Read about the founders’ backstory, in their own words.
2015. Farmer suicides were rampant across the country, especially in a village called Mandya. Divya and I met at an event to discuss the issues farmers face. As usual, the topic was around how it is the government’s fault that these suicides never ceased.
In the midst of the hue and cry, a daily wage worker asked us a simple question – “Forget the government. What are YOU doing about it?”
We had no answer, but the question took us back to a memory of the past that we had tried to erase.
Divya’s grandfather was a farmer. He had cancer and no money. So, one night, he decided to lock himself up in the farm shed and committed suicide.
This memory haunted us – even after these many years, there was no change in the conditions of the farmers.
Everything we’ve done hence in our entrepreneurial journey is just an answer to the question that was posed in late 2015.
We quit our high-paying corporate jobs and decided to plunge into the unknown.
Starting with just 2 organic farmers in late 2015, we scaled Indian Superheroes into a network of 840+ organic farmers in just two years.
2017. Working with the farmers, we were always faced with water scarcity issues. We had to understand the root cause. “Deforestation” said the farmers. But, all we could see around us was paper waste. There had to be something missing.
Thousands of tonnes of paper wasted on one end, and trees being cut for paper on the other. And, even more so – pencils.
We asked ourselves a simple question – what if we can use paper waste to make pencils? And solve two problems at once.
And, just for fun – we thought – why not make the pencil grow after use, by embedding organic seeds from our network of farmers?
This led to Plantcil (Plant in a Pencil).
Brands absolutely adored us. We were sold out in the first few hours of our initial launch and quickly started to work with 100+ brands within the first few months of launch.
In short, we proved that sustainability when designed right, could mean the world to brands.
2019. Our urge to explore other sustainable options didn’t cease. We started working on notebooks, pens, calendars, wristbands and many more options based on replacing paper.
We made our paper from textile and paper waste – and embedded seeds in all of them – so every sustainable stationery option we made would grow into plants after use!
We grew out of our name – that’s when we decided to rechristen our name – from Plantcil – to Pepaa (meaning paper in multiple languages).
We made India’s first plantable newspaper in association with The New Indian Express.
We worked with RBI to convert their shredded currency notes post demonetization into a range of fascinating giveaways.
We worked with Aditya Birla to make plantable seed price tags for their clothing range, LivaEco.
We worked with TVS to make plantable seed truck shaped calendars that’ll grow into 12 different plants, once every month.
250+ brands. One sustainable revolution.
2020. Brands loved the work we did with Pepaa, and kept asking asking us (almost pestering us) to handle their waste streams, apart from what we did with textile and paper waste.
It was then that it all dawned upon us.
Waste is a global pandemic, with absolutely no solution in sight.
All we’ve been doing till date is just turn a blind eye to it – to sweep it under the carpet and act as if it doesn’t even exist.
We’ve destroyed the planet almost beyond a point of no return.
Climate change is upon us, and we are the only generation that can safeguard it for the future.
We are Earth’s final hope.
That’s why we started Cercle.
To ensure that waste isn’t wasted.
With Cercle, we work with the world’s most sustainable brands to handle their waste streams, to create circular solutions that’ll save the planet’s resources for the future generations.
Cercle for us is not just a company. It is a revolution.
And, that’s how we connected all the dots looking backwards.
Everything we’ve done in the last five years in the field of sustainability has all led us to what we are doing today at Cercle.
Building for tomorrow, today.