#Asia Saving paradise: How this Uber-for-waste-disposal startup plans to clean up Bali

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Gringgo founders first met during the Startup Weekend Bali event in November 2014

Gringgo team
As tourism in the Indonesian island province of Bali develops, its waste disposal problem intensifies — not just in residential areas, but in tourism hotspots too.

“What happens in those areas is that as land becomes valuable, everyone is building restaurants, hotels, and whatever. And in places where there is an empty land, that is where the garbage is,” explains Gringgo CEO Olivier Pouillon.

Pouillon also cited an example of a typical housing complex in Indonesian cities. While they might have their own waste collection team as provided by the housing complex management, the citizens do not really know what happened to the waste afterwards.

This is why Pouillon, Febriadi Pratama and two other founders started Gringgo, a platform that connects users with local garbage collectors, village organisations, small independent collectors and scavengers to pick up and manage their waste disposals. Users can sign up and request for vendors to pick up garbage from their places.

Gringgo platforms consists of a desktop site and a mobile app, which users can use to get information on how to recycle their garbage.

“The basic idea is to make it easier in places where there is poor or even no waste management system to have a way to take care of the waste,” says Pouillon.

“The difficulty is that in countries like Indonesia, most people associated with this industry are from the informal sectors. It’s not like we can Google ‘waste collector in Sudirman.’ You need to uncover the layers, so it takes longer,” he adds.

The service is currently available only in Bali, particularly 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 even in Austria.

The startup has received grants from a US-based foundation. It has also raised a seed funding from an undisclosed investor, who will be announced shortly.

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The Gringgo founders met at the Startup Weekend Bali event in November 2014. At first there were eight people in the team.

“The thing about Startup Weekend Bali is that most people there 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 founders have background that is not directly linked to tech. While Pratama was an interior designer who made his debut in local startup community during the Startup Weekend event, Pouillon has been working on environment sector for many years.

He is known as the founder of waste management and recycling company Bali Recycling.

Pouillon mentions that his ‘a-ha moment’ came when he realised the opportunities that mobile technology could bring, and also when he saw a presentation by Steve Plank.

“He was talking about startups in general and it made me realise that what I’m trying to create is not something that has a business model yet. You have to take a different approach to what you’re trying to do,” he says.

“You can’t just adopt a model from the West. Because it’s a completely different physical, cultural, demographic environment. I’ve seen so many US$10 million worth of [environmental projects] failed,” he adds.

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When asked about 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 model to see which one will give use the biggest impact, later when we launch the product before the end of the year,” he says.

Though Gringgo provides technology that helps facilitate better waste management, it also stressed that the environment problem is more of a ‘software’ problem than a ‘hardware’ one.

Pouillon gave an example of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who managed to clean up rivers without the help of sophisticated technology, but with an excellent team management.

“There is no trash problem. We are the problem,” he closed.

Image Credit: Gringgo

The post Saving paradise: How this Uber-for-waste-disposal startup plans to clean up Bali appeared first on e27.

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