Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?
I have set up a reuse centre called the Green Hub at one of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) residential colleges, Sydney. There are various stakeholders involved including the residents of the college, the Randwick Council and a few charity organisations.
What is unique about this residential college is that it caters for 216 study abroad students who come in typically on an exchange for only one semester (about 6 months). The amount of waste generated by these residents at the end of the semester is phenomenal. With the Green Hub, leaving residents can now deposit used items at the centre instead of throwing them out. I've also worked with UNSW Sustainability to bring in paper recycling bins to be placed at the Green Hub. Incoming residents benefit from this initiative as they can reuse some of the items donated instead of having to purchase them. In the process, we are also able to cut down the amount of waste generated by 50% which works in the benefit of the Randwick Council as there is less sorting of rubbish that needs to be done. We've been keeping track of an inventory so far and have been receiving a lot of clothing items, furniture, electronics (fans, refrigerators etc), coathangers, sporting equipments, stationery and detergent.
Items that are typically in demand include stationery, electronic goods and coathangers. Because of the amount of clothing items that we've received, we are currently in talks with Vinnies, a not-for-profit based in Sydney to look at an opportunity of setting up a clothing collection bin in our college . Vinnies usually collects these clothes and resells them. Any profit made will go straight to charity.
Two other charities that we're currently engaging with is the Community Recycling Networking (CRN) Australia and First Hand solutions Aboriginal Corporation (interested in recycling furniture). Some of the items that we've collected will be donated to them directly. This will hopefully help make a positive difference in the lives of the indigenous community.
Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?
The Green Hub is a relatively small space within one residential college. I wish to expand on this initiative to also include all the remaining 8 residential colleges and possibly the Kensington community in the next two years. With the prize money, I am hoping to firstly secure a larger storage space for the Green Hub (refurbishment may be required) and secondly to set up an online inventory to better keep track of the inflow and outflow of donated items. This will help us to measure the impact that we're making more accurately.
So far, just by word of mouth, we've been able to attract three charities -Vinnies, CRN and the First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation. I am convinced that with the publicity that we can get by winning this project, we will be able to diversify our solutions even more. Already, I am starting to think of the possibility of perhaps setting up an online womens' clothing store where I can resell used fashionable clothes for margins. As mentioned the Green Hub is getting a lot of clothes (especially from women residents). When asked, one of the residents commented that the only reason she's donating her clothes is because she can't seem to fit all of them in her luggage bag and has no choice but to depart with them. I genuinely believe that there is a business case there.
Also hopefully through the publicity of the Green Hub, I am able to inspire other similar communities to follow this initiative and help make a positive impact elsewhere.
Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered
When I was 14 years old, I noticed that there was a lot of demand for gift delivery in my school especially during special occasions such as Teacher's Day or Valentine's Day.So, I decided to set up a service where I would charge the sender $5 for a standard package of sweets and a handwritten message to be delivered to the recipient. As a high school student, I remembered making quite some money out of it.
When I was 21, I set up tuition services for some of my juniors. I did pretty well in school and graduated with top grades so there was quite a
high demand for it.
At the moment, I am working on setting up a sustainability consulting company in Malaysia. It's still in the early stages but I am hoping that it will be a fruitful venture.
Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?