You’ve had your bright idea. You know it’s a gamechanger – you’re just waiting for the right time to launch your business. But when is the right time? Over 40% of aspiring entrepreneurs don’t think they will ever set up their company (SME Loans, 2019).
“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin,” said Victor Kiam, American entrepreneur extraordinaire. While that’s undoubtedly true, I would also argue that it’s never too late to flex your own entrepreneurial muscles. In fact, according to Start-ups UK, most UK entrepreneurs don’t start up until their 40s.
I’m sure a lot of people questioned why I started Recycl8 during a global pandemic, following a successful career in waste management. The simple answer is that I still feel as driven and enthusiastic now as I did at the start of my career. As the founder of a local waste to energy facility, I realised there was a problem with excess Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA), and I believed there must be a better use for the IBA, as opposed to sending it to landfill.
An intense period of research and development led me to discover that we could create a product, which takes IBA from waste to energy operators and transforms it into a low carbon additive for concrete manufacture.
It’s a win-win situation – not only have we found an important use for material that would otherwise be destined for landfill, supporting the Circular Economy, but we’re also aiding concrete manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their net zero targets. These are not just buzzwords to us – we’re the real deal.
I guess that would be my first piece of advice for any of you contemplating taking the plunge with your own business – believe in what you are doing and pursue it wholeheartedly, regardless of what stage you’re at in life.
Did you know concrete can float?
Make a statement! Grab your potential customers’ attention and get them thinking. It’s important to deliver a strong, simple project with a clear and concise message. Just because you’re an expert in the field doesn’t mean your audience is.
At Recycl8 our message is simple: we want to shape the future of sustainable building by creating a product, and a company, which are committed to the Circular Economy and net zero goals.
In case you’re wondering, concrete can float – in fact, the 8,000 tonne concrete caissons for Aberdeen’s new harbour were floated across from Spain!
Three’s a charm
I would recommend three important factors you need behind you to make a company successful: strength of character, the right team, and funding.
Strength of character, resilience, ambition – be bold enough to get your company and your message out there, and possess the will and determination to carry on even when you encounter set-backs.
I met my fantastic team of Yvonne Walker and Raymond Cowan on Elevator’s Grey Matters programme. Yvonne is our Business Operations Manager, and brings a wealth of experience. She is passionate about generating long-term sustainable solutions which contribute to the Circular Economy. Finance Director Raymond has previously been part of several dynamic SMEs with a particular focus on organisations developing new products and technologies. Together we pooled our respective experience, knowledge and expertise to form Recycl8.
There is an assumption that funding is a huge stumbling-block – around 40% of young entrepreneurs saw lack of access to funding as a major barrier to growth (Institute of Directors, 2016). However, I would argue that the support – financial and guidance – is out there.
Although we are still early on in our development, we are progressing quickly. In the early stages we applied for funding and received a grant from Innovate UK which expedited our testing process. Elevator UK helped us to identify the all-important ecosystem that is crucial for any business’ success – experts in finance, accounting, equity and law. We’re also indebted to Scottish Enterprise – not only have they supported us on a practical level, but they have also believed in our vision for Recycl8 from the get-go. That kind of faith in what we’re trying to achieve is priceless.
But we didn’t stop there – we also secured investment from energy industry figures Mike Wilson, founder of Ecosse Subsea Systems and Doug Duguid, founder of EnerMech. Their financial input and invaluable business acumen strengthened our team and helped us accelerate the development of our product even further.
We are united in our common goal to bring our game-changing technology to the global marketplace. We’re working hard today on a sustainable solution for the construction and waste management industries today, that will help to preserve all our tomorrows.
Which brings us back to where we started – talking about time. So if you’re armed with your product and your message, and fortified by belief and commitment, seize the day! Because if not now, when?
About the author
Ian Skene is the Founder and Managing Director of Reycl8 which was formed after Ian joined Elevator’s programme Grey Matters in 2019 and connected with fellow founders Raymond Cowan and Yvonne Walker. With over 30 years’ experience in the waste management industry, Ian is a highly regarded authority on waste strategies. A Member of the Charted Institution of Wastes Management, his expertise has often been called upon by the Scottish Government.