Tourism in the Indonesian island province of Bali is growing, so is its waste disposal problem!
“The problem is that as land becomes expensive, everyone is building restaurants, hotels, etc. And people fill empty lands with garbage,” says Olivier Pouillon, CEO of Gringgo.
In a typical housing complex, says Pouillon, usually there will be waste collection teams. But nobody really knows what happens to the waste afterwards.
This got a bunch of enthusiastic entrepreneurs to start Gringgo, a platform that helps its users manage their waste disposals by connecting with local garbage collectors, village organisations, small independent collectors, and scavengers.
Gringgo – the brainchild of Pouillon, Febriadi Pratama and two others – consists of a desktop site and a mobile app, which help users get information on how to recycle their garbage. Users can sign up and request vendors to collect garbage from their places.
“The basic idea is to make waste collection easier in places with poor or no waste management system,” says Pouillon.
“The problem with countries like Indonesia is that waste collection largely happens in the unorganised sector. It’s not like we can Google ‘waste collector in Sudirman.’ You need to uncover the layers, so it takes time,” he adds.
As of now the service is available only in Bali, especially in the southern part of the island, which is home to three million residents.
Gringgo is run remotely by a team of seven, spread across Jakarta, Sumatra, and Austria.
The startup has received grants from a US-based foundation. It has also raised a seed funding from an investor, whose identity will be revealed shortly.
When the Gringgo founders met at the Startup Weekend Bali event in November 2014, there were eight people in the team.
“The thing about Startup Weekend Bali is that majority are expats and tourists. So from eight it went down to just two of us. But we still have some people from the founding team volunteering for us,” says Pratama.
Both the founders have non-tech background. While Pratama was an interior designer who made his debut in local startup community during the Startup Weekend event, Pouillon has been working in the environment sector for many years.
He is known as the founder of Bali Recycling, a waste management and recycling company.
Pouillon’s ‘a-ha moment’ came when he realised the huge potential of mobile technology. Further motivation came when he saw a presentation by Steve Plank.
“He was talking about startups in general and it dawned upon me that I had no solid business model for what I was trying to create. You have to take a different approach to what you’re trying to do,” he says.
“You can’t blindly adopt a model from the West. Because it’s a completely different world, with a different physical, cultural, and demographic environment. I’ve seen so many – US$10 million worth of environmental projects – biting the dust,” he adds.
Asked how the platform will be monetised, Pouillon explained that the company is currently experimenting with different methods.
“There are four or five ways to monetise the product… We will look at various revenue models to see which one will give us the biggest impact. We will launch the product before the end of the year,” he says.
Gringgo may be an ideal technology for better waste management; but Pouillon stresses that the environment problem is more of a ‘software’ problem than a ‘hardware’ one!
Pouillon gives the example of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who cleaned up rivers not with the help of a sophisticated technology, but with an excellent team.
“There is no trash problem. We are the problem,” he concluded.
Image Credit: Gringgo