Redhawks launch sustainable coffee ground company

Redhawk+siblings+Gurnoor+and+Arshia+Narula+launched+their+company%2C+Groundify%2C+earlier+this+year.+Groundify+is+a+sustainable+company+that+works+with+local+coffee+shops+to+turn+coffee+waste+into+retail+products+such+as+skincare+and+candles.+

Used with permission from Groundify

Redhawk siblings Gurnoor and Arshia Narula launched their company, Groundify, earlier this year. Groundify is a sustainable company that works with local coffee shops to turn coffee waste into retail products such as skincare and candles.

By Hannah Beeler and Saachi Kuchu

For many students, the thought of coffee is one of the first things on their minds in the morning. What some don’t think about is the amount of waste their cup of joe creates.

After use, coffee grounds go to landfills, where they become harmful pollutants that emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

However, senior Gurnoor Narula and his sister Arshia, a sophomore, are trying to soften this environmental impact through their newly started student-run company, Groundify.

“Groundify is an innovative social enterprise that promotes a circular economy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by repurposing spent coffee grounds to become a catalyst for new products rather than becoming a harmful pollutant in landfills,” co-founder sophomore Arshia Narula said via email. “We repurpose spent coffee grounds and innovate them into sustainable and environment-friendly products, such as skin care products and candles, in order to mitigate the harmful effects of spent coffee grounds in landfills.”

They first came up with the idea while visiting Austria where they noticed how clean the cities were. This inspired them to look for ways to reduce landfill waste back in the U.S.

On Oct. 17, co-founder of Groundify, senior Gurnoor Narula, was named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneur at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Sounders Scholars National Competition. (Permission to use by Groundify)

“The beginnings of Groundify originated on a road trip in the valleys of Austria,” Gurnoor said via email. “We had recently visited and were naively touring the great cities of Austria. We couldn’t help but notice how clean all the cities were. Compared to our recent visit to our parents’ hometown in North India where the most common waste disposal method was trash burning, trash and landfills seemed to be nonexistent in the cities of Austria. Although we disregarded this thought for the remainder of the trip, it began to spark curiosity on the way back to the U.S. and through several days of thinking, we realized the importance of ensuring that our society moves towards a landfill-free society. We slowly began to materialize this issue into a social venture.”

The organization has already partnered with seven coffee shops, including The Lounge Coffee and Tea Bar.

“At the end of July Gurnoor and Arshia Narula contacted me to see if we would be interested in partnering with them to lessen the amount of spent coffee grounds in our landfill,” owner and general manager Micheal Salazar said via email. “I was interested in the concept so I asked them to stop by the café and we could chat about their business. After meeting with them and hearing their passion for the business and mission, I just knew I wanted to partner with them. The Lounge gets a quality product to sell to our customers and we have a place to dispose of our spent coffee grounds. Groundify was able to launch their retail products and realize their mission to keep those coffee grounds out of the landfill.”

Products are retailed at all of their partnered coffee shops and are also sold online through the Groundify website.

The ultimate goal is to propel Groundify to become a national leader in driving a sustainable environment”

— Gurnoor Narula

“At this moment, we specialize in retailing a variety of skincare products and candles, all that are derived from spent coffee grounds,” Arshia said. Through a lot of research and understanding how spent coffee grounds can be reused, we realized that among the most optimal uses for spent coffee grounds, there were candles and skincare products. Spent coffee grounds in skincare are seen as exfoliants that refresh and cleanse your skin. Additionally, incorporating spent coffee grounds into candles created an effective way to reuse them and added some wonderful scents.”

AP Environmental Science teacher, Jamie Berendt, believes that sustainability will become more of a standard for companies.

“As the current high school and college age students move into the working class and become business owners and leaders within larger companies, I see this type of innovation that sustainability become more of a standard,” Berendt said. “Just as Groundify repurposes coffee grounds for other products as well as compost, I truly believe we will see other companies market similar strategies. This gives them community support and creates more job opportunities to develop the technology and strategies needed… I am so proud that Gurnoor, as cofounder of this company, was able to utilize and apply the concepts learned from APES to develop an innovative and sustainable leader and model company.”

With the countless hours put into their project, Arshia notes and appreciates her personal growth from it all.

“The process itself was so enriching and amazing,” Arshia said via email. “At the age of 15, I would have never dreamed of co-founding a social impact venture that is already leaving a mark in society. But here we are! I have learned so much through the entire process and would not replace it for anything else. From conversing with strangers to create potential business partnerships, designing a website, brainstorming and manufacturing products, filing for a patent and for a legal business, and staying up late at night to work on the company itself, I think I have grown most from this journey. Both Gurnoor and I can definitely agree that the entire process was definitely not the easiest task, but the entire journey is what made us grow as we worked together to make our idea into an actual business.”

Groundify works with local coffee shops to turn ground waste into products. The waste is turned into items such as skincare products and candles that are then sold at local cafes. (Used with permission from Groundify)

Even with all the success, the sibling’s journey to get where they are today has not always been smooth sailing.

“With any entrepreneur, there are certain challenges or failures that one faces,” Gurnoor said. “From being rejected by Shark Tank to being able to balance our schoolwork and company as young entrepreneurs, we have had our fair share of bumps. However, every time this has happened, we have analyzed the situation, developed a plan, and solved the problem to ensure we keep on advancing and learning.”

The duo hopes that customers will help others think about the positive impacts their purchases create.

“When people purchase our products or learn about our mission, the underlying message that we are trying to convey is that their purchase has benefited the environment through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” Arshia said. “In addition, the customers’ purchase is leading to the growth of a sustainable environment and a circular economy in which spent coffee grounds are repurposed into revolutionary byproducts.”

Looking ahead, the goals for Groundify is to become a leading provider of sustainable environmental solutions.

“The ultimate goal is to propel Groundify to become a national leader in driving a sustainable environment,” Gurnoor said. “As we have started small with local small businesses in the DFW area, we look to streamline our operational aspect to imitate our success story to other U.S. metropolitan cities.”

This story was originally published on Wingspan on October 20, 2020.