How does being an impact-focused start-up pay off?

By By Jana Bringmann - 16 November 2021

As the leaves turn orange and autumn is fully approaching, we started off Global Entrepreneurship Week with a new Enterprise Masterclass. In light of the recent UN Climate Change Conference, we welcomed two companies to our Innovation Station who have set their mission as making a positive impact on the environment: Origin Plastics and Sustainably.

We started the Masterclass with the announcement of our Regional Startup Accelerator 2022, which encompasses a funding pot that is worth up to £250,000—applications are now open for anyone living in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire! 

This year’s accelerator is funded by the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council as part of the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund (NEERSF).

Origin Plastics

As part of RGU’s first Accelerator program Origin has made it their purpose to redefine plastic waste and dare to ask: what happens after we put our waste in the recycling bin? 

As it turns out, a considerable amount of waste is not recycled at all, and if it does, the centralized consumption of our economy still leads to endless shipping and transportation miles. At this point, Origin comes into play: by using locally collected plastic waste and turning that into new and useful products. They have created a truly circular business, which transforms single-use plastic into products of lasting value. 

With a background in product design, founders Ben and Daniel rethink design processes on a daily basis and combine their expertise in this field with their knowledge of injection moulding. By doing so, they have created a transparent process that recycles locally sourced plastic waste and turns it into valuable products for consumers. The team is currently operating out of their test hub on the RGU campus.

In the future, Origin aims to scale its “Origin Hubs” with the goal of producing up to 800 products a day, thereby transforming 11 tons of plastic waste per year. With Origin Hubs in public places around the globe, citizens would be able to see their local plastic waste transform into products that can be used within the community to replace virgin plastic. The goal is to build an economy that is micro circular while being educational and simplistic at the same time.


As our keynote speaker, we had the pleasure to meet Laurel from the mother-daughter team of Sustainably and listen to her speak about the success story of their business, as well as challenges they encountered along the way. Together they pose nothing less but the question: are you ready to change the world? 

By creating a business that lets you donate round-ups of your everyday purchases to a cause of your choice, they have created a platform that makes giving back feel simple and effortless. 

The initial idea originated in the kitchen of their family home on Post It notes and, in the beginning, they even started without their own tech team. However, what makes Sustainably extraordinary is the fact that the two founders are not only business partners but have created their business on the foundation of their truly unique relationship between mother and daughter. As Laurel says, “it takes a lot of guts and grit to run your own business but doing something that transforms your life while being transformative to the industry itself”. 

Overall, it is a continuous journey of change, but the core purpose of creating sustainable ways to do good should always be a top priority.
Important factors to consider are, among others: how to learn as quickly as possible and thoroughly and considering who is going to help you along the way. As a resource, she recommended The Mom Test, a book by Rob Fitzpatrick and Sprint by Jake Knapp. These are great sources to learn about customer interviews, nonbiased testing and receiving early feedback. 

Surprisingly, the biggest challenge they encountered during the build-up of their business turned out to be fundraising. Therefore, it is crucial to get involved as much as possible to create visibility and validation for the brand. By building momentum and always staying true to the authenticity of the business, Sustainably has been able to design a tech product that genuinely makes a difference for our economy.

As we have seen, both start-ups operate with a great amount of passion and dedication. Accordingly, they are two exceptional role models for our society who rethink outdated customs and set new standards for everyday life.

Therefore, we can say with confidence that being an impact-focused start-up pays off on various levels. Be it to improve the natural environment we live in, or even to help causes all around the world. 

You can rewatch the Enterprise Masterclass to get more insights from our guest speakers and view our events webpage to book onto our next masterclass. 

Do you have an innovative business idea as well? Apply online for this year’s Regional Start Up Accelerator and use the chance of winning significant seed funding for your own business. Applications close at 23:59 GMT on Sunday 9 January 2022.

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