Recyclizer is an Egyptian startup that specializes in turning plastic waste into plastic mulch films that are used in agriculture to protect crops from damage caused by changing weather conditions and harmful weeds in the soil.
Founders, Aya Al-sharqawy, Reem Gabr, and Eman Emad joined the NEX-LABS program to develop their solution for tackling climate change and plastic pollution.
Wanting to have a role in addressing these issues was the beginning of Recyclizer’s journey, turning their idea into a startup.
Q: How does your product work? What makes your solution special or unique?
A: Recyclizer works on protecting the agricultural crop by reducing the evaporation rate, thus reducing the amount of irrigation water used and crop loss by preventing the growth of harmful weeds around the plant in the soil. We provide a recycled plastic product of a similar quality to the conventional raw material, at affordable prices.
Q: Who is benefiting from your solution? Why is your solution important to you?
A: The farmer who uses plastic mulch or mulch, in general, is one of the beneficiaries of our product. Our product is important to us as it is a triple-solution product that solves three problems: plastic pollution, food insecurity, and water loss. We started with very limited resources to produce our prototype (i.e., plastic mulch film). We later tested it in the lab of a pre-incubation program in Egypt we were incubated in, and it was proven to be a successful product.
Q: How is your solution relevant to your sector?
A: Our solution is relevant to the waste management sector in Egypt in that it is about recycling amounts of plastic waste into a useful product, and there are huge amounts of plastic waste accumulated in it. Recyclizer is relevant to Lebanon as it is a similar market to Egypt. When we conducted our research, we found that many farmers in Lebanon are using plastic mulch in their agricultural systems, which resulted in the Lebanese market being our target as well.
Q: Why did you apply to the program? What were you hoping to achieve when you applied to it?
A: We applied to the program because we follow Berytech and the NEX-LABS program and know that they provide full support to green startups and great exposure whether, in Lebanon or any other country. We were confident that this would be a significant experience for our project.
Q: What did you benefit from the most in Berytech’s program?
A: We benefited from all the stages of Berytech’s program, including networking with other researchers and innovators from other nationalities and backgrounds which provided us with partnership opportunities, and deep knowledge in business such as budgeting, establishing and registration regulations, business models, revenues, and others. In addition, the exposure through participating in the Green Innovation Days 2022 (GrID2022) and choosing us from more than 11 startups to participate and meet investors and potential partners. The matchmaking process was fruitful and successful for our project.
Q: What did you achieve so far? What are your key success factors?
A: We are currently in the registration process and are launching our product to a wider market in Egypt, and soon to Lebanon. Our key success factor comprises our team which includes different specializations and personalities which have a positive impact on our network and success, team collaboration, and good planning.
Q: If you had to choose one achievement to highlight, what would it be and what lessons did you learn from it?
A: The most significant achievement for us is our participation in the GrID 2022, because it provided us with our first exhibition experience as a startup in a country other than our home country Egypt, and meeting many investors and collaborators who shared their interest in our product.
Q: What are the main challenges that you have faced so far? How did you overcome these challenges?
A: The main challenge we faced and now facing is to be female co-founders in Egypt, where there are few to no females working in the industry which in turn leads to not sufficient support for us. We are overcoming this challenge through teamwork, cooperation, and the support spirit that we have in our team.
Q: What is one thing you would have done differently throughout your journey?
A: The one thing that we would have done differently throughout our journey is to benefit from the network that we have since network and circle support has a huge impact on the success of any startup.
Q: Have you ever thought of giving up on your venture? If yes, what made you pull through?
A: Yes, we thought about that many times due to the limited support that we receive in Egypt, whether from the community and/or the public and private sectors, the worldwide economic situation, and the international challenging epidemic circumstances we are all facing.
Q: What are your long-term goals as a startup?
A: Our long-term goal as a startup is to scale up from the startup stage to a big corporation that is multi-national and has an effective social impact solving the mentioned challenges and providing several decent job opportunities.
Q: What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is starting in your industry?
A: The advice that we would give is that the road is very long and challenging. You must have your vision and a well-planned strategy with a good team to survive and succeed.
NEX-LABS project is co-funded by the European Union under the ENI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme and has the ambitious goal to set up a long-term regional policy of the Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development.