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Ishita Jain: Service Design and Business Design Hrudaya Veena Yanamandala: Design Research and User Experience Design

Photo of Hrudaya Veena
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Idea Title


Idea Summary

In NYC 1 billion cups/yr are not recycled because they get mixed with trash. CupCycle contracts with cafes and collects used cups, that are then recycled by selling the material to a manufacturer.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot Cup Only
  • Reusable System
  • Alternative Delivery System

How is your concept recoverable?

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

New York City

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Coffee shops like Starbucks and their Corporate Social Responsibility

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

We want to research more to learn and understand the material science aspect of paper cups in order to recycle them. We also want support in understanding the market and scaling.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Supply Chain
  • Waste and Infrastructure

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Ishita Jain and Hrudaya Veena are recent grads from the Design for Social Innovation Program at the School of Visual Arts. We work in Design Strategy, Research and Service Design. We look at solving complex social problems through the lens of design.

In what city are you located?

San Francisco and New York City

In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

We will be able to get into the next phase of the project– to prototype and test our idea and validate our hypotheses to build and shape this company. Things that excite us about this opportunity - Testing and validating our hypothesis - Building new relationships to manufacture and test - Using design thinking to influence behavior change The process we plan to follow - Test and build the bins and app , measure, financials - Interact and connect with manufacturers to buy from us

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Direct email invitation

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Join the conversation:

Photo of James Dickhoner

Interesting idea and I really like how you are working to align incentives for the different business stakeholders. My mind immediately goes towards how the unit economics work for this.

Could you build a simple financial model to identify your assumptions like cost to collect, anticipated fees from coffee shops, purchase price for bulk coffee cups, etc? I think that might help you identify what to focus on when it comes to prototyping.

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