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Business of the week: Cup the Market, commercialising your morning coffee while saving the environment

PUBLISHED: 16:03 09 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:04 09 May 2017

Francois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani, founders of Cup the Market. Picture: Henry White

Francois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani, founders of Cup the Market. Picture: Henry White

Henry W R White

In a weekly feature, we profile a fascinating company doing business here in Islington. This week, we visit the founders of Cup the Market in Bunhill Row's Cass Business School.

Francois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani, founders of Cup the Market.Francois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani, founders of Cup the Market.

Seven million disposable hot drinks cups – many of which are unrecyclable – are thrown away in Britain every day. But where environmentalists despair, entrepreneurs Francois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani see opportunity.

The friends, who met at Cass Business School in Bunhill Row, just off Old Street, founded Cup the Market last year to pioneer a whole new advertising market – while solving the growing environmental impact of the country’s coffee-on-the-go culture.

“We realised when you go to universities and coffee shops the cups are white – there’s nothing there,” said Francois.

“So we thought, alright, we can get brands to advertise on campus: for instance big recruiters, or other startup brands. Maybe this is the best way to generate revenue to recycle the cups.”

Francois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani, founders of Cup the Market. Picture: Henry WhiteFrancois de Vinol and Koorosh Madani, founders of Cup the Market. Picture: Henry White

The pair held a pilot scheme at Cass in October, during which 80 per cent of their cups were thrown away in specially-designated bins. Cups from these bins were then collected by partner company Simply Cups which recycles the cups itself.

Now Cup the Market’s cups can be found in 10 places, including a handful of coffee shops in Islington, with tech firms, banks, consultancy firms and charities among its advertising clientele.

“We’re more and more obsessed with coffee,” says Francois.

“We need to surprise people. Advertising has been there for years and we don’t really care about what’s on the Tube or online but coffee is always a great moment. It’s a break in the morning or after lunch. You’ll always enjoy your coffee and if you have beautiful artwork on the cup then there’s no way you’re not going to look at it.”

Cup the Market is even in talks about advertising for Unicef later this year. “We really think it’s going to be a game changer,” said Francois.

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