Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

ShopReuse

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What is the name of your solution?

ShopReuse

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

ShopReuse is a community platform for reducing durable construction waste.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Construction waste.  My father has worked in construction for the past 20 years and was always astonished by the amount of waste that he saw.  Someone buys an apartment, for example, and decide that they do not like the kitchen or the bathroom, even though it is almost new.  Because they have the resources, they simply hire someone to come, tear entire rooms apart, and replace everything brand new to their liking. This also happens with large scale business spaces. Every time, all this material is simply thrown in the landfill.  There is no incentive or obvious space for anyone involved in remodeling to think about what to do with the discarded materials.  

These anecdotal accounts are also confirmed by statistics.  According to the EPA, 45 million tons of construction material ends up in US landfills each year.  At the same time today, the cost of new construction material is at an all-time high, contributing to our country’s affordable housing crisis.  But a lot of the material that ends up in landfills is not at the end of its life.  In fact, it is often practically brand new.  Kitchen sinks, toilets, carpets, cabinets, wooden floors--all items that builders, in a hurry to finish remodeling jobs for lucrative clients, are paying to haul away to landfills.  This is value lost.  

This problem exists for two main reasons:  (1) lack of awareness of an alternative to the landfill and (2) lack of an economic incentive for people to do something else besides trash the materials they are removing from houses.  Our solution helps to tackle the problem by incentivizing and educating renovators and consumers about other options and providing economic incentives for the reuse of materials.  As a result we will enable a complete change in how construction materials are sourced and used.

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What is your solution?

Our solution is an online network and community platform that connects and incentivizes the reuse of construction materials.  

We want to capture the value being lost that is currently ending up in landfills.  Our solution means less waste, more construction materials for building, and less environmental degradation from new resources.   In short, we connect the people getting rid of construction materials to the people who can put those materials to good use.  Remodelers save money by not having to pay for waste disposal, and those looking to freshen up their spaces save money by not having to buy new materials.  Our environment benefits from less waste and less resource use. 

Our venture is the right solution because we tackle the problem from both angles and we are in the right place at the right time. First, we make it easy and profitable for building and remodeling companies to find second uses for their material waste.  Instead of spending money, they make it by posting those items on our platform.  And second, we capitalize on recent, more environmentally-friendly changes in the culture of individuals and companies looking to remodel their spaces.  We will partner with existing reuse centers throughout the country to expand their mission and footprint.  

Our solution hopes to tackle old habits through financial incentives.  It is currently a lot easier for remodelers to have all their waste picked up by an external party that simply throws it away.  They are running businesses, they don’t have time to think about the trash. Second, there is still a cultural stigma toward using second-hand items in new construction.  Therefore building companies opt for the easy--albeit more expensive--solution to their problems, and consumers similarly opt to have the latest and shiniest products in their homes.  We plan to attract talent and resources that will make it rewarding to use second hand materials.  We hope to do this by providing free education and assessment to the environmental practices of remodelers.  We believe consumers will choose the more environmentally friendly options when given choice.

We are also partnering with current local reuse centers to help them in their missions.  A lot of the reuse centers we have spoken to do not have the budgets or the technical knowhow to modernize their supply chains, their sales and marketing, and we hope to be that for them. If we can help them succeed, then we can increase the amount of second hand material that is reused instead of ending up in the landfill, and everyone wins. 

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We have three target populations and beneficiaries of our solution.  First, it is the individuals looking to remodel their homes who want to have high quality durable materials, are environmentally conscious and want to minimize their carbon footprint but may not be able to afford the full price of ever-more expensive materials.  Our platform is perfect for them to find and exchange materials that are already in the ecosystem.  There is currently no place dedicated to secondhand durable construction materials on the internet.  And we will be the go-to place for that.

Second, we will target local non-profit reuse centers that collect donations and re-sell this material.  We are working to partner with these remodeling centers to increase their brand awareness, modernize their online presence and increase the amount of donations they receive and sales they make.  A larger related goal will also be to partner with non profits like Habitat for Humanity and assist them in their mission of creating more homes for people who do not have access to homes with the current environment.  If we can connect these nonprofits to more economical durable goods, then we can increase their footprint and success. 

Third, we will target professionals who work in remodeling.  They will use our platform to ‘get rid’ of the construction surplus from tearing down buildings instead of having to pay for it be sent to a landfill. They will benefit in both reduced costs and in being able to promote their business as committed to environmental sustainability. 

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

My father, who is an advisor to the company has worked in construction for over 20 years.  Additionally, we are actively in conversation with individuals in the construction industry and as avid second hand shoppers are trying to understand more of the pain points of buying second hand durable materials.  We are thus working to ensure our solution meets the needs of shoppers and is something that gives them joy to use.  If we can convince more people to opt for second-hand durable goods, we can reduce landfill space, so it is absolutely crucial that we understand their needs. 

We are also in conversation with reuse centers.  They are already doing similar work and have been doing it for decades.  We succeed if they succeed so we have started to engage them as we build the prototype of our solution to make sure that it serves their needs and improves their ability to deliver their mission.  If we can learn form what they have been doing right, and how they have prevented millions of tons of construction material from going to the landfill, then we can improve upon it with our technology.  

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable mass production of inexpensive and low-carbon housing, including changes to design, materials, and construction methods.

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Washington D.C., DC, USA
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Our solution's stage of development:

Prototype
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Why are you applying to Solve?

We are applying to solve for the partnerships that will enable us to accelerate our work.  As an online platform, we need to have excellent branding and marketing, and are hoping that Solve will help us in this regard and will also give us credibility to be able to continue our mission.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Juan Diaz

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Our solution is innovative because it makes the trade and sale of second hand durable materials easy and enjoyable.  At the present time, in order to participate in the market of second hand durable construction materials, one needs to travel to reuse centers that are usually outside the city.  As great as these places are, they usually lack the resources to make their warehouses very appealing and enjoyable.  We want to change this by bringing this material to an online central marketplace, where individuals can purchase and donate with ease.  Our solution will enable broader positive impacts from these reuse centers.  We will increase the number of donations and sales they make and thus increase their impact.  The more people that are aware about being able to donate their remodeling leftovers, or that they can spend a lot less for high quality materials, the more that we and the environment wins because we prevent primary resource use and waste.

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Our primary impact goal is waste diverted from the landfill.  In the next year, we hope that we can divert half a ton of durable material from the landfill.  We plan to achieve this by ensuring that more individual and professional remodelers are made aware of reuse centers, and that they see the benefit in purchasing second-hand durable materials.  We believe every pound second-hand durable material that goes through our marketplace, is a pound saved from the land fill. 

In the medium term we also plan to measure our contributions to affordable housing, specifically working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to help them build more with less expensive materials, but we are still working on metric for this goal. 

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

The core technology powering our solution is an application that connects physical reuse centers, professional remodelers, and individuals looking to remodel make changes to their homes.

We measure our progress in the reuse rate.  On our internal reports, how much material we are helping to prevent from going to the landfill.  

We also want to measure how many new people are we incentivizing to donate their leftover or second hand durable materials.  The more individuals that are educated about second hand and all the benefits from using second hand, the less new material they will purchase.

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What is your theory of change?

Our first activity, creating informational content about reducing consumption and increasing the amount of second-hand durable goods usage in people’s remodeling projects.  This will have the short term outcome of informing individual about other options when remodeling their spaces.  Medium term outcome is individuals will feel empowered to use second hand materials. This will in turn reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. 

Our second activity, selling second-hand durable remodeling goods. Will have the short term impact of preventing that material from going to the landfill.  It will also have the long term impact of preventing new natural resource processing. 

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The core technology powering our solution is an application that connects physical reuse centers, professional remodelers, and individuals looking to remodel make changes to their homes.

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Audiovisual Media
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

1 full time staff.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

Less than one year.

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

I am an immigrant from Colombia who grew up in South Florida.  When my family first moved here, we had nothing and spoke no English.  I am acutely aware of the benefits of having a diverse team.  At the moment, all of my advisors are either women or individuals who come from underrepresented groups because I value their input and expertise and think it is critical to filling in my own blind spots.    

As for equity, the majority of construction workers in our community are immigrants from primarily Spanish speaking countries, and the solution is being built with them in mind.  For our platform to be successful, we want these individuals to be part of more formal economic models where they can make a living.  Many of the reuse centers we hope to work with also have equity and inclusion as part of their core mission, and we hope to honor those missions by working with them to make their work more successful. It is crucial that our website is also in Spanish to be able to serve immigrant populations in the United States.

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Our business model is two-fold. As an exchange platform we plan to take a cut out of every sale that is processed.  Currently, reuse centers mainly use Ebay to sell materials that can be delivered.  As a small start up, we will be able to focus on their needs and will be able to take a smaller cut than Ebay’s 12.9% for sellers.  in addition we plan to advertise on our website for revenue.

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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
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What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

As we are in the prototype stage, we have not had much traction with our financial sustainability plan, besides being accepted to the Halcyon fellowship and the financial grant that comes with that.

As a for-profit institution we plan to be financially sustainable from the beginning.  At the moment we are beginning to create free content that is valuable to both builders, homeowners and reuse centers. We expect this to start brining individuals in the remodeling industry to our website, and start increasing our brand awareness.

Our second step is to partner with reuse centers across the country to help them sell the materials they already have.  This will allow us to charge a percentage for every sale made.  Because our expenses are so low we expect that these sales will be enough to finance our operations in the medium term.

Once we begin to make sales in the Washington DC area, we plan to expand to other cities that have a strong remodeling industry.  

As we expand we expect to have an even larger audience and plan to monetize the views on our content and website.

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Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

As we are in the prototype stage, we have not had much traction with our financial sustainability plan, besides being accepted to the Halcyon fellowship and the financial grant that comes with that.

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Solution Team

 
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