Meet Helena Merk - CEO of Spirals

Meet Helena Merk - Founder of Spirals. Spirals makes it easy for any money to automatically work towards climate impact.

Meet Helena Merk - CEO of Spirals
Helena Merk
Toucan provides infrastructure to bring environmental assets to open blockchains. Everyone can build on top of or with tokenized carbon credits. In our "Meet the Founders" series, we're shining the spotlight on what our top ReFi builders are working on.

Can you tell us a bit about who you are, and about your background?

Hey! I’m Helena. I’ve been building things my whole life, starting with mobile app development early in middle school. I’ve touched everything from mobile game engines to cloud infrastructure to video streaming. At the same time I was balancing my love for wild animals, spending several summers growing up working in remote parts of the world doing wildlife veterinary work — imagine surgeries on elephants. The two worlds both felt incomplete: no work in tech felt mission aligned enough, and no work in the wild could scale.

I built my first company, Glimpse, with a close college friend. I had already dropped out of Duke a year earlier, and convincing my friend to leave was easy once we got into the YC accelerator. It was solving a problem very personal to me at the time: deep personal relationships. Dropping out at 19 and living in the suburbs was… socially hard. We built Glimpse to hundreds of thousands of users partnered with Zoom, and were the first Zoom App to work in breakout rooms. We got an acquisition offer from a competitor and decided to take it. It came at a time where I increasingly was longing to work in climate and the opportunity was perfect: The product we’d built became their priority, and my team was eager and excited to join.

I walked away and went deep on climate explorations. I did everything from starting a micro algae rig to experimenting with better funding options for R&D through carbon markets.

Please introduce your project.

Spirals makes it easy for any money to work towards climate impact. Rather than holding ETH, you can now hold Green ETH, and rather than holding CELO, you can hold Green CELO. This gets exciting, however, when we think about Green money as a building block: any dapp or protocol can now make a climate impact, simply by holding the green version of a token — gUSDC, gETH, etc.

We do this with our “Green Liquid Staking” protocol — let’s break that apart:
Staking allows a token to be locked in to earn yield on the asset.

Liquid Staking mints a token to represent your locked token, allowing you to send your staked position to someone else, move it around, etc.

Green Liquid Staking, similar to liquid staking, has a new token minted (retaining usability), while the staking yield is going into nature.
Learn more about Spirals or follow them on Twitter.

What drove you to ReFi, and what developments are you most excited about? Why did you choose to build on Toucan infrastructure?

ReFi imagines new economic models that dare to dream about a different relationship between environment and humanity. Toucan was one of the first ReFi projects we came across, and it inspired us to think and dream about a better world.

I’m super excited and optimistic about a lot of things lately. Both that there’s a lot of demand for carbon markets and that traditional carbon markets — like Verra and Gold Standard — are iterating on new carbon market designs right along with us.

What part of Toucans infrastructure are you using & how was the experience of building on top of it?


(How) did Toucan support you in building your product?

Working with Toucan has been lots of fun — the team is kind and helpful. Jack and the rest of the team provided us an ecosystem grant that was pivotal early belief capital for us. In addition, we’ve learned so much from the Toucan team as they’re always eager to support us. We hosted an awesome paint night with them as well (Jack is a master at graffiti art!).

Where do you see the biggest value proposition of tokenized carbon credits?

Price Transparency! Tokenizing carbon credits allows clarity around what buyers are paying for credits. This is huge. It guarantees that buyers and sellers are getting the fairest prices, and ensures that more money lands in the hands of the communities doing amazing climate work.

How does your project contribute to addressing climate change?

Spirals helps fund new climate projects. When people turn their crypto green, we get to help them make an informed decision about what climate impact they want to make. And this impact is so powerful.

There’s so many amazing projects that need early capital to start or grow their climate work. We get to connect these environmental warriors with funds. The level of gratitude the amazing leaders of these projects show when we tell them we can support them with funding is incredible. So many people want to do world changing work. We just need to help them to not have to worry about finding the money to make it happen.
Do you have a cool idea for a ReFi project? Head over to our builder hub to learn more about building with Toucan.

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What is Toucan?
Toucan is building the technology to bring the world's supply of carbon credits onto energy-efficient blockchains and turn them into tokens that anyone can use. This paves the way for a more efficient and scalable global carbon market.