GLASS HOUSE — Edwin Baez

Meet Edwin, Co-Founder of GLASS HOUSE Design & Technology, one of the newest additions to our LaunchHUB Accelerator Program.

We recently sat down with Edwin to find out more about his business and his entrepreneurial journey so far.

What is your business?
GLASS HOUSE Design & Technology is a research-based technology using recycled glass to make panels, which can be used for construction materials (facades and interior partitions).
GLASS HOUSE will use this technology to do sustainable and regional designs, as well as to help designers, architects, and builders. GLASS HOUSE focuses on what the customer really wants as well as sustainable designs using repurposed glass.
GLASS HOUSE will use this technology to do sustainable and regional designs, as well as to help designers, architects and builders. GLASS HOUSE focuses on what the customer really wants as well as sustainable designs using repurposed glass.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
To be honest, from Activator! I come from a science background but know nothing about business, I always thought you had to be Bill Gates or be a genius to start a business. I initially developed the tech and was going to sell it to a company and work for them. I was naively just going to give it away because that’s what many scientists do.

Someone told me to come to Activator because I had the potential to be an entrepreneur – I couldn’t even pronounce that word before! I didn’t believe them but I did Activator’s Bootcamp. I had my prototype ready and every time I showed it to the Experts-in-Residence, I kept getting more and more support.

During Bootcamp I was encouraged to apply for Sandbox and during Sandbox I was encouraged to apply for LaunchHUB. I needed to do more research and development, so I applied for a grant from Sustainability Victoria, with a company called Repurpose It. The whole customer side of things, what the customer really wants, that’s the work that has to be done here at Activator.

A lot of the research I do has to be done in a laboratory, but to understand customer needs, how to approach investors, how to pitch my technology, that’s all things I can learn at Activator.

Nobody can read my mind, and that’s my problem! I didn’t know how to talk about my product before, I would talk to people about my product and people would say who is going to buy this? And I couldn’t answer their question.

Who are your customers?
I want to focus on designers, building companies with a sustainable approach and companies that use innovative materials. Because Green Building Certifications are so important now, I feel I have a really strong and growing customer base.
What lessons have you learnt on your business journey?
Be clear and assertive, know what you want, know your limitations and learn how to properly negotiate.
Don’t work with someone too quickly, it can lead to you doing or agreeing to things you don’t really want, that’s why you need to be assertive.
How important is it to have a business mentor?
I have a background in science and engineering, I don’t know how to deal with customers, so that’s something my mentors help with. I’m starting from zero, sometimes confidence is an issue so having a great mentor allows you to gain self-confidence. Mentors are really honest people that believe in you and your product.

The best thing is having somebody to talk to, a mentor allows you to express yourself and be listened. You can talk about everything, you don’t have the pressure of the investor, if you say something wrong it’s fine if you do that with an investor you’re afraid they are going to say no.

Any feedback is positive, and with a mentor, you can talk about anything.

What are your top three tips for starting a business?
  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Be disciplined
  3. Be organised (which is something I really lack!).
How would you describe your life as an entrepreneur?
I still don’t like to call myself as an entrepreneur even though I guess I am. It’s exciting –  like a roller coaster, with many ups and downs!
Which song best represents your life?  
Paradise City – Guns ‘n’ Roses
What has been the best part of your Activator journey?
The best is part is when I fell down and when I spoke to someone and they lifted me up by sharing something. That’s the great part at being at Activator, you have people to lift you up and you can help lift other people up when things are tough.