Name: Carlos Kao
Course: Masters in Marketing Management.
LOHAS Recycling is a recycling resource platform which acquires waste resources generated in the UK and, applying proper recycling procedures, converts it into valuable recycled materials which can be traded to manufacturers that require such materials. It is basically generating a valuable product out of waste items which have been rendered worthless. Recycling puts in value into items which are of no value to others.
What motivated you to set up this business?
The idea came when I was a student in London. As I went to recycle my milk bottles I found that all recyclable waste items were mixed up together for collection. It was clear that the highest cost in the disposal process was having to sort out the waste before it could become a valuable material. I believed I could use my background and knowledge in manufacturing and the recycling processes used abroad to solve this problem and create a profit.
I looked at trends of milk bottle consumption, studied the use of recycled milk bottle plastics and considered how my business could contribute to making the existing recycling system more efficient. I was very interested in using recycled materials in the manufacturing process and how this would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by half. This would mean that my business would be ethical and contribute to future sustainability.
How does this make use of your skills and experience?
I have a business degree and so have studied what it takes to establish a business and what makes businesses succeed and fail. I used my marketing and market research skills to analyse how to plan my business strategy. I also used my knowledge of the Corporate Identity System (CIS) and advertising to brand my company.
I have experience in my home country of working in the manufacturing industry and also have a lot of knowledge about recycled plastic materials and what products they are used in. I have a strong desire to do something that is eco-friendly and contributes to sustainability and renewal.
What help did UEA Student Enterprise provide for you?
I studied business at UEA and had the opportunity to join workshops and discuss my ideas with tutors, especially during the visa application process. They provided much professional advice which I had to find the answers for! I asked for further advice from student friends who would help me with refining my solutions and point out blind spots. Each presentation I made and advice that was given improved my communication skills and contributed to establishing contact with a potential customer.
What advice would you give others applying for the Tier 1 visa?
Although the UKBA provides ten Tier 1 graduate visa opportunities for each university, UEA's panel judges seriously and carefully which candidates can be approved. I think this is a good thing because in the future you could lose your own business as a result of poor preparation. After you start up your company, expenses will accompany your business activities and it is highly risky if you don't have a good understanding of the market trends, do not have any confirmed customers, and cannot realistically forecast enough income to balance your expenditure. The university does help you to avoid such potential dilemmas. The difficulty in passing the applications for your visa is just the first stage. In the future real business challenges will await you.
What are your hopes for the future?
In the future I hope my business will help to improve the UK waste resource recycling system, and generate more high functioning materials that manufacturers, both local and abroad, would have a high demand for. I would love to co-operate with large retail companies such as H&M and M&S for example, and help them achieve their low carbon policies by supplying recycled textiles which have been manufactured from plastic bottles.