StartIn: Hello and welcome on our Spotlight series. Can you give us a quick introduction about yourself and your team, please?
Wang: Hi, my name is Wangxing Guo and I am Biological Sciences student at Imperial College London. We are a team of two Imperial students creating sustainable SPF moisturizers with our startup EcoFlav.
StartIn: With your start-up EcoFlav you want to revolutionize how to handle with organic waste. Please tell us more about your idea, do you have a plan already how to monetize it?
Wang: The general principle is recycling wasted fruits and vegetables. We will extract phenolic compounds with highly specific extraction methods and add it to our unique formulation to create an organic 30 SPF moisturizer. The monetization strategy is supplying our product directly to the consumers via our website or to intermediates such as small shops or supermarkets.
StartIn: Cool! You are working on the science part of the start-up. What steps have you undertaken in the past to develop your product?
Wang: We have worked during the summer 2022 in the research facilities of Imperial College London on the development of our formula, the extraction methods and the testing safety-effectivity of our SPF moisturizer. It was a long and challenging process, but rewarding. Our results indicated our SPF moisturizer can potentially work, but we still need to do some small improvements.
StartIn: And in the future, what is missing that you are market ready and more important can produce a mass scalable product?
Wang: Well, we think that mass-scalability is a big deal here as SPF moisturizers are targeted to the wide audience and not to specific population segments. Therefore, we need to develop extraction methods that can satisfy that demand without rising significantly the production costs.
StartIn: Was it always your dream to become an entrepreneur?
Wang: My original dream was focusing on translational research, bring the results product of fundamental research into the market. Staying in academia was always my first option, entrepreneurship appealed to me but my idea about it was quite vague. Now that I have a better understanding of the startup ecosystem, I can confirm that I love it but would continue working in academia due to its flexibility and the basic research.
StartIn: Exciting! To close off – what advise can you share with other students who also want to start a business that relies on lots of (costly) research?
Wang: It would feel daunting in the beginning as to get funding, you need a proof of concept but in order to develop a successful proof of concept, you need funding! This leads to a vicious cycle that is very easy to fall in. My advice is to get away from the big accelerators and grants, and focus the resources on the competitions that are tailored exclusively to students to develop their idea. Many universities have those types of programs but they are often not advertised as good as they should. Thus, it is the responsibility of the team to search proactively for these opportunities where they have more chances of getting funding.