It all started with a freezer full of dead birds

On a mission to seamlessly integrate human expansion and the natural ecosystem.

Bettina Kain, CEO of BirdShades

A life spent loving nature and trying to master the art of pishing (imitating birds sounds) like her grandfather. One could argue that Bettina Kain was always destined to be the co-founder of BirdShades. From her childhood growing up in a small Austrian town to her studies in Biology, birds and wildlife have always been a common denominator in her passions and interests.


Hiking on Sundays and studying Biology at university during the week, Bettina’s interest for sustainability grew after attending a course in ecology business. Don’t be fooled by her compassionate and kind nature, this lady’s on a mission. Feeling like she wasn’t getting enough practical experience out of her academic studies, Birdhades’ CEO took a side job as a salesperson at a gardening shop — I told you it was just written in the stars. Armed with her scientific background and enthusiasm for sales, she found a like-minded spirit in Dominique Waddoup, now the CSO. They were only a small push away to take action and found BirdShades.

It was the chance encounter with a horrifying scene that set things in motion. One day, after a meeting, their professor shared with them a staggering truth. As he opened a freezer in the biology department, the two students saw hundreds of birds stacked in there, waiting to be studied. How did he collect all those birds? The professor proceeded to explain that he was collecting the birds he found dead under a glass corridor on the university campus. All those birds had died from colliding with the glass windows that they couldn’t see. The mortality rate was so high in such a short amount of time that he’d have to freeze the birds to preserve them until he had time to use them for research.

Bettina and Dominique could not believe the fatalities caused by birds colliding into the glass. Researching more they discovered that this is a global issue. In the US alone, 1 billion birds die every year. In particular, cities that were built on birds migratory paths like San Francisco and Toronto are particularly impacted. The fast growth of our cities and the widespread adoption of glass as an effective and eye-pleasing material are putting the natural ecosystem at risk. For this, regulations are getting stricter and building owners are increasingly being requested to retrofit beautiful glass skyscrapers with expensive, ineffective and not-so-pretty solutions to spare the birds.

Bettina Kain & Domonique Waddoup, CEO & CSO of BirdShades.

That’s when BirdShades was born. The co-founders decided to make their job to protect the ecosystem while allowing our cities to grow organically and expand. To solve the issue and finally retire current dissatisfactory solutions, BirdShades develops an invisible film that can be applied to glass and that’s invisible to the human eye. Birds, instead, can see a striped pattern, thanks to their capability to see UV light. With this solution, this company is offering a sustainable solution that also allows architects to not have to compromise on design and materials to allow our cities to grow efficiently. Bettina and Dominique are determined to demonstrate that having the best of both worlds is not only possible but necessary.

BirdShades joined the RebelBio portfolio in our VII programme. Check out who the other six were.

By Eleonora Mantovani

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