Entrepreneur

These 2 Brothers Trashed Their Old Startup Idea—Now Help Johoreans Manage Rubbish

  • GarGeon is a cloud-based waste management platform located in Johor Bahru that aims to help businesses reduce costs incurred through inefficient waste disposal.
  • Founded in 2016 by brothers Jacky and Darren Tee, GarGeon is a startup venture that pivoted from their previous concept of a recycling rewards program that failed to gain traction.
  • The brothers aim to revolutionise the way waste is disposed in Malaysia through technology and recycling.

The ability to learn from failure is one that many hope to have, but only few can truly pull off. Among the few are Malaysian brothers Jacky and Darren Tee, co-founders of recyclable waste management platform GarGeon.

Founded in 2016, Johor Bahru-based GarGeon aims to help businesses better manage their waste through a cloud-based app system that promises to save up to 15% on their monthly waste bill.

This system works by connecting their clients with private waste hauling companies and then monitoring waste hauling performance to see how clients can further save on cost.

“The idea came to my brother and I when we used to manage recyclables at home with our granny,” Jacky said. “Having so much waste lying around spurred us to spot the pain point of recycling.”

He noted the severe consequences of poor waste management (full landfills and the rising cost of waste disposal).

GarGeon aims to solve these issues by negating the traditional practices used by current waste service providers that lead to these problems in the first place.

“Our smartphone app allows customers to request and schedule waste pickup without making any phonecalls.”

“We also use our app to advise customers on how to save cost through services such as our ‘Weekly Pickup Report’, and ‘Waste Status Report’.”

In a typical scenario, a client obtains a waste container from GarGeon and uses it until it is time for collection. Through the app, a date and time is set for the pickup of the waste, and GarGeon then links the job to the best waste service provider with the best rates.

Then also through the app, GarGeon analyses and advises clients on how to better manage their waste habits to improve efficiency and save cost—such as determining what can be recycled, and helping customers get rebates for items that can be reused.

Currently, the service runs throughout Johor Bahru, with the brothers focusing on improving their product to better serve their clients.

Image Credit: GarGeon.com

Uncertain At The Start

As the brothers attempt to make their business work, it’s worth noting that this isn’t their first attempt at a startup venture.

Beginning with a capital of RM2.5k, GarGeon previously operated as an app that rewarded households for their efforts in recycling waste. They even tried an Indiegogo campaign to raised funds, but failed. The brothers soon realised that this wasn’t a viable business model.

“The problem with recycling among households is that they don’t feel the urgency to do it,” he said. “Hence our opportunity wasn’t as big as compared to heavy waste.”

Jacky went on to highlight the problems related to heavy waste management (logistics, communication, cost, management, analysis, etc) and said that it was in waste management that they saw their opportunity.

Image Credit: GarGeon

“The decision to pivot was hard when we had already been running our previous model for half a year,” he said. “But it was important for us to fit our product into that target market.”

“Once we pivoted, the problems that we noted within the heavy waste industry were confirmed by our stakeholders. We then realised it was the right direction.”

The brothers have been further validated by having been admitted into the accelerator programme at The Hangout in Iskandar, Johor.

The programme—run by City University London—is located within The Imagineering Institute, and offers entrepreneurs access to highly advanced lab tools and machines as well as links to researchers, mentors and advisors who so happen to be successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists themselves.

All this comes in contrast their previous effort, from which Jacky has taken away some key lessons as well as important dos and don’ts for the future.

“There was too much whiteboard strategising, planning, and meetings toward the wrong direction,” Jacky said.

“If we tested the market sooner, we might have found the right direction and path we are on right now earlier than we did.”

Towards A Cleaner Malaysia

Regardless, the two brothers are now working hard to make sure their business succeeds, and Jacky is happy just to see his idea making a difference, no matter how big or small.

“I’m happy when I see our clients get value from our services,” he said. “When they look at their bill and see how much they saved, I feel happy.”

Left: Jacky Tee, Right: Darren Tee / Image Credit: GarGeon

Ultimately, GarGeon hope to drive the push towards a smarter Malaysia through efficient waste management and recycling.

“We believe the practice of recycling starts from businesses and we aim for more waste to be diverted away from landfills through the use of our technology and connections,” said Jacky.

“We want to promote smarter Malaysian cities, starting from trash.”

Image Credit: GarGeon

 

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