Two young entrepreneurs are proving that business and environmental protection can go hand in hand
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To many companies, the concept of a carbon neutral workplace seems impossible; the costs of constructing such a space may appear to outweigh the environmental benefits.
However, young entrepreneurs Tom Maskill and Nathan Winch are paving the way towards this kind of sustainable infrastructure, proving that it may not be as impractical as many think.
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At just 19 years old, Tom Maskill’s products business was acquired by WinchPharma, a medical and consumer healthcare company, which has always maintained a strong environmental policy. Now a director of the firm, Maskill has teamed up with founder Nathan Winch, former FSB Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, and the pair are planning the expansion of their business into a larger office space and warehouse.
While searching for places to rent, Winch and Maskill found that most viable options were fairly expensive so decided to come up with their own creation. Maskill admits that they had originally considered a fully renewable warehouse and office facility economically infeasible, however after extensive research they discovered this was not the case.
The facility will be based in Yorkshire and powered entirely by several solar panels and a small wind turbine. To meet the water needs of the building, there will be a rainwater and purification system. As Maskill comments: “When you factor in having no water or electricity bills, it quickly becomes reasonably affordable.”
Now, Maskill and Winch have launched a self-crowdfunding campaign with the aim to raise £60,000 and awareness for the importance of combatting climate change in business. Maskill adds: “With hundreds (potentially thousands) of people who are shareholders in a business operating profitably with such environmental policies, it will encourage others to follow suit.”
Shares are priced at £5 with an expected 500% ROI in 3 years. We asked Maskill why he thinks other companies are not doing the same:
“Smaller companies think it is something which is out of their price range, or they don't have the time to fully implement such policies. In part, this may be true, it certainly isn't yet feasible for small, energy intensive businesses to switch entirely to renewable energy. But that's not to say they can't switch some of their energy across to solar or wind.
"We ultimately want to encourage other businesses to do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint, we're fortunate enough to be able to reduce our office and warehouse's carbon footprint to zero, but if all businesses and individuals do what they can, then we'll be well on our way to combating climate change. There's no doubt that as the technology improves over the coming years, this will become more and more feasible for small businesses.”
Many senior policy makers are calling for the transition to a climate economy – a rearrangement of our own economic system to one which prioritises sustainability to reignite growth meets the Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately reduces the risks associated with climate change.This kind of sustainable infrastructure may, in itself, stimulate economic growth. Maskill comments, “After the initial build costs, the office and warehouse facility will cost next to nothing to run (very few bills), so in time we hope for the initial investment in renewable energy infrastructure to pay for itself. It's also something that very few businesses in our industry are able or willing to do, so it helps us to stand out as a strong environmental partner for anyone we work with.”
This kind of sustainable infrastructure may, in itself, stimulate economic growth. Maskill comments: “After the initial build costs, the office and warehouse facility will cost next to nothing to run (very few bills), so in time we hope for the initial investment in renewable energy infrastructure to pay for itself. It's also something that very few businesses in our industry are able or willing to do, so it helps us to stand out as a strong environmental partner for anyone we work with.”
Not only have these young entrepreneurs developed this innovative project, they have done so around Tom’s university studies. Tom Maskill is an undergraduate at Warwick Business School while Nathan Winch, now 26, is a Molecular Biology graduate from the University of Huddersfield.
We asked Maskill how the pair managed this school-work balance:
“A lot of time management and planning! I'm lucky in that Nathan has graduated, so at particularly busy times of year (such as during exams), he's able to take on more work to allow me to focus on revision. I think it's safe to say that without him I'd have struggled to dedicate as much time to my studies as I've been able to.
“At Warwick Business School, lectures can also be accessed anytime on the online portal, so if there's an important meeting then I'm able to attend and catch-up later. Nathan and I have also structured our business plan around my studies. For example, over the summer months, there's a greater work expectation than during exams. Through carefully planning this way, we're able to ensure the business is run as efficiently as possible without sacrificing my university studies.”
So, for any aspiring young entrepreneurs out there, there really is no excuse. In these summer months before university starts up again, develop your ideas, research your plans and maybe help combat climate change while you are at it – these entrepreneurs are proving that this is all very possible. Business and the environment need not be at odds.
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