Start Up

Meet Daniela Núñez, The 23 Year Old Mexican Who Wants To Change The Way We Bury People

“What would happen if there were no graveyards and, instead of graveyards, we built paradises?”

That’s the question 23 year-old Mexican college student, Daniela Núñez, asked herself.

This question would become the foundation of her biodegradable urns project and company: BioEternal.

“BioEternal literally started in one of my courses,” Núñez said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “After researching, she found several companies in Spain, Colombia and Argentina that work with biodegradable urns. That’s when she decided she could make a change by bringing the seldom used concept to Mexico.”

After validating the market in Mexico, Daniela noticed that people like BioEternal, not only because of the practice, but also because of the entire experience the product offers.

With the help of partners and guided by professors from her university, she started creating the foundations for her business.

A critical moment for Núñez and BioEternal happened during her fourth semester of college, where she signed up for an I semester.

The I semester is a unique business incubation offered by the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey (ITESM).

“While I was there, BioEternal started moving forward really fast,” Núñez said. “I also faced my biggest challenges. People liked my idea but they kept asking me how I would work with Mexican culture.”

Núñez spoke about the Mexican culture as one of her biggest challenges.

“Mexicans have deep roots in their culture, especially when it comes to death,”
Núñez said. “It’s rare to see practices that differ from what we are used to, or from the typical funerary companies. That part was very complicated and we didn’t know if it would work here in Mexico.”

Daniela Núñez, the founder of BioEternal.

Another challenge Núñez faced while working on Bioeternal was the Catholic Church’s strong presence in Mexico.

“Ad Resurgendum Cum Christo,” a document released in August 2016 signed by Pope Francis states that the ashes of deceased people may not be kept in unholy or unblessed land.

“But after validating the market in Mexico, I realized that people no longer have a strong commitment with the Church,” Núñez said regarding the challenge.

Besides BioEternal, there are five companies that sell biodegradable urns too in her market.

Núñez spoke about Limbo as one of her strongest competitors in Mexico.

“A company that’s already selling and has very good sales is Limbo,” Núñez said. “Their product is something like a sand ball, but their concept and idea is about reintegrating with nature.”

Another company named Colibrí not only work with humans, but also work with animals.

“My plans are to start with humans and then make an approach to the animal market,” Núñez said. “If I started with the animal market, people are going to relate or interpret this practice as something exclusive for animals and that’s not a good idea.”

For Núñez, working with BioEternal has been more than just a way to help the environment.

“It’s very pretty to think about becoming a tree, but that idea is not enough, especially when you’re going through such a complicated stage in your life,” she said.

That’s the reason why Núñez decided to link together her company with the concept of green thanatology.

Without exploring the meaning of life and death, thanatology studies death.

Green thanatology, which is related to liberation, focuses on helping people go through someone’s death with the help of nature.

Companies like Limbo and Colibrí only focus on helping the environment, and this provided Daniela with an area of opportunity.

BioEternal’s focus on healing and its link with thanatology are its main strength and something that puts it beyond its competitors.

Death is not an easy subject to handle.

This is the reason why Daniela not only wants to change processes, but also wants to change experiences.

“It’s no longer an experience of burying a person, but of planting a life,” Núñez said. “Let’s make it beautiful. I want people to be able to keep these memories. That’s one reason why Bioeternal is named that way, because it’s an eternal memory.”

Setting up her company has not been easy and, currently, Núñez’s bigger challenge is money.

Producing a large number of biodegradable urns and signing up for this year’s national funerary convention are big and necessary expenses for her.

“I’m out of resources and I’m going to need help from crowdfunding,” Núñez said.

Núñez said that her long term goals are about making her own funerary company and a Bioeternal park.

“I don’t want families to go to a graveyard. I want this to be a friendly concept in which people visit a forest and visit their own tree because that’s much more attractive and pretty,” Núñez said.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

South Africa Start Up Profile: 7 Steps- The Company That Brings Art To Cape Flats

The 7 Steps Hub Initiative is an innovative idea started by founder Clint White in his efforts to bring art and creativity to the disadvantaged of youth living on the Cape Flats.

I met up with Clint White to discuss the initiative, its goals and vision and what local and international organizations and individuals can do to get involved and make a difference.

RISE NEWS: 1. Can you give us an idea of your background and what lead to the idea of starting the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: I’m a creative enthusiast, entrepreneur, brand strategist, creative director and business speaker. I’ve had the opportunity to be active in many creative roles, from brand manager, stylist, writer, creative director, art director, stage director, workshop host, panellist and even a voice over artist. I’m quite a lively and determined person, always wanting to source information and to do things differently. It’s how I’m inspired to be innovative in everything I do.

Living on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, I have a first-hand experience on what life is like here, the reality and prevalence of drug abuse, despair and violence suffered by our youth. This has forged a wedge between people, and the effects are disastrous. We’ve been left with a nation of uninspired youth, within disconnected communities, with little hope, so I thought that there must be an opportunity to change it.

RISE NEWS: 2. Why do you think that art specifically is a tool to change mind sets and instil a sense of self-confidence in the youth living on the Cape Flats?

Clint White: Coming from a creative background myself, I believe that art has the ability to heal people from an intrinsic perspective, which can quite literally change an individual’s thinking.

I think we should re-introduce art in our public education system, as it’s seen as an exclusive privilege at best.

There is little understanding of art in our communities and this creates a hindrance in pursuing a creative career or appreciation of the discipline.

We need to realise that the ability to think creatively and to come up with ideas, contributes to every industry the world over, from fashion, engineering, science, technology, music, media, architecture, design and even education; they all require creativity.

Founder Clint White (R) receiving an award from Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs.

You can pour your emotions, desires, fears, aspirations and viewpoints into whatever artwork you create, and learn new skills in the process. Art allows people to think differently in a way that we apply creative interpretations of how we experience the world around us and how we contribute to it.

RISE NEWS: 3. Has art been a force in your life and how has it changed or created a shift in mindset for you?

Clint White: Art is merely the mechanism or framework for innovation. I’m someone who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life, which I use to my advantage.

It [art] is about learning from past experiences and challenging myself to create new things, experiences and ideas; that’s where the innovation lies. I’m always researching new ideas, seeing what’s been done before and how we can make things better, to disrupt and to innovate. It’s what drives me.

RISE NEWS: 4. What do you intend to do with the art pieces that the kids create through the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: Through our workshops, we intend on placing the art in the schools to encourage an appreciation and curiosity in art.

We expect that this will mitigate bullying as well, in the hopes that other youth will be interested in joining our programmes. The contributions the youth will make and the skills that they will learn will cultivate a sense of ownership which can be applied to other spheres of their lives too.

Through active support of funders and the public we hope to provide employment, entrepreneurship ideals and career development opportunities as well once the youth complete their schooling and perfect their skills through the art they create.

RISE NEWS: 5. Can you elaborate more on the community projects that 7 Steps Hub is starting up with students from Wynberg and Athlone?

Clint White: We wish to integrate the thinking at a community level into community development projects, not specifically only Wynberg and Athlone, but all communities.

We first want the learners to adopt a sense of ownership of their school, and then tackle their communities where they live.

We want the youth to visualise their communities as places of interest and inspiration. Through community clean ups, revamps, and art installations in these areas, we want to beautify them and bring the spirit of community back into where we live.

RISE NEWS: 6. Tell us more about the WaydesWelcome Journey and how that has influenced you moving forward with the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: When I decided to walk around Cape Town collecting messages of support and congratulations for Olympic World Champion, Wayde Van Niekerk, I had no clue how the idea would take off. The campaign trended nationally within three days, and featured on every major media platform in the country, from radio interviews, TV appearances and newspaper articles. I met every person who signed the book.

I captured the journey on social media and garnered hundreds of thousands of impressions and people following the story each day.

It took me two months and 400 kilometres on foot, meeting hundreds of every day citizens and celebrities, from David Kramer, Evita Bezuidenhout, Mpho Tutu Van Furth and many more, to being invited by different companies, organisations, schools and people, it was incredible.

When he [Wayde Van Niekerk] arrived back in the country, I was fortunate enough to be invited by T-Systems to attend a gala dinner in Wayde’s honour as a special guest.

I had the opportunity to have dinner with Wayde, met his family and made a speech, before finally handing the book over.

It inspired me that we as a nation can come together for a greater good. I was incredibly inspired that through my idea, I could unite the entire nation.

All we need is a little inspiration, to do great things. As South Africans, we are kind hearted and genuine, it was refreshing to experience first-hand.

RISE NEWS: 7. What are your goals for the 2017 year and how can businesses and individuals get involved in such an initiative?

Clint White: Our goal for 2017 is to inspire the youth and build partnerships and relationships in realising its success.

We’re busy planning a 7 Steps Hub Creative Expo, showcasing the innovation and creativity from our programmes, as well as artistic contributions from individuals in Cape Town.

As we are a non-profit organisation, the challenges we face are funding, and the need for resources in our continued endeavours in changing lives.

We want youth, private business, parents, government and ordinary citizens to make a concerted effort in supporting our organisation in any way they can.

We have a list of resources and funding objectives available which anyone can contribute towards.

We need people to support our social media platforms and spread the word about our initiative.

We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign too, for people to assist 7 Steps Hub. It’s important that we realise the need to take the step and build our future, together.


Follow this creative initiative on these social media platforms for more information on how to get involved and support the 7 Steps Hub Initiative:

Email: 7stepshub@gmail.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/7StepsHub

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Soylent: The Future Of Food That Promises To Be The Only Thing You’ll Ever Need To Ingest

By Courtney Anderson

If the idea of a single product that contains all the nutrients humans could ever need to be healthy and stay alive sounds like something ripped straight out of an old-school sci-fi thriller, that’s because it kind of is.

Make no mistake, Soylent is a real product.

It was created by Rob Rhinehart, a Georgia Institute of Technology graduate and trained software engineer a few years ago. 

Now, Rhinehart, along with COO Matthew Cauble, spearhead the development, research, marketing, global logistics, and financial operations for the Soylent team.

Cauble and Rhinehart had worked together before: they founded Level RF, a wireless communications firm that was supported by Y-combinator, in the summer of 2012 before embarking on adventures in food production.

The name “soylent” is a portmanteau of the words “soy” and “lentils.”

The name was inspired by the 1966 sci-fi novel “Make Room! Make Room,” written by Harry Harrison.

The book was later turned into a film about the perils of overcrowding and climate change- Soylent Green (“Soylent Green is people!”).

Rhinehart conceptualized Soylent as a new way to take care of your body.

Soylent started off as a 30-day nutritional experiment Rhinehart was running, in which he ate only the vitamins and nutrients that are recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.

He posted the experiment and initial results on his website, robrhinehart.com.

“What if I consumed only the raw ingredients the body uses for energy? Would I be healthier or do we need all the other stuff that’s in traditional food? I just want to be in good health and spend as little time and money on food as possible,” Rhinehart wrote in a blog post titled “How I Stopped Eating Food,” in 2013.

After posting the details of this experiment onto his blog for the entire month, Rhinehart realized that he could find a way to create a new foodstuff that would adhere to FDA requirements.

“I haven’t eaten a bite of food in 30 days, and it’s changed my life,” he wrote.

Thus, the idea for Soylent was born.

Soylent didn’t go into full production until 2013, after it was fully funded through crowdfunding. Soylent raised $3 million online. To date, Soylent is the most funded food project on any crowdfunding site.

The first real version of powdered Soylent product was produced as the Rosa Labs Company first line in 2013, and the first shipments went out in early 2014.

In the summer of 2015, Soylent 2.0 was introduced to the public.

In 2015, the Soylent team accepted an investment of $20 million from Lerer Ventures, Index Ventures, and David Friedberg, CEO of the Climate Corporation. The investment was led by Andressen Horowitz.

Pretty huge investment into sci-fi-esque foodstuff, right?

Now, the Soylent team is kicking it (and producing and shipping Soylent products) in downtown Los Angeles., which means Rhinehart is a long way from his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

Soylent is completely animal-free. It was a “neutral taste profile by design,” so that you can adjust the flavoring to your choosing.

Its nutritional design includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron, and calcium.

So, pretty much everything the doctor would tell you to eat.

Rhinehart has often described as Soylent as the future of food, or maybe even the final destination of food and cooking as we know it.

“The future of food is not the return to an agrarian society but the transcendence of it,” he wrote in 2015. “We will make food so cheap only the rich will cook.”

Soylent isn’t that expensive to begin with. As of right now, July 2016, the price for a monthly subscription from Soylent drink is $32.50, down from $34 per month.

A monthly subscription of Soylent powder will run you $54 per month, down from $64.

And there isn’t much in the way of cooking, either. Every customer who signs up for a monthly subscription gets their own pitcher and scoop with their first shipment. Just put some water in the powder, or just drink, and you’re done.

So they may already be on their way to revolutionary food.

Of course, are you ready to give up food to join the revolution?

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

The Dollar High Club Is Trying To Revolutionize The Way People Get Weed Supplies

Are you a smoking aficionado? Ever run out of smoke supplies and get too slumped to leave your couch?

Well then Dollar High Club’s got you covered.

Dollar High Club is a monthly subscription service that discreetly delivers smoking supplies (intended for tobacco…right).

“A lot of people don’t have access to affordable smoking supplies, and we want to change that,” Harrison Baum, the founder and CEO of Dollar High Club told RISE NEWS.

For only a dollar a month you can receive 1.25 size all natural papers, all natural filter tips, 3.3’ organic bee wick and a matchbook.

That’s a good amount of smoking supplies for a dollar.

They also offer the option to subscribe for the Connoisseur package for $12 a month that comes with 7-9 products or the El Primo package for $30 a month that comes with 10-15 products.

Essentially, it is the smoking equivalent of the Dollar Shave Club.

When I first heard about the company, I was eager to learn more and my question to Baum was, how did you come up with this idea?

“It was a idea I came up with while browsing Reddit Trees and Reddit Entrepreneur,” Baum said. “I put the idea on Reddit, it topped r/Trees, and then I quit my day job that week and it changed my life.”

Sometimes the best ideas hit you out of nowhere, and that’s exactly what happened to Baum.

“We want to change the stigma surrounding smoking, by making it accessible to the everyday person worldwide,” Baum said.

The company has its own warehouse and can ship products to anywhere around the country.

They plan to get the word out using more grassroots means via social media including humorous content creation on YouTube and Facebook.

With that being said they just released a new video on Youtube that topped Reddit videos for a short time. It is a parody of the famous Dollar Shave Club commercial.

Check it out:

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

 

Cover Photo Credit: Dollar High Club/ Facebook

This Gen X’er And Her Two Young Daughters Are Trying To Revolutionize Millennial Menswear

Who says that you have to be a millennial in order to know what they want?

After spending five years as a housewife, Mary Di Fede-Garcia, age 47 and a resident of South Florida, decided that it was time for a change.

She focused on the men’s online clothing market for young people, sensing that it was a soft market.

Then Di Fede-Garcia launched Solsburry last December.

Solsburry is a website where men, mostly millennials, can find affordable clothing.

According to Di Fede-Garcia, Solsburry was chosen as the name of the brand because of a story told by former Genesis front-man Peter Gabriele.

“Peter was not getting along with his band member, Phil Collins, and he got to a turning point in which he needed to decide between going solo or take the back seat at the band while Collins was the lead,” Di Fede-Garcia said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “Peter went to a place in England, called Solsburry Hill, where a sense of change came to him, decided to go on his own, and became very successful.”

Picture 1

Mary Di Fede-Garcia, second from left, with her husband Alex and two daughters at a party in 2014.

Change has come to Di Fede-Garcia’s life as well, but the creation of Solsburry, the brand, was not an easy feat for her.

She had to face two of her greatest challenges: the Internet and social media.

“While I was building the brand in my head, I said to myself: ‘Let me face my biggest fears right on’,” Di Fede-Garcia said. “’If I am technologically challenged and I manage to do well on the web and social media, then I would know that there is nothing I can’t conquer.’”

To overcome her fear and after working for some months with a web developer, Di Fede-Garcia established Solsburry on the web, and it is spreading its name in social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Di Fede-Garcia has had support from her family in figuring out how to efficiently use social media as a branding and sales tool.

“Seeing her struggle since the beginning in not knowing how to do certain things on the web led me to help her,” Mary’s 18 year old daughter Lauren del Pino said.

Lauren is helping with the social media marketing efforts for the brand while her 22 year old sister, Danielle del Pino, is leading the web styling and selection of clothing for the brand.

“My sister helps out with the social media section because that is natural for her,” Danielle said. “I love helping out putting together the styling and the organization for the brand, and, of course, the photoshoots.”

The two daughters not only help their mom build and maintain the brand but also, along with their friends have provided significant inspiration since day one according to Di Fede-Garcia.

Picture 3

A view of a Solsburry photo shoot.

“My daughters have male friends who visit the house, and they are always commenting about how the women’s clothing market is over saturated while the men’s one is missing attention,” Di Fede-Garcia said. “I decided that I wanted to provide quality clothing that is durable, easy to wash and wear.”

Solsburry, is aiming at providing clothing for young men from high school to young adults who are starting their careers- men who want clothes that make them to look good but are also affordable.

Di Fede-Garcia said that she understands that young men at those stages have other priorities that are more important than looking good.

She also contributes a portion of the proceeds from each piece sold to some charities each month.

More Info On Solsburry:

www.solsburry.com

info@solsburry.com

Phone: +1 (305) 275-1829

Toll Free: 1 (844) 834-1829

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Solsburry/ Submitted.

Africa’s First Billion Dollar Start Up Is A Bet On The Rise Of The Continent’s Middle Class. But Is It A Smart Bet?

For decades, the narrative around African business has been pretty negative. But things are changing as demonstrated by the recent achievement by the Africa Internet Group– as it became the first ever African based “Unicorn” start up company.

Africa Internet Group just received an $85 million investment, valuing the company at over $1 billion, and making it a “Unicorn”.

AIG is essentially Silicon Valley, but all packed into one business.

They invest in and help manage over 30 African companies like Easy Taxi, Jumia, and Lamudi, which mimic the Uber’s, Amazon’s, and Zillow’s of the world.

Glassdoor reviews from former employees of AIG give it a 3.2 rating out of 5 with 21 reviews. The pros largely coalesced around the work: always busy and challenging.

The cons all focused on the same issues surrounding management, with every negative review either highlighting a lack of communication or unrealistic expectations for their subordinates.

These complaints about management seemed to be shared by ownership, as last December, the company began to lay off upper level staff left and right, with one of its largest companies, Jumia, firing over 300 workers in Nigeria, its largest market.

It is not unusual for one startup to go through upheaval like this, but when many companies all operating under the same umbrella go through the same issues, it is a bit worrisome.

However, AXA and Orange would not have invested in AIG at the valuation they did unless it was satisfied with its executive team, so one would think that this massive shakeup is largely a good thing for the company.

Given the timing of the overhaul and the subsequent transaction, this management purge was most likely a contingency for these large firms’ financing, because ultimately, they are not investing in AIG, but in the rising African middle class.

The common theme amongst AIG’s portfolio is e-commerce, as they have laid the foundation of their company on the emerging proletariat.

The size and the economic maturity of the middle class is the subject of fierce debate, as companies like Nestle serve as cautionary tales; their billion dollar expansion hit a rut and was forced to scale back its African workforce by 15% once returns proved to be smaller than expected.

WATCH: Inside a Africa Internet Group Office in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Much of the investment in Africa has been based around the notion that one third of Africans are “middle class,” which emerged from a 2011 paper from the African Development Bank Group which stated that the middle class had tripled over the last 30 years.

However, the AfDB defined it as Africans living off of $2 to $20 in purchasing power per day, with it divided into three separate tiers which further muddied the certainty surrounding the definition of “middle class.”

Standard Bank released a study last September that looked at 11 African countries which account for over half the continent’s GDP, and found the size of their middle class to be 15 million people, or about 300 million less than AfDB estimated for the entire continent.

The middle class of the largest African country by GDP, Nigeria, is estimated at 11%, with 86% of all Africans reportedly falling under “low income.”

The Pew Research Center provides extra support to this assertion as they estimate that just 6% of Africans qualify as “middle class,” which they define as living off of $10 to $20 per day.

90% of Africans are estimated to still live off of less than $10 per day according to Pew.

However, even though the data seems to hint that investors may be too bullish, it does not mean that they should reverse course and become bearish on the many different African economies.

Capital is still flowing into the continent, as foreign direct investment is up over 12% since 2008.

Additionally, some of the struggles companies like Nestle experienced could be due more to cultural misunderstandings than a lack of disposable income across Africa.

“There was no presumption [from the AfDB] that this middle class would exhibit Western modes in terms of consumption of food formula for middle-class babies [Nestlé] nor for whisky [Diaego],” Kayizzi-Mugerwa, one of the chief economists for the AfDB said. “In the latter case, Africans have always had a partiality for beer − irrespective of class – and the beer companies are doing roaring business.”

Many African countries are still dealing with structural issues that go back centuries, as Egypt’s inflation is 210th in the world due to the instability that has arisen over the last 5 years.

Nigeria needs to modernize its workforce as 70% work in agriculture, yet farming accounts for just 20% of its GDP.

South Africa, which remains the model for many African countries, has 66% of its workforce comprising the services industry, which accounts for 67.4% of its GDP, yet the rest of the continent’s labor pool is much closer to Nigeria than its most modernized nation at its southernmost tip.

The historic investment in Africa Internet Group must be seen as a larger investment in Africa as a whole, because without a modernized Africa, the e-commerce that AIG provides would have no market for buyers or sellers.

Africa is still an emerging economy, but it has shed many of the 3rd world caricatures that the West has forced upon it over the years, with Sacha Poignonnec, CEO of Africa Internet Group providing a mission statement for the company that could be construed as one for the entire continent as well:

“We want to be profitable but we are very long-term oriented. Amazon is a great model to look at. They have a great valuation, they have a great customer base. Everyone one is confident that Amazon has a great future but they are still yet to make money.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us

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