EcoWorth Tech provides a breakthrough solution for the removal and recuperation of organic contaminants from Industrial and Oil & Gas waste water. The technology integrates seamlessly into the latest water remediation processes in a highly cost efficient manner. Additionally, it uses biomass waste for the production of carbon fiber aerogel technology, providing environmental benefits and waste-to-worth opportunities.
Whats your story?
My name is Andre Stolz, from Germany and I have been living in Singapore for the past 10 years. I am a passionate innovation leader and organisation builder but had always wanted to make a bigger impact to people, society and the environment. Hence I decided to make the monumental decision of leaving the corporate world in order to chase my goals. My ex-colleague, Dr. Bert Grobben and I experienced how challenging it is to bring innovative technology solutions to life be it in a startup or a corporation. We saw the opportunity in this challenge, and founded Budding Innovations, a Singapore-headquartered Venture Builder, that focuses on Technology Commercialisation.
How did this business idea come around and what prompted you and your co-founders to pursue such a niche industry?
Early on in our journey when we were working with Nanyang Technology University, we came across one innovative early-stage technology that we evaluated and concluded that its solution does support our long term vision. We quickly confirmed industry traction on this technology, went on to apply for an IP-license, incorporated the company — and that was how EcoWorth Tech was born.
Since then, we had been able to secure initial seed funding, expand the team and scale-up the technology. With our initial customer trials, we confirmed the potential of the technology and continued on our path to find more supporters. EcoWorth Tech has since cemented its position as a start-up in the niche space of water remediation and waste management.
What were some of the obstacles that your company faced during its initial years and how did your team overcome it?
Attracting and managing resources has probably been one of our major challenges thus far. When starting up, unlike an established corporation, there is no development budgets, nor a group of experts and suitable facilities available at our disposal. We had to constantly find ways to secure funding for the next weeks or months while trying to manage progress with the limited resources we had.
With a co-founder sharing the same journey as me, and having also found the first team member who shared similar thinkings, it had helped ease the initial stresses we faced. We had been able to find a few key supporters that liked our cause and they had been assisting us with resources to develop the technology further. Producing results early on by producing the material, developing the prototype and testing it with our trial clients were key to showcasing the technology’s potential and subsequently attract seed funding.
What do you think should be the most important characteristic for a startup and its team to possess?
The most important characteristic for a successful team is one that has developed a similar “can-do” mindset- communicating and acting in such a way that supports the team to achieve its goal. The different areas of work organization in a startup is fluid, where resources are always tight and risk is exponentially higher. The team must always seek to stay positive, stick together, develop a “WIN-WIN” attitude and act with full determination to further the vision of the company.
Congratulations on winning the silver award at Asia Hardware Battle 2018. How was the experience like to compete with other companies around Asia?
It is always a great experience to meet other entrepreneurs, listening to their vision/stories and learning how they have been able to overcome challenges and succeed. There is always someone we can learn from to understand how the different cultural aspects come into play and too gives us a chance to forge new friends and partners.
Having won the previous Singapore competition, it is also an additional honour to represent the country in a regional event. Each event typically involves meeting other experts, mentors, government leaders, corporates and startups, all of which provides great exposure.
To us, many of these events have resulted in finding the next client, team member, supporting partner and potential investor. It has also allowed us to increase traction through PR.
What is your company’s five-year plan? Any market expansion plan in the pipeline?
Once the solution is fully developed and have been materialised in Singapore, we will begin expanding to countries that have a high need for cleaning waste(water) and turn that waste into worth. We have been building connections in China and Thailand and will probably enter these Asian markets first.
Currently we are also discussing with big corporates on building a business where we could utilize our partner’s waste for the manufacturing of our product. The aim is to be able to collect such waste and turn it into valuable products — on a global scale.
Looking back, what advice would you tell your younger self?
Surround yourself with like-minded people, align on the vision, go all-in and opportunities will come.