Uproot: Transforming used-up resources into a promising social venture

A world where landfill-bound materials are re-purposed and nothing is wasted is the aspiration of former SFU student Kevin Kimoto and fellow co-founders of a social change start-up called Uproot.

Launched in January 2015 by Kevin Kimoto, Joe Bickson, Dayna Stein, Danielle Vallee and Natradee Quek, Uproot is a social venture that makes the circular economy more approachable. 

Alongside producing creative public installations with repurposed material, Uproot makes reclaimed material more accessible through retail and wholesale channels. 

The start-up is currently in the process of launching an online platform to help support the green economy in the Metro Vancouver area. 

“We want to make the circular economy more accessible to the public and transform the common perception of what is possible with reclaimed material,” says Kimoto. “In addition to our work with custom projects and public installations, we are making this circular economy a reality by launching an online marketplace to connect people who create with reclaimed materials, with people interested in buying reclaimed materials products." 

Some of the projects Uproot has worked on include menu boards for a variety of Vancouver-based restaurants, and public installations such as the closing raft for Greenpeace's 2015 “Toast the Coast.” 

Uproot also works with other ventures such as Basic Design, which created stools for the Capilano Tea House, in part with material that Uproot sourced. 

With age comes wisdom

Recently celebrating their one-year anniversary as a startup, Uproot’s journey from launch has been filled with both success and failure, yet has always gratifying and rewarding, says Kimoto. 

“There’s so much learning that happens through failure," he says, "which makes it just as essential as success. Ideas will change drastically from what you launch with, but that’s just the organic growth in creating something special or great.” 

Kimoto adds that it takes the support of a strong and reliable network of mentors, peers and organizations, such as the ones Uproot found through SFU, to overcome setbacks encountered along the way. “For those in the SFU community, if you want to create change or start a new venture, think about and look into the different entrepreneurship-based programs at SFU. Programs like Change Lab and Radius have been key to our growth and connected us with a wide network of supportive individuals who helped developed our idea, strengthen it and bring it out into the world.” 

To learn more about Uproot, visit www.uprootnow.com. Those interested in getting involved with the group’s soon to be launched online marketplace are recommended to subscribe to Uproot’s mailing list to keep up-to-date.