Just go Squish to save waste, says young Knowle entrepreneur Josh

April 24 2018
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AN ENTERPRISING student from Knowle is already laying the foundations of what he hopes will be an environmentally sound business that will help reduce the waste of single-use plastic which is doing so much to poison the planet.

Josh shows off his collapsible food containers

AN ENTERPRISING student from Knowle is already laying the foundations of what he hopes will be an environmentally sound business that will help reduce the waste of single-use plastic which is doing so much to poison the planet.

Josh O’Hara, 19, from St Martin’s Road, has not even finished the first year of his business degree at Cardiff university, but he’s putting he finishing touches to a product which he hopes will change the way we eat away from home.

His idea is called Squish – and it describes a range of long-lasting plastic containers that squash to less the half their size when not in use.

They come in different sizes with options such as cutlery stored in the lid, and compartments for different courses and for sauce or extras.

Josh believes that not only will they make it easy for people to take home-cooked food to eat for their lunch – like to be a healthier alternative than a takeaway – they could also revolutionise the world of fast food.

His dream is to make a deal with a big name in the fast food world to enable people to walk in with a Squish container and walk out with it filled with their favourite food – completely free of disposable packaging.

“These days we can walk into a coffee shop and do it for coffee – why not for on-the-go food?” Josh said.

He’s asking anyone who likes the idea to back him in a public vote for VOOM 2018 – a competition to find the best new business ideas run by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin group.

If he gets enough votes, he could get to the semi-final in Manchester, where he can pitch Dragons Den-style to possible investors. If he wins there, he could make a pitch to Sir Richard himself at the final in May, and bid for a share of a £1 million investment fund.

“There’s nothing like this available from major manufacturers,” Josh told the Voice. That’s why he is currently trying to protect his prototypes from copycats – getting a patent or trademark protection is a journey in itself.

He’s already won investment in a competition for entrepreneurs called Spark at Cardiff university, and won further attention as a finalist at Big Ideas Wales earlier this year.

He’s also spreading the word by winning the support of food bloggers, sports professionals and others he hopes might spread the word.

He’s hoping for backing from environmental pressure groups Greenpeace and Surfers Against Sewage, who fight pollution in the seas.

He’s also approached fitness icon Joe Wicks, and food blogger Deliciously Ella, who he hopes will try Squish and then endorse it.

“The overwhelming interest I have received from potential customers and knowing the difference these products could make to the environment has made me more determined than ever to make this business a success,” he said.

If you’d like to back Josh’s Squishy invention in the Room business awards, go to 

voom.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitches/squish-flexible-food-storage

 

This is what Josh says about his food-saving idea:

 “We have all had the problem of opening up our cupboards and having a mass of plastic boxes and lids fall out, dirty cutlery in our bags and simply just not having enough room to store our empty containers.  More and more of us are creating our own food to take with us to work, for sports, for our children, for our busy lives – we are being innovative with our eating and cooking preparation but there has been little innovation in storage containers to support this.

 “That’s why I created SQUISH products.  I was taking my dog on a trip in the car and used a travelling water bowl that can be stored flat and pulled out to full-size when needed and I thought – that’s what we need for food storage!

“Squish containers are durable, reusable, are free of BPA (bisphenol A, a chemical now being phased out of plastic packaging over fears it may affect human hormones)

They no odour and are microwave, freezer and oven proof. The containers can have either single or multiple compartments.  Reusable cutlery can be fitted as an integral part of the lid.    

The products are perfect for parents looking to reinvent their children’s school lunches.”

They are beneficial to those looking to take meals to work and save money as they encourage meal preparation at home. 

In addition, they allow for easy portion control for those who are on specific diets.   

 

 

 

SQUISH is on a mission to change the way food containers are utilised by tailoring our products to be flexible around your busy lifestyles and to solve the storage problem. We are also very passionate about reducing the significant levels of plastic pollution, especially in our oceans and we hope to be the drive for change in this market to move away from single use and short life plastics which currently thrive at the expense of our planet. #BOXFORLIFE

 

The distinct feature of these containers is that they can be compressed before and after use to 60% of their original size. In addition, these food containers are made from non-toxic food grade silicone.  They are durable, reusable, are BPA free and microwave, freezer and oven proof. They are also stain and odour proof (yes that’s right no more stains from that pesky Bolognese the night before). The containers can have either single or multiple compartments and have reusable cutlery that can be fitted as an integral part of the lid.

 

The SQUISH journey began in early October last year at the same time as I was starting University and has grown from strength to strength.   I now have a range of product prototypes and suppliers and have trialled the containers with professional sports stars, major food bloggers, food and health magazines and membership website for mums. They are all strongly interested in jointly promoting this product.  I have received good endorsements and initial investment from Cardiff University SPARK competitions and was a finalist at Big Ideas Wales this year.

 

The overwhelming interest I have received from potential customers and knowing the difference these products could make to the environment has made me more determined than ever to make this business a success. I have my eyes set not just on selling a product but on a wider vision to have these containers compatible with food outlets that use single use containers for you to be able to walk in with your SQUISH container have it filled up with your favourite food and then walk out with it.  These days we can walk into a coffee shop and do it for coffee – why not for on-the-go food?

 

VOOM 2018 is an incredible opportunity as it provides a key platform for me to grow my business as a student with the exposure and funding it can offer if I was to win. I can take my website to the next stage and create customised sizes and shapes of containers to suit different customers in the UK and abroad.

 

SQUISH is not just a brand, I believe it can be at the heart of a movement that supports healthy lifestyles whilst protecting the environment.