It takes great ambition and a strong vision to leave a steady paycheck and move to Chile with one goal in mind: “Making Waves.” That’s exactly what Northeastern University alumnus, Ben Kneppers, and his partner, David Stover, did after founding Bureo Skateboards.Teaming up with a close friend and professional designer, Kevin Ahearn, the three entrepreneurs are working together to create a self-sustaining infrastructure that reduces Chilean plastic pollution by crafting it into environmentally friendly, sustainable skateboards.
Kneppers and Stover were roommates, both searching for the “right” idea while working in consulting in Australia. Becoming aware of the growing issue of plastic pollution in the ocean, the two made it their mission to develop a sustainable project to bring awareness and action to the global problem.
Kneppers’ work as an environmental consultant brought him to Chile, where the months of ideas led him to skateboards. He was assisting in a sustainability study at Chile’s Lollapalooza music festival when an idea popped into his head: plastic skateboards. He immediately texted Stover, “I think I’ve got it!,” and their journey began.
With the two entrepreneurs on different sides of the world, Bureo Skateboards soon became a 24 hour project. They had to make it a reality: “As soon as you make the decision that this has to work and you know that you can make it work, you have to dive right in,” says Stover.
Returning to Boston over this past summer, the Bureo team was introduced to IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator. Through IDEA, they secured a $10,000 Gap Fund for the down payment on the production of their injection mold.
“IDEA has allowed us to focus on other aspects of our business because we know that we have secured the funding for a critical piece,” says Stover. “It was a huge milestone for the project, and it’s going to really jumpstart our progress in Chile.”
Bureo’s success didn’t stop there. They competed in Start-Up Chile, an accelerator program organized by the Chilean government, securing an additional $40,000 as one of 85 businesses out of 1,300 to be accepted.
Work in Chile has already begun – Bureo’s next step is to create a sustainable infrastructure in which people dispose of plastic waste, which will be recycled into pellets and later molded into skateboards. Recycling operations are underway in Chile, with Bureo Skateboard’s first boards scheduled for completion in early 2014.
The future is exciting as Bureo Skateboards brings a fresh perspective to sustainable design and improved recycling programs for coastal towns in Chile. “It’s all been about the connecting the dots, and so far, everything is connected. We’re excited to see what’s next,” says Kneppers.
Be sure to look out for Bureo skateboards in early 2014 and follow their journey at:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/BureoSkateboards