One of the interesting exhibits at NPE2015 next month in Orlando, Florida, will be the “Startup Garage” featuring new ventures aiming to get a foothold in the plastics industry.
Two of the exhibits involve online marketplaces, making the exhibits a little reminiscent of the dotcom madhouse at NPE2000 held in McCormick Place in Chicago. I’m not sure if any of those dotcom enterprises introduced with great fanfare at the show even exist today. That’s certainly no indictment of the Internet; it was a reflection of how business is conducted, particularly in a business as traditional as the plastics industry.
One company debuting at the Startup Garage, called GlowLit, is a part-time venture by a 2014 graduate of Columbia Business School that describes itself as “the world’s most transparent pricing database community that is changing the way purchasing managers’ plan for their raw material purchases.” The idea is pretty simple. You input the price you paid for a specific type of plastic, and then you see a composite result of what other people put in.
In an interview, founder Guy Soreq, who still holds on to his day job in the chemical industry, said the Web site is a way to give buyers at small companies a view into a market without paying thousands for a market research report. Soreq hopes to monetize the site by selling reports based on compilations of data. There are a few obvious red flags. One is that the site will require a significant community of users to generate meaningful data, given all the iterations of the price of a single plastic, ranging from volume of the buy to material specs. Right now the site has 700 inputs for 329 products. Not enough. Not even remotely close.
There is also a potential to game the system, by both buyers and sellers since all entries are anonymous. Soreq says he has developed an algorithm to detect outliers. But I think it could be a problem if someone deliberately inputs a price two to three cents a pound above or below the market. And purchasing people are very, very good about complying with confidentiality requirements. Soreq may need a partner or two to make this work. It is an interesting idea. Early days. GlowLit is only two months old.
Another dotcom at the Startup Garage is Plastic EQ Corp. It’s described as a Web marketplace where companies trade recycled plastics online.
Companies representing other types of businesses at the Startup Garage include:
- System for recovering beverage containers in other forms, such as roofing. Aguas Pristinas S.A.
- Technology for monitoring a manufacturing operation that replaces the Andon light system with wireless audio and visual effects. Productfast Automation.
- Ionic copper used as an antimicrobial agent based on NSF funding. Qtek.
- System for producing fuel products from non-recyclable plastics. About a gallon of fuel is produced from 8 to 10 lb. of un-washed, un-sorted waste plastic at a cost of less than $1, according to Smart E2 Solutions, LLC.