The menace of plastic waste is a global problem and here to stay. Team MakerValley sensed this as one of the most critical problems existing in Nepal and decided to take action on it. These young entrepreneurs share their story of founding Maker Valley and how Precious Plastic was born out of it.
Read further to know their cool plans to transform waste plastic into everyday utility products with good aesthetics.
So to start with, we would like to know about your journey so far with regards to Maker Valley and Precious Plastic.
To be true it wasn’t a straightforward or a pleasing journey as everyone assumes it to be for an entrepreneur. The concept fell into place as ‘Makers Valley’ and we have been able to run it successfully since last February. MakerValley is a space for like-minded people from different background to come together and work in a collaborative approach to build a network and leverage each other’s strengths.
Before we met, Tribesh Kayastha was working on the idea of Precious Plastic with his friend. They shared the idea of creating products with waste plastic using 3D printing technology and we got started instantly
So which idea are you pitching in Clock B innovation’s event Connect In? Precious plastic or Makers Valley?
Precious Plastic is an in-house project of Maker’s Valley. It is the reason we have been able to reach till here. We are pitching ‘Precious Plastic’ keeping in mind that the event is related to startups that deals with a social cause but at the very same time has a revenue model.
What is actually Precious Plastic then?
Precious Plastic is basically a concept based on utilizing plastic waste by reforming it into beautiful and attractive products which people would be happy to purchase. Our aim is to design and manufacture products that are useful and not just sell for the sake of recycling plastic. We want to make our product aesthetically desirable and appealing to people so that they can instantly get attracted to it and would like to make a purchase. As our project name suggests we want to offer something precious from the discarded.
What kind of products are you planning to manufacture?
For now, we aim to manufacture indoor flower pots made of plastic waste with stunning designs since people in Nepal love having their own little plush garden and keep their home filled with greenery using indoor plants.
How do you plan to implement the idea of producing flower pots out of waste?
We want to do more of customized products with each of them being unique and beautiful. After brainstorming for ideas to create customized designs we came to an agreement that our first product should be recycled plastic pots. Currently, we have a 3D printing lab in Thapathali Campus where we are working on creating distinguished designs for pots from the plastic waste.
So what’s the social problem you are trying to solve?
Nepal has wonderful scenic beauty but it is a disappointment to witness see garbage piles on streets for locals as well as for the tourist. Plastic holds a major share of this piling waste. If plastic is banned today, even then Nepal would still have a lot of discarded plastic which would remain in the landfills for years to come. We decided to deal with existing waste and contribute as much as we can towards the solution. Precious plastic will promote recycling plastic waste, reduce plastic imports and prevent the environmental pollution leading to improved personal health of people and the economy of our country
What’s the legal status of your company?
We have been trying to develop a prototype from the last couple of months. It’s a preliminary stage of the company hence we haven’t completed any registration formalities. Right now we want to focus on product and complete the prototyping process.
How many people are working on this project?
We are 6 in total who are involved in the project. Ashish Bhatt, Ashish Katuwal, Tribesh Kayastha, Saunak Niraula, Milan Adhikari and Saugat Pandey
How did you arrange the funds for this business idea?
We aren’t very good at maintaining income and expense records however gathering all the expenses we have incurred, we would say we have spent around 2 lakhs till date. These funds were arranged from our own savings.
What would you say are your current needs as a startup? e.g legal assistance for company registration or mentorship?
Yes, we do require mentorship as we are still at the idea stage and just getting into starting our ventures. We would be glad if an experienced person could mentor us. Also, in terms of legal matters, we do need assistance as we have no clue about it as well.
What’s your target market?
Our target market is the households and community as a whole because indoor pots for plants are something that everyone likes to keep in their home so we would offer customized flower pots with an aim to provide unique designs to each of them.
What were some of the challenges you faced at the initial stage?
The major challenge that we had to overcome was to find parts for plastic shredding machine required to breakdown the plastic objects into pellets. The parts that we needed to build the machine weren’t available in Nepal and hence we had to find alternatives. Search for the parts in the Scrape market was a huge struggle for us. At times raw materials aren’t available according to the needs and we have to keep finding ways to work with substitutes which alter our initial plan.
So, what are your future plans?
We haven’t thought through our plans as our current focus is to develop a prototype which may take a while. But yes once we succeed, we will aim for expanding our product lines and try to recycle various types of plastic with PET bottle being our priority.
What kind of plastic are you planning to recycle?
For now, we are focusing on PET bottles and waste plastic from 3D Printing. They can be recycled and moreover are widely used here in Kathmandu. Other than these two there are 7 types of plastic that we plan to experiment with. We would like to target them once we succeed with the first two.
Do you see yourself as social entrepreneurs?
Definitely yes, as mentioned earlier we don’t want people to buy our product just because it is made of recycled plastic; we want it to be the other way round. A product that would be useful or make the customers happy and recycled plastic being an additional value. I hope this approach works and fulfilling our social objective is our utmost priority.