Four graduates from the Leadership for Sustainable Development master’s degree at Middlesex University will launch a new business start-up selling second-hand kitchen utensils to students this summer.
The Federation of Rescued Kitchenware (F.O.R.K.) will offer starter kits of kitchenware to students who are moving to a new city to take up a course. Each box will be priced at £24.99, which market research found 93 per cent of students think is a reasonable price.
The brainchild of Middlesex graduates Chloe Grahame, Laura Kent, Ines Stelk and Francesca Micallef, the idea was shortlisted for the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award in April 2016.
As one of the ten finalists, the graduates pitched their idea Dragon’s Den-style to judges at City Hall in London and narrowly missed out on the top prize.
The drawing board
It all started when the students were brainstorming ideas for their master’s dissertation project. Keen on doing something around protecting the environment, they also wanted to encourage students to live more sustainably.
As part of their research, the team learned that 163 million tonnes of waste goes to landfill in the UK each year, including a lot of kitchenware and other household items that are often barely used.
“We thought this was a shame and started looking for another solution,” explains Chloe.
Arriving at the idea of marketing second-hand kitchen utensils to students, the four worked on a business plan for their dissertation with market research revealing a need for such an offering.
After a pilot scheme received a great response, the four then began working with sustainability teams at various universities and are now in talks to run a second pilot in autumn.
“Together with our partner London Reuse Limited, we rescue good-quality second-hand kitchenware,” explains Chloe. “We clean the items to a professional standard and package them into unique sets and into boxes – ready for their new home.”
The entrepreneurs will officially launch the F.O.R.K. brand in July 2016 in time for the September intake of students.
Following this, the next stage is to develop new partnerships with universities, halls of residence and feedstock suppliers with regular sales planned for the months of January and September.
If you have a great business idea, Middlesex University’s Enterprise Development Hub offers one-to-one mentorship and support to graduate start-ups.