This is how you imagine a start-up.

A simple room in one of the industrial suburbs of Singapore, behind the next door a coffin maker, a little further a trader for air conditioning systems.

In the middle the inconspicuous door, a few wooden steps to the upper floor and there a huge, ancient pool table.

“Our previous tenants simply left it there,” says Evelyn Hew.

But she wouldn't be a founder if she and her team hadn't made use of the brown-red monster: wooden panels now cover it and turn it into a huge table.

Christoph Hein

Business correspondent for South Asia / Pacific based in Singapore.

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    The trio is flexible with Hew at its center. In just four months, they are running a franchise-style company that is supposed to lift one of Asia's great, unused raw materials: wooden chopsticks, used three times a day by billions of people, are collected, cleaned and then glued to wooden panels under pressure. A cutting board can be made from 6652 sticks. You can build furniture and shelves or sell the panels as house cladding to contractors and architects. The principle came up with the German Felix Böck, who started his own company ChopValue in Vancouver, Canada. He wants to earn money, but also want to improve the world with it. By the end of next year, more than a thousand people are expected to be working at almost a hundred locations around the world. Good 1,It is said that 5 billion chopsticks would become recycled wood. So far, Böck has given a new life to almost 34 million chopsticks.

    An island state that is reinventing itself

    "Felix is ​​really fast," says Hew.

    Her husband Justin Lee discovered the Canadian start-up on Facebook: "We wrote on February 26th, and we spoke to Felix on the 27th." The chemistry was right from the start.

    “He ticks like us,” says Hew.

    The mother of three says she is at least as daring as her husband.

    He aspired to a time as an Audi seller and the profitable sale of a property in self-employment.

    The couple opened burger restaurants and rented cars, but then switched to the new wave of the city of the future: With their company Smart City Solutions, they are leaving sensors on rubbish bins in the island state, which is currently reinventing itself as a clean, environmentally friendly Asian metropolis Install containers that show how full they are. "That saves the daily rounds of the garbage trucks," says Lee. They also let drones fly through the large sewers to check whether they are clogged. So far, they have made an annual turnover of around 2 million Singapore dollars with their six small companies (equivalent to around 1.24 million euros)

    "We wanted to penetrate even further into the recycling sector," says Hsu Hui En. She supports the founding duo as a strategist for ChopValue in the city of 5.7 million people: "We want the 'post-Iphone era' to prepare: The digital is available, but we have to manage our raw materials and recycle them. ”The potential is huge, says Hew. A good 75 percent of Singaporeans are of Chinese descent, but Japanese and Thai food are also usually served with chopsticks. "We estimate that more than 80 percent of the food served in the city is of Asian origin," says Hew: "At least half of the chopsticks used are made of wood." In comparison: In China, people consume around 130 million at each lunch Chopsticks - day after day.In Böck's hometown of Vancouver, where he began implementing his partner's idea four years ago, ChopValue now collects 350,000 used chopsticks every week.