June 9, 2021

What Uber did for ride-sharing Bogdan Andronache is doing for Recycling (#7)

What Uber did for ride-sharing Bogdan Andronache is doing for Recycling (#7)

Eco Tree - the new recycling platform that allows you to buy, sell, and trade any solid waste from anywhere in the world.

We all use apps for food delivery, hotel reservations, and car-riding services like Uber, but did you know there is a new platform that allows you to recycle in real-time?

Bogdan Andronache doesn’t conform easily to standard procedures or norms (Afterall, he ran away from his home in Moldovia to attend a Counter Strike tournament in Bucharest at the age of 14). And perhaps this is the reason why he’s taken on the monumental challenge of tackling the lack of motivation for businesses to recycle especially here in Romania. By creating Eco Tree – a platform that helps facilitate the communication between companies and waste collectors, he’s not only helping to make businesses more environmentally conscious, but also implementing a new paradigm where companies can easily find the right waste collectors just as easily as it is to find and make a hotel reservation.

 

Hope you enjoy!

Transcript

We all know how easy it is to use an app for hotel reservations, food delivery, or even getting a car to pick you up. But did you know that there is now a platform that allows you to recycle in real time? That's right. There is an innovative startup here in Romania that is making it possible for companies to easily streamline their waste and recycling operations. 

I sat down with co-founder of echo tree. Bogged in other Nike. As we discuss his background, why he created echo tree and more. Without further ado. Let's jump into the conversation where bogged in and I are discussing where he's from.  

And for those who don't know you were born in Maldovia, what was your upbringing like? Yeah,  my childhood. Yes. Yeah, I had the best childhood because I was far from a lot of things that really happened. Not so good here, Romania and my county, my home county is somewhere far in the north. Near the border. All the news, all the things were just so far away, chorus was just so far away and we were there a very lovely and a happy community.

We all knew each other. And happy. It sounds like one of those places where all the neighbors knew each other. Yeah. The entire city was like that. Yeah. Yeah. It was a very nice childhood and Neither the news, the problems, the global, the they didn't exist for. We are in, we were in another world, do you ever get into any Michif or any kind of trouble as a kid? A lot. A lot of them I w Once I came to Bucharest the first time when I came to Bucharest. I ran away from home. Yeah. How old were you? 14. I think 14. Yeah, because I wanted to come here to Counter-Strike contest.

So your parents, did you tell your parents, obviously you did it. If you ran away from home? Yeah, it's just saying, yeah, I was calling them when I w I went into the bus and I was telling them, what did they say? How did you, what did your dad say? Nothing good, but until I came back, they chilled how was the contest?

Did you no, we didn't go further, but it was the biggest contest in Romania actually in Europe, I think. And I don't remember it quite well, but I saw all the great teams that we admire there. Yeah. Great.

So what other games did you grow up playing that were some of your favorites? Counter-Strike was mostly most of the time. Okay. Okay. In 2006, you attended the faculty of mathematics and computer science at the university of Speedo. Had it read in Bucharest, how did you decide you wanted to pursue a degree in this field?

It was natural. I told her I was near computers my whole life. I even though I was counting the jobs two technological companies, all my life was around technology , since the, my childhood until now. I can't imagine the life without technology. So it is natural. I didn't but I also like the human interaction.

So I chose a business development, sales kind of career path, let's say. Okay. So computer science came very easy to you. It feels natural. Yeah. Okay. Let's hop to the company ETA to you. Yeah, which is an information and communications technology solutions company where you're working as a business development manager.

I worked with the biggest brands like Dell, Oracle, Microsoft, all the big names in the technology industry out there. And I'm now the it infrastructure part that ten years sort or 20 years ago was, wow.

Not many people knew about a server or. Things that were many of a firewall or router, things like this, but now they are common. So I wanted to do something with the next level impact. I wanted software. I wanted to be in a certain niche and the delivering more impact. So that's how I shifted.

Was it like one night you were just out on a walk and he just hit you okay, let me think about recycling and what I can do there. Or did you talk with some friends about it? How did the idea come about? Yeah. You want it to get there? Yeah, it was on on a talk like this, but on a at a beer.

Outside that the beer we worked talking on doing something on midterm and start the project on our free time in recycling. Okay. So a friend of ours told us about what is the worldwide status of waste and how unpredictable it is and how the waste is going to Different countries and get burned and get thrown away without any responsibility.

And we asked ourselves if we can do something about and challenge accepted. So speaking of the different countries, I know that Germany and Austria are some of the biggest recycling countries in the world where I think 55% have  produced as being recycled. Romania, unfortunately is not at that level.

From your point of view, what do you think is wrong with the current national waste management system here in Romania as, so we need to go a step in the back. And ask ourselves why those countries have a higher recycling rate and others don't. And there are two reasons why people in general, yourself and any, from our audience would take into consideration to recycle.

Why Countries Recycle

One is to be motivated, to recycle or be forced. And be fair, those countries apply and they'll in a lot of countries. There were big fees and the big responsibility for recycling. And this helped in a way in order to to educate the market. Yeah. So they would have forced, essentially they were forced to recycle otherwise they would pay as penalties and fines.

Exactly. This happens in all the countries. Most of the countries, there are in countries that action in a transparent way, in a proactive way. Okay. They come with the reactive actions in order to imply the recycling. And this is a way to educate the market. It's a way can work and, or not  but now in order to grow more, you need to re enforce it with motivation, right?

In order for every individual, every company in a way to know what to do and why it is. Good to recycle for yourself. You do something in your life. If you want and understand why it is good to do it. That's right. Absolutely and even my son, who's four, they're educating him at his daycare.

What are the benefits and why it's good to recycle and he's learning about it and talking about it from daycare. So that educational aspect is occurring. Definitely at a much younger generation than what you and I. We probably never heard about recycling when we were going in school. So what I think you're saying is those countries that have a very high percentage of recycling their waste 

They had an incentive, right? The incentive was  I'm not going to get fine. I don't want to be fine. So let me start the way that that the system started, but then was perfected. And people got to understand, but the core. Where they started was like this. 

 Can you describe what the platform does?

What services that you're providing. Yeah. So our vision is to mainstream recycling, basically to get easy to access recycling services and to know what to do depending where you are and what kind of materials, what quantities and any variables. That's the vision. And now we are focusing in a lot of automation and building the platform to be meaningful.

We are just gathering a lot of resources and information in order to build this great ecosystem step by step to spread it around the, in the market. Okay. So it's a platform that allows users to streamline their operations. When it comes to recycling, what are some of the strongest strengths of the platform?

The top, what are two things that a user can discover when using your platform? So right now the core functionality is that, or our selling points are that they can dispatch a lot of the orders. Easily not by phone emails and information to be lost and so hard to get an answer.

And so on, we do our waste suppliers, waste, supplier services. And the second of all is that you get all the documents generated. You don't need to find what kind of documents.  There are a lot of documents to be a written handwritten, and that's more heavier than you think. No. I know.

Here, I'm just trying to get my driver's license and it's been it's been an adventure to put it nicely with all the paperwork I've had to provide all the bureaucracy and the approvals that I've had to get. So I definitely understand when it comes to.  Making companies more efficient, so they don't have to do all that paperwork.

Okay. For you getting your driver's license, how easier it would be if you're entering country and two clicks away, all your files were submitted. Yeah, that would be very easy. Yeah. Okay. So what are some incentives for companies to recycle? Obviously you touched upon, there could be some fines if they don't, but what are some other incentives for companies to recycle their waste? Actually, there is an economical advantage in this it's more expensive to throw the waste of the landfill. Way more expensive. So we're looking at the cost per ton of waste. For a ton of waste to go into the landfill.

And I, I don't know the economics here, but how much visit versus recycling. It's different depending on the quantities and the material variables, because one material with another don't have the same cost, then nothing is in near. Yes, glass and glass versus iron and iron and versus copper and copper versus some kinds of plastic and abs.

And there are hundreds of materials that can be generated. And the difference of costs are very high and the most profitable recycling companies. Like what a material for are those companies that are involved in. Starting from copper to electronics.

  Basically the materials value it's given by the. Need and how easy it is for you to get them. And then how easy is to turn them in in a a product that can be delivered on the shelf.  That's the value of the material?

It's the need. How easy it's for you to supply it. And the demand in from the factories that will transform it into a a product on the shelf. 

 As a platform servicing all the Bucharest or other parts outside of Bucharest now? Only now, only Bucharest, but we are implementing national wide. Wow. What's your timeline for going into, uh,Timisoara to Cluj andsome of the other big cities?

Step-by-step we don't have a timeline. It's we don't scale geographically, we scale by the implementation with the national clients. So we go along with a big company that has branches around Romania, and then we start a networking effect. Let's say. Got it. Got it.  Bogdan down, what are some of the strategies you are using when you're approaching companies and educating them about echo tree and the platform?

There is no specific strategy. We just present them the real value of it. Trying to understand that if they use us, what are the immediate and short-term benefits and what would be the long-term benefits? Because they, there are a lot of long-term benefits such as transparency, clarity.

Imagine yourself, you are an authority or a you want to do a study about recycling or startup factory using something that today it's thrown away. The first thing you need to know, it's how to get your raw material predictable. So something that today may be thrown away tomorrow can be a business.

There is predictability and clarity. And I give you an example, a simple example. Imagine yourself, how many coffees are made in Romania per day. And ask yourself what's with what happens with the, what? With the coffee that it's lost in the process. Yeah. I have no idea. I'm probably responsible for 10% of the all the coffee though.

Cause I'm a coffee addict. Yeah. But imagine all the restaurants and bars and they there is nothing to be done, but there are things that can be done. Right now, there isn't really a thing, remains to be done. And this is just an example. You can think about any material that we throw in a way every day.

Okay. Okay. I see. I see. Absolutely. Let's talk about life outside of echo tree. I know you just had a little boy. And what has this entrepreneurship journey been like since he was born? So it's only him and the mother and equity. And I know this, but for the audience what's his name? Caesar. Caesar is his name.

Yes. And I miss him a lot and now I'm a busy in this period of time. And I only see him one or two hours every night and the. It's very hard and because he is very funny, he's the final key, right? The final kid, then he makes me laugh at any stress level. Is that from your side of the family or his mom's side of the family?

Depending on the perspective, because it's 50 50, but on the from one extreme to another, some people say, oh, It's Dana it's 100% her and others say no, where is this Dana is, so we look at each other and ask ourselves how can the feedback can be so from one extreme to another, so it's actually funny.

Yeah, we, me and my wife do that with the personalities of our kids. It's funny. I don't know if you and your wife have gotten to this point yet, but you'll start saying, ah, your daughter, you know what your daughter did today? No way we didn't get there. But we will. Now the only words he is saying, it's ma ma, and ta ta.

Yeah. Okay. My little girl, she says that she's sore. She says it like she's yelling at me. Like she's a general and I'm a soldier and she's given me a command like that. No, I don't know. Maybe she got it from something, I don't know.  And not my side because you don't call yourself on that tone.

Maybe he's so somewhere she's going somewhere. She's only repeating the behaviors she sees. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Bogdan, what books have had. A big impact on your life. I don't know how it's the book about Lego? It's a book about the history of Lego.

I don't know the name. Leaders eat last, Simon sinec. Now I read a book about factful nest. And the why we think that the world isn't so bad, then the perception of it. And I recommend it. Good. I haven't heard of that one. Yeah. In fact, fullness is called, I think, I don't know exactly the writer. Yeah.

I have to look it up. And then of course, Simon Sineck, I've read or watched a lot of, some of his videos, like the power of why why companies should start with why. Yeah, the book, actually, the why it's those of your flight for me? When I don't understand something, I was there. My professors were terrorized by my why.

He goes, I don't understand the formula. I just ask them why until I get to the point when I, something declared is in my head. Can be annoying.

Yeah, I think in the Japanese culture, when there's an issue or a problem with the process or something, they ask the question why three or four times it's five times. Yes. It's five wide. Five times. Yeah. In design thinking methodology. It's yeah, it's implemented in may methodologist, but this get this from my point of view must be a philosophical life.

You will need to ask yourself for in. In any processes need to be a part of your life asking if not, it will be just something that you do because someone said to do it, you must be convinced to do it. Yep. So why on that note, why create echo tree? Why leave your job? And a, it's a very good job.

You're doing what you like. You're obviously very good at it. Cause you were at that company for a number of years and now you're started a start up in the recycling industry, which very few entrepreneurs do. So why? Because I was I asked myself many whys and I got here, let me give you the whys, they are still in.

So we wanted to do a collection center and first was, we asked where ourselves, where. And why don't we have enough data to build it. Okay. So why don't you wait here in our data? Oh, because they don't collect it. Why they don't collect it. Okay. They don't, they aren't forced or they aren't motivated.

We can force them. No. Okay. We must motivate them. Okay. So we need to collect data. Why, and from the forum, various questions, we got to the software in order to collect data and provide it to the industry in order to do it better. Next time.

That was over. That was over a few beers too. Yeah.

Ask me how I'm thinking over to work.

Or sweet and Mondovia is it  what do they drink over there? It's from the Russian part of Romania. Yeah. Yeah. He drinks weaker here. Is it as strong as VAR? Yeah. No. It's just, we have to, or so also we have to. We haven't. I don't enjoy it. I don't know why I don't. It's strong. It's very, it's very strong.

Okay. Yeah. Actually, if you have a wound, I think it can treat it

problem. Good. Probably good. So bogged down now that COVID restrictions are easing up, are there any favorite restaurants that you have here in Bucharest? Wow. Yeah. I can't remember them because I haven't been there such a long time, but there are a few very good one. It's

it's called last somewhere. Yeah, it's a good one. That one. And what kind of food is it? Is it Italia? Italia? I recommended the calamari salad. Okay. Okay. It's the baby Spanish calamari salad. The best. Greece style, Italian style. Like you are in Rome, but you are in Bucharest. I have to check it out.

Yeah. Yeah. Another one. Oh, there is one near but it's hard to get beautiful food. It's here near where I in Alaska near where I work. Yeah. I can't remember them because I told you I, it was a long, yeah, it's been awhile. I know in Bogdan for those who are working for an employer, but are thinking about starting a business, what is some advice you'd like to share with them today to try.

Try it, but starting safe, nothing it's built from today to tomorrow, it's a long process. From my point of view, we took a natural road in getting our idea valid being valid pre-validated, then starting to validate it outside of our, or working day by day jobs. Okay. From my point of view, this is the first thing you need to do.

And if you have an idea, don't keep it there in your own mind laboratory, somebody will stall it because no,

we started three years ago with this crazy idea that people will hear what we do. Okay. You know what I'm saying today? Where's the competition. We don't have to combat these. Bye, Dan. Thanks so much for being on innovators can laugh. Where can people learn more about you and on our website and on social media.

So www equity that trope and contact us, we are open to answer it. Okay. Wonderful. And for everyone listening until next week, this is Eric.  saying goodbye and love.