Seventeen-year-old Nabil Hamdan founded his business, the World of Bamboo, after seeing all of the plastic at B.B. Clarke beach on Madison’s east side and wanting to make a difference in helping to save the planet. On Saturday, May 30, he will be featured on the TV show “Project Pitch It!” to show how he uses bamboo as a plastic alternative as a way to fight plastic pollution. Nabil will be hosting a Virtual Watch Party on the same day where he will present attendees with a free Bamboo Straw Bundle Gift.
“The first 50 people to sign in will get free products. After the show premiere, they will be asking me questions and I will give them a rundown on my business and how it works and what I do,” Nabil tells Madison365.
The taping of the TV show “Project Pitch It,” a Shark Tank-style show in which entrepreneurs pitch their unique business plans and products to investors, happened a couple of months ago in Milwaukee. “It was so exciting. It was probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve never had,” Nabil says. “I’ve never had make-up put on me. I’ve never been on TV in front of a big camera with lights and everything.”
Were you a little nervous?
“I was very nervous,” Hamdan smiles. “But there is a saying that ‘pressure makes diamonds,’ so I think I performed really well.”
Up until this season, it was only adult entrepreneurs on “Project Pitch It,” vying for cash prizes or access to mentorship programs to boost their business. However, for the first time, this year the nine-week show is featuring student entrepreneurs from middle and high schools in Wisconsin.
You can watch the entire “Project Pitch It” show featuring Nabil on Saturday, May 30, 11 a.m. on Channel 27 in Madison. The Virtual Watch Party is later that day at 2 p.m.
Nabil’s World of Bamboo uses bamboo as a plastic alternative as a way to fight plastic pollution. The idea came to him when he was at one of his favorite Madison beaches, B.B. Clarke on Lake Monona, where he would always be disappointed to see the plastic, the pollution, and the straws that would roll up on the shore.
“I was brainstorming one night. I had written a paper about how bamboo is a renewable resource and I started researching bamboo products and I saw there was a huge market and that it was underused,” Nabil remembers. “I saw people on Instagram putting bamboo straws in their drinks and I thought to myself that this is kind of an underground market that nobody knows about. I loved that it was so ecofriendly.”
Nabil is one of the CEOs of Tomorrow’s These Teens Mean Busine$$ Incubator teens. At last year’s Teen Pitch & Launch Event, the culmination event where participating teens pitch and launch their businesses after developing them for 12 weeks in the These Teens Mean Busine$$ Incubator program, Nabil was awarded $1,000 for first place among the 15 business ideas students presented before a four-judge panel. He was among many teen entrepreneurs who were judged on their pitch presentation, social issue, storefront (decoration/branding of table used to sell products), and customer service/professionalism.
“At CEOs of Tomorrow, we strive to unwrap the brilliance within our youth through our entrepreneurial programs for social good. They know that the best way to predict the future is to make an impact on it today, and Nabil is doing just that,” Roxie Hentz, CEO of CEOs of Tomorrow, tells Madison365. “He is an incredibly talented young man full of inspiration and promise. We couldn’t be more proud of him!”
Nabil is only 17 and finishing up his junior year at Madison La Follette High School and is attending Madison College full-time through the Early College STEAM program. Last year, Nabil became the youngest person to ever become a member of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County.
“It was really nice because everybody at the Latino Chamber has welcomed me with open arms and I really like what they are doing,” Nabil says. “They are really helping me with the taxes and the numbers for my business.”
The World of Bamboo’s headquarters are located in Nabil’s bedroom at his parents’ house.
“I get all of my raw material and bamboo from Indonesia. I have a drill bit where I drill out the straws and I sand them and I boil them to make sure they are all clean,” he says. “Everything I use is renewable and all the straws will last 8-10 uses before you should get a new one. The nice thing about the bamboo straws is that you can throw them into your compost bins or in your garden and they will just biodegrade within 4-5 months.”
Nabil hopes people will check out his website, tune in to channel 27 for his television debut on Project Pitch It! and also come to his virtual party so they can see the passion behind his business, learn about his products, and hear about how his business has grown since the launch.
“I think the party will be a lot of fun and I know people will enjoy the show and I think people will enjoy that somebody from Madison is on a national stage,” he says. “I will be sitting there for an hour or an hour and a half answering questions and I hope to educate a lot of people and let them know more about what I do and why the World of Bamboo is so important to me.”