Can two young entrepreneurs change the construction industry? Let's hope so...
In a building that has seen many start-ups grow, move into a bigger space and start employing staff, The Workshop on Tontine Street is also the home to two young entrepreneurs, who in a short space of time have been nominated for a prestigious ethical award and are trying to make changes in the construction industry.
Created in 2014 by two friends; 29-year-old Reiss Salustro-Pilson and 37-year-old Nigel Van Wassenhoven, Enviromate is the country’s answer to waste in the construction industry, an industry which in the UK contributes 32% of all landfill waste in the UK.
A platform for construction companies to trade their waste, Enviromate is an online market place for left-over materials, including everything from bags of sand, to bathroom suites and roof tiles, and that hopes to tackle the approximate 120 million tonnes of waste that’s produced each year; 60 of which is re-usable building materials.
As a fairly new start-up, they were nominated in the Observer Ethical Awards 2015 for Green Briton of the year and despite being a new business, founders Reiss and Nigel brought with them years of experience. Both in the industry for 10 years, they discovered the vast amount of waste there is at every level: “We thought; how can we tackle that, but also make a start-up and a business model that rivals the eBay’s and Gumtree’s?
“Enviromate is more of a niche marketplace than a fragmented 'do everything' market place, and it tackles one of the biggest industries in the UK as well” said Reiss. This isn’t an online site just for companies; individuals can also use it to purchase materials.
By focusing on generating a solution, both Riess and Nigel want people to consider re-using materials in their original form: “For everyone to use and share the materials, it’s increasing that product life cycle as well.“ The free to use platform is simple; sign-up, list and sell, with a cash value between each member.
Starting out in Nigel’s spare room, the pair moved on to one of The Workshop’s hot desk spaces, and have now moved up a floor into their own office, less than a year after they started.
Enviromate founders: Reiss and Nigel
James Avery, manager at The Workshop and Factory Floor said the success of the Tontine Street building reflects well for Folkestone and this area of regeneration: "The vision of what we'd aimed to achieve at The Workshop had been viewed by some as extremely ambitious. This was a good thing and now looking back after two and a half years we hope the incredible stories of growth and success from the businesses within here will hopefully inspire others to follow.”
For both Reiss and Nigel one of the main focusses for the business is the social and community side. Asking Corporate based construction members and wholesalers to give charitable donations, they also facilitate helping to build community projects: “We have helped build a scout hut, a children’s sensory unit in Liverpool, a community garden and other community projects, using reclaimed materials. We want to give back to society as well.”
There is still a lot that they both want to achieve; working with students to educate them about re-using materials in their current form, creating an Enviromate foundation for their charitable work, creating a subscription service for the online market place and in the long-term having a site in Kent that the materials can be taken to and sold from, making it easier for the builders and companies that may not have adequate storage.
James said they were delighted that they were in Folkestone: “They have already seen huge plaudits on a national scale and offer everything we would hope for as residents when growing our community.
“As well as ambassadors of their own business and industry, they've become keen supporters of our Town and District and have bought into the ever growing buzz and potential of the area - the sky is the limit with their concept."
One thing is for sure, Enviromate might not just put Folkestone on the map, but the UK as well, and for two young entrepreneurs, that’s got to be one winning formula. Plus it could be the go to place to find out how 'Green' your builder is.
As for Riess and Nigel: “We love Folkestone and love the building. It feels like home for the brand and for us.”