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Filamentive is July's Featured Business of the Month

Thu, 07 July 2016

Ravi Toor won a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award in August 2015 and was a finalist for the 2015 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Serial entrepreneur Ravi Toor set up his business, Filamentive, whilst studying BA Environment and Business at the University of Leeds, aged just 20. During his studies Ravi was encouraged to start and run a business during a gap between years two and three as part of this degree.

Since the inception of Filamentive the business has changed and pivoted as their products have developed. Initially the business hoped to bring production of their products in-house, lowering costs and their carbon footprint, however, they now use external manufacturers as this proved to be more beneficial to the business. Filamentive are now focussing on distribution and offer a large product portfolio with a base selection of materials, colours and reel sizes.

Filamentive is helping to create a smarter, more sustainable future through recycling and reusing waste materials and plant-based bioplastics wherever possible. In the future, Filamentive hope to introduce packaging and reels that are made from recycled materials to help close the loop on plastic waste. The business also hopes to help other businesses recycle more through the introduction of credit schemes and incentives that offer discounts and exclusive benefits for businesses that recycle their waste 3D prints.

Shell LiveWIRE sat down with Ravi to catch up with him and to see what’s next for his award-winning business, Filamentive.
 
What was the inspiration behind Filamentive?
Since 2013 I had been selling desktop 3D printers online and so during this time I learned about the consumables for 3D printers and therefore the drawbacks. As my degree is BA Environment and Business, I have also become more environmentally aware and sought to implement sustainability practices into Filamentive’s business culture to instil strong corporate social responsibility.
 
How did you get into entrepreneurship? Did you always want to go into business for yourself?
My dad has been a big influence on me from a young age. Because he owned his own business I always admired that and hoped to do the same! I first started selling iPod accessories and cheap gadgets online since the age of 14. I have always enjoyed the thrill of business and being able to sell something for more than you paid is a very satisfying experience!
 
What challenges did you face when setting up your business?
Competition was and still is a challenge. Most entrepreneurs enter an already existing market and as others will tell you, as soon as you have an idea and begin trading, suddenly you realise there are a lot more businesses that do something similar to yours! To combat this, I think it’s important to focus on what makes you and your business different, whether you’re cheaper, larger, better value for money or more advanced, you will be on the path to success if you can convince customers and even investors that you are not only different, but better than the rest.
 
What is your proudest achievement with the business?
I think my biggest achievement was initially my Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award which I won in August 2015 and then being successful in my application for the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year final. Shell LiveWIRE is undoubtedly the most prestigious young entrepreneur organisation and to win an award and then be recognised as one of the best young entrepreneurs in the country was an immensely proud moment for me. It has spurred me onto growing my business and also facilitated self-development for me as an entrepreneur.
 
You won a Shell LiveWIRE Award back in 2015, how have things changed for you since then?
The £5000 from the award has been used towards research and development with our extrusion partner into producing recycled filament, and also towards the purchase of materials. Following that we sent samples to various 3D print experts who produce YouTube video reviews and other online content. On the back of that we have not only generated credibility but also sales as well. The fact we won the award features heavily in our press packs, brochures/leaflets as well as application processes for other funding and no doubt it has added credibility to our brand. Since winning the Smarter Future Award we have been successful in applications for further funding and this has helped towards the cost of an exhibition, product portfolio expansion and marketing.
 
What’s next for Filamentive?
We will be exhibiting at Additive Manufacturing Europe – one of the world’s largest 3D print shows where we hope to promote our brand and generate sales. We also hope to successfully implement our sustainability programmes, receiving waste from our clients to be reused and recycled in return offering free/discounted filament. As we speak, we are in advanced negotiations with several stockists at the moment, as well as developing more materials and options for our clients. By the end of 2016 we will have several sales agents and distributors across Europe selling the Filamentive brand. Our objective by the end of 2017 is to achieve six-figure turnover.
 
Entrepreneurs drive innovation. How do you think this can be used to help create a smarter future?
Many of the world’s best businesses have been founded as the solution to a problem. As a global society we have many challenges: poverty, waste, water, energy, pollution and much, much more! We have already seen the great Elon Musk have tremendous success with electric car giant Tesla and without doubt I think we will see similar like-minded innovations amongst the next generation of entrepreneurs who will not only find solutions to our global problems, but make a lot of money doing so!
 
What role do you think entrepreneurs will play in the transition to a low carbon society?
As said above I think entrepreneurs will bring their new creative thinking and find solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems such as energy, pollution and transport issues. As resources get depleted further and the globe gets further populated, it will be the entrepreneurs who propose and implement their ideas to improve society as a whole and mitigate the global problems we face.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs?
Just go for it! It is better to do something you wanted to do and then regret it later, rather than regret never doing it – at least at a young age. Most young people have little/no commitments such as a mortgage or a family, so even if that business idea doesn’t go to plan, chances are the impacts of that are insignificant. Also if you are at university, it is the perfect time to start a business – there are other like-minded young entrepreneurs that will be ideal partners, universities offer funding and also expert enterprise support, not to forget that being surrounded by 20,000-30,000 other young people who will inspire you and perhaps even give you an easily accessible target market. In summary, I advise anyone thinking of starting their own business to just go and do it. You may have to find part-time employment to support yourself, and perhaps give up a portion of your social life, but sacrificing a few years now will undoubtedly help you work towards that lifestyle you have always dreamed of!
 
Got a Smart Idea for a Business?
Do you have a smart business idea that will provide a solution to the world’s future transport, food, energy, or natural resource challenges, or make our urban environments cleaner and more sustainable places to work and live in? If so you can apply online now for funding!
 

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