Social Startup 48 winner hunts $1 million via crowdfunding

A Melbourne entrepreneur has launched a campaign to raise $1 million in funding for a recycling project that won the recent Social Startup 48 event.


Marco Ferlaino has set a target to raise the seven-figure sum via crowdfunding platform Pozible for his venture RemoveMe.


Ferlaino’s idea won last month’s Social Startup 48 event, a quick-fire start-up competition for social enterprises held at co-working space Inspire9 in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond.


The entrepreneur calls the concept behind RemoveMe “FedEx in reverse.” People wanting to get rid of unwanted goods will contact the firm via an app or telephone call and RemoveMe will take the goods away and recycles them.


Ferlaino says that he came up with the concept after initially working on an idea where people would list unwanted items on a website.


“The problem was that everyone else was doing that and, fundamentally, people are lazy, they don’t want to lift a finger,” he says.


“I twigged there was an unfilled market there for door-to-door collections that the local councils just aren’t doing now – they just pass the buck among themselves.”


“I pivoted the idea and sought to reinvent the recycling market from scratch, as a sort of FedEx in reverse. I want to create a national brand with a fleet of removal vans that has a speed and agility of FedEx and remove what you don’t need, such as fridges or exercise machines.”


Ferlaino plans to charge $55 for each pick up, but the business faces major capital costs before it can get up and running, such as a warehouse and specialist equipment that will process items for recycling.


“It’s a huge goal (to get to the $1 million) but the difference between something going into landfill or being recycled is just one machine,” he says. “The thing is, these machines are expensive, which is why I need the money from crowdfunding.”


“It’s a crazy dream, really, but this is a real problem. I could’ve gone off and chased a start-up dream in San Francisco with a photo sharing app, or I could try to solve a real problem. This is addressing a problem that exists, rather than one that I’m trying to create.”


The crowdfunding campaign, which will run until Christmas, can be found here.


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