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Jason Ash is the co-founder of YoungPlanet, a circular economy app where families can give and receive parenting and children’s items for free.

The cashless platform lets parents list or request different children’s items, from books and clothes to toys and baby equipment.

Founded in 2019 by Jason and his wife Emma, YoungPlanet has raised £945,000 in equity crowdfunding. The founders want London-headquartered YoungPlanet to encourage families to “declutter, give joy and save the planet”.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Ash explains how founders can get the most out of social media, what companies can learn from Patagonia, and what he wishes YoungPlanet did differently at launch.

1. What one thing do you wish you’d done differently when launching your company?

Jason Ash: When we originally launched YoungPlanet in 2019, we kept to a manageable and realistic timeline; investing where we could and bringing people on board when we felt ready. We didn’t go crazy and were really mindful of not running before we could walk.

Our measured approach saw us outlast competitors that expanded too soon, but in hindsight, we could probably have taken a few more risks at the start of our journey – our team and product were definitely strong enough to handle it.

2. Who’s a leader you admire in your industry?

JA: In terms of sustainable fashion, I’m really impressed with Yvon Chouinard’s decision to transfer the ownership of Patagonia to fight the climate crisis. Since day one, Patagonia has been committed to improving the longevity of items and reducing the company’s carbon footprint – it’s a brilliant example all founders and entrepreneurs should keep in mind when it comes to applying sustainable frameworks to their companies.

Patagonia has also successfully embedded family values into its company culture right from the start, offering generous childcare and family policies to all of its employees – including on-site childcare centres for everyone. These things can be built in from day one and exist alongside a successful, profitable business model.

3. Should founders be outspoken on social media?

JA: All founders should try and work towards establishing a transparent relationship with consumers and so being willing to listen on social media is the most important thing. Customer support is vital, and by making others aware of your commitment to becoming better, your journey will be all the more successful.

Social media can also be a great way of authentically demonstrating that you exist to further a cause, and not just to make a profit. Being able to land this message is essential in getting people to join your mission.

4. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?

JA: I’m terrified of heights – usually I can control and rationalise my ‘flight’ instincts in any precarious situations, but it’s a serious issue when I’m high up and can’t get down!

5. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that’s ripe for disruption?

JA: The travel industry, especially when it comes to the sector’s environmental impacts. Digitalisation has given travel so much potential for innovation, but there still needs to be a shift in the way people engage with eco-friendly travel at a social and cultural level.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.