A round yellow blob is lying on the table. It has a rubbery surface and weighs about the same as a carton of milk. The lump is a tangible part of an advanced waste management solution which reduces the amount of driving by refuse lorries, saving fuel and cutting back on emissions. Naturally it also reduces costs.
The way that the ONe Collect concept of the Espoo-based company Enevo works is that the yellow blob, a sensor which withstands extreme conditions, and requires no maintenance, is attached to the inside of the lid of the rubbish bin. With the help of an in-built ultrasound sensor it keeps tabs on how much the container contains, and sends the information via mobile network to a server, which calculates the optimum interval for emptying it, and the best route for refuse lorries to take. This means that the containers are emptied at the right time, and unnecessary collections are avoided.
The service has been piloted in Finland and other Nordic Countries since 2012 and the results have been good. Now that the concept has been tested and the devices are in industrial production, CEO Fredrik Kekäläinen is travelling around the world promoting the service and selling it to local authorities and waste management companies. The list of customers already has some of Europe's largest waste management enterprises, such as Suez/Sita and Veolia. In Finland there is cooperation with , for example, the paper recycling company Paperinkeräys.
"The ONe Collect system does not require new investment by the client, and the cost savings come right away. In a pilot project carried out in Finland our customers were able to reduce their number of pick-ups by more than half."
Concept convinces funders
Three years ago Kekäläinen, a serial entrepreneur, was looking for a new business idea. He had set up and sold two companies, and now he was interested in a third round. He tossed around ideas linked with the industrial internet together with Johan Engström, a former work colleague and his present company partner.
Finally the idea for the invention linked with waste management emerged during a discussion on residential expenses and costs of waste management in apartment buildings.
"Johan said that he had measured the degree to which the rubbish bins of the building where he lives were filled and calculated the ideal interval for emptying them. I said that it sounded crazy, and that it should be automated. We looked at each other and understood in mid-sentence that this was the idea that we were looking for."
In a month the two had built a "gadget that was kept together by duct tape" with which they were able to show that the concept worked. With its help Kekäläinen and Engström were able to convince the angel investor Lifeline Ventures and Tekes about their idea. With the help of their financing they started to develop a prototype and software that would make the service possible.
"Cooperation with Tekes has worked quite well. From our first meeting I felt that the Tekes people understood our concept and looked upon us as an important client. In addition to a product development loan, we also got other services, for instance, visibility in the foreign media."
Growth shifts into second gear
Fredrik Kekäläinen emphasises that Enevo is not merely a manufacturer of devices - it wants to control a larger part of the value chain of waste logistics.
"We offer customers the whole package. We sell information on how to transport as much waste as possible in as little time as possible while driving the least number of kilometres."
Enevo is the first player in the field, so it has great possibilities if it manages to convince the big players about the benefits of what it is offering." Waste management is a business worth a trillion dollars - that's a million times a million - half of which is spent on logistics.
Kekäläinen says that Enevo is off to a good start this year. Next year orders are expected to increase fivefold and personnel should double.
"We are shifting into a higher gear and plan to change waste management in Europe, the USA, and Asia.
Adding to the speed is Enevo's recent acceptance into the Tekes programme for young innovative enterprises (NIY). It offers companies funding for the comprehensive development of their business activities.
"NIY funding gives us credibility in the eyes of clients and investors. It is close to a win in the lottery, but hopefully being accepted was not just about luck, but rather a sensible business plan", Fredrik Kekäläinen says with a smile.
fredrik.kekalainen (at) enevo.com
tel. +358 40 516 1014
Author: Jarno Forssell, Pohjoisranta Burson-Marsteller