Smart Waste Collection
Launched by three business management students and three engineering students, E-Cube Labs specializes in coming up with innovative ideas and technologies in the environmental management and energy industries. E-Cube is transforming the urban environment through bright, unprecedented solutions. Their star product is the "Clean Cube," a trash compacter that is charged by solar power and capable of compacting trash to 1/5 of its original volume. Another product, the Clean Cap, is affixed to the lid of a trash receptacle to detect the amount of trash in the bin. Data collected by Clean Cube and Clean Cap can be monitored and managed in real-time by Clean City Networks (CCN), a dedicated software solution. CCN can provide the most up-to-date collection data, analysis and reports, and optimize collection route information via the Web or on a mobile app. These products cannot keep the city clean, but can reduce the number of garbage collection vehicles needed to process the same amount of trash, which in turn can cut carbon emissions, fuel costs and the number of trash bags. Work efficiency of sanitation workers can be boosted considerably, ultimately delivering both economical and environmental dividends.
02. Startup Story
Inspired by trash piling up at night
CEO Kwon Sun-beom and the other young founders of the company had all been interning at social consulting groups (SCGs), where they were donating their time and expertise. CEO Kwon noticed that trash continued to pile up on city streets at night when the sanitation workers were gone, from which he drew the idea for his innovations. The founders of E-Cube Labs realized that they could combine commonplace solar power technology with trash compacts to create new solutions. They acquired funding by entering their ideas into numerous contests and startup competitions, and poured it back into creating a prototype. Just finding someone willing to manufacture the prototype was a challenge, and the young founders visited countless factories along Cheonggyecheon in Seoul and in Siheung, Gyeonggi-do. Finally, after more than ten attempts at creating a working prototype, the team was able to develop a product that met their exact requirements, and succeeded in patenting their new invention.
“We Dream of a Green World”
European Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Europe-Korea Business Plan Competition Award
Selected by the British Council-LRQA “Asia Environmental Protection Idea Support Project”
Financing received from Coolidge Corner Investment
MOU signed with URM, an Australian waste management company
M2M partnership agreement signed with Vodafone
Received Innovation Badge at Pollutec, the international environmental exposition
Frost & Sullivan M2M Green Excellence in Technology Innovation Award
Australian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE) 2014 Innovation Zone finalist
04. CEO Interview
“We will keep pushing ourselves until the day we see a Clean Cube on every street corner in the world.”
- questionWas starting a new business different from what you had expected?
- answer Having an idea in your head is one thing, but actually applying it to real life was something else entirely. I think our manufacturing process took about three times longer than predicted, due to the sheer amount of trial and error we went through. While we had to deal with numerous hurdles, looking back I think the process was much more pleasant than we initially expected.
- questionWhat are the three most important things for an entrepreneur?
- answer I would say that the three most important things are strong mental fortitude that doesn't get buffeted by every success or failure, good partners you can rely on, and a level head that allows you to study the market objectively. You must be prepared for the worst and be armed with the willpower to weather any storm. As for your partners, you need people from different backgrounds who can work together as a team. A business will success if every member can share the same value as part of a community and have the same dream. Finally, an objective and accurate view of the market is needed to develop the right new product in the most efficient manner.
- questionDo you have any advice for future entrepreneurs?
- answer Sometimes it's difficult to draw an accurate picture of exactly where you want to take your new company. I would say that if you have a clear picture of your goals and your drive, you should go for it. There is considerable support available from various sources, including the government, universities, foundations, the Korea Venture Business Association, and more. Rather than be afraid and wonder, "Can I really do this?" hit the pavement and search for the support that's out there waiting.
- questionWhat is the ultimate goal of your company?
- answer Our goal is to become the top company in this industry, not just in Korea but in the world. We will focus on technological development and aggressive marketing and keep pushing ourselves until the day we see a Clean Cube on every street corner in the world.