Biodegradable Construction Stakes 

Mother Earth will appreciate it almost as much as the landowners!

Our Idea

Who are we?

I am an aspiring Civil Engineer whose background in business has made me realize the competitive advantage that something as restrictive as regulatory requirements can provide.  By finding a balance between the emerging concept of “Bio-engineering” and conventional construction methodology, I have created a product that can streamline yet another universal construction practice while minimizing the impact on the built environment.

What are we offering?

Conventional construction stakes are a primary item used in surveying.  Many of these stakes are piled into the ground in order to communicate right-of-ways or boundaries to other parties over a short term period, but the problem is the vast majority of the installed stakes are not reclaimed – they stay in the ground.  Additionally, most stakes are colour coordinated in order to represent different things on a construction site.  Colour is often added via typical spray-cans and corresponding flagging tape.

What I am proposing is a cardboard-based construction stake.  This product can still follow the typical “install and forget” procedure.  The difference being, you can feel good knowing that the product will be out of the way sooner when it passes its usable life cycle.

Who are we offering it to?

This is a product that can be used throughout the construction industry, though it would be most impactful in the pipeline industry given the relatively high linear meter measure in typical projects that occur in remote areas (which are often environmentally sensitive).

Why does that person care?

There is a notion that the construction industry (in general) generates the vast majority of “waste” in our communities.  This is simply another solution to address the sociopolitical aspect of a necessary sector that gives company’s another argument of due-diligence towards constructing in a sustainable manner.

Our distinctive competencies

Our construction stake biodegrades in less than a quarter of the time that a conventional stake can decompose in.  This is because the corrugation provides more surface area exposure which makes the stake more susceptible to regular weather-related erosion.  This does not pose a problem since locates are only valid for 14 days from their initial installment.

Instead of relying on post-purchase oil based spray-can paint, our stakes are pre-coloured using the same type of inert dye that is used in “flow tracing” in water bodies to test for sufficient mixing.  In layman’s, this dye has no detrimental effects on the environment it is used in and is already an environmentally acceptable option.  The dye comes in a series of colours to correspond to typical colour codes in construction.  More specifically, Rhodamine WT (Orange), Lissamine FF (Green), and Amino G Acid (Blue) are just some of the basic strands used in this environmentally responsible product.  Additionally, the fluorescent dye that we use is less expensive and less wasteful than the typical flats of spray-can paint that are commonly purchased.

Above all of this, we are the only company that builds regular sized stakes (48 inch) out of these materials.

The substitutes & alternatives

The substitutes and alternatives that exist all have a common problem – due to the lack of retention, site management is seen as unprofessional and irresponsible until the stakes are taken care of.  This typically involves an unhappy landowner who is left to take care of the clean-up.

There are some biodegradable stakes that exist, but they are used for more things such as geotextile anchoring which means they have to be built out of a more substantial material (commonly recycled plastics).  This means that their decomposition time is in the range of 2-3 years – much longer than our cardboard design.

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Our Pitch

Our concept pitch

Our personal pitch

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The Value

Our first key person

Although not our primary customer, the first key “person” is the general public.  We see the impact of the public word on construction projects each day.  Look at the amount of pipeline projects are consistently rejected based on environmental premise alone.  Adding this element to high profile projects directly addresses the influence that the public has on provincial approval of these type of jobs.

Our second key person

This is where our customer comes into play.  The best thing a construction company owner or general contractor can do when it comes to environmental sustainability is to accommodate the general need of all stakeholders involved.  It also provides an opportunity for companies to increase their own margins since the product itself is cheaper.

Our third key person

Our final “person” is the directly affected stakeholder – the landowner.  Whether it is farmers, indigenous people, or the government, having a short term solution to what some call an obstacle, disturbance, or eye-sore provides a platform in which all can continue on with their regular routines without having to escalate any potential disputes any further.

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Your feedback and ideas

Feedback on our idea and your assessment of it are incredibly important. Please provide yours below.

Giving feedback and making an assessment are pretty straightforward, but make sure you know how it's done »

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3 Comments

  1. Customer (C)

    8.7

    Value proposition (VP)

    9

    Substitutes & alternatives (SA)

    9.2

    People (P) on the team

    9

    Offering (O)

    9.3

    Distinctive competencies (DC)

    8.1

    Overall a great idea that has strong value and could potentially shake up the construction industry in terms of becoming more environmentally conscious wherever it is possible.

  2. Customer (C)

    10

    Value proposition (VP)

    8.8

    Substitutes & alternatives (SA)

    7.5

    People (P) on the team

    9

    Offering (O)

    9.5

    Distinctive competencies (DC)

    9.3

    I think your value proposition is really well defined, it’s very obvious how this could be great for the public, the customers and the other stakeholders. Minimizing impact is a really important issue across all types of development and I think if you can get the product to perform as offered, that it’s a great idea. I’m not sure how you will get enough strength along the stake to endure the pounding of a large hammer, while simultaneously degrading within the short time frame you have proposed. However, the idea of using inert dye to colour the stakes and remove the need for extra paint is a great way to build in more value for the customer. I suspect that if you could make it work, that this would be a very high impact innovation!

  3. Customer (C)

    8.7

    Value proposition (VP)

    9.2

    Substitutes & alternatives (SA)

    8

    People (P) on the team

    10

    Offering (O)

    9

    Distinctive competencies (DC)

    9

    Overall an awesome idea, its a step in right direction for sure in terms of the environmental approach. My chief concern is the integrity and strength, particularly when held against a pounding hammer. With that being said there are several methods of pounding a stake without causing excessive damage to it. I do see the value in needing less paint and the movement to the dye approach.
    You clearly understand what is needed to make the venture viable. However, my biggest concern is the Substitutes and Alternatives, as the current stake is pretty diverse and has lasted for quite awhile in the area of surveying as the ideal marker for construction. Although I have faith that your venture will find a niche within the market.