9. Zoe Rowswell & Kate Walmsley, Co-Founders of Tern Eco Limited

Company: Tern Eco Limited

Website: https://www.tern.eco/


About Zoe, Kate & Tern

Tern was founded in October 2020, by digital and ecommerce experts Kate Walmsley and Zoe Rowswell. Having worked in retail for a number of years, Kate and Zoe had become increasingly aware of their industry’s impact on the environment and wanted to use their skills to greater effect. In 2019, they set up their own independent consultancy to help retailers scale and grow their digital business, with a focus on sustainable retail. As their knowledge of circularity grew, it became clear that existing solutions were inaccessible to most brands – and the idea for tern was born.

The resale market alone is growing 5x faster than traditional retail, and retailers are rapidly acknowledging a shift in consumer mindset as well as the benefits of circular models that aim to eliminate waste by keeping products (and the materials they are made of) in use for as long as possible.

Tern is on a mission to help retailers of ANY size to participate in the circular economy through trade-in.
We recently launched the first publicly available trade-in app for Shopify; enabling merchants to offer a seamless trade-in service, where their customers can exchange previously purchased items for store credit. It’s a fully customisable plug and play solution, with rules-based pricing, integrated logistics and data rich analytics.

Trade-in drives customer loyalty and retention, whilst unlocking the potential of future circular models – from resale and recycling to upcycling and repairs – extending the life of products and generating new revenue streams.
Targeted at SMEs, the subscription-based service has been designed to be accessible and affordable with no implementation fees or technical support required.

Following a 3-month beta programme with a hand selected group of sustainable retail partners, the app is now available to the 2m+ merchants on the Shopify platform.

Getting to this point hasn’t been without its challenges. As established leaders, Kate and Zoe had the advantage of already knowing how to manage budgets, create engaging customer experiences, prioritise projects, run a P&L and build brilliant teams; however, the start-up world was new to them and there has been a lot navigate. In addition to the 12 hats they now wear every day, they made the decision early on to bootstrap the company, balancing their consultancy work with product development, customer outreach and financial planning – as well as lockdowns, working from home and home-schooling.

It’s been an incredible journey so far. Kate and Zoe are now raising funds to accelerate their growth in 2022 and what will be a pivotal year, with a focus on driving adoption and further developing the core app functionality to fully support circular business models. Their ambition is high, to make circularity in retail the norm – something every retailer can offer, and something every customer can expect.


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