Ashutosh Srivastava is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and instrumentation from Delhi University. Worried about the waste management, Ashutosh, along with other team members, conceptualized We-Convert. Their concept involves making people throw waste in the “machine”. To make this machine, Ashutosh faced technical challenges, but these challenges were soon solved by the assistance of new team members. Every time a person throws waste in the machine, he / she is given a reward in return.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Waste management has always been an issue in India. No organization, be it private or govt. is out with any solution that could prove to be a success. An annual increment of 7% in waste materials such as Plastic bottles, cans, and other inorganic materials is easily noticeable. Therefore, to solve this problem, We-Convert is out with the simple yet innovative product. We introduced the concept of machine, we call them as E-Collectors that are meant to accept user’s waste material and in return generate some rewards!! In simple words, we give away some exciting offers to you for your waste material. These machines will be installed at various locations initially in Delhi/NCR. Machines will be a compact size and easy to operate.
The machine will accept the following waste category-:
- PET/Plastic bottles
- Glass bottles
- Aluminum cans (Beverage cans)
We follow a simple policy of 3Rs. It’s as follows
- ‘Recycle’ by discarding your PET/Plastic, Glass scrap or aluminum 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 dialing a simple USSD number.
- ‘Register’ by sharing your mobile number details with us so that we can help you get your rewards at ease.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
There has been a tremendous increment in the waste material at an annual rate of 7% and there has been no practical solution to it. Following is a data that depicts the severity of the problem:
- Around 500 billion bottles/Glass bottles/beverage cans are discarded annually globally. Out of which India contributes nearly 5.6 million metric tons of such waste generation (according to a report suggested by CPCB).
- Delhi alone is responsible for the generation of 689.5 metric tons of such waste every day.
- Plastic consumption in India is forecast to reach 18.9 million tons in 2015, half of it in the form of packaging and bottles.
- About 75% of such waste is successfully collected, nearly 60% of the collected waste reaches the treatment centers, while only 35% is treated and recycled. This indicates a rise in landfills at an annual rate of 11%.
Most of the people roaming about never dispose their waste correctly into the dustbins. No one takes the pain to get through the bins and throw their waste. The opportunity to provide a solution to these problems, we let ourselves go with this idea of developing smart waste collecting machines that will incentivize people for disposing of their waste correctly. We are now a team of 6 people having best talent from DTUs and DUs.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
- We were only two guys at initial with no team to help us out structure the machine. Our primary target was to develop a PoC of the concept. It was after 4 months of operations and efforts, we managed to find 4 more technical people who joined us and together we developed a PoC
- Since we had negligible knowledge about the waste management domain, it was difficult to understand the operations involved and how to structure the B-model.
- The machine development itself was a challenge. Even after getting the right team, the technical aspects were a challenge for us. To segregate and detect the right waste accepted by the machines and rewarding the users.
- Interactions with many govt. agencies were not generating positive results. Many govt. officials nodded yes with us but never responded afterward when we tried contacting them.
- The workplace was an issue for us. We were different from several IT startups and therefore manufacturing of the machine needed a specific place. We initially developed our prototype model at DTU (Delhi technical university) campus. We used to commute via cycle and bike taking up the parts of the machine in our hands itself. Getting the right components for our purpose.
How did you overcome those challenges?
We looked for the Business plan events at various colleges of Delhi university and registered at every possible event that had a prize amount. The average prize amount at any event was around Rs. 7,000. We started making presentations, evaluated the idea, the business model and then attended the events. Fortunately, we managed to get through the B-Plan rounds and eventually ended up winning the events. In total, we won 12 B-Plan events held in Delhi. This way we managed to raise Rs. 36,000 and we were all set for the development. In total, we bootstrapped nearly 1.2 lacs as of now. We somehow managed to work at Favcy’s office and some other temporary places to develop the machines.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
During the first 3 months, we only discussed the feasibility of the concept of developing a machine with minimum capital. But the question was how to arrange a minimum fund of Rs. 20,000 so that we can develop a PoC. Delhi university is a place where anyone can experience the best festivals and events. We looked for the Business plan events at various colleges of Delhi university and registered at every possible event that had a prize amount. The average prize amount at any event was around Rs. 7,000. We started making presentations, evaluated the idea, the business model and then attended the events. Fortunately, we managed to get through the B-Plan rounds and eventually ended up winning the events. In total, we won 12 B-Plan events held in Delhi. This way we managed to raise Rs. 36,000 and we were all set for the development. In total, we bootstrapped nearly 1.2 lacs as of now. Furthermore, Our partners (Favcy) have invested Rs. 65,000 additional to the amount mentioned in the previous context.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
In a span of 1 year, We’ve experienced rejections at various stages.
- one needs to be 100% determined towards what he/she wants to achieve. 99.99% doesn’t work most of the time.
- You need to know each and every aspect of what you are planning to do. Even if you don’t know how to code, learn from the beginning.
- Patience is the most important factor to success. Your hard work, your efforts needs some time to award you. never loose the grip and accept challenges at each stage.
- Listen more, talk less is the “mantra’ that simplify your path to success. Listen to everyone, understand each and every aspect of the conversation and in the end, take decisions.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
We used adobe software to create some of the graphics we are using currently. Apart from this, we used ZOHO mail as our webmail service provider.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Taking up each and every task seriously and set deadlines for tasks internally. This helps me to keep up with task with ease and it becomes efficient to plan for future.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Getting up late in the morning is one thing i want to change.
Answer in less than 50 words
Never ever loose hope. Even after rejections, never loose hope and keep on doing.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid
Over-confident about specific things.
- One most important lesson that you have learnt till now
A determination is the most important thing in any field. I started with scrap, with no money, no team, no appropriate knowledge. But 100% efforts and passion towards We-Convert enabled me to build things.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
We’ve divided the project into three phases:
Phase 1: The development of the prototype, testing and feedback generation. (Completed).
Phase 2: The development of the 5 featured and more advanced version of the machine, to be placed at different locations as a piloting phase. (currently working).
Phase 3: Basic advancement, raising funds and mass production of the machine by the end of year 2016.
We are currently working on the project where we are developing 100 machines for ISL (Indian Super league) to be placed at 8 different states and 8 different stadiums.
Our major plan for the next three years is to expand our operations out of Delhi and place the machines at different locations out of Delhi NCR. Following are the states we plan to expand our operations:
- Bombay 2. Pune 3. Kochi 4. Chandigarh 5. Jaipur 6. Gujarat 7. Karnataka 8. Kerala 9. Goa 10. Tamil Nadu
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I’d be really happy to work in nanotechnology sector.
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“You are never wrong and never late to do the right thing.”