EQUO Raises US$1.3 Mln and Announces Michelle Wie-West as Global Ambassador

3:34:34 PM | 4/20/2022

On April 20, EQUO, a Vietnam-based sustainability company, has raised US$1.3 million in seed funding. Leading the seed round is NextGen Ventures with participation from Techstars, East Ventures, and supported my notable seed investors such as Luke Vigeant, Jeff Hohner, Jack Tai, Mark Groves, and Dimple  Mukherjee.

EQUO was advised by the legal team of Drew & Napier in Singapore and Allens in Vietnam.    

Founded in 2020 by solo female founder Marina Tran-Vu, EQUO provides 100% plastic-free and compostable solutions made of materials like coffee, coconut and sugarcane to replace single-use plastics.  The company aims to disrupt the category by offering solutions that are easy, convenient to use, without asking consumers to change their lifestyle or behavior.  EQUO differentiates itself through bright, exciting and distinct branding that captures the consumer’s attention in categories that were traditionally ignored; and focusing on education of new sustainable materials available on the market.

Some of EQUO’s 100% plastic-free products

EQUO, which recently was named one of nine winners of the UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) S3i Innovation Center Sweden Global Challenge for startups and a Top 18 Finalist in the EPPIC (Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge) by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), is currently available on Amazon in US, Canada and Australia; on their website; wholesaler site Faire; and select F&B establishments and retailers in Vietnam, Singapore and Europe.

EQUO intends to use the funds to further expand its product line, develop its technical capabilities to quickly scale the business, and increase the brand’s awareness and exposure in US, Canada, Vietnam and Singapore, while expanding to recently entered markets like Europe, Japan and Australia.

Jimmy Quach, CEO of NextGen Ventures, noted: “EQUO is a purpose-driven company with a clear mission to rid the world of single-use plastic and to give consumers options that better protect the environment.  NextGen is pleased to support Marina and her team in their trailblazing effort to drive her sustainability mission with reach and scale.” 

“EQUO’s mission aligns with East Ventures’ core belief in providing solutions that bring us closer to a sustainable future. Countless single-use plastics are used in our daily lives, which means there’s a big market and potential that lies ahead for EQUO to solve and improve upon today’s current products. We have a strong belief in EQUO, and are looking forward to seeing the further positive impact that Marina and team will have on the world.” says Willson Cuaca, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of East Ventures. 

New global brand Ambassador, Michelle Wie-West

In addition, the brand is announcing their global partnership with professional golfer and businesswoman, Michelle Wie-West, whom Tran-Vu met and secured a deal with on the television show Front Office, by the first ever athlete owned media network, Players TV

Michelle Wie-West

“I was so happy to meet Marina and experience first-hand her passion and unique vision for making sustainable solutions easy, convenient and exciting!  As a fellow Asian woman, I am thrilled to be on this journey with her and the EQUO team,” said Michelle Wie-West.  “I am a mother of a 21-month-old baby girl, and I can’t wait to go on adventures with my daughter, knowing I can bring EQUO straws and utensils with us that are safe for her, and the environment. I believe sustainability and wellness go hand in hand, and being an advocate for building a more green future for generations to come is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, so partnering with EQUO was a perfect fit.”

“I am excited to work with an amazing athlete and exemplary businesswoman like Michelle Wie-West, and am driven by our common goal of a more sustainable future. Michelle is a pioneer for women and the Asian community in professional sports, and with her as our partner, we can see EQUO become the sustainable brand of choice for golf clubs, resorts, sports stadiums and sporting events around the world,” said Tran-Vu.

Michelle Wie West is an American professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour. She skyrocketed to golf fame in her early teens as she became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links and the youngest to qualify for an LPGA Tour event. She won her first major at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open. 

Future plans for EQUO

A recent report by the Center for International Environmental Law indicated that the production and disposal of single-use plastics will cause the equivalent emissions of 295 coal plants by 2030.

EQUO was created by combining the words 'ECO,' meaning not harmful to the environment, and 'STATUS QUO,' meaning an existing state or condition – so 'EQUO' stands for the ideal of creating functional products with minimal impact to the environment.

The company first launched into the market with a line of drinking straws made out of grass, rice, coconut, sugarcane and coffee. EQUO has since added to its portfolio with a line of utensils made of sugarcane and tote bags made of canvas materials.  The company has announced its upcoming line of products including utensils made of coffee and wood, sugarcane food containers and cups, and compostable bags for grocery, retail and home use.

Some upcoming innovative products by EQUO (For illustration purpose only)

“Our vision is to replace all single-use plastic on the planet.’ said Tran-Vu. “We are excited about the new products we are going to be delivering to the market this year to show the world all the things we do WITHOUT single-use plastic and (in some cases) paper.”

EQUO also carries the mission to bring Vietnamese and Asian products to the world, proving that Vietnam can become a global leader in innovation and sustainability, and displaying the local talent in the country, exemplified by her all-Vietnamese team. 

Solo founder Marina Tran-Vu

By Vietnam Business Forum