A Perfectly Executed Pivot!
Updated: Aug 31
OK. It might not be the prettiest manoeuvre you've seen, but as we've always said, it's how you land that matters.
And it's amazing how much you can achieve on the fly...
New Customer, New Country
Our number 1 priority, when the Bangkok project was scuppered, was to find a new customer. (The reason that PlastX can boast 100% re-use of the plastic we collect is because the process is kick-started by demand. There’s no stockpiling of PlastX material.)
Fearless networker and sales maven, Murray, secured a new buyer in a matter of days. An innovative PET re-processor (tick!) with a demonstrated track record of sustainability (tick!), who’s willing to take a chance on an unknown company (us). Big tick!
PS – they’re located in a different country. Wait. What?
We'd had a good 10 months to painstakingly research and plan our (abortive) market entry into Thailand. For Malaysia, two weeks.
We knew that our customer, Diyou Fibre, was located not far from the international airport, but the choice of location also hinged on the availability of an abundance of raw material (plastic waste!), and a pool of willing Collectors.
Our research led us south and slightly east of KL, to the rapidly growing city of Nilai. So far, so good.
Now all we needed was a Hub.
At the heart of the PlastX process is the local Hub – an existing structure, like a shop or community hall - for receiving and processing plastic collections. Identifying a suitable structure proved tricky from our Sydney base, and we looked for inspiration elsewhere.
It came to us in a converted food truck.
Harold the High Vis Hub
It was an accidental stroke of genius.
Once kitted out in PlastX branding, Harold, as our truck became known, was not only practical, but a great conversation-starter and marketing tool.
But a truck needs a parking spot. Somewhere that would attract lots of attention; where our Hub Ops team could effectively recruit Collectors; and where Collectors could safely and easily deliver their plastic...
Location Location Location
A mixture of good detective work, and just plain cheek led us to the AEON Group - operators of almost 200 shopping malls across Malaysia (and countless others across southeast Asia). We fancied AEON - not just for their huge reach into the community, but because of their stated (and actual) commitment to environmental issues and sustainability. It was a long shot - a cold call - but we pulled it off. AEON offered us a space to park Harold at the door of their their busy Nilai Mall.
It was time to put Muzz on a plane.
From his compact KL studio apartment, Murray activated the network - wisely reaching out to plastics sustainability veteran (and old mate), Mooreyameen Mohamad.
Despite having his hands full as Group Sustainability Officer and Chief-of-Staff at PETRA, Yameen was happy to assist.
If you call leading recruitment, training & general ops and providing essential cultural alignment assisting. In fact, Yameen's participation was central to our success, and we gratefully acknowledge his contribution.
He's da bomb.
Meanwhile, back in Sydney...
We wouldn't want you to think that Murray was the only founder having fun. The learnings from Nilai were many, and there were plenty of adjustments to be made on the hop. Our Collectors' website, for example - the repository of crucial information and educational material to help Collectors work more efficiently - had been painstakingly translated into Bahasa Melayu. Who knew that, in the particular part of Nilai where we had chosen to operate, the dominant language would be Chinese? Not this writer and builder of websites, that's for sure. These days, collect.plastx is routinely - nonchalantly - trilingual. Meh. All in a day's work.
Bringing it all together
Back in Nilai, from their vantage point at AEON Mall, the Hub Ops team spent their first two weeks spruiking the PlastX program, demonstrating how the app works, and recruiting Collectors. Later, when the plastic started flowing in, it was their job to conduct ID and Quality checks; weigh the material; bag and tag for security, and pay Collectors.
It was always intended to be a limited program, to test commercial aspects of PlastX. After 6 weeks, the team packed up, Harold made a full delivery to Diyou Fibre, and Murray reluctantly boarded a flight home, vowing to return as soon as humanly possible to resume operations.
We had recruited 45 Collectors (our target was 20) - and registrations are continuing to come in, even now, with the project concluded, and Harold under wraps.
Well, that depends. PlastX has now been validated in 2 countries.
There is traction, momentum, and opportunity. We have 2 other Malaysian buyers - in addition to Diyou Fibre - representing annual sales to the value of USD$3.2million.
We are absolutely determined to make PlastX succeed, but are urgently in need of funds to support our growth.
If you are in the investment space, and have been quietly watching our progress to see what transpires, NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT. Click on the button below, cunningly disguised as a bloke with a megaphone, and let's start a conversation.
If that's not your space, but you like the audacity of an Aussie start-up taking Asia's plastic waste head-on, you can still help. Spread the word! Tell your friends. Who knows - they might win Powerball next week!
One Last Thing
if you'd like to take a deeper dive into the PlastX Project Malaysia, here's a detailed report for your reading pleasure...