By Amit Janco
ONE Friday evening in the middle of November, I was waiting for Startup Weekend to begin. Startup Weekends—a meeting place for digital entrepreneurs to launch start-ups around the globe, in cities like Auckland, Amman, Tokyo, Washington and Ulaan Baatar.
Ubud’s weekend kicked off with participants from Indonesia, Singapore, Canada, America, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Sweden, Lithuania, Argentina, UK, Australia and the Netherlands, pitching ideas for websites and mobile apps, among other startup ideas. Among the hopefuls was Olivier Pouillon, long recognized as a pioneer in the (slowly) growing recycling movement on Bali. Despite his busy schedule, as founder and manager of the Bali Recycling Company (CV. Peduli Bali), Company (CV. Peduli Bali), American-born Olivier explained that he had conjured up the vague idea of a mobile app—a bold but sensible initiative to get local kids on board the recycling bandwagon.cling Company (CV. Peduli Bali), American-born Olivier explained that he had conjured up the vague idea of a mobile app—a bold but sensible initiative to get local kids on board the recycling bandwagon.
On Friday night, Olivier was among the many wired and nervous would-be entrepreneurs pitching their ideas. His recycling-for-cash idea collected enough votes from at- tendees to generate a team. Then his team, along with a dozen others—comprising developers, designers and non-technical creative types, huddled together for the following 54 hours—to brainstorm concepts, develop strategy, discuss revenue models, design digital prototypes and refine their final presentations.
In less than three days, Olivier’s scheme and team beat out ten other startups to take home the gold—with the so-called CashForTrash mobile app. “For the past few years I’ve tried to get this idea of ‘rewards for rubbish’ off the ground,” says Olivier, “so it’s really satisfying that the StartUp Weekend was able to give it a shot of adrenaline. My team rocked!”
CashForTrash (unrelated to Singapore’s program of the reward to people in exchange for collecting, sorting and recycling their trash. The ultimate goal is to encourage more awareness and environmental responsibility among the Indonesians and other island residents about waste that has for too long been simply burned or dumped into rivers, road sides and other illegal dumps. Olivier acknowledges what it takes to trigger that shift: “If you want to change perceptions, motivate and change peoples’ habits about their rubbish, put a dollar sign on it.”
The app’s primary target market is Bali’s—and more widely, Indonesia’s—youth, aged between 12 to 22 years old, who are among the savviest of smartphone users. The program would launch in schools, with presentations with an explanation about the cash-for-trash concept. Youth would be asked to register, and the receiving collection bags in return. Trash would be collected at schools, bags numbered then weighed. The entire contents of collected trash would then be delivered to recycling partners, where it would be processed. A database of user account information would be updated and financial payments given out soon after.
Still in its infancy, CashForTrash is well on its way—attracting media coverage and interest from venture capital funds, all the while improving its technical utility and us- er-friendliness with the help of mobile app developers and branding coaches. “Indonesia is a beautiful country that is unfortunately plagued by serious waste pollution that is getting more critical every day,” says Olivier. “There are many Indonesians who want to act, but it is difficult without adequate or even basic waste systems in place in many parts of the country. CashForTrash offers an easy and rewarding way for anyone to help clean things up.” And thus was born yet another imaginative solution for the island’s resource recovery plan. As far as Startup Weekends go, this made-in-Ubud solution is uniquely poised to address some of Bali’s ongoing and most wide- spread challenges.
Amit Janco is a writer, photographer, yoga practitioner and labyrinth designer, Amit caught the start-up bug and is developing a global culture media project—Localore—which she pitched at Startup Weekend.