Home特別企劃老闆請回答!那些你不知道的新創大小事 More than Boba- Meet Startup Founder and CEO from Taiwan: CircuPlus...

[Skyline Special Project] More than Boba- Meet Startup Founder and CEO from Taiwan: CircuPlus (Huang Wei-Cheng, Co-founder and CEO of CircuPlus)

Skyline’s new project! “More than Boba- Meet Startup Founders &CEO from Taiwan”
The most dangerous place in the world? No! We are the most creative place in the world!
This new project will lead you to know more about Taiwan! We hope to share great Taiwanese startups to the world through interviewing founders of varied companies.

More than Boba- Meet Startup Founder and CEO from Taiwan: CircuPlus +The Co-founder and CEO, Wayne Huang (Hueang Wei-Cheng)

The starting point: Transforming the thought of the initiative into an action that everyone can participate in

In 2018, when the public voices of environmental protection and sustainability had risen into the new high, many individuals, organizations, and governments were putting efforts in practicing methods to protect the natural environment, and it was no exception for Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng, the founder of the CircuPlus and the initiator of the Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action) . Back in 2008, when he was a voluntary guide of the Taiwan Society of Wildness (台灣荒野保護協會), he often led a group of people who were passionate about environmental protection to travel around and clean the plastic waste scattered around the coast of Taiwan. After several times of beach cleanups and discussions with local environmentalists, he often wondered whether there were effective ways to reduce the plastic waste and eliminate the negative impact on the environment, which sparked the initiative of the idea for Water Refill Map. From 2018,  after years of environmental research on plastic bottles waste and users’ feedback, in which he learned the concept of Circular Economy and started up a company called CircuPlus as a community of startup company ecosystem, he found out that the problems of plastic bottle waste were actually resulting from the users’ demand for drinking water. To fix these problems, he and his coworkers in CircuPlus came up with solutions by presenting the Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action), trying to propel Sustainable Development and Circular Economy by fixing the drinking water demand problem, raising public awareness of sustainability, and gathering everyone to take actions for environmental protection.

Turning Waste to Gold:Circular Economy  &  Sustainable Development

Circular Economy and Sustainable Development have been very important issues throughout the world. Nowadays, many companies and international enterprises have tried their best to include environmental protection, Circular Economy, and Sustainable Development inside their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR). But what is Circular Economy, and why is it so important? Circular Economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. 

According to European Union (EU), this covers the cycle from production and consumption, to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. In a circular economy, the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible and waste and resource use are minimized. It helps the world’s supply chain maintain sustainability and reduce negative impacts on the environment. For example, plastic bottle waste has been a very big environmental issue world-wide. To achieve the goals of the Circular Economy, many companies have tried to maintain the values of these wastes by re-making them into fabric, plastic bags, construction materials, etc., making them reusable for another cycle.

However, inside CircuPlus, they hold different definitions about Circular Economy. They believe that beside maintaining the value of products and materials, there is also another deeper idea lying behind, and that is — “How to reduce waste from the very beginning before it is produced.” Nowadays, many companies are willing to recycle plastic bottles and remake them into something usable, yet during the re-making and recycling process, some resources will also be wasted. What if we reduce the production of these disposable products in the first place? In this case, more recourse can be saved, and more product waste can be reduced. Therefore, in CircuPlus, they believe that by using the power of the communication technology, they can help find the way to reduce the production of products and save more resources.

Apart from Circular Economy, Sustainable Development is also another thing CircuPlus concerns the most. Sustainable Development is a way of organizing society for it to exist in the long term. This means taking into account both the imperatives present and those of the future, such as the preservation of the environment and natural resources. However, sometimes it is very difficult to totally revise our existing social system and make it more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Therefore, in CircuPlus, they believe that in order to contribute to the society and make it sustainable, one thing for sure is that they need to find out the fundamental causes that lie inside the root of the system, and try to fix them, which is also one of the fundamental objectives for Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action).

“By a cup of water, Open the door toward a sustainable lifestyle.”

About the Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action)

The connection of Taiwan’s traditional culture and new technology

Different from startups in the normal business world that aim to maximize profits, the core concept of Water Refill Map is to create influence through the idea of  altruism.  In order to achieve this goal, the founder of Water Refill Map, Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng decided to combine the idea with one of the most notable traditions in Taiwan – the culture of tea-serving and name this action, Fengcha, after it. By giving water for free to those who are searching for water like what people in Taiwan used to do in past few decades, Huang Wei-Cheng believes that this is a win-win situation that can help achieve the goal of sustainability. 

Vision and Mission of Water Refill Map

The vision of the Water Refill Map is to combine the sense of sustainability with action of carbon reduction and let it be implemented in daily life. Yet the mission is to achieve a 1% reduction in bottled water which has the same effect as creating 2.3 huge parks. 

The model of Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action)  is to combine the power of Open Data with technology through mobile applications so that people looking for water can quickly and easily find the water station around them. By doing so, people can fulfill their desire  to drink water and without creating the waste of  plastic bottles at the same time. 

The Fengcha APP was launched on platforms in March 2020. So far More than 7,000 Fengcha stations have been connected in series, and nearly 100,000 people have downloaded the App which provides the essential of the Water Refill Map. Additionally, a number of chain businesses and independent stores that care about environmental sustainability have joined  the action of tea serving as well. 

Knowledge, Advocacy, and Action

There are three main dimensions that Water Refill Map follows from the beginning of their initiation. Firstly, Spreading Knowledge. They want to impell the knowledge of Circular Economy, Sustainable Development, and environmental protection to society in hope of integrating them into our everyday life. Therefore, they keep sharing related knowledge, articles, and some successfully integrated cases via social media, business magazines and blocks on Taiwan’s Global Views, Digitimes, etc. Apart from knowledge, they also want to actively advocate these ideas. So far, they have hosted  several salons, workshops around Taiwan to advocate and raise public awareness of the importance of Circular Economy and Sustainable Development. Lastly, they hope to build a Circular Economy community. By gathering around many startups on CircuPlus platform, helping corporates to integrate Circular Economy and Sustainable Development into their CSR, as well as propelling the knowledge and the original intention of Water Refill Map, they hope to create a more eco-friendly and resource-thriving world.

Business Model With Circular Economy

Servitization of Product- “Service as a Product”

Similar to companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, etc., Water Refill Map utilize Platform Business Model (雙邊平台商業模式)to create connection between the demand and supply for drinking water. They gather a group of people that are willing to provide free drinking water service and another group of people that are willing to search for water  through downloading the Water Refill Map App. By constructing the platform for both demand and supply and providing additional options for users to have drinking water, they hope that with more people joining the Water Refill Map community, more plastic bottles and more production resources will be saved, which in turn eliminates the negative impact on the environment.

Propel Circular Economy with Communication Technology-“Recreation of Thoughts”

The rapid development and the advancement of technology has been making breakthroughs continuously. However, if we, “as humans living on our earth”, don’t take the first step to protect the environment as the technology keeps rocketing, Circular Economy and Sustainable Development will be very hard to achieve. Therefore, with the communication technology in their hands, CircuPlus hopes to contribute to society by providing services as products, and combining the circular economy to achieve Sustainable Development.

Who is Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng?

A Communication Engineer, with The mind of an Environmentalist and the heart for Circular Economy

In 2009, Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng joined a startup that provides energy management services which helps improve corporate CSR operation through collecting and analyzing continuous data. They help to improve the energy efficiency by adjusting the behavior of employees and the utility of facilities in the company. After 8 years in the business, he realized that it is too easy for  people nowadays to access different kinds of energy such as electricity, water, etc., which resulted in not treasuring those resources. Aside from that, Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng is also a volunteer of The Society of Wilderness. This gives him the opportunity to see the environmental problems on the first hand.

Luckily, Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng got to know the concept of “Circular Economy” by chance. The concept of Circular Economy provides a different way to help improve the sustainability of the society.

Why this idea?

Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng believes that the issues we face in the environment, society, and economy are related to one another. The point is to think about how to start making changes from society and link back to the environment and the economy. He also mentioned that humans are the one who can decide how the energy and resources are being used. Hence, the starting point of saving energy should be changing people’s behavior. This idea links back to the core concept of the Water Refill Map.

Challenges faced, then and now

Fondly recalling his startup experiences in the past, Mr. Haung said that the biggest challenges he encountered was the Financial crisis between 2007 and 2008. During  that time, he realized the important thoughts that he had never thought before. Back in the time, it had been commonly believed that your life would definitely be safe and sound after getting into a big company. However, the sudden outbreak of the financial crisis prompted Mr. Haung to think “What is the thing I really want to do? What is the thing that can make the world a better place?” These very thoughts spurred up his motivations to follow his path of being a founder and also a contributor to the environment.

For now, after several trials and errors he has been through, he told us that the biggest challenges he faces for now is how to hold fast to his initiative goals and keep growing in this world with paucity of the resources. The question he often asks himself is “Why does he want to do this?” This question helps him focus on his original belief when finding his way towards his ultimate goals.

Advice for younger generation who want to build a startup

Nowadays more and more students decide to start their own business. Here Mr. Huang Wei-Cheng shares several of his own experiences about how to build up a successful startup.

  • “There’s no such thing as failure, we are always on the way to success.” Believe in your own faith and take every failure as an opportunity to learn.
  • “Don’t do everything alone.” Try to surround yourself with people that have great ideas or better performance.  In this way, you will have more ideas and thoughts when dealing with things.
  • “Contribute yourself.” Give your strengths and ideas to others, you will naturally attract partners with the same values. For example,  holding different kinds of reading groups that can stimulate the excitement of different ideas.
  • “Learn from the outside world.” Such as participating in the entrepreneurial community and learning community. Get involved and get to know others, and you will slowly find out what you really like.

Please help us to do the survey here!!! https://www.surveycake.com/s/pwwmW

Learn more about CircuPlus and Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action) by the official website: https://www.circuplus.org/water-refill-map/

Follow the news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaterRefillMap

Follow their Instagram to get more information: https://reurl.cc/3aYDE9

Watch the introduction video on CircuPlus’ YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5LjCk4dRUI

Do you interest in the Water Refill Map (Fengcha Action)? Download the app to find where the nearest Fengcha station is!!

Authors : Skyline overseas ambassadors: 張涵昀(Sophia Chang)、林冠丞(Roger Lin)、陳孟琪(Kiki Chen)、蔡沛慈(Penny Tsai)

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