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A 25-year-old chocolate wrapper led three friends to start an eco-friendly business, Beco. The company is the maker of India’s first natural home-care brand.
Single use plastic is one of the biggest threats to our environment. Such plastic takes more than 500 years to de-compose. For such a long time, it remains lying around us in the streets, in the rivers-ponds, in the sea. Its dangers are many, one of which is our health. The danger is so great that a big country like India has put a complete ban on it, despite people’s immense dependence on plastic.
New startups of India are playing an important role in the non-governmental efforts being made in this direction in India. The young generation of entrepreneurs seems to be very conscious about the environment and they are anxious to do something concrete about it. This restlessness led three friends Akshay Verma, Anuj Ruia and Aditya Ruia to open a new start-up Beco in 2018 that would make it easier for everyone to participate in the betterment of the environment. Beco is India’s first natural home-care brand. Beco manufactures a complete range of eco-friendly products for your everyday household needs. They aim to enable their customers to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle without much hassle. But what happened that these three youths who were doing something else in their lives, suddenly started raising the slogan of Save the planet?
Five to six years ago Akshay Verma had started a pet care startup after studying engineering in metallurgy from IIT Madras. On the other hand, Aditya Ruia had also started a business communication startup after doing mechanical engineering from BITS Pilani. Aditya’s brother Anuj was studying MBA. In those days beach cleaning campaigns were going on in Mumbai and during one such campaign, Aditya’s eye fell on a chocolate wrapper. And that rapper changed the life of him, his brother and friend Akshay. Today Beco has completed four years of working successfully. Forbes magazine has featured Aditya in its prestigious 30 under 30. In July last year, the company raised Rs 4 crore in funding from Climate Angels Fund and other investors and all three co-founders are happy with the decision which was taken after seeing a chocolate wrapper.
Pollution and climate change is a trillion dollar industry in today’s era, for what purpose did you think of starting Beco?
We felt that by using plastic, we keep exposing ourselves to the chemicals of petroleum. We know that plastics are made from composted polymers, gas, crude oil and their continuous use can expose us to serious diseases like cancer, but still we keep on using them.
We thought that we can work towards reducing the use of plastic in the everyday life of common people. That’s why we focused on the domestic use sector. If we change our plastic-made toothbrush or garbage bags, then this in itself will be a big step. If we all start taking out our water bottles or our bags, these small steps can create a big impact.
But to show your responsibility towards the environment, a lot of money has to be spent. Many people are also forced to use plastic because eco-friendly products are out of their reach. Companies like Amul made the same argument when the government announced a ban on single-use plastic on 1 July. How do you see it?
I think sustainable living is no longer a fad. It is the right of every human being to live in a clean environment. Our aim is to make as much effort as possible in this direction. That’s why we have kept our products in affordable range so that it is accessible to maximum number of people.
But after doing engineering, you had started your own start up of pet care. How did you come here?
We have been involved in beach-cleaning campaigns in Mumbai for a few years now. During one such campaign, my eyes fell on a chocolate wrapper lying on the beach whose color was bright and I felt like I remember it a little. My father told that this chocolate used to be very popular in the 90s and now this brand has become discontinued. But the wrapper was still lying there. And at that time I understood that plastic waste does not decompose and remains in our environment. This experience inspired us to look at our start up towards sustainability. Beco’s products such as tissue paper, tooth picks, corn starch, cotton balls are made from coconut fiber, bamboo, and recycled paper is also used for their packaging.
Apart from Beco, are you doing anything else to increase awareness among people about the environment?
We run a campaign every alternate week to clean the Mumbai Beach.
Right now your business is Direct to Customer D2C. Are there any plans to go into B2B as well? Want to explore the market outside India?
Beco products are going to Taj Hotel, some co-working spaces and cafes. Outside India, there are some partnerships and distribution work in Europe and Scandinavian countries, but we are currently focusing on the domestic market only.