The Challenge :
Today, plastic represents numerous environmental challenges! On one hand, the amount of resources required for its production, and on the other hand, the waste it generates due to its short lifespan. The quantity of plastic waste globally continues to increase, and the accumulated amount in the oceans has reached alarming figures! How can we limit its impact on our environment?
The Solution : REPLASTIC
How did you learn about the CET incubator?
It might sound a bit presumptuous on my part… But someone must have mentioned us to Impact Hub because it seems to me, if I remember correctly, that we received an email inviting us to sign up… 😉
What were your motivations?
The Replastic project was already somewhat advanced. I had just quit my job, so I had a lot of time to dedicate to the project. The incubator came at the right time! It was an opportunity for us to try to find new fertile ground, to grow. I always say “us” because, in fact, there are two of us, me and Nicolas Huguenin. But I was the only one involved in this incubator part. The idea was mainly to get help, access to a network, information, coaching… In short, to get support to maximize our chances of developing this project!
A strong point and a weak point of the CET incubator?
I found that the strong point of the incubator was really the coach! I had another experience with another coach… In the first case, it was really not good, whereas the coach I had through Impact Hub was really great! He truly supported me, was quite benevolent… He also took the time, which I found beneficial! I think we took a good approach; we wrote a fairly comprehensive roadmap in which I could pick out 2/3 elements… It also helped us ask the right questions!
The weak point… probably the organization. I think this is because it’s the first edition, and as the saying goes, “you learn as you go.” There were quite a few changes to the schedule… I had blocked dates, and things evolved… Fortunately, I had the time. I wasn’t constrained by work or other activities, so it was okay…
Tell me about your project.
Replastic is a project for the upcycling of plastic waste into new objects. The idea is to transform ugly waste into beautiful objects to provide customers with access to lovely, 100% recycled products! These are unique products because we create them ourselves, recyclable afterwards, and in most cases, customizable.
We go from plastic collection to its transformation. There are two phases: the first collection phase is handled by an association for us. Collecting plastic is not as easy as it seems! It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time… You have to find the same type of plastic, preferably the same colors, etc… It can quickly become a bit trickier. So, the “Les Petits Bouchons Valaisans” association takes care of this first phase for us. Once the plastic is collected, we take care of transforming it. We grind the plastic into small flakes, clean it, and dry it. Thanks to this, we obtain our raw material, which we heat and transform by injection.
The goal is to create a new finished object. Ideally, an everyday object, somewhat aesthetic, designed where possible. We make iPhone cases, combs, small clips to close bags, coasters, tables… We decided to focus on a few products; otherwise, you can quickly go in all directions… I had to learn to concentrate, to focus because you need some sleep, and the days only have 24 hours !
How has your project evolved during this incubator ?
Personally, I see things more clearly now… Even before starting the incubator, you have to give a speech, and when you have to give a speech, you have to ask yourself certain questions… you synthesize, you have to ask yourself: where do I want to go, and how do I want to present my project.
Then, through working, meeting people, my coach, etc., you start to better understand your vision, what your mission is, the business idea, what you can bring to your customer… It has changed a lot in my mind between my current vision and the one from 2/3 months ago.
More concretely, what has fundamentally changed is that today, we create products that we sell in stores! We had already produced a certain number of things, we were capable of producing tiles, for example. But now, these are products intended for the end customer !
Your best memory ?
I had contact with a girl from Zurich named Louise. She joined the same incubator but in Zurich. We were able to collaborate a bit. She also works on the theme of plastic. It was nice; she came to Lausanne… although it was a bit of a “fail” because we couldn’t do what we wanted, but it was still nice to meet her, spend time with her, and try to help her.
Any advice for a startup ?
Try to do it with others; it’s always more fun! When you’re alone, you can get stuck quickly, and when you have moments of depression or doubt, it’s cool to have someone!
Also, do not underestimate the value proposition! It’s something that we discuss a little late, I think… It’s central! It’s probably the first question you should ask yourself, but it’s not necessarily the first question we ask ourselves !