As part of our quest to get you meaningful stories and insights from the startup ecosystem, we invited yet another passionate entrepreneur – Paras Saluja for an exclusive interview with BrilliantRead Media. He is the Founder and Director of Shayna Ecounified India Pvt Ltd which is India’s first company to manufacture affordable plastic structural materials from plastic waste and it’s technology is approved and tested by CSIR-NPL. Paras is a seasoned entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the environmental services industry. He has great expertise in Research and Development (R&D), Distribution Strategies, Business Innovation, Marketing Strategy, and Product Development. Let’s read more about his journey and his advice for our community!
Excerpts from our exclusive conversation with him:
Talk us through your background and your journey as an entrepreneur, please;
I did my schooling from Delhi Public School, Ghaziabad, and further pursued a Bachelor of Business Administration from I.T.S college in Ghaziabad. I was always enthusiastic about sports and played football and cricket in school and then played some cricket in college too. I belong to a mixed batch of business, pharmaceuticals and scientists however I took up commerce since science wasn’t my forte in school. After college, I joined my family business and then after more than a decade of taking care of that and understanding the business aspect of things I shifted my focus and took my first steps towards my life-long issue of reducing, reusing waste that’s present all around us, all the time.
While growing up the bone of contention between people and me was my OCD when it came to cleanliness, order, and waste disposal. While growing up I often wondered about ‘someone’ solving the pollution issues that we studied in school and saw all around us in society. But the younger me never found that ‘someone’.”
As I grew, I became an avid traveler and during one of my trips, I was in Vietnam where I saw that they were very aware and sensitive about the waste they produced and how they managed to dispose or use it. That is when I realized that to solve the problem I have to Be that “someone” that I was finding from childhood for myself. That is when it struck me that India is a big and populated country with a huge problem of waste being produced daily but not disposed of properly.
I had decided to do something about it in my home country and also found more about the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” and that’s how the chain reaction of my pet project started.”
I then researched info on what can be done, how can it be done, and what all is related to one particular thing. I needed to find the right solution to my problems and also for my business acumen. And that is when I contacted some scientists and after several long discussions, various tests and other tedious yet satisfying processes and procedures we came up with a Patented technology that is now able to resolve the plastic waste issue to a certain degree by being able to recycle the plastic that was filling the landfills every day. As we know that plastic doesn’t decompose easily and will live on earth more than any of us present today it seemed like the best thing to do for Mother Nature. This is in a way my contribution to Earth and Humanity.
Why entrepreneurship over a corporate career?
I belong to a business family and my upbringing was always done accordingly. I never really thought about a corporate career. Growing up I always wanted to do something of my own and to learn the ropes I chose to become the part of the existing business. During this time, between other qualities, I realized about my leadership skills, decision-making ability, and most importantly the ability to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. After more than a decade of learning and growing it, when the idea to make a difference in the way we (humanity) were operating about our plastic waste struck me, I did not want to lose even 1 minute of my time not doing what I could for it to become a reality and change what can be changed.
When the opportunity presented itself then I wanted to make a product which is eco friendly, something which did not wear and tear and could be used by us but since it came from waste, it shouldn’t touch our skin directly (if you intentionally don’t want it to :))
Shayna’s products help clients with easy, economical, and speedy construction. Hence came out with the concept of tiles initially and later other products were introduced as well, which helps the society in using green technology to build smarter and greener ways of living.
How is your product different from traditional products? Tell us more about your product and your startup’s journey this far?
This is a new technology that we have built that uses plastic scrap and waste disposed of by all of us, every day. Traditionally one uses cement tiles which produce a high amount of carbon emissions, uses huge amounts of water and energy. Also, it cannot be recycled.
Whereas we don’t require any new raw material, we use the already disposed of plastic, essentially a waste product as our raw material to produce more sustainable and long-lasting tiles which don’t crack, erode and wear and tear as quickly as any other product that exists in the market today. It can be recycled again, doesn’t produce any carbon emissions, saves energy and water, the polymers used in our products are not hazardous as they do not release poisonous gases and the process is under control. Its manufacturing time is much lesser than the cement tiles.
Please share with us some of the challenges you faced in your journey;
Paying a price for the waste that was filling the landfills unnecessarily. Initially, we thought that the waste which no one wants and no one can use will be available at no cost to us and we couldn’t have been more wrong in our assumption.
We have to buy and incur a cost for something that economies are trying hard to find a solution for. That is when we realize that everything will come at a price including reducing the problem of unfathomable plastic waste.”
We had to create a breakthrough in order to establish a brand name and thrive in a country like India where set mindsets are a huge challenge. People often talk about climate change, saving the environment but they seldom do something especially if money is involved.
Also since bigger changes can be noticed through government involvement and currently we are facing issues in getting our listing done schedule rights.
Another challenge I faced was that even though I have experience of handling a business, I was clueless about the working and dynamics of the Environment industry as I had no prior background of it or the science that went behind it.
What is your Business Mantra: Money or Emotions?
Without emotions, there is no value of money and without money, your emotions can run you dry very soon. I prioritize Integrity, Ethics, Discipline, and loyalty towards your work that make a successful human and grows business. That makes both your life and work meaningful. The reason for me to start this business was my feelings towards Mother Nature and how we weren’t doing anything to improve not just nature but also our own lives.
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
If you love what you do that itself is the greatest motivation for you to do something. Then the pressure and the stress are not felt as they are a part of the journey that has to be experienced and enjoyed and suffering is only one’s choice so you have to embrace it. Pressure makes me push my limits and helps me achieve greater heights. It helps me ideate more.
Stress, excitement, and nervousness are all part of an entrepreneur’s journey. And at the end of the day when I go home, I shut out of the office for a while and have some me-time that rejuvenates me for the next day. Sometimes I travel, see and learn new things that refresh me with new energy to do more.
What has worked well for you so far?
My honesty about my work and product and the commitment of my various clients towards taking a step forward in the direction for dealing with plastic waste and using for a good use for not just themselves but various other people.
Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?
You have to be flexible with everyone. You should hold authority and respect yet be open, approachable, and respectful to others especially your employees. You should be smart in your work but not rigid. Having a strong belief and confidence in yourself and your products helps others believe in it and invest in it too.
What are the business mantras you have embraced as you sought to establish your success story?
I just follow my heart and then discern it with my mind, ideas, practical know-how, and other nuisances involved in the process. I saw a problem and just reintroduced and revolutionized the age-old concept of recycling into a new form that also helps the environment and humanity at large in the long run. We can’t avoid plastic so better embrace it and help recycle it as much as we can and use the same in our lives.
We would love to know your advice for all those starting out as an aspiring entrepreneur?
There is no age or time bar to be an entrepreneur. You are never too old or too young to work towards your dreams and aspirations. All you have to do is believe in your dream and do whatever it takes to make it happen. Believing in yourself tale is the most important thing. Also, your business plan and review, financial strategy, and research take you a long way.