Interviews

Coffee doesn’t just energise the sleep deprived – waste grounds are fuelling buildings

4 min read

21 June 2016

Former deputy editor

While the likes of Starbucks want consumers to guzzle coffee down like there’s no tomorrow, cleantech enterprise bio-bean is more interested in the leftover grounds that go untouched. The growing firm is working with caffeine merchants, such as coffee shops and factories, to reform the waste into reusable energy.

The big VOOM finale takes place on Tuesday 28 June and, following our involvement in the competition’s Guinness World Record win, we’re speaking to the six finalists set to pitch to Richard Branson and his guest judges.

So far we’ve already heard from Luke Massie, founder of event ticketing marketplace Vibe, who said: “At the moment we have big industry giants dominating the market ripping off these fans and we want to change that.”

Now we hear from bio-bean’s Arthur Kay, who will also compete to win a share of the £1m prize offered by Virgin Media Business, as he sheds light on the cleantech company and latest product Coffee Logs, which can fuel homes and appliances.

Category: Grow

Location: London and Alconbury Weald

Founding year: 2013

Sector and company description: Green energy and clean technology – bio-bean recycles waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels

(1) What was your inspiration for launching the business?

Whilst studying architecture at The Bartlett, UCL, I was set the challenge of designing a coffee shop. I quickly realised that coffee was being waste everywhere and set out to address the problem. 

(2) Who are your target customers?

bio-bean works with businesses at every scale, from local coffee shops to giant coffee factories. 

(3) What prompted you to take part in VOOM this year?

Our new product, Coffee Logs, was just starting to take shape as an idea. The VOOM 2016 competition has been an incredible opportunity to drive it to market.

(4) How did you find the Pitchathon, and what did you do to prepare?

An incredible group of talented entrepreneurs all in one place, with fantastic mentors. There were several sleepless nights beforehand!

(5) Prior to that, what was your experience of pitching?

My whole journey as an entrepreneur, from raising investment to securing contracts, is all about pitching. 

Read more from VOOM 2016:

(6) What did you learn from the event?

Coffee Logs are an amazing new product and I learned a lot about how to best describe their benefits and potential. 

(7) Why do you think you got through to the semi-finals?

bio-bean is the first company in the world to recycle waste coffee grounds at an industrial scale. People love coffee! And they genuinely care about where it goes.

(8) What went through your head when you were told you had made it to the grand final?

A huge rush of excitement, it’s such a great opportunity for this product and the business as a whole.

(9) You’re going to pitch to Richard Branson – what will you do to ensure you impress him and the other judges to win?

To convey the phenomenal global potential of bio-bean, not just to recycle the world’s waste coffee, but to spark a trend to consider waste as resources and turn the challenges of urbanisation into opportunities.

(10) Should you be victorious, what’s the big ambition for the company over the next year and then five years?

Firstly, to continue to upscale production at our existing facility, to secure widespread distribution for Coffee Logs and within five years to have expanded internationally.

From 3,000 entrants, these are the six SMEs chosen to pitch to Richard Branson at the £1m VOOM 2016 finale.