With the growing number of vehicles in the Kathmandu valley, the problem of discarding tyre’s in a sustainable way is not going to find an immediate solution. However Ojaswi and Loonibha found a window of opportunity in this challenge and created their own unique venture around it. Both of them transform discarded tyres to quirky and sturdy furniture for Cafe’s, bars and homes that would otherwise find their way to brick kilns emitting toxic gases. Their initiative is called as Tyre Treasures!
How did Tyre Treasures start?
We won the Greenovation Startup Challenge (GSC) organized by WWF and NeHub. It had a prize money of Rs 1,50,000/- The initial idea was to get people to segregate their waste, pay them to keep them motivated and create products out of the generated waste. We quickly realized that its a huge chain of events and it wont be reasonable to implement the whole value chain for us. After many pivots we zeroed down to end product of the value chain which is creating products out of waste. While doing this research we came across tyres and learnt that people around the world are upcycling them to make fun utility based products and decided to focus on tyres.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The number of vehicles in Nepal are increasing every year which means that the number of tyres are also not going to decrease anytime sooner. These tyres are either thrown in rivers, burnt during riots or sent to brick kilns where they are burnt and they emit toxic gases.
Air pollution in Nepal is a big concern and we know that brick kilns are primary contributors to it. We wanted to address this aspect too. When we started researching on tyres we realized that they have huge value even after they are discarded. The up-cycled tyre products have gained popularity globally but no one was working on it in Nepal. So we decided to go ahead and work on it.
Tell us about your products? What makes them unique?
We have 4 products and a service. Tommy’s Turf which is a pet bed, Full Circle which is an indoor product with table and muda and Full Circle – Outdoor edition which is furniture for outdoor settings and then we have urban gardening services.
Our products are not only good to look at but are really sturdy. Imagine the weight a truck carries and the tension on the tyres. Even though its made from discarded tyres it can easily take our weight. Its not prone to damage from weather or pest.
Another aspect of our products is that we have tried integrating as many sustainable practices as possible. All our products are made from either recycled material or are locally sourced. eg the base of Tommy Turf is recycled flex and the water grass that we use on the tables are indigenous to Terai region which is stronger then bamboo fibre. We also employ a local artist who brings out his art in our products and women from disadvantaged community to make the final products. So when a customer buys our product he or she is actually contributing to cleaner Nepal and giving jobs to locals.
So how easy or difficult was it to get a buy in from different people?
We received amazing response and backing from our mentors who believe in the product and the concept. Our outdoor products have received very good reception as well. However a common concern that we address is about product sanitation. Since its tyres, it is assumed to be gross. We have to explain that tyres are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and its all taken care.
Upcycled or recycled products are also a completely new concept in Nepal and is yet to catch up.
Who are your target customers?
For our furniture line we are looking for progressive restaurants, hotels and resorts who are interested in unique and quirky furniture or are interested in positioning themselves as green organizations. For our urban gardening services we are targeting schools and resorts who would like to get a garden landscape.
Pet beds are for individuals looking for sturdy and designer beds for pets.
What are immediate needs as a company?
We have 3 immediate needs. We are looking to hire people as interns or even full time employees on the team who care about the cause and are passionate. As founders we have to do everything right from including picking up the tyres from auto workshops, co-ordinating with carpenter’s and business development. So we are looking for people who can help us with all of it.
We are also looking for new platforms to showcase our products. Currently we participate in farmers markets and exhibitions for made in Nepal products but we are looking for platforms that would be ideal for recycled products.
The 3rd need is that we are looking for mentors who can help us in understanding the financial aspect of business specially the intricacies of accepting investments.