The Biofilcom technology has no sewerage line required, manage the fecal solids on-site, does not produce fecal solids but compost, takes seven or eight years to fill-up the tank, and sustain twenty years or more.
Product / Service Offering: Biofil Toilet Technology
Co-founder Interviewed: F. M. Sarwar Hossain
Other Key Management Team Members: Md. Zahir Uddin, Chief Engineer; Abdul Wadud Shamim, Business Associate; Md. Siddique, Chief Mason; Dhanesh Chandra Shil, Manager (part time)
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I will be 50-years-old within a few years. Throughout my professional career, I worked in different NGOs on various social and humanitarian issues. The last project I led was on sanitation technologies, through which a new toilet technology (Biofil) was viable in Bangladesh. When the project ended in 2015, I saw that there is no one to take the Biofil forward. Dutch International NGO, where I was working at that time, was interested to get more funding but failed to do so. I was sure that it will be very useful for our people. I understood that, by doing business, I will not only earn money but will be helping people to have a better environment.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
The idea originated in Ghana in October 2016. The Biofil technology has no sewerage line required, manages the fecal solids on-site, does not produce fecal solids but compost, takes seven or eight years to fill-up the tank, and will sustain for twenty years or more. Biofilcom has no competitors with this technology in the market.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
The product itself sets Biofilcom apart from its competitors. We have a special and very effective filter system, which separates the fecal solids from urine and water used for cleansing.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge is to compete with the free product (toilet) of NGOs. Biofilcom is still struggling, as it is practically not possible to compete with free product. Fortunately, a few NGOs are sensible, and they purchased it to give it to people for free. We made it possible through continuous communication and providing evidence on the effectiveness of our toilet. However, I am yet to be able to sell my product to any individual.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
My facilitation skills as well as deep understanding on the effectiveness of our product seems very useful.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
I used my own savings to start the business. Afterward, our capital increased a bit; however, we had to take a personal loan to meet some bigger work orders. I am not sure what I would do differently if I had to start over, because our product is unusual. No formal finance institute supports such product, as per my knowledge.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
I am still having a hard time understanding why relevant government institutes and most of the NGOs are not motivated and active to accept Biofil Toilet technology.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
The unit price of my product must be reduced.
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