The following is a sponsored story from Dutch Postcode Lottery.
This time last year, my team at bioMASON was working diligently on fundraising, networking and getting valuable input from multiple business incubators. We had heard of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, an international competition for green startups a few years before from Eben Bayer of Ecovative, who won in 2008.
Eben is a brilliant young entrepreneur who developed an alternative for synthetic foams and plastics from agricultural waste and the roots of mushrooms. His groundbreaking "green" concept would not have seen the light of day if Eben hadn't registered for the Green Challenge.
In 2008 we weren’t ready to enter. In 2013, however, we felt confident that we were finally in the right spot to apply, and excited about it too. We all shared the same ambition wanting to win the 2013 edition of the Green Challenge — and we did!
My company, bioMASON, entered the competition with a business case base on a new brick production process, offering a clean alternative to the existing process, which generates massive emissions worldwide. Working as an architect, I was frustrated by the limited choice of materials used to make new buildings. I was inspired by natural formations such as corals that grow to create strong structures, and wanted to see if there was a totally new way to create bricks. It took thousands of mistakes before I started to get results that worked. Even when I did, it was only the beginning. Bacteria are alive and working with them is a different skill.
Winning the Green Challenge in 2013 was a great boost to help a strong team with different ideas with different areas of expertise. One memorable moment was meeting one of the judges, Marcel Wanders, a designer we have admired for years. In fact, his "sponge" vase was an inspiration for growing construction materials similar to coral. Now we have an initial order due at the end of this year and are moving to our manufacturing facility, while scaling our equipment.
Simple ideas with massive impact
This year the eighth edition of the annual competition for green business plans is open for sustainable startups from all over the world. I encourage all to enroll, if you are ready for it. It is a great initiative by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to bring smart and innovative green products and services to the mass market, thereby helping to combat climate change.
These are ideas that pay: the winner will receive $680,000 to develop and bring to market his or her product or service. The organization also will award $272,000 to one or two runners-up.
In this year’s Green Challenge I hope to see ideas that are simple yet impactful. Ideas that shift mindsets. Perhaps a design to change packaging, or a design change in the clothing consumable supply chain. Simple, yet effective ideas that have massive impact and can be executed rapidly.
In August, the finalists will be announced on GreenChallenge.info, Twitter and Facebook. Do you want to be one of them? Then register now for free to submit your business plan by June 3.
Good luck to all entrepreneurs ready to enter the Green Challenge!