Workshop-based company for students to engage in DIY crafting, emphasizing sustainable education, using materials from Half Price Books.
Describe your idea
Crunchy Crafting Incorporated is a for-profit company that hosts workshops where students create art, crafts, and furniture out of discarded media materials. Crunchy Crafting provides students with a fun and hands-on educational experience. The company’s mobile learning platform reduces unnecessary landfilling while simultaneously teaching students about the benefits of recycling and showing them how to positively impact their communities and the planet.
The business model behind Crunchy Crafting is innovative on a number of levels. By making repurposing a fun activity for students, the company is able to generate profits by addressing society’s ever growing trash problem. At the same time, Crunchy Crafting fills a need in the market. Many school districts are forced to cut funding to their art programs, leaving students with limited opportunity to express their creativity and participate in project-based learning activities. Crunchy Crafting’s mobile learning platform represents a cost-effective solution by allowing schools all across Austin to outsource some of their art education.
The financial viability of Crunchy Crafting stems from the operation’s low cost structure, which starts with the repurposed materials. Through its partnership with Half Price Books, the company will have a massive supply of free materials such as VHS tapes, CDs/DVDs, cassette tapes, and old magazines. By hosting the workshops at schools Crunchy Crafting avoids paying rent, arguably the largest overhead expense for similar workshop-based ventures. With this mobile structure the company’s expenses will largely be limited to wages and a trailer truck used to store the crafting materials and transport them to the workshop locations.
A key point for Crunchy Crafting’s long-term success is its immense scalability and large potential client base. The company is initially targeting schools, but the workshop concept can easily be applied to other customer groups such as retirement homes and corporate team building events. Adding to Crunchy Crafting’s scalability is the input material. The company’s first workshops will focus on discarded media materials, but any number of other materials could be used. This flexibility has the added benefit of contributing to Crunchy Crafting’s sustained financial viability.
Crunchy Crafting’s lean capital structure and its ability to launch at a small demonstration level means that very little initial financing will be required. The company’s launch budget of $10,000 is allocated primarily to marketing and securing a contract with the Travis County school system. The balance of the budget will be allotted to formalizing the partnership with Half Price Books, purchasing the other crafting tools like glue and scissors, renting the trailer truck, and paying salaries. Given the minimal funding needs and the nature of the business, Crunchy Crafting’s funding strategy focuses on securing grants from government and/or nonprofit organizations.
Describe your knowledge, skills and abilities
As McCombs MBA candidates we are actively building our skills in finance, operations, and management. Additionally, we have access to seasoned business advisors through UT’s expansive network of contacts. Meet our team members:
Saba is a former fashion designer with extensive experience in product design. She has worked with children in various educational capacities and is excited to develop a business fostering creativity and project-based learning in kids.
JoonHo is a former musician and film director whose creativity will be an obvious asset to the company. His sales experience in educational IT will enhance Crunchy Crafting’s marketing through the use of advanced technology.
Charlie is an entrepreneur with expertise in renewable energy and international development. He has successfully launched one venture and can apply that experience to launching and managing Crunchy Crafting.
Describe how your idea will utilize materials and create jobs
The arts, crafts, and furniture created at our workshops will be made almost exclusively with repurposed materials sourced from Half Price Books. Students will have the option to either express their creativity by making something entirely of their own design or to make one of many predefined projects such as a CD lamp or a bookshelf made from VHS tapes.
In its launch stage Crunchy Crafting will feature a very lean staff. However, as the company grows so will the opportunity to create jobs. These living wage jobs include roles for educators, artists, and those supporting the ever growing business. Additionally we will be able to create jobs for the difficult to employ that focus on collecting the materials from Half Price Books, delivering them to our storage facility, and sorting them according to individual workshop requirements.
Describe the environmental impact
VHS/cassette tapes make up a large portion of the waste stream from Half Price Books. These are made of polypropylene and Mylar tape, which is difficult to recycle and dangerous to throw away. The plastic casing takes thousands of year to biodegrade and incinerating the tapes releases dioxins into the air. Recycling programs for VHS/cassette tapes vary by region and may not be convenient or cost effective for most consumers or businesses trying to dispose of them. CDs/DVDs are made with a myriad of materials, including aluminum, plastic, acrylic, glass, gold, silver, and nickel. Unwanted CDs/DVDs can be ground up and downcycled into new plastic, but only if they are brought to the appropriate location, not through traditional curbside recycling.
Half Price Books estimated that they fill 1-2 dumpsters per week per location with these waste materials. If we were to use only 50% of the materials from the stores in Austin, TX alone, that amounts to approximately 49,140 cubic feet of waste removed from the waste stream per year. If scaled up to all Half Price Books locations (over 120), this jumps to almost 1.2 million cubic feet per year. As Crunchy Crafting expands, we can partner with other businesses who also have repurposable materials they could donate. By educating students about the waste generated through discarded media, we not only encourage them to think creatively about repurposing materials, but also about reducing consumption and breaking the waste cycle.
Describe the product end of life-cycle
We want to make sure that we are not just delaying a product’s trip to the landfill but rather rerouting it entirely. When people craft an object by hand they forge a much deeper connection to it. Participating students will be proud of their work and will be excited to show it off to their friends and family. Should a student tire of their item, they can repurpose the project into an entirely new creation. We will also provide participants with a list of resources for the proper disposal of components, should that be necessary.
The potential market for Crafty Crunching is quite large. Initially the workshops will be designed for middle school students. In Travis County alone there 64 public middle schools serving more than 40,000 students; and in the state of Texas there are 1,591 public middle schools serving thousands of students every year. When one adds Texas’ many private schools and considers the possibility of expanding to other age groups, the massive size of Crunchy Crafting’s potential market size becomes clear.
Furthermore, the Crunchy Crafting team has several ideas for how to improve the viability of the business and increase its impact. For instance, we can focus some of the workshops on materials that the students bring in themselves. This will engage the students more deeply in the recycling process while simultaneously reducing the costs associated with collecting and transporting the workshop input materials.