Austin's Local Tarps
short description
We convert vinyl street banners into distinctive graphic shade tarps for your food truck!
Describe your idea
Food trucks and blazing sunshine are two large parts of life in our city. The outdoor lifestyle that has come to define Austin is the perfect driver for our shade tarps. We will convert temporary vinyl banners into durable, low-cost shade tarps that have a colorful patchwork of graphics from Austin’s vibrant civic life. According the the foodie website roaminghunger,com, there are currently 250 food trucks in the Austin area. It’s clear that our business is able to serve the demand for summer shade that will keep food truck patrons happy. Our customer base will be the food truck owners, and since this is a popular trend in other urban areas, it can be scaled up to serve other areas like San Antonio and Houston. Additionally, there are many sign companies across the country with wasted vinyl byproducts we could reuse. Vinyl banners are available at a rate of 15 per month, following the initial delivery of 300 banners that are in storage with the City of Austin. Our plan is to offer two types of shade tarps: one will be simple rectangle with reinforced corners and grommets. We estimate a labor cost of $15 per tarp to sew the tarps (although that should decrease slightly as our employees gain experience), and with 300 banners, we will be able to create 100 tarps at an initial rate of 6 per day. Grommets are inexpensive, costing us around $5 for per 100, enough to produce 25 banners. We are also planning to offer a supported frame tarp, using recycled electrical conduit from Habitat for Humanity - ReStore on Ben White. Our original tarps will be available at a price of $60-80, and our framed tarps will be $100-120. This leaves us more than reasonably priced against our competitors, while leaving a comfortable margin for operating expenses.
Describe your knowledge, skills and abilities
As high-achieving high school students in the first K-12 entrepreneurship incubator program in the nation, we feel capable of constructing this business. Through the program, we will be able to commit a great deal of time to this business. Starting small, we can build a model that works and expand it as demand increases. We will all work hard to do whatever necessary to get the enterprise off the ground, and we’re eager to use our time to make a serious difference in the world.
Describe how your idea will utilize materials and create jobs
The skills required to create our product are trades easily taught, and can be done by those that are differently abled and by those that come from previously high-stress environments, such as the veterans, ex-cons, and the homeless. The skills learned can be applied to future careers in manufacturing, sewing, or basic construction, and the lack of experience required makes it easy to train employees to a high level of competency in a very short amount of time. We aim to provide completely livable wages to all those in full-time positions, and can expand the number we employ as we grow. The materials provided, specifically vinyl banners, can be made into our product quickly and effectively through the use of an industrial sewing machine. Our other materials (thread, grommets, framing and fittings) will all be made from recycled materials or re-purposed from the greater Austin area.
Describe the environmental impact
Currently, the City of Austin disposes of fifteen vinyl banners every month. They are left to sit in a storage unit indefinitely. This waste stream, however minor, is constant due to their seasonal and promotional nature. These vinyl banners are non-biodegradable, and per the City of Austin policy, are not accepted into landfills. The rest of the country isn’t always so lucky. Across the U.S., discarded vinyl banners account for at least 20 million pounds of wasted material. For perspective, it would take more than 40 full scale replicas of the Statue of Liberty to weigh the same. That material can be repurposed, and we are trying to establish a solid business that can do just that. This way we can safely, cleanly, and ethically remove a large amount of vinyl from the nation’s waste stream. Additionally, our method of production is very environmentally friendly, as we only need a small amount of water to prepare the banners for production, and the water runoff can be filtered and reused. The manufacturing process only requires a small workshop, with essentially zero carbon emissions produced. This process also reduces the environmental impact normally felt when producing vinyl from scratch, as we are using 100% recycled materials and locally-sourced material.
Describe the product end of life-cycle
We will have a buyback program in place, where the customer can bring back the tarps and we will give them a small price reduction on their next purchase. This encourages the customers to return the tarps, rather than throwing them away. With these returned tarps, we will judge how much damage they have sustained. If possible, we will repair it to be used again. If not, they can be shredded and used as a garden filler or insulation. For the frame and grommets, we will use a similar system to either refurbish them for future use or send them to be recycled for their metal.

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