Chris Hoy came up with the idea for his business, Paperflüte®, after studying Product Design & Innovation at University of Strathclyde. His goal was to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill and support the critical movement towards a more sustainable future.
Due to increased media attention around environmental concerns, Chris realised that, on a global scale, people were more motivated than ever to adopt sustainable practices when it came to purchasing decisions and recycling at home.
He decided to look at the research on this and discovered that 9 out of 10 UK households considered recycling as an everyday norm, but that only 43.8% of plastics were recycled, because of the confusion around which plastic materials can and cannot be recycled.
Chris saw this as an opportunity to use his experience to design and manufacture a range of sustainable products based on the ethos that ‘products should be designed to last, but not to last forever’. Paperflüte’s mission is to design high-quality sustainable products that inspire creativity, are long-lasting, and can be conveniently recycled by customers.
Sustainability was a key driver in Chris’ decision to create the business, though he also valued the creative freedom it would allow, the opportunity to build a team with like-minded individuals to take on challenges that matter, and it was important to him to act as an inspiration for his two sons – and anyone else – to find their passion and have the confidence to pursue it.
The University of Strathclyde played a significant role in Chris’ entrepreneurial journey. After gaining a strong understanding of product development and market evaluation through his degree course, he decided to seek business support from Strathclyde Inspire, which he found incredibly rewarding:
The entrepreneurial journey is one which can be daunting and relatively lonely in the initial stages of development. Connecting with the Strathclyde Inspire team was a game-changer for me and the business for many reasons. The combination of the entry level support through chatting to the Inspire team and fully evaluating the business idea and its feasibility in terms of market demand with the help of their online platform allowed me to develop a detailed business plan and subsequently a robust pitch to be accepted onto the accelerator.
Chris was given a place on the Strathclyde Inspire Accelerator programme, which allowed him to receive more specialised support. He acknowledges his exposure to the Strathclyde Supporter Network, as well as having the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and industry experts, as key in shaping his overall business strategy. The University’s departmental links allowed Chris to work with a team of business students on their student-client project, which provided crucial market research that will influence future product ranges. Paperflüte also received grant funding from the University’s new Stephen Young Award, as well as support for accessing other funding opportunities, which enabled him to raise the necessary funds to launch the business.
Chris encourages those who are interested in starting a business to reflect on their achievements often, as this can ignite a fire in your belly to push through particularly challenging situations. He also highlights the importance of knowing your target market, understanding the key drivers for purchase decisions, and networking as much as possible with those who are relevant to your business.
He offered some advice to anyone looking to start a business from the ground up:
For me, it’s all about having a clear understanding of the mission and ensuring it is one that you’re passionate about. If you know what you’re striving to achieve, this will guide your decision-making and allow you to break it down into manageable tasks; and if you’re passionate about what you’re trying to achieve you’ll be more resilient to the many ups and downs that you will face throughout your entrepreneurial journey. Building Paperflüte has been one of the most challenging but hugely rewarding experiences in my life and I’m just getting started!