“By joining a photography course at the Centre, I was introduced to Beyond Business and the opportunity to launch a social enterprise”
Themes: social enterprise; creative arts
In 2020, Samreen and her business partner Sharaf (above, right) made an application to the programme. They had been considering a business idea for collecting and recycling plastic waste into filaments; the raw material for 3D printing. They were inspired by Samreen’s post-graduate study and Sharaf’s experience in the garment industry where waste is a big problem.
Our Beyond Business team were impressed with the business vision but felt the breadth of the project, in a highly complex and technical area, was too wide-ranging and too ambitious.
The entrepreneurs were coached and encouraged to look at ways to simplify and focus, initially on a smaller section of the plastics recycling chain, and aim to build up the business this way.
Samreen and Sharaf then produced a new business plan focusing on the higher education sector which has a plethora of 3D printers requiring the on-going supply of filaments. Samreen explains that ‘virgin’ plastic filaments for 3D printing have been available for a while but that there is growing demand for recycled product.
Samreen and Sharaf reapplied to the Beyond Business programme a second time in 2021 and, this time, were successful after competing in a final stage ‘dragon’s den’ style process. Winners of the competition gain £20K in start-up funding and significant business support and coaching which Samreen says has been invaluable in getting the business of the ground.
The simple idea behind their business In-use, is that a lot of waste filament is generated by colleges, universities and higher education establishments. In-use not only supplies recycled consumables in the first instance, they also take back the waste product for recycling again into more filaments. They only use natural colour dyes for the products, creating a sustainable circular economy.
“We are now moving into a final testing phase” says Samreen and then our range of recycled filament products will be launched more widely via online marketplaces such as Amazon. “We have a lot of demand for our products already” says Samreen “but we couldn’t have got this far without the support of Beyond Business”
Samreen says her family in Bangladesh are very supportive of the business although they often ask “if I could consider something simpler and easier” she laughs “so I reassure them clean technology is my future and I know they’re proud”