People below the poverty line are forced to work under huge piles of garbage to manually segregate the recyclables and non-recyclables just to earn a Euro a day. We-Convert realized the root cause of the problem is with the mindset of the citizens. No other company/organization seemed to solve this big issue. We took the challenge.
Location: New Delhi, India
Product / Service Offering: SmartBins that automate the process of waste collection and segregation
Co-founder Interviewed: Ashutosh Srivastava
Other Key Management Team Members: Ashish Sharma, Parth Dave, and Tushar Gupta
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 am an engineer with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Instrumentation from the University of Delhi. Since I was 12 years old, I’ve had a keen interest in robotics, science, and technology. Technology and problem-solving techniques have always motivated me to build something without any purpose. Innovating something that really eases the lives of people is what has kept me motivated throughout my life.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
We-Convert was established in August 2015 by Pranav and me, who were behind the inception of this idea. There was once a time back in our college days, when Pranav and I got involved with one of the environmental NGO back in New Delhi as a part of our college project.
At some point later during our work, we came up with some shocking situations. People below the poverty line are forced to work under huge piles of garbage to manually segregate the recyclables and non-recyclables just to earn a Euro a day. After detailed research, we realized the root cause of the problem is with the mindset of the citizens. No other company/organization seemed to solve this big issue. We-Convert took the challenge.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Many businesses such as, food chains, cafes, universities, corporations, etc., spend a huge recurring cost to manage their organization’s waste on their own. Furthermore, the waste management space is completely controlled by an unskilled workforce and that increases the costs of recyclable scrap by a significant margin. SmartBin comes into a role here.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
We-Convert spent most of our efforts and workforce to come out with such a marvelous technology that possess the following features:
There are other several top features that truly set us apart from other companies in this space are doing. The innovation has been patented; therefore, the operations are completely autonomous.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
When we built our very first SmartBin model in February 2016, we were ecstatic! Soon we realized, we did not have techniques and plans. We did not know how to launch the product into the market to test the users and the product market fit. That was our very first roadblock.
Everyone was engineers on the team, we lacked the business expertise. Therefore, it took us over 70 days, support from external experts, and nearly $1,000 to get our first pilot rolled out to the first client. We then managed to get seven clients for our pilot which was continued for the next six months, through September 2016.
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?
Fledge Barcelona has been our first international official investor with a 15,000 EUR investment along with a world-class mentor/network support for our business. Furthermore, we have set our plans for the next three years. We are putting all our efforts to get some strategic investment from here in the European market.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
- The right set of people with expertise in waste management space.
- Raising money to support next year’s operations.
- Conversion of the prospects to paying clients.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
I think the best hack We-Convert has learned is related to the transition from the pilot stage to the startup gets its first paying client. We did many kinds of data manipulation to get the right results, to help align the pilot results that with the projected linearity.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We are doing a really great job at We-Convert! If you think you can help us in any way, email me.
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