What happens when young, energetic minds throbbing with ideas and innovations come together? Well, they think productive and work towards that end. The result is success. And so with Ashutosh Srivastava, Pranav Manocha (B.Tech Electronics and Instrumentation from Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Sciences, Delhi University), Suveer Garg, Vishwas Gosain (B.Tech Electronics and Communication, Delhi Technical University), and Himanshu Bansal (B.Tech computer science from Bharatiya Vidhyapeeth).
The thinking heads, all students, have come up with ‘We-Convert’. A simple compact, easy-to-operate machine, it is an endeavour aimed at tackling some bit of waste management issue in India. Touted as an E-Collector,it is meant to accept user’s waste material and in return generate some rewards! The machine follows a simple rule –
‘Recycle’ by discarding your PET/plastic, glass scrap or aluminium cans. A user can follow on-screen instructions on the machine and within few seconds, you are done with your waste disposal.
‘Reward’ in the end. The machine will generate a 5-digit code which can be redeemed by dialling a simple USSD number.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN?
It was just another day for two engineers when they were talking about how to put their engineering skills to something useful and creative.
On their way to a metro station, there attention was grabbed by an ordinary vending machine that dispenses snacks automatically.
“What if we make a machine that could collect waste automatically”, quipped one.
“Yes we can.But why will people use that machine”, the other questioned.
And then almost like the mentos-effect, the idea occurred. “By rewarding the people”!
And so began the process of exploring possibilities for turning the concept into reality.
Research: With no plan, no resources, no knowledge of the waste management domain, they spent four months on research -how the Indian waste management system works, concerned departments, technology and more.
Interactions with people:Then came some field work – meeting government as well as private officials, pitching the idea, showing power-presentations of the concept to people, etc. A ‘positive’ feedback with ‘negative’connotations was not leading them anywhere. But gradually, as the team began to build up and like-mindedness got them together, the business model was shared, serious talks happened and work started towards developing the first model.
Funding: They started with an initial meagre sum of Rs. 3,000 invested by Pranav to buy some electronic stuff. An approximate cost of Rs. 30,000 was needed in order to build a fully functional machine without a segregate unit.
Just at the right time,business plan events were announced in various colleges – Delhi University, IITs, and DTU presented their B Plan events in the following months. The team had their chance. They blindly applied for participation to each of the events,re-drafted their presentation, and ended up winning 90% of the events! Each B Plan event rewarded the winners with some amount ranging between INR 4,000-10,000.
The team raised a clean Rs. 30,000 that went on to be invested in the startup to build their first machine – WE CONVERT.
In about 10 months, the team had overcome a few barriers:
- The team joined hands with Favcy – a standard of social connectivity coin creation for individuals and for brands that manages the reward system for the machine.
- They managed to successfully gain user’s feedback at 3 locations: Faridabad, IIIT-Delhi and Guru Gobind College of Commerce.
- They received an overwhelming response from the users and began to work in a meaningful direction.
- They got selected by Tech Planter, an organization that supports technology and science based startups in terms of mentorship and development.
- Got a group of investors from Bombay interested in the startup.
- Expansion in Delhi NCR with 50 machines within the next 6-8 months.
- Improve technology with upgradation and constant R&D.
- Improve the quality of scrap for recyclers.
- Promote recycling amongst general users.
- Innovation to improve the waste management techniques currently followed.
Presently, the team is meeting investors to find a good funding option. Meanwhile Favcy has still been supporting them. The plan is to build better versions of the machine and install at three more places while continuing to look for the perfect funding option.
A demo before the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation officials is in the pipeline, to seek permission from them for trying the concept at metro stations where many travellers will find it useful. We-Convert has also taken feedback from people at three locations: Faridabad, Pitampura and IIIT Govind Puri.