EcoPort

EcoPort: 'Eco' Version of Alibaba

Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., ChinaWan Chai, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We aim to solve the world's waste problem through e-commerce. We intend to do this by connecting companies with recyclers and upcyclers who can reuse their waste. We also will be providing a platform for recyclers and upcyclers to scale out their programs.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

waste became the solution for sustainable growth in the 21st century?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We are aiming to address Hong Kong’s overwhelming waste problem. Hong Kong currently has the highest waste per capita of any country in Asia. Our research showed problems with waste stem from two sources. First, recycling bins need improvements because people are unsure of what is recyclable. Second, transportation costs are prohibitively expensive. Only through education and an improved system can waste be reduced in Hong Kong.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our platform allows companies with waste to connect with recyclers and upcyclers who can reuse their waste. Many of the companies we meet express an interest in the idea; however, they are unable to devote resources to solving the problem. Our solution requires minimal effort, but produces maximum benefit. We only rent our vehicles when we need them, reducing the need for salaries, insurance and other fees. We also have assembled a bin to address the separation issue. We aim to launch a Kickstart in the Fall that will allow us to bring our new bin into production. Finally, we eventually want to use the platform to help scale out other eco ideas including those in future Ashoka Changemaker projects.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

For decades, Hong Kong has been a city that works hard, but plays harder. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights in particular are a chance for adults to go out drinking. Unfortunately, they leave behind tons of glass bottles. Normally, many of these bottles end up in landfills; however, we think we can change this. For bars and restaurants participating on our platform, they give their bottles to us, and we transport these bottles to a glass upcycler. These upcyclers convert them into new paving bricks. In the future when people go out, they can still have fun without leaving a mess.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Current Impact: We have raised awareness for recycling, but do not have quantitative data as we are just beginning to launch. Future Impact: Our idea has the potential to solve a variety of environmental and developmental issues from access to clean water to even increasing women employment. We are not creating a platform to solve a singular issues instead we are creating a platform that can be adapted to solve local community needs. These successful adaptations can then be shared with other communities allowing one communities success to reverberate across the planet. 1 Year Targets: 150 Bars, 150 Cafes, 300 Franchise Stores, 30 Major Office Complexes in Hong Kong

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We are creating the true industry of recycling - this is where recycling should go to make the largest impact. We connect what is wasted to those who can reuse it, ultimately motivating innovations in ways to convert waste into usable material. If we can change the scope of the cycle all industries face: that of production and waste, we could finally close the production loop; thus, reducing the environmental impact of modern societies. Once we are successful in Hong Kong, we believe our platform can provide global benefits.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are currently bootstrapping our idea with some additional funding from the Hong Kong government. We are fortunate to have a low-cost structure; such that once we service ~20 locations we should be self-sustaining. We plan to seek out investments not to survive, but to use it to scale. This includes reaching out to investors listed on Forbes Top 25 Eco-Innovators.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We think we are pursuing a blue ocean strategy because many people have innovative recycling ideas, but no one is aiming to connect them together. In terms of collection services, our competitors are largely government funded NGOs. Many of them have saturated the market because they offer free collection services; however, they are limited in scale due to limited funding. Instead of directly competing with them, we plan to absorb some of them into our organization. This will allow us to benefit from their expertise and provide better services to the community.
Team

Founding Story

As an exchange student in Hong Kong, I was shocked by the amount of stuff students would throw away at the end of their stay in Hong Kong. For six months, I worked on the trading platform that I hoped would connect reusable items to local charities or interested buyers. Unfortunately, this idea did not work, but someone suggested I pivot into a B2B solution. I was then connected with Ashwin after making no progress for 6 months. He worked with Iris and convinced her to help out. The three of us realized we could best reduce waste through an online recycling platform. We were all introduced to Philip through a mutual friend. Finally, Pak pitched Ashwin my original idea, so we invited him to join us.

Team

Jason handles business development and data optimization. Ashwin and Pak handle design and product development. Philip handles sales and community relations. Iris is part-time but focuses on research and assists in a variety of areas.
About You
About You
First Name

Jason

Last Name

Sigmon

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, Wan Chai

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Hong Kong

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Regional government, Customers.

Supplemental
Sector

Water Use, Greenhouse Gases, Waste and Packaging, Sustainable Sourcing, Opportunities for Women, Inclusive Business.

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?

- Our customers are businesses and / or office complexes that either sell coffee, items bottled in glass, packaged in paper, or consume paper in almost any way.
- Customers value our solution for the following key reasons: 1) it’s far less expensive than current recycling service providers, and 2) in the future, payment for the waste by an upcycler provides a “kickback” for them.
- Currently we personally contact our customers but in the future we will direct them to our website.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

Money:
- Funds the growth of a sales team
- Funds the exploration of upcycling partners
- Funds the growth of our network of vans to scale the idea
- Funds research and development of social-change projects aimed at increasing recycling uptake

Publicity:
- Creates legitimacy for the idea of providing a vital public service using technology and collaborative consumption for ‘good’
- Breeds potential Community Managers around the world who may be interested in franchising the idea
- Creates a buzz among upcyclers to request waste from us and help scale the idea
- Benefits the industry overall by showing there’s great potential for our waste

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

1. Established my academic program, International Business & Chinese Enterprise, as an official organization at the University of South Carolina. This allowed us to conduct various informational talks on international business issues.
2. Brand Partner for Vemma. Helped expand the company in Hong Kong and the University of South Carolina.
3. Traider. Created a mobile trading platform that allowed users to buy and sell goods through their phone.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?

yes

Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

Are you are a current Unilever employee?