New Brighton start-up rewards people for shopping ethically

Three ambitious graduates have launched a Brighton-based start-up which aims to make it easier for people to shop ethically – and rewards them for doing so.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 3:11 pm
The founders of Ethicul
The founders of Ethicul

Ryan Hudson, 24, Charlie Jordan, 23, and Matthew Denford, 23, were just a few assignments away from completing their degrees last year when they decided to take a leap and build Ethicul, a platform which supports sustainable businesses in the city.

More than 50 independent shops – including HISBE, Harriet’s of Hove and Nostos – have signed up to the platform, which is now used by more than 500 members.

Charlie said: “We formed back in March 2020, a week before the first national lockdown, and it is crazy to reflect on how far we’ve come.”

Ethicul rewards its members for shopping at ethical businesses by giving tokens for each purchase they make, which can then be redeemed.

All people need to do is sign up with their email address and browse Ethicul’s website to find out what businesses it partners with.

After shopping with one of them, either online or instore, members email their receipt to Ethicul, which then updates their token balance.

Ryan said the model was ‘not perfect’ yet and the team were currently building a mobile app, which would allow tokens to be generated automatically whenever a card purchase is made.

The concept came about when the team pitched the idea as a group project in one of their modules at Brighton University.

“At that point we had absolutely no idea that we would go on to create it as an actual business,” said Ryan.

“However we received incredible praise and feedback from local Brighton business owners that attended the University as judges on the module to help grade our work.”

The trio were encouraged to take a leap and make the idea a reality.

“When we actually decided to do this, we had zero external funding, limited personal funds being students but we had bags of passion and the determination to succeed,” said Ryan.

They also had assistance from the Universities entrepreneurship scheme Beepurple, which supported them in the early stages.

The trio wanted to set up Ethicul after finding that people tended to shop at places like Amazon because it was convenient, despite the fact they felt guilty about it.

They also found that, while people may want to shop at independent stores, they were not always aware of what was out there, or which shops were genuinely ethical.

Others were put off by the pre-concpetion that shopping ethically and locally is more expensive, despite this not always being the case.

Ethicul gives people an easy way to find out what ethical options are available to them.

Ryan said: “The high street and are independents are up against the greenwashing campaigns of large corporations and they are the lifeblood of our community.

“We want to ensure they thrive for now and the future by creating a societal shift in the way we choose to spend.”

Charlie added: “Together, we can make a huge difference in fighting for the sustainability of the planet, enhancing communities, and improving social wellbeing.”

Find out more and sign up at