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Ep. 41 with Richard Arockiasamy and Sanjana Kumta of GreenMaché

By February 20, 2020July 22nd, 2023No Comments

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Episode #125 with Kay Peacy from Slick Business

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Episode #41 with Richard Arockiasamy and Sanjana Kumta from GreenMache

Episode #40 with Jodi Barrett, CEO of Kettlebell Kickboxing Canada

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And here we go! Welcome Richard Arockiasamy and Sanjana Kumta of GreenMaché!

Richard and Sanjana are two of four friends who started GreenMaché because they are deeply concerned about the growing amounts of waste being generated today.

With all four working full-time corporate jobs, they witness the use of disposable tableware, which is harmful to the environment and is hazardous to your health. Having grown up in southern India, the concept of eating out of Areca Palm Leaf tableware was quite familiar to them – a simple yet very effective alternative to conventional disposable materials. A little research in, GreenMaché was founded to fix the problem. They are determined to encourage the use of these natural plates in as many avenues possible; letting nature help itself!

This is sure to be a fantastic episode, one you don’t want to miss!


Barb McGrath 0:02
You are listening to a CJ tr podcast. Okay, we are live with our guest today. And today we’re gonna talk about picnics, potlucks, and easy cleanup after a party. Why don’t we just start a conversation? Our guests today want to talk about change, and they want to talk about choice for disposable dinnerware. And if that’s not a strange kickoff to a show, I don’t know what it is. But here we go. So Richard and Tanja are two or four friends who started GreenMaché, an environmentally friendly disposable dinnerware company. And they’re going to talk about where the company came from, how they got where they are today, and what their vision is, for the next five to 10 years in this industry. their product is something that almost all of us pick up, you know, maybe a few times each spring and summer, because we want to have disposable dinnerware sitting in our pantry ready for use. And they’re going to talk about a much better way to do this. And, and better, even in the paper product that you can purchase now, that is recyclable. So, without further ado, I would like to welcome Richard and Santana.

Richard Arockiasamy 1:21
Thanks so much. Great to be here.

Sanjana Kumta 1:23
Thank you. Thanks for inviting us to them.

Barb McGrath 1:26
Excellent. So let’s start off Tell me a little bit about GreenMaché, and near Rico leaf.

Richard Arockiasamy 1:33
So GreenMaché was started in 2018 by four of us friends, like you mentioned, and we started with the aim of selling these are eco palm leaf plates that are sustainable. They’re a natural byproduct, and they’re super recyclable as well. Okay, so our intention was to just bring down the amount of disposable waste that we see in the trash every day. Okay, and bring these plates to the market Furthermore,

Barb McGrath 1:59
Ah, Okay, so first off the air Rica. It’s a tree. It’s a plant.

Richard Arockiasamy 2:05
It’s a it’s a tree. It’s a bomb. It’s basically a bomb. It’s on tree. Yeah,

Barb McGrath 2:09
Yes. See palm tree. That’s something I can relate. Even though we don’t have any of them anywhere near this province. It’s like all palm trees I’ve seen no. So um, would it feel and look like a palm tree leaf thickness? density? Like, is it similar that way?

Sanjana Kumta 2:28
Yeah, it almost looks like the tree bark. That’s how it looks like when you touch it, feel it? Okay. That’s all it feels like it. Okay. But yeah, it’s basically a dried fallen leaves. Yeah.

Barb McGrath 2:41
Now, one of the things that you explained to me when we were getting ready for the show today is the leaf itself is heat pressed and then made into a shape whether it’s a plate, whether it’s a bowl. Tell me a little bit about that process. Because from what I understand, the leaf falls off the tree. It’s not even being packed, it falls off. It’s been remade into a consumer product used in India shipped to Canada shipped probably into the US, I don’t know and use for a variety of different things. So just tell me about that process. And being from India. How Where did this this technology come from? And are you the first to bring it into Canada?

Sanjana Kumta 3:27
We are not the first one to bring it into Canada. They’ve already like been we are doing our research we have seen some people are already doing it. But we are the aspirant knowledge. They are the first one in Saskatchewan bringing it okay. Yeah. And talking about the leaves. These leaves are back in the days in India, they are not shaped into these different shapes. They just the form leaf, they just take it wash it and they use it. Okay, but now people wanted like a little bit more fancy and you want it to look different and to be like a showpiece. So that’s when the machine started to like bringing into different shapes. Hey, are like for us we have 15 inch plotter, printer brown plates, square plates, bowls. So all these comes after like, ask for our convenience. We don’t want to use a bigger plate for an ice cream. Right. So right, we need a smaller bowl. So they started doing those kind of things.

Barb McGrath 4:27
Okay, if that’s interesting to me that you said you have a 15 inch platter because a 15 inch platter. I mean, that’s a serving platter, essentially. And when I think about a palm leaf, it’s not firm enough to serve something if I had one hand under a palm leaf, something at the other end is going to fall off. So is the Eureka plant leaf then quite a bit firmer. Yeah. Where is it that it is it is it is very firm. Like you said it’s bark more than it’s a leaf.

Sanjana Kumta 4:53
Exactly. I would say they are even firm, then a paper plate.

Barb McGrath 4:58
Oh, okay. Because you know, there’s nothing worse than those inexpensive paper plates. Oh, yeah, put chili. Yeah, there’s your plate melting on your hand, right? Yeah. And so, yeah, okay, that’s very interesting to me. Now, again, when we were talking earlier, it’s reusable in the sense that if you’ve used it to eat something like a sandwich, maybe even a hamburger, you would still be able to use it for a second meal or throughout the day. But if you have had chili on it, it’s not washable anymore. What happens in the manufacturing or the heat process that it goes from, you know, wash it off and use it to now It can’t be wiped off and used?

Sanjana Kumta 5:38
Um, you might have noticed on like a paper plate, sometimes it just starts soaking and then you can form like this air bubbles inside those plates. It kind of the same thing happens with these places as well. Okay, because we have tried it with both dry food and with the chilies and soup like this. We have tested it ourselves. Yes. And what we have noticed that it’s not as firm as the first time we use it. Got it open. They use it for the second time. It’s a little flimsy. So just for like safety reasons. That’s why we say like, okay, not to use it for the second time. Exactly. So they’re using a hot foot, you know?

Barb McGrath 6:16
Yes, exactly. So the bowl of soup the first time is going to be fine. Yes. The second time you wouldn’t recommend it. Yeah, yeah. Okay. bowl ice cream. Yeah, that might be a little bit different. For seconds with my bowl ice cream. Yeah. Okay. Again, I’m with you so far.

Sanjana Kumta 6:29
Not with the ice creams. I’ve tried it too for the second time. It worked fine.

Barb McGrath 6:33
Okay. So you know, that’s important. If you’re using this at a picnic, like two servings of ice cream. I think that’s almost a requirement. Right? Yes, exactly. Okay. So let’s talk about your vision. Because I think most companies, if you have a product that is good for the environment nowadays, there’s there’s almost unlimited potential. Everyone is trying to make better decisions related to the environment. So tell me a little bit about what you’d like to see in the future with GreenMaché.

Richard Arockiasamy 7:08
So, our vision essentially is really simple. We just want to see a lot less disposables in the trash. The good thing about this, like we mentioned, it is backyard compostable. When you’re done with it, you just tear it up into many beds and throw it into your compost. Okay, so it’s really good that way. And we want to make sure that more people hear about it and start using it versus opting for things like paper, which of course, you do have to cut trees down for Yes. So yeah, we want to try to make sure that more people hear about it. And we know that a lot of Saskatchewan businesses are going the sustainable route at the moment. So we want to try to get into as many of those and essentially go Canada wide after that. Okay.

Barb McGrath 7:51
Yeah, um, tell me a little bit more about the manufacturing process, because I know that the leaf is quite a bit better for the environment, even then a paper plate. Can you help explain to the audience why that is.

Richard Arockiasamy 8:05
So what happens is the Erica bomb sheds these, I guess you could call them the best of the tree, which naturally falls off anyway. And these fallen leaves are then collected, washed thoroughly to make them hygienic and clean. Okay, and then they’re layered and pressed heat pressed into shape. And then they’re just finished at the edges. So we can get them in any shape that we would like. So we can get them in square round platters, little dip cups, bowls, and that’s kind of our range of products that we have at the moment. Okay, so that’s essentially the process. And that’s why we can avoid a lot of the chemical processing that happens with other plates. They’re completely natural. Exactly. It’s

Barb McGrath 8:48
100%. Natural and and when you mentioned that, to me before, that was something that really got my attention. Because if you eat off a paper plate, especially if you’re eating something like chili, that’s now going to both start to saturate the paper plates and also absorb whatever’s in that plate. Exactly. All of a sudden, whatever chemicals are in that plate, you’re now consuming. And I don’t think I’d like to know the list of that. Yeah, yeah. A paper plate. And and you do you look at it, you think, Oh, it’s just a piece of cardboard. But it’s not just a piece of cardboard. Something’s holding it together. Something’s holding the shape.

Richard Arockiasamy 9:28
Chemicals. You know, something’s making it white. Yeah,

Barb McGrath 9:32
Yeah. Yeah. That is such a good point. sungenis something has made it white because there is no tree out there that has that perfectly white. Absolutely. inside. Nice. Yeah. So the product that you’re manufacturing, it retains all of its natural colorings, I presume? Absolutely.

Sanjana Kumta 9:47
Yep. Yes. Okay. Yeah. Like, like, sorry, like she mentioned. Those like zero chemicals, even with washing, they just wash it with running like cold water. That’s it. Okay, so there’s they don’t use any soap or any chemicals to take the dust off. They just use running water to wash it.

Barb McGrath 10:07
Okay. And the location that you’re having the plates manufactured, it’s still in India, right? So the the location that you’re having this manufactured? Are they manufactured for a number of suppliers over here in North America?

Sanjana Kumta 10:21
The manufacturer that we are dealing with he is he’s doing it in a large scale. Okay. And yeah, he’s doing it for other countries as well. And I think we are the first one from North America to reach out to him.

Barb McGrath 10:37
Okay. So here’s a big question for you. A decade from now, I mean, I know that you would love to be across Canada and national company, you wouldn’t have to retain a day job and do this, you know, evenings and weekends or between wakings with your little guy. But if an investor came to you tomorrow, and said, I would like to give you x dollars, so that you can start to manufacture these plates and become a national company. Are you prepared for something like that?

Sanjana Kumta 11:09
Um, I haven’t thought about that. yet. It’s a long shot. But I guess we’ll we’ll have to do a little bit more thinking on that one. Yeah. Yeah,

Barb McGrath 11:22
It could, it really changes your life over. Either money was there to become an to distribute nationally and have the volume? Or if Costco or Walmart, knocked on your door, sent an email and said, Hey, we heard The Secret Life of entrepreneurs. And it was a fantastic show. Hey, we’re gonna hire a bar. But be right? Because when you look at the kind of volume that stores like that you even if it was just a sketch one. I mean, like, I honestly don’t know how large of volume that is. But just imagine from logistics, like, how do we do this? And I don’t know about you, but I know if that ever were to happen to me, I’d be like, I don’t know what I got to do. But I’m gonna figure it out.

Yeah, for sure. Yeah.

Any idea how big your industry is? How many disposable pieces of dinnerware are purchased on an annual basis? Yeah.

Richard Arockiasamy 12:21
Like so far.

Barb McGrath 12:22
I know. I don’t mean necessarily your company, but like as an industry, so Okay, pozible dinnerware as an industry is pretty

Sanjana Kumta 12:29
Huge in India, right? Not right now. It’s been like that forever, okay. Even till they when you go to India, you will find for more than the paper plates, they use these plates. Okay. Um, so it is a it is a big industry. It started as like a cottage industry, but now it is pretty big.

Barb McGrath 12:50
Okay, so it’s a billion dollar industry, we just don’t know quite how big it is. Okay. For the four of you that are working and are investors in the company right now is the vision that, you know, eventually you’re all for full time in the business and you have your roles and set where you’d like to see it go.

Richard Arockiasamy 13:08
Ideally, I mean, we want to see this business grow. It has a vision that’s just beyond monetary, I guess, okay, we do want to make sure that if you go into Walmart or wherever you buy your disposables, if you do see paper plates and plates that we that you would choose a Rico plates instead. Right, right. So that’s the vision, we just want to make as many people as possible can do this. And if it has to go to that scale, then I’m sure that’s the vision. So

Barb McGrath 13:35
Exactly. That’s the direction that you could go. Well, you know, one of the things that’s always interesting to me is, as a consumer, there are products that I research before I buy them, and there and then there are products that I simply purchase because it’s convenient. And dinnerware is something that I’m going to purchase because it’s convenient. I’m not going to do a whole bunch of research. So if I know your company exists, and I know how and where to get your product, I’m much more likely to make that purchase. Right. So tell me about how you’re building awareness for the for the product. Where can someone purchase it, tell me a little bit about that.

Richard Arockiasamy 14:12
We are stocked in mortise and tenon which is on 11th Avenue in downtown. They carry our product. So if you want to pick it up, you can pick up some there. We are also marketing on social media like Instagram and Facebook. Okay. We also do have a website that you can contact us through. So we accept DMS on Instagram, Facebook, you can get in touch with us however you’d like and we can fulfill your order that way. We have also reached out to local Saskatchewan restaurants trying to get them to use these plates for their catering orders. One of those is sky cafe.

Barb McGrath 14:47
Yeah, Park

Richard Arockiasamy 14:48
Yes. My day. They really liked our plates as well. So they’ve started using them for their catering orders.

Barb McGrath 14:54
Yeah, okay. And if somebody goes to the Facebook Instagram website, can they purchase online or simply order online, and then you fulfill

Richard Arockiasamy 15:03
We are at the moment working on a payment portal for our website. Excellent. And so at the moment, they can just get in touch with us, and we will deal directly with them and have it delivered to them. Okay. Oh, Regina and area, we are based primarily out of Regina. So we can get in touch with them directly and have it sent over to them. Okay, but eventually we are working on having a payment portal just to make everything so much easier.

Barb McGrath 15:26
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And now this is an industry that I’m not particularly familiar with. But you hear a lot about drop shipping, where you purchase something, and then it shipped directly to your door.

Richard Arockiasamy 15:38
Yeah. Is this a product that you know, have you had conversations about, you know, how do we drop ship it so that you don’t have to be the intermediary? Absolutely. Eventually, that’s the goal. Just because we want to have people stocking these at their homes. And you know, it’s a it’s an inconvenience at the end of the day to have to keep contacting. So one. So we want to be able to make sure that they’re able to just get them whenever they want. Yes. And so yeah, we’re taking a lot of steps and working towards that. Trying to get, you know, our website set up and all of that going just so people are finding it easier to find us at the end of the day. Exactly. Yeah. Have you

Barb McGrath 16:15
Ever looked at the Regina Farmers Market having a booth in the farmers market? Yeah,

Sanjana Kumta 16:18
Yeah, we were. We actually thought about it. And then but we just since we all, like pretty title ready to just have to figure out some time and figure out a way to do it. Once we get figure that out, then we may find a stall there. Got it.

Barb McGrath 16:35
I haven’t seen your other two partners. But I mean, both of you are quite young, it’s unfortunate that you don’t have teenage children yet, because you can send them to the farmers market. And they can Yeah, literally sell your wares for the day and make a couple of bucks. And there you go. It gets the word out there. But just thinking, you know, the farmers market, I think that’s a really good target audience for you in terms of getting in front of them. Plus the other vendors that are there, likely would be very interested in your product, because so much of what they’re handing out, does go on to paper plates and things like that. Right? Yeah. So let’s talk about what you just touched on, Richard, you’ve got full time jobs, you’ve got young children. So how are you making all of this work? How do you carve out time to say, okay, we need to talk business. Now we need to deal with a sick child. Now I need to go to work. So how are you finding time that way?

Sanjana Kumta 17:28
Well, my two little kids are a little older than hers. So they are kind of look for some bar, they’re on their own. So which is okay, yeah, they’re

Barb McGrath 17:39
A little more independent, they’re

Sanjana Kumta 17:40
A little bit more independent. But then we find times like, when I don’t work, and when I’m off from work. Those are the times we just sit down and do few things here and there. Okay. Not necessarily. We both have to like sit down together and do it. She’ll do things on our own time. And I’ll do things on our own on my own time, and then we just kind of shared discuss.

And then yeah, that’s, it is really tough to have time for it.

Barb McGrath 18:09
Yeah. Balance. Yeah,

Sanjana Kumta 18:11
To find the balance. But yeah, we’ll be or somehow managing it.

Barb McGrath 18:15
Good for you. What, what rule do your other two partners take in the business.

Richard Arockiasamy 18:20
So we have people for marketing and talking to people just reaching out to businesses, we do a lot of research on who we want to talk to. Okay, and to get out to them. So they kind of fill in for us in that, as well as also on marketing the Instagram and doing the website is okay. So

Barb McGrath 18:37
Some business development, some marketing, some digital marketing all of those pieces. Yeah, it sounds like you’ve really found a nice, well rounded team to bring together. Were you all friends before? Or did you find each other through this project? or How did the four of you come together?

Richard Arockiasamy 18:53
We were friends from before. We were actually how this business started out was that we were actually sitting together one day. And we were talking about the amount of trash that is just generated every day. Like I work in a corporate office, and my lunchroom at lunchtime is filled with styrofoam boxes. And yesterday, styrofoam plates plastic. Yeah, sure. Oh, gosh, so much of that. And we were just talking about how that’s quite disturbing. And we thought that this was a was so much a better way, right to avoid that. And that’s kind of how we started going ahead with this. And we thought there could be a great business, especially since we’ve all been exposed to it. Coming from southern India, we know Arica it’s

Barb McGrath 19:41
Yeah, yes. Yeah. Good point. Okay, yeah, that’s a very good, you know, it’s funny, um, I remember, you know, even back 20 years ago, when I graduated from university, and so many people would go out for lunch all the time. And I used to watch that and like Kind of marvel at it, because I was like, how do they afford to go out for lunch every day. And, and I realized, you know, of course, as you get a little bit older it’s choices. So while one person will choose to buy lunch each day and spend the five or 10, or $15, the next person chooses to save that money or, you know, save for a house or take the travel. And so everybody has different priorities. But I think and if my husband is listening, he’ll agree with me, people are willing to pay for convenience. And so if you can make their life somehow more convenient, they’re willing to pay for that. And it doesn’t matter if it’s dinnerware, or getting your food or making your lunch, if you can make it convenient. Like you’ve kind of you’ve got it made nowadays, right? As long as your pricing is good. So let’s talk a little bit about that. How does your product compare from a pricing standpoint? If I go to Walmart, and I buy, let’s say, a couple of dozen paper plates, I honestly have no idea what I pay. But I’m assuming that you’ve probably done the research. So how does it compare for the consumer? Um,

Sanjana Kumta 21:09
Pricing is one of the biggest thing also that we are working on it. It is going to be it we cannot compare that one with the styrofoam plates. Because the styrofoam plates are and the paper plates, they are very cheap, right compared to our leaf plates. These are kind of a little bit on the premium side plates. Okay. Plus, we have to import it from India. Yeah. So, so our pricing a little bit higher. Okay. But when you look at it for other reasons, like why you have to use our acrylic plates and all these things, then you won’t find it takes one so

Barb McGrath 21:47
Yes, exactly. Well, and you know, most of the times when you’re making a purchase, if you’ve got an environmentally friendly option, it is a premium product, you’re paying more for it. Yeah. But one of the things that I’ve noticed is I it’s no different than fat free, gluten free, more protein, environmentally friendly. Many products save that. But in fact, they’re no there’s no improvement, there’s no gain, it becomes a marketing technique. And so let’s look at dinnerware. For example, when I’m looking at dinnerware in Walmart, there are some plates that haven’t been dyed. So there are a few less chemicals in that particular product. Maybe, but the consumer thinks, Oh, this is better for the environment. It’s better for me, it’s a little bit more expensive. That’s okay. I’m willing to pay for it. yet. In fact, it’s not necessarily better. Yeah. Right. So how do you help people understand your product actually, is 100% environmentally friendly, it has fallen off a tree, it’s not even picked off a tree? How do you communicate that message?

Richard Arockiasamy 23:02
We’ve tried to do a lot of that through our website and our Facebook page. Again, like you said, there’s a lot of education involved in this. Since it is such a new concept. Not a lot of people know about it. So yeah, essentially, it is what you get is basically just the leaf. There’s really no chemicals involved in the process. So we’re trying as far as possible to make that transparent, and make people understand what the actual processes. No one really knows how a paper plate is made? I certainly don’t know. But this is just a really straightforward process. And that itself just shows you how natural they are.

Barb McGrath 23:42
Yes, exactly. This might surprise you, but you we are basically out of time. So what I’m going to get you to do to wrap up, I know I get that expression from what I’m Dawn tell us one more time where consumers can find the product right now. And tell us your Facebook and Instagram address. So if somebody wants to get in touch with you who’s not local, they can also find the product.

Richard Arockiasamy 24:07
Kate so you can pick up a product at mortise and tenon which is just on 11th of Regina. You can get in touch with us on Facebook, our pages called GreenMaché. And also on Instagram. We’re called the GreenMaché why Cqr so that’s how you can get in touch with us. You can dm us you can also go to our website you can email us there.

Barb McGrath 24:28
Okay. And on the website. Is the product selection already listed? Yes. Okay. Yeah, perfect. So there’s lots of different ways that folks can find it. So the product is GreenMaché, and it’s a reco leaf bowls and plates and 15 inch platters. So look for it online or look for it in your local store. It is truly the only environmentally friendly disposable dinnerware product that we’re we are aware of as we have this conversation today. And I’d really encourage everyone who’s out in the audience to take a take a look for the product and see if you can find it. I know I’ll be looking for it. The next time I’m out anywhere near 11th Avenue, just to check it out. Because, you know, it never hurts to to give it a try. Right? Yeah. All right, well, let’s think about where we need to go next. So, um, that is pretty much our show for today. There we go. All right. So thank you, Richard and Santana. I so enjoyed our conversation today. And I have learned a ton. Yours is an industry that I absolutely knew nothing about. And so I really appreciate you coming and talking about the product and having to find a babysitter your little guy, her little guy is three months old. And you know, she’s doing this. I don’t know, I think she must like sleep work or something. Alright, so thank you very much for sharing everything. Um, I will be back with a gal by the name of Nadine joy. And she is a geologist turned coach, consultant and author here in Regina. So she reached out. And we talked a little bit about having her join me on the show. So she’s got a really neat story that she’s going to share, just like we did today. And she’s going to talk about her journey to where she is because she, you know, sort of moved through a different couple of different phases in her life and a couple of different crises crises that brought her where she is. If you would like to be a guest on the show, please reach out to Or you can even reach out directly on our Facebook and Instagram page at Just a reminder, you can also submit questions in advance of the live show on our Facebook or if you prefer on our Instagram page. So I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.


Barb McGrath’s been cracking the online code for nearly 20 years. She helps local businesses get to the top of Google with digital marketing training, web design, SEO, online reputation and advertising. Most importantly, she’s earned the trust of Google.Barb runs the only Google-approved agency designed to show you how to turn the online “stuff” into in-store buyers.If you depend on in-person customers, you need Barb’s step-by-step, online marketing plan to generate a steady stream of onsite buyers and make it rain money. She is the host of the Secret Life of Entrepreneurs, a local radio show and iTunes and Google Podcast.