EEM Student’s Environmental Startup Wins Major Awards

Emma Presents
June 19, 2020
The startup company Envirobe, created by EMSE student Manyung Emma Hon (who graduated in May 2020), has won a string of impressive awards for its promise of having a substantial positive impact on the world’s environment.
Envirobe which won several awards last year in the New Venture Competition, including the top prize in the competition’s tech track, also participated in GW’s NSF-funded I-Corps program and the GW Summer Startup Accelerator Program, currently is a semi-finalist in the New York University $300K Entrepreneur Challenge, and has been invited to participate in the Rice Business Plan Competition.
Emma Receives Prize Money

The company’s business model is based on the development of environmentally friendly and human-safe plastic-eating microbes that will reduce the lifetime of plastic from 1,000 years to about six weeks. Emma says that she started the company to provide sustainable alternatives to traditional waste management in hopes of solving the world’s plastics problem.

Since 1950, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced around the world, of which and 6.3 billion tons have become waste in landfills. The Envirobe technology is intended to convert plastic waste into high-value chemicals while also mitigating the catastrophic effects of harmful environmental plastics that are ingested by animals and humans.
Emma, born and raised in Hong Kong, said she was inspired to design a sustainable solution to the world’s growing plastics problem after witnessing environmental decline in China first-hand. Intending to join the 2019 GW New Venture Competition, she considered solutions for environmental issues as they were both personally important to her and urgently demanded in business.
Waste example
Emma with Plastic Waste

A key insight by Emma was the fact that most technology startups don’t start with a product. Instead, they often begin with an idea and validate it by talking to prospective customers and other stakeholders. She said Envirobe has heavily relied on customer discovery, talking to potential customers and industry experts, as well as competition feedback to develop business models.