Unleash Your Stories – Gustavo Guillemin

All successful startup stories have to come from somewhere, and for many of them, it is the drive and passion, as well as knowing where to start and careful planning, that is essential for carrying their ideas through to reality. Today we will take a glimpse at what this mindset may look like, through the view of wide-eyed Masters of Engineering Management student Gustavo Guillemin, recently arrived from Mexico to study at the University of Auckland, and carrying a great startup idea in mind to develop here in New Zealand.

With a focus on sustainability and reusing old materials, Gus’ idea involves making use of old car tyres as a material to manufacture environmentally friendly shoes. While there are many groups that focus on changing people’s behaviour for a sustainable future, Gus believes that helping solve the problem with the current consumer behavior is also worth exploring. He also wanted to focus on reusing materials rather than recycling, as recycling can use up a lot of energy without as much impact on the life cycle of rubbish.

Gus explained his concept with the analogy of a fruit gelatin – the material for his shoes would have pieces of tyre rubber (the “fruit”) suspended in a “jelly” of foam-like material. While others have used tyres in shoes before, their approaches have been mainly focussed on cutting the tire into the shape of the out sole. By integrating the old rubber with other shoe materials, Gus hopes to develop a more environmentally friendly way to make shoes without sacrificing the overall quality of the materials.

Currently, Gus’ idea is still in the development of the proof of concept for the technologies and materials he want to use in the product. This will involve prototyping to make sure the materials and methods work. One of the aspects of his idea he would like to test involves a process called injection molding, which can be difficult to access. So Gus has been approaching various people and groups to help develop his tests or look at other options for his idea.

Unleash Space was one of such groups. When he found out about Unleash Space through word of mouth and learned how it can help students to develop ideas to reality through completing the Membership Orientation, Gus was immediately intrigued by the programmes and facilities Unleash Space had to offer to help develop his project idea. The 3D scanner, CNC router, sewing machines and 3D printers he believes will be of much help for him in developing the concept molds that would be used for the sole production and also for being able to do the top part of the shoe concept. Gus is currently completing the equipment training for each of these machines, so that when he gets to that stage of his project, he will be able to use these facilities to help further his idea.

Hearing about and attending Startup School sessions, one of Unleash Space’s programmes to help entrepreneurs, has also been very helpful for Gus to learn some knowledge on the process of how to make a business model or plan, as well as other valuable skills for developing a startup business. This is what Gus sees in the future for his concept idea, and he is planning on attending more Startup School sessions in the future to help with that.

Though there are many things still to develop and skills to learn for Gus’ idea to develop into a successful startup business, all this exploration Gus has done and is planning to do forms a solid base for development, something that is essential for any aspiring innovator and entrepreneur to do.

When asked about what innovation means to Gus, he described it as “using different technologies, approaches or methods to create a solution to a problem”. Gus’ project idea definitely embodies that view, as integrating materials in this way for shoes is something that no one has developed before. Developing a new solution takes a lot of courage and determination, often having to deal with the unknown and learn to overcome failure after failure, but it is always possible to succeed with the right mindset and planning. Gus has that determination and belief in his idea, and with help and support from others like Unleash Space, he is surely to do well in the future!