Entrepreneur Month Interview South Africa

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#EntrepreneurMonth: Cubic 38 creates a value chain for waste tyres

In an effort to decrease the impact of waste tyres on the environment, Mzokhona Maxase developed tyre shine and shoe polish, which uses a waste by-product of the tyre recycling process known as char.
Mzokhona Maxase. Image by Mpumelelo Macu © /
Mzokhona Maxase. Image by Mpumelelo Macu © / Red Bull Content Pool

Mzokhona Maxase wants to reduce the number of waste tyres and create a value chain for them, creating products that people can use every day, but also clean up the environment. That's where Cubic 38 comes in.

We chat Maxase about his journey of solving the negative ecological impact of waste tyres...

Can you tell us a bit about Cubic 38?

The company name Cubic38 is derived from a compressed natural gas equation which is also a greener alternative to diesel and petrol.

When, how and why did you get started?

Cubic38 was established in April 2017 in a Tshwane University student residence, by myself and Tshepo Sithole, with the main aim of creating eco-friendly alternatives from waste tyres.

Waste tyres are a huge environmental challenge in South Africa. After visiting a local waste tyre recycling plant in Pretoria West (my community), the plant was faced with huge backlogs of waste tyre char which had no economic value and demand, so as students we set out to find ways to use this by-product as there was no known demand for it.

We developed multiple ideas and prototypes. After product testing and consumer feedback, we made a decision to produce tyre shine and shoe polish made from waste tyre char.

What is the core function of Cubic28?

Creating eco-friendly alternatives from waste tyres as waste tyres have limited to no economic use assist in creating a value chain for waste tyres as we see for many waste products like plastics and paper. Keeping the environment clean from waste.

What are some of the obstacles you've had to overcome since starting out?

We had to learn and teach ourselves about the waste tyre industry as we did not have any experience or background in the industry.

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?It is very important to believe in the vision that you have and to work hard towards making that vision a success.

What has been your proudest achievement thus far?

The positive feedback we’ve been getting from consumers about our shoe polish and tyre shine which has resulted in improved sales.

What does the future of entrepreneurship look like to you?Entrepreneurship is the key solution to most of the social challenges that we are facing as a country, as young entrepreneurs we should try our best to set good examples and create a conducive environment for other young and upcoming entrepreneurs.

What do you think is the importance of startup accelerator/incubator programmes?

Red Bull Amaphiko is an incubator programme that has really assisted in taking our community brand to a national level and audience. While connecting us to mentors and experts that help us set up structures to formalise and grow our business.

What would you like to see changed in the South African startup landscape?

I would like to see more support for upcoming entrepreneurs from well-established business through mentorships, access to facilities and various ways, not just financially.
What we have experienced with Red Bull Amaphiko is that they assist various entrepreneurs from all over the country, not just in Gauteng, but the rural as well.

What do you believe are the traits an entrepreneur needs in order to succeed?

Persistence, innovativeness and ability to share his or herstory.

Tell us about your biggest struggles as an entrepreneur, as well as some major highlights.

Access to affordable experts, information and facilities that will assist in moving and growing our business. Having to balance work and running your business as you are not at the stage of earning an income from business operations.

Innovation challenges have granted us much needed seed funding to allow us to access experts and LAB testing facilities. Working night shift has allowed me to run my business during the day and allowed me to not depend on the business financially as yet.

Would you encourage someone to become an entrepreneur? Why?

Yes! It’s an exciting journey filled with ups and downs. It pushes you to explore and come up with innovative solutions.

Where would you like to see Cubic38 in the next five years?

We plan to have made a positive impact nationally within the waste tyre environment through the sale of our waste tyre derived products. Establishing a full-time production facility with employees to meet demand.

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