TeknTrash is a climate tech and data company leading a revolution, disrupting the recycling industry as well as making people and businesses more eco-conscious. Statistics show that 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. 21% of all methane in the atmosphere comes from this ocean waste and landfill, and only 9% is effectively recycled. The industry puts all the weight of recycling on the individual, it’s a stick-versus-carrot model, in which if you recycle, nothing happens, but if you don’t, you’re penalised.
Stipra, a consumer app was invented in order to reward users for recycling; users scan the barcodes of the products with their app and then simply put them in the recycling bin. The rewards are cash and products available for redemption on the app. Despite a high level of awareness of why we should recycle, large parts of the population still don’t do it, so we have to find a way to solve this big climate challenge by giving something back to everyone who supports the effort.
As part of Stipra’s business model, it captures detailed product data from every product scanned which is effectively known as post sales or consumption data. This data shows when, where and who consumed a particular product and over time, in what frequency and volume. Post consumption data is the holy grail for brands, it completes their understanding to the product lifecycle and provides insight to how much consumption is occurring. In parallel Stipra also has the capability of calculating the ESG impact that recycling has for each brand if their products are disposed of properly.
The value of data is self-evident in this digitally transformed era. Every day, around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated, and that staggering figure will further rise. Regardless of the industry, target market demographics, or types of goods and services a company offers, acquiring data for the best possible use can improve practically every part of its business. On that front, data collected from the end of a product life-cycle can help companies have deeper customer insights and obtain authentic ESG benefits.
Al Costa, the Founder and CEO
Al Costa, the company’s enthusiastic founder, believes that the world’s waste problems should be resolved worldwide with the help of technology and innovation to encourage greater awareness and accountability among companies and customers alike. Al contends that the garbage and recycling paradigm needs to be reversed and that the tried-and-true carrot and stick approach still works best when it comes to rewarding customers for good behavior rather than punishing them for bad. This ideology is like a breath of fresh air.
TeknTrash’s co-founder and current CEO, Al Costa contributed a new viewpoint to the company’s founding. The concept behind TeknTrash is that trash contains valuable data that no one is currently gathering. There are several types of rubbish, so a system made to recognize items and collect data is necessary. The first recycling rewards scheme in the world, Stipra enables post-sale data collecting. This offers insightful information to businesses looking to understand their customers better and show that they are improving sustainability.
TeknTrash is the fifth company Al Costa has started. He has established companies in the US, Brazil, Spain, and the UK. After selling his first company to a NASDAQ-listed company, he lost everything with his second one, which is a lesson that many, if not all, business owners eventually learn. His foray into company began when he grew tired of working in jobs that promised excellent careers but abruptly ended when he was let go after a few months for no apparent reason, as was the case with many others. A critical sign of the sector’s deterioration. Instead of accepting a standard job, a pointless exercise, Al Costa recommends his daughters launch a business as soon as they graduate from college and learn the ropes while they are still young and eager.
The Inception of TeknTrash
The business was founded in 2018 in Barcelona after the Founder received an invitation to demonstrate the idea in Lviv, Ukraine. It was a triumph! Al was inspired by this to quit his well-paying position at a bank and start his new entrepreneurial venture with TeknTrash. Al is an accomplished scientist and serial entrepreneur who recently sold one of his startups to a NASDAQ listed business. A finalist for the Red Herring Top 100 startups in Europe is TeknTrash. Additionally, the enterprise participated in Microsoft’s Startup Program and won $30K in cloud credits. With a full tech stack installed, including www.stipra.com, corp.stipra.com, 2 Apps, and an astounding 12 terabytes of data collected on top brands, they have also been able to add 26,000 users to their database.
Lack of money is our most significant barrier to achieving rapid development, which is necessary to ensure that they address one of the most pressing problems confronting the world today before it is too late. This is the biggest obstacle for Al Costa and TeknTrash.
However, when questioned about his five-year plan for TeknTrash, Al Costa responded, “We will be a global company with the ability to deliver this product across developed and developing markets, both of which have quite different approaches to waste management and recycling based on the maturity of their infrastructure. At the same time, we think we will be able to take advantage of the USD 51 billion annually that FMCG companies spend on market research, which regrettably does not offer the same level of understanding and insight that Stipra does. This is because we are the only company that can offer post-sale data in a way that brands can use to influence their business decisions. Additionally, Stipra separates the buyer from the consumer (who is not usually the same person), enabling marketers to fully comprehend who is using their products and how frequently.”
When asked how he makes sure innovative efforts and viewpoints are assessed and applied inside his operational framework, Al Costa responded, “a lot of listening. Amazingly, we frequently receive helpful feedback from individuals who have no connection to our industry (data). One would even assume that the farther away they are, the better. This strategy makes sense since it allows for a more complete view of the situation than is possible when one is too close to the company and can only see a portion of it.” Al Costa firmly believes that shifting perspectives on waste and new approaches towards research activities & innovative efforts as a whole are both necessary.
What problems and challenges is Al Costa trying to solve with his business and approach? Al Costa supports companies that “create” issues rather than those that “fix” them. He said, “By this, I mean to identify a situation where nobody even sees an “issue” and develop a solution for it, becoming the only supplier and securing the entire future market. That being said, it is a significant task to describe what the startup performs in as few words and in a language that is comprehensible by everyone, and that is our main challenge.”
Bringing the top group. Not bureaucrats who expect to work from 9 to 5 and only follow orders, but creative individuals who have the freedom to put their own ideas into practice. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not fit into this category. Thus it is harder to “fundraise” people than money. Therefore, there is no way to make someone who lacks creativity become creative; one is either born innovative or not; the key is to recognize those who are. This is the secret behind Al Costa’s inventive crew and ongoing “fundraising” people effort.
The Importance Of A Solid Team That Shares A Common Vision
Al Costa considers that “teamwork” is the key to solving all of humanity’s problems. However, he adheres to the principle of “results work”; therefore, if a person enjoys working alone and can produce results, it is alright with him. Al Costa added, “In spite of the fact that, “two brains think better than one,” teamwork is a means, not an end; when it becomes a goal instead of a tool, it becomes just as damaging as having no mind at all.”
It involves changing one’s thinking from one of negativity to positivity. It involves being interested and courageous enough to view the world from a different angle, one that has a positive outlook attached. Success depends on bringing talent on board with this approach, and this is how Al Costa is attempting to shift the “yes, but” culture to one of “yes, and.”
Covid 19 And TeknTrash
The pandemic had a varied effect on TeknTrash. They differ in that they claim that covid has been advantageous, giving them more time to independently develop stipra.com, corp.stipra.com, and apps based on the Stipra system. Because Stipra is a highly complex system that takes a lot of time to design, build, test, and debug, the epidemic assisted them with fewer interruptions.
After TeknTrash made it to the finals of the Red Herring Top 100 Europe competition in 2021, Al Costa and his team got some significant PR for the brand. They were chosen by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of the three most effective technologies, and by Euro news, they were ranked as the number one “green tech startup out to transform the world.” Major brands, including Pepsi, Nestlé, Nivea, Unilever, P&G, and many more, are the subjects of data collection by Stipra. Additionally, they recently began operations in the US; thus, Al Costa’s creation has had quite the journey.
Al Costa is still on his journey, and they are gathering money in the US to develop a smart bin. This will be used in as many public locations as possible, including malls, airports, bars, and banks. It might end up being a very effective marketing strategy for such establishments. Al Costa is quite close to this smart bin project. In addition to saying that “the smart bin development is next in line for Al Costa’s business,” he said, “If I had to choose where to open a bank account and I visited the branches of different banks, I would without a doubt choose the one that has a flashy garbage bin connected to the internet instead of a dirty generic one. I would perceive that bank as having better technology, so my money would be safer there.”
The data waste problem only has a technology solution, which sets TeknTrash apart from its competitors. With Al Costa’s unique and innovative viewpoint, TeknTrash is moving in the right direction to grow and become one-of-a-kind problem solver.