The name ‘Hexpressions’ really stands out for the meaning it gives to Abhimanyu Singh and Shilpi Dua’s startup venture. Using paper technology to build affordable housing solutions, Hexpressions is an extension of the founders’ expression of ideas and innovative thinking.
Both the founders decided to name their startup ‘Hexpressions’ after being inspired by the hexagonal structure of honeycombs and combining it with the term ‘expressions’. The startup provides ready-to-assemble sustainable housing solutions that uses a new-age building material comprising of composite paper-based honeycomb.
The Jaipur-based startup started a year ago as a social impact venture to create disruptive change in society through innovative design ideas. Having come across the Prime Minister’s ‘Housing for All’ scheme, aimed at providing housing and shelter to each citizen of the country, and with a previous work profile of being architects and designers, Shilpi and Abhimanyu understand the market quite well, in terms of ideas and market opportunities as well as the threats that surround a venture focusing on this space.
What problem is it solving?
Housing affordability crisis is one of the major challenges facing the world today. Access to decent, affordable housing is fundamental to the health and well-being of the people and for the smooth functioning of the economy. But most cities struggle with the dual challenges of housing their poorest citizens and providing affordable, reasonable housing solutions to their lower and middle-income population. Moreover, globally over 1 billion people are facing a housing affordability crisis, a number which is expected to go up to 1.6 billion by 2025.
Providing each and every citizen of the country access to affordable housing is the problem that Hexpressions is looking to address.
The science of creating sustainable homes
Hexpressions provides fast, modular and sustainable homes to its customers using a new-age construction material called ‘Composite Paper Honeycomb Panel’, which has two components- an inner core (paper honeycomb made with recycled paper) and outer-face material like wood, cement or stone. This new technique replaces traditional construction techniques and reduces the carbon footprint on the planet. This way, the venture focuses both on the environmental and societal impact of the product they build. It also empowers people by providing training and skill development to build their own homes and live a dignified life.
Achieving product-market fit and revenue model
Hexpressions’ product has achieved the MVP stage already and operates on a B2G/B2B2C model where it focuses on governments, NGOs, philanthropic groups. For them, their paying customers would be the intermediaries (developers, architects, NGOs and philanthropic organisations) who are dealing in the affordable housing and community development projects. Although, ultimately, their end consumers are the underserved communities, refugees and people who do not have proper shelter for themselves.
The startup aims to earn revenue by collaborating with the intermediaries and also by licensing the green construction technique to other parties.
All the right backers
Hexpressions has received an ‘expression of interest’ by the State government to build smart, portable toilets under the ‘Clean India’ campaign, apart from receiving an expression of interest by the State Pollution Board’ to build an e-waste collection centre using their proprietary technology.
They also received a grant from CoWrks and Columbia University recently, to further promote their startup’s mission. Coupled with a few corporate backers, the Central government has recognised them as one of the ‘Future Potential Technology for Housing’ at the Global Housing Technology Conference in New Delhi, while also being selected among the 8 startups to meet the Prime Minister and pitching him their idea at the event.
The Road Ahead
The social impact startup aims to affect the lives of 1 million people through awareness programmes run entirely through social media channels like Facebook and WhatsApp and collaborating with various architects and real-estate developers that can become influencers for the project.
They also aim to bring stakeholders for project support through live demos and product showcases along with paid pilot projects for the same.
Affordable housing is still one of the major issues in India which needs a concrete and sustainable solution. Since both the founders, Shilpi and Abhimanyu are experienced and understand the dynamics of the market quite well, Hexpressions can surely go a long way in achieving its objective to provide ‘housing for all’ in a more eco-friendly and affordable way.
Authored by Manan Trivedi, Head of Content (StartUp Monk)