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Impact 0244: Making Good Paint

Lester Leong · 22 October 2021
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Lester Leong, 29, is one of the co-founders of gush, an advanced materials company best known for its air purifying paint. His passion lies in creating sustainable and eco-friendly products to ensure that they do not harm the environment. Today, he shares more about his company and the work that he does.

1.
Tell us more about gush and how it started!

We are a company dedicated to innovating and developing sustainable advanced materials for a better living environment. Most notably, gush’s flagship product, the gush cair interior paint, contains no toxic pollutants and is also able to purify indoor air, remove mould, and eliminate bacteria amongst other benefits. 

Beyond the paints, gush is also continuously developing and commercialising other advanced materials in the area of anti-thermal and disinfection technologies to improve the functionality of surfaces around us. 

We started out because we noticed that traditional building materials were very pollutive, releasing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) during and after the renovation process for as long as 15 years within the interior environment. After understanding the effects of indoor air pollution and the health of occupants, we set out to solve the root cause of the problem – starting with better, less harmful paints.

2.
What inspired you to come up with paint that improves the quality of air?

With walls having the biggest surface area around us and paint being a very malleable mixture,we thought it would be the perfect material for us to tinker with and potentially make the most impact on the indoor environment. 

We thought to ourselves: if we could turn the biggest surface area around us into a functional indoor surface for people, why not turn our walls into that surface?

3.
Starting a business from scratch must have had its challenges. Could you share some of those challenges and how you overcame them?

Personally, there are three key challenges that we have experienced and continue to face. First, we experienced giant competition. We are competing with incumbent established brands with massive financial reserves. It is important for us to respond fast and be nimble to changes. It is also important that we understand our customers’ needs and create value that will win them over.

Second, we had to address the scalability of our business. Unlike digital start-ups, we deal with tangible products that require proper resources to be coordinated, delivered and applied in a physical environment. In order to scale up our business, we have to develop a full stack of complementary products to leverage on the same unit of labour deployed.

Third, we had to learn how to deal with management.  Commanding respect among older colleagues is always tough for young founders. Communicate frequently and rationalise from objectivity rather than subjectivity.

4.
What keeps you motivated when the going gets tough?

Seeing the company grow is really motivating!

5.
If you could share one thing with future environmentalists/entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Recognise that being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Understand the risks and the hard work involved before taking the leap.

6.
What are your plans for the future? Are there any new products or initiatives?

We started out as an advanced materials company looking to change the world one surface at a time. However, we are now looking at developing other sustainable building materials that go beyond the surface to improve living environments. To help mitigate the rise in global temperatures, we are pushing for anti-thermal products for exterior facades and windows..

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