air conditioning and to purify the indoor air. These totems have been a real success with companies for their large spaces (reception, open spaces, cafeterias…) and we have since developed an offer for smaller spaces (individuals, individual offices, restaurants, shops, classrooms…).
How is PowerOfMoss doing today?
After creating the company in 2019, we spent 2020 developing prototypes of our various offerings to launch our first products on the market in 2021. We proved from the launch that our solution was reliable, and above all that there was a real customer need that our offering met. At the end of 2021, we raised €1.3 million to accelerate our research and development: we know that we can achieve even better results with other species of moss, improve the maturity of our mosses outdoors… This research requires significant investment.
Moreover, we are in full development (we have gone from four to twelve employees in just a few months), we have carried out more than 100 vegetation projects in 2021 for a turnover of several hundred thousand euros (and growing constantly, given the huge number of roofs to be vegetated in France!) We are therefore looking for motivated talents to join the start-up adventure, so students as well as IÉSEG graduates, if you are tempted by our adventure, do not hesitate to contact me!
How did IÉSEG help you succeed as an entrepreneur?
IÉSEG brought me a lot in terms of personal development. Thanks to the School, I immediately realized that I was interested in the entrepreneurship and I built my professional career in this direction as soon as I completed my 2nd year internship. In addition, the associative life allows you to gain self-confidence, to learn how to manage a team, to convince clients and investors… During the courses, we work on a lot of business cases and pragmatic projects, we are very much in the practice and the resolution of field problems, which is exciting and very useful! We had to build a Facebook campaign for a company, and today I still use what my group had proposed at the time!
The life of an entrepreneur is very intense. The most difficult thing is to go from problem to problem without losing your enthusiasm! You have to be able to see above the obstacles, and for that, we are lucky to be aligned with a strong Vision and to have a precise and positive objective (greening cities to have a positive impact on the world and make people happier), that helps a lot.
What advice would you give to a future entrepreneur?
Don’t hesitate to talk widely about your idea to as many people as possible! The probability of having your idea stolen is very low, but the probability of meeting people interested in your project, potential partners, customers, investors and even co-founders is very high! Talking about your project means gaining (good) advice, time, unbiased feedback…