EQUO’s first line of products is drinking straws made from grass, rice, coconut and sugarcane that are 100% plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable and non-toxic. Additional product lines will include utensils, dishware and stationary.
Today EQUO was one of ten startups named to Techstars Toronto‘s fourth cohort.
Launched in Canada in 2018, Techstars Toronto is run in partnership with Real Ventures. The program typically runs for 13 weeks and provides funding, hands-on mentorship, and access to the Techstars global network. This year’s cohort will culminate in a demo day on July 1st.
Tran-Vu’s parents immigrated to Canada during the Vietnam war and she grew up on the east side of Vancouver, attending Eric Hamber Secondary on her way to completing a Bachelors of Commerce in Marketing at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
Tran-Vu started EQUO to build a brighter more sustainable future for generations to come, to help create jobs and a sustainable source of income for farmers in Southeast Asia and Vietnam, and to change the perception people may still have about Vietnam as a developing third-world country.
“EQUO is a company that hits the sweet spot of sustainability and large market disruption” says Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of Techstars Toronto and the first outside investor in the company. “Its a theme that we really believe in at Techstars and we have launched a sustainable investing focus earlier this year.”
“Marina’s personal story of leaving Vancouver to discover her cultural homeland of Vietnam and then launching such an important company and as a first-time entrepreneur was something quite inspirational and rather unusual.”
“Moreover, Marina is a sole female founder and recent data by Crunchbase reports that such founders have experienced a sharp decline in funding in 2020 despite an overall record funding surge” says Sharma. “We felt this was something we really had to get behind.”
By elevating the talent and innovation from Vietnam to a world stage, EQUO helps to address the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal #12 of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Tran-Vu’s EQUO is well on her way to getting noticed, among her many accolades are being named to Flik’s 21 Womxn Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021, being featured on the January 2021 cover of Women Business Magazine in Vietnam, and being named one of Vegpreneur’s 25 Women Founders of Vegan Companies You Need to Know.