CUNY students pave way for sustainable future with Quiick Briick

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

By laying down one brick at a time, the six co-founders of Quiick Briick promise to build a better world with environmentally friendly building materials. However, building such a world will take time as they, too, are building the foundation of their startup.

Quiick Briick will produce durable bricks made with upcycled plastic from recycling plants, but it projects that its products will enter the consumer market by 2024. For now, the up-and-coming small startup struggles to raise funding and produce a prototype without adequate support. However, at the very least, it has a website.

The startup is run by six students from different CUNY campuses.

Quiick Briick’s co-founders are also diverse in their cultural background. Two members are African American women, while two others are Hispanic American males. One member is an Asian American male, and the last member is a Chinese immigrant.

Three of the members also indicated that they are first-generation college students.

It started in 2020 as an idea by CEO Jessica Brewington, a single mother who studies business administration at Lehman College. She said that she was “researching worldwide solutions on how we can get rid of plastic and recycled plastic safely.” Engineers in Kenya developed brick homes using recycled bottles, but this idea was not as big in the United States market.

“I had an idea of interlocking pieces,” Brewington said. “What made me think about this is that we don’t have in the United States too many options for alternative building materials.”

The business’ six members met in the following years through workshops and programs at the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship, including CUNY Startups’ “New Venture Accelerator 1” program.

Chief Sales Officer David Jimenez first met Brewington through one of the center’s “PitchPREP” workshops.

“I came to the workshop looking and wanting to get an idea for a business,” Jimenez, who studies marketing at Baruch, told The Ticker. “I knew I wanted to do something but didn’t know what. Gary [Smalls, the program coordinator at the Field Center,] told us to look for people with ideals and visions as ourselves to work on an idea.”

Jimenez recalled that he could see the “positive impact on the environment” Brewington’s idea had.

Running Quiick Briick requires each co-founder to balance their responsibilities at the startup with their academic studies, their extracurricular activities and personal lives. However, being part of the team enriches each member’s knowledge of the business world, proving useful as they pursue business-related degrees.

Chief Financial Officer Adam Mock, who studies finance at Queens College, said Quiick Briick reopened “doors and possibilities in connecting with others.” He initially thought this wouldn’t be useful and added that “it allowed me to see the entrepreneur, business side of the spectrum.”

Chief Engineer Shenjie Qiu, who is studying for his master’s in business administration at Baruch, acknowledged that “it is not easy to develop a business,” as Quiick Briick’s co-founders “are from different backgrounds with different thoughts and contribute in different areas.”

Each co-founder has taken on different responsibilities to keep operations running smoothly. Mock added that communication and transparency among team members is important in running a startup. Ultimately, for CUNY students like them who want to launch their own business in a “big world with dangerous obstacles,” he says that “all you need to do is learn to get around it.”

Quiick Briick is navigating its financial obstacles by securing government funding and competition rewards. To its success, the startup raised money for a $6,000 loan from the nonprofit organization Kiva.

To raise more funds, the startup’s website sells security safes and snow removal equipment, such as shovels and salt. Quiick Briick also held a fundraiser by selling assorted snacks and gifts at the Field Center’s “Baruch Marketplace” event.

Brewington added that the business was recruited by a clinic with the New York State Science & Technology Law Center, which will help Quiick Briick in patent research. The startup is also partnered with the Rochester Institute of Technology to help develop a prototype. Still, it seeks more collaborators — such as a private or public laboratory — to create products.

But Quiick Briick’s co-founders are determined to produce sustainable bricks — ones that are both fireproof and weather-proof — to be built into homes that will protect people. As Mock told The Ticker, they want to protect the environment by taking plastic out of it and into its product, creating a “happy and healthier world for the next generation to come.”

“We will not give up no matter what problems come our way,” Mock said. “Whether it’s race, our age, our education, our set-back —  we will strive till we get this product delivered to the world and right now our world is crumbling little by little.”

Until it sells its first order, Quiick Briick will take all the support it can get.

“A little goes a long way in business,” Brewington said. “To me, if you’re trusted with a little, you’ll get a lot. So, if the company reaches out and wants to know more about us, we will pretty much try to do our due diligence.”