Hi, could you introduce yourself and tell us about Urban Spring?
Hi, my name is Ada, and I am the CEO of Urban Spring. Founded in 2015, our mission is to target plastic waste issues in Hong Kong. We work to build a reliable network of water stations where people can refill water bottles in public instead of using single-use plastic bottles. Currently, we have over 400 water refill points across Hong Kong located in schools, hotels, shopping malls and country parks. We also run campaigns and workshops to promote awareness of environmental issues. We have even installed a water station in Singapore at Gardens by The Bay at the end of 2020 and we are looking forward to more developments in the future!
Learn more about Urban Spring and their mission!
Could you share some insights into the plastic waste issues in Hong Kong?
Around six million beverage containers are discarded in Hong Kong every day, more than half of them being single-use water bottles. Most of the waste ends up in landfills or even the ocean! This situation has worsened during the pandemic as people are more worried about hygiene, especially in public areas, thus making use of more single-use materials.
What makes your products and services different from the other players?
People often question 'is this water safe to drink?'. It is natural that people are concerned about the hygienic implications of drinking directly from public water fountains. Therefore the product design of our product, Well井, is well-thought out and every single detail addresses these potential concerns that people may. Our product has sensors that control the water flow and temperature to make sure that every sip of water is clean and refreshing.
If I were to ask you to imagine a water fountain, I believe many people would think of a large silver box - a design that has remained the same for decades. Our aesthetic design is attractive and changes public perceptions on public refill points – something that is well recognised by our clients.
Urban Spring's stylish designs stray away from the traditional image of a water collection point!
We also incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT) for data collection. After conducting data analysis, we help clients understand information such as the traffic of each installation point and how many plastic bottles are saved. With that, they can make better evidence-based decisions or utilise the data for CSR reporting.
Check out Ada's TEDx Talk where she talks about the state of the plastic waste disaster and how Urban Spring tackles this situation head-on
I notice that you have vast experience in the finance industry. Could you share with us what sparked your interest in embarking on this journey?
I was in the finance industry for more than 15 years before starting out on this journey. I left the industry with the intention of having a different impact on society with the knowledge and skills learned from my previous jobs. I met the co-founder of Urban Spring, and I resonated with and was excited by the core values of the company. He then invited me to join him to establish the company. Looking back, I am so glad that I accepted this opportunity. It is an eye-opening experience that I have learnt so much about this industry and the society of Hong Kong.
I understand you are a director of a social investment company. What are the values that would convince you that a particular start-up is worthwhile to invest in?
It is crucial for an entrepreneur to understand social needs and provide a long-term business solution to address them. I strongly believe a good company can bring social or environmental impact along with financial gains. Although it might take a longer time to achieve both goals together, it is those businesses that have the right purposes that will succeed eventually.
Lastly, could you share with us what are the challenges and the most fulfilling experience throughout this journey?
The most challenging part is building a team with a similar vision. We started from a company with two employees and have grown to a sizable team of twenty-two. We respect and value each opinion, and we are continuing to learn and develop ourselves.
The most fulfilling experience comes from the feedback of my clients and my team. I am proud to hear how I have improved their lifestyles with a product designed and built by a local company.