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Chilean startup Karun raises US$2.82 million for sustainable eyewear

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

ContxtoKarün, a Chilean startup producing sunglasses from recycled materials, recently accumulated US$2.8 million in an impressive funding round.

At the forefront of investments was Swedish Blue AB in addition to Ashurst and Luna. Officials at Karun now want to expand business to the United States and Europe following the investments. Other plans involve brand development, product diversification and marketing.

Who is Karun?

“Looking at the world from a different point of view” is the company’s slogan. Meaning “to be nature” in Mapudungun, the native language of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche, Karun specializes in ecological sunglasses.

Eyewear is designed in Santiago but produced in Italy where manufacturers use nets, cables as well as other recycled goods salvaged from the Chilean fishing industry.

What’s the story behind Karun?

Chilean entrepreneur Thomas Kimber launched the company in 2012 in Puerto Varas after dropping out of university as an economic student. As the story goes, he wanted to inspire his fellow countrymen to reconnect with nature. At the same time, Kimber was motivated to promote an alternative economic model.

I want to dedicate to improving the economic model by changing the way businesses work.

Karün CEO Thomas Kimber

Another source of inspiration behind the startyp was a 2011 forest fire at Torres del Paine National Park, close to Kimber’s hometown. He eventually began a relief effort using Google Maps for donors to plant a “virtual forest.”

With 17,000 donors from 52 countries, the young entrepreneur raised US$1 million in eight months. At the same time, Kimber realized that he wanted to build a company providing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems like plastic waste.

Another part of Kimber’s business model is to support Chileans living in Patagonia, which is a region that mostly depends on tourism.

“Cleaning ocean plastics becomes a source of income for micro-entrepreneurs in Patagonia,” said Kimber. “They can scale their sustainable businesses and create economic opportunities.”

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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