How do you shred paper to make a greener planet? Ankur D. Mahajan, co-founder and CEO of Pulp Shred, a 100% Calgary owned and operated private company, and partner Ken Waddell created their company to help provide a solution for secure paper shredding that leads to less pollution and more promise for a healthier eco-system.
Pulp Shred provides residential and commercial pick-up/drop-off services where customers can view their confidential documents being shredded, along with secure video verification. After conducting extensive research about the industry, the Pulp Shred team realized that residential customers and small-sized companies were underserved, customer service was lacking and mobile shredding was harming the environment.
“I'm passionate about giving back,” Mahajan explains. “Knowing that all the paper we shred goes to paper mills and comes back as new product is satisfying, supporting the circular economy and creating local jobs.”
Mahajan says education and experience helped him reach this point. He has an MBA in Finance and has worked globally from Canada to the US to India to the Middle East. Mahajan lived in Dubai for a stretch, working for Deloitte & Touché, where he provided management consulting services to high-level executives of Fortune 500 companies.
What's old is new
The document-shredding business has been around for a long time, but the traditional way these types of companies work can lead to a substantial carbon footprint, something Pulp Shred is committed to changing. Formed in 2018, with a vision of providing a greener alternative for confidential document security, destruction, and recycling, the business is thriving.
The idea for the company came when Waddell was at a community shredding event to get rid of some personal files. After a nearly two-hour wait, he was struck by the need to do this process more efficiently and eco-friendly.
Waddell approached Mahajan to explore this venture together, just at the time when he was ready for a new business opportunity.
“To become the greener alternative, we challenge the on-site shredding model. Document destruction shouldn't be at the expense of the environment,” says Mahajan. “We believe in today's day and age it's un-conscientious to ignore the environmental implications of our decisions.”
Mahajan explains that mobile shredding is neither efficient nor cost-effective, citing its negative environmental footprint (with noise, air and dust pollution) and issues around idling (fuel wastage, carbon emissions). He adds that parking violation tickets, truck operations and maintenance, and licensing can all be costly.
Mahajan and Waddell knew could do better, so they devoted their time and energy into learning and leveraging the connections they came upon throughout their journey.
Along with eco-friendly values, customers’ data security is at the core of Pulp Shred’s mission.
“We take the security of our customers’ documents and confidential information very seriously, says Mahajan. “We believe in continuously improving and delivering the best possible experience while constantly seeking greener ways to run our operations. We provide peace of mind to our customers with assured and tight chain of custody.”
It takes a team
Teamwork is critical to success.
“We're very conscious of our headcount and burn rate. Every individual has a deep impact on the company; it's important to build a solid team, says Mahajan. “Although we are hands-on in our approach, we’ve automated a number of routine tasks, which frees up my time and allows me to work 'on' the business, such as business development and marketing.”
Expansion is on the horizon, with environmentally-friendly Pulp Boxes, specialty shredding services, such as hard drives, solid-state drives, CD/DVD/Tapes/USBs, employee/student ID cards, books, X-Rays, uniforms, badges, etc., licensing their video verification and compliance software, custom software development, tech support, and SEO services.
Top 5 pieces of advice
Mahajan offers his advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners:
1) Do your research
2) Know your value
3) Prepare for a steep and continuous learning curve
4) Focus on brand-building and long-term goals
5) Be mindful of the end-users' perspective
Want help with your small business? Find out how Scotiabank can help you start, run and grow your company at the Scotiabank Business Centre.
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