Kaushal Shah – Founder of envoPAP
If the COVID-19 emergency is teaching us anything, is that the balance between us, our planet and the other living species that inhabit it is very delicate and must be preserved. Many start-ups have taken it upon themselves to do their part in reducing waste, cutting CO2 emissions and helping fight climate change. One of them is envoPAP, which we help with Core Accounting and claiming their R&D Tax Credits.
envoPAP’s mission is to make sustainable products which do not harm the planet. We have always been committed to meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. That is why we are a certified B Corporation.
We spoke to envoPAP Founder Kaushal Shah to learn more about his journey as a Founder and what inspired him to start his company.
envoPAP is a certified B Corporation, their mission saved 760,000 since they started manufacturing and distributing paper made from byproducts of sugarcane cultivation and harvesting. You can now own shares in envoPAP from as little as £15.
What made you decide to become a founder?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs so exposure to business ownership is something I luckily had at a very young age. My family continually served as my inspiration, and so growing up all I wanted to be was like them, so the decision to become a founder was taken from my childhood.
The opportunity to actually become one came during my masters at the University of Southampton, where I discovered a huge potential to disrupt the packaging industry which is heavily reliant on plastic and wood-based packaging.
Born in Pune, India, I was aware of the opportunities to be had with the sugarcane. It is high-yielding, requires less water than other crops and is abundantly produced in India. It also produces vast by-products that can be used to produce paper and packaging and from this realisation, envoPAP was born.
What’s been your most bruising / character-forming experience as a Founder?
envoPAP products are sold in 50 different countries. I like to meet everyone I do business with, so this has resulted in me traveling the world and meeting all these different people from various countries. To say I have had a crash course in diplomacy and world cultures is an understatement. It’s been extremely challenging appreciating all the varied business practices, across the world, but highly rewarding.
What were the lessons you took from this?
Not every strategy which has been successful can be implemented in every country. We have to understand the culture, the techniques and the habits to formulate our strategy of entering any new market. For instance, our strategy for the Eastern European countries is focussed on pricing and price penetration to grab a large market share but our strategy in Rwanda is completely opposite to help consumers understand the difference in product and benefits of using agriculture waste.
Out of your business achievements to date, what are you most proud of and why?
One of my proudest achievements to date is convincing our customers to move away from wood-based products, we have helped save 760,000+ trees from deforestation which would have been otherwise used for making paper and paper-based packaging products.
Furthermore, prior to the creation of envoPAP the by-products of sugarcane – which we use to make paper – were either burned, causing dense smog in cities, or dumped at landfill. Our paper has significantly reduced these pollutive practices, and this makes me extremely proud.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a Founder?
Always look to solve a problem! I always wanted to be a Founder, but didn’t know what fir. Only after learning about environmental practices in my masters could I appreciate the alternative ways to produce paper which could help address a number of environmental issues. Our planet is something extremely dear to me, so I go to work everyday knowing that I am working towards making our planet better for the future.
Seek to make a good impact and when the opportunity to do so presents itself, believe me I do not think you will hesitate to take it forward.
If you could change anything to do with being a Founder, what would it be?
I only wish I could have started envoPAP earlier. We have saved 760K trees so far and have reduced pollution but there is much more work to be done.
What’s your top tip for being productive?
One thing at a time.
Simply focussing one task at a time or one market or one strategy and extracting its fullest potential.
Apart from a smartphone, what piece of tech can’t you live without?
Alexa! It’s the best reminder tool I have to make sure I turn up at meetings on time.
What do you do when you switch off from being a Founder?
Recently I have been focusing on exercise and keeping fit.
Talent or Hunger?
A bit of both but always have had a preference for hunger.
We are at a very early stage in our business and we need a passionate and hungry workforce to reach our ambitions and goals. Hunger is what drives people to their full potential.
But equally, Talent concerns the abilities, skills and expertise that determines what a person can do. I believe that talent and hunger go hand in hand and provide better results.
In a world struggling to cope with the uncertainties of climate change, envoPAP offers viable alternatives to products made from timber and single-use plastic.