Source: Freya Thakral
Freya Thakral was 12 when she joined Young Founders Summit in 2018, with her startup idea Recycler, and made it to the Finals.
"Shame Recycler didn't win. I thought they were great" was what one of the judges said!
What made me a fan of theirs though, is that even though they did not win the Top 3, they actively reached out to me and our US partner Founders Bootcamp to seek for mentorship. That's resilience and perseverance for you.
Well, we're stoked that Freya is back this year, and we caught up with her to see what she's accomplished with Recycler in the past 12 months.
Can you tell us about your first encounter with entrepreneurship?
My first encounter with entrepreneurship was through the Young Founders Summit (YFS). I had dabbled with stalls and bake sales before that but I never thought anything of it. Initially, YFS seemed like an interesting school competition but it was so much more than that.
I love animals and I thought developing an app to get people to be kind to animals might be something I would be interested in. The first thing my dad asked was how will you make money out of it. We had a passionate debate around sustainability and how the logistics would work and that is when
"I realised that a good idea remains only that, unless it is backed up by a solid implementation plan."
YFS provided the structure that was missing and when I looked into the programme in-depth, the resources available, the FAQs, the inspiring videos, they helped formulate a plan to bring one of my ideas of recycling to life. Making a difference to the lives of people who are poorly paid, contributing to make a change in the environment that we live in and getting experienced in skills which will help me help others as well as be successful in the future, that was my first encounter with entrepreneurship and I loved it.
(Editor's note: I swear, we did not pay her to write this!)
What about entrepreneurship and startups excite you?
The fact that an idea can quickly turn into a product is exciting. This time last year Recycler for was just a thought that a 12-year-old girl had. Now it is a company which offers an app. An app which is being used by people. People who are now actively recycling and making a change to their environment and people who are now being employed, getting a better quality of life.
I love the energy, the passion that my team has for making a change.
How when we encounter a problem, we have to be creative in our solutions often due to lack of money, time or perhaps experience.
That never say die attitude which is a must if you truly believe.
That perseverance to ride through the times when school takes over and you have to balance or when you hit a problem like when a founder leaves due to shifting priorities.
Startups are fueled by passion and you can’t say the same about a lot of things in life.
Are you still working on Recycler?
I continue to work on Recycler which is expanding fast. Coding an app in Swift for iOS and then shifting to React-Native for a cross-platform app kept me occupied.
Recycler is now a registered company and working with lawyers and accountants is a new aspect that I am learning about. We are also moving into a couple of exciting areas which we are keeping secret for now till November. There are a few more ideas I want to explore, which could lead to new start-ups but these are on hold for now.
Sounds like you have a plan in stealth mode! So, apart from Recycler, what kind of innovation would you hope to see in the future?
I would love to see a uniformity in coding platforms and also perhaps the use of machine learning in the way we program apps.
Wouldn’t it be cool if snippets of code could be automatically created for you depending upon what you want to do. It would make programming easier for the masses. Think about how we can create websites using wizards, something similar. Maybe a project for the future for us.
I would love to also see platforms like Young Founders Summit become more integrated into schools and perhaps an innovation curriculum being offered to all children from a young age.
(Editor's note: We'd love to, too!)
Well I wish I had half your skills when I was your age! So Freya, tell me what is one skill you aim to learn before you graduate from college?
The skill to ask insightful questions is something that I would want to be more confident upon. I feel that in a culture which requires constant innovations that would be quite useful to have.
Finally, if you could ask for one wish from us adults, what would it be?
Don’t wait for our generation to take over and start fixing problems. It might be too late by then.
"Empower and encourage us so we can contribute towards global problems like climate change, poverty hunger and inequality."
It is not us versus you, it is all of us together.
Editor's Note: I definitely can't wait to hear all about the progress you've made with Recycler! See you in Beijing in 4 days!