Ojaswi Baidya, Loonibha Manandhar, Sampanna Shrestha, and Susan Chakradhar met back in December 2016 as participants for the Greenovation Challenge, which the quartet won later in November 2017 for their entrepreneurial startup Tyre Treasures. Although, Shrestha had initially come up with an idea of recycling and reusing waste produced by each household, Baidya and Manandhar are the only active executive members of the organization right now. The innovating and unique idea pitched by Shrestha was later worked on and they started making use of non-biodegradable inorganic waste – primarily tyres – to create interesting products, which can be used for various purposes.
After the preliminary group formation and idea selection, the group of four researched on various aspects that would help them in bringing their idea to life. Everything from market analysis on what types of products suit the Nepali market to craftsmanship and ways of incorporating that into a unique and usable product was explored and studied in detail during the research period. Tyre Treasures officially launched as a company about five months back just as the Greenovation Challenge concluded. During the seven-month long period of the Greenovation Challenge, they were assisted, trained, and guided by various mentors on the idea as well as the concept of entrepreneurship.
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Baidya, mentions that although Tyre Treasures started out as an online marketing business, they have now moved into selling or showcasing their products at different locations and stores throughout Kathmandu where customers can check out the creations before buying them. “The Nepali market thrives on analyzing and physically inspecting products before it is bought. We learned this quick enough and implemented it into our business strategy,” says Baidya. Besides opening an outlet for their inventions, their products are also showcased at Maya ko Chino, a collective store in Jhamsikhel, as well as displayed at the House of Palettes studio nearby.
Baidya and Manandhar, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Tyre Treasures, executed the whole working process by themselves for awhile before recruiting a number of team members to handle different line of work within the enterprise just a few weeks ago. Likewise, Tyre Treasures is growing as a company in more ways than one. They have increased their number of creations, connections with different dealers, and artisans and their sales are also increasing gradually.
However, according to Baidya, persuading automobile workshop owners to sell used and faulty tyres to innovative enterprises like Tyre Treasures rather than to brick factories has been the hardest part of their work. “Brick factories buy tyres in bulk and pay a huge sum for it while we buy a limited number of tyres at a time and comparatively less frequently as well. But we have been informing them on how those tyres are used in these completely different companies and we are seeing a positive shift in them regarding this but most of the automobile workshop owners still tilt towards the brick factories for personal economic benefits,” claims Baidya.
Baidya also says that many people initially take their idea as a scam the first time they hear about Tyre Treasures. But once the skeptics see the products with their own eyes or are briefed on the working process, they swiftly change course and go on to actually encourage the production. Moreover, Baidya is also estatic that Tyre Treasure has been getting positive feedbacks from anyone and everyone who uses their products or understands what they stand for. She remarks that being called something like a breakthrough enterprise has the ability to send the team over the moon.
Crafting the treasures
Once Tyre Treasures acquire the tyres, they bring it to their workshop, that is located at Kupondole, and clean and sanitize them. The tyre is dusted, washed out, and sprayed with an insecticide before it is left to dry and then stored until further use. Depending on the type of product they want to create out of the tyre, they start working on it. For items like Tommy’s Turf, which is essentially a pet bed, the tyres are immediately painted by a painter they have hired for the specific purpose. Then the snug cushion is created from recycled scrap cotton that comes with cushion cover made from locally produced fabric and any scrap flex they can find. The cushion is fitted inside the painted tyre and a new Tommy’s Turf is ready to hit the market.
But before the artifacts are reach the production stage, they undergo the designing phase. Baidhya and Manandhar spend days coming up with new designs and ideas to create new products with tyres. “We don’t want to create products just for the sake of recycling. We want to manufacture functional products that people would actually use,” admits Baidya.
Other treasures manufactured by Tyre Treasures include SarJayanthi, a line of table and muda set whose intricate pater (a watergrass found in the Tarai region) patterns are supported by sturdy tyres, Wings, a minimalist muda designed to mimic the wings of butterflies using locally sourced and recycled shredded fabric for the cushion, Treasure Garden Tyre Planter, visually stimulating vertical planters that promote sustainable urban gardening, among various other items.
Although they mostly sell pre-designed creations, the Tyre Treasure team is up for any customization the customers want to incorporate in their purchase. Baidya voices out a very effective example of this, “Although we create the Tommy’s Turf in a watermelon design, we will remodel it into any shape a customer asks us to.”
Wood and metals are the two most used elements in Tyre Treasure products, other than the tyres. But the Tyre Treasure team is more interested in creating artifacts using bamboos (rather than wood or metal) because of its sturdiness. They also want to venture into creating products with the raw tyre elements as they can then morph the rubber into any shape they desire and do not have to stick with the archetypal circle they use right now. Baidya names these two as the biggest projects Tyre Treasure is working to crack and is determined to see it happen sometime in the near future.