Show Notes

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What do you get when you cross a mechanical engineer, an architect and 900 investors? Something incredible and groundbreaking. Pierre Paslier is the co-founder of Skipping Rocks Lab, a London based startup that are solving the problem of single-use, flexible packaging with Ohoo.

Ohoo is a flexible sachet used to package liquids from water to alcohol and condiments to cosmetics. They’re on a mission to reduce plastic waste and are taking the startup world by storm. Tune in to hear this inspiring story and tips for capturing the hearts and minds of consumers and investors with crowdfunding.

In this episode you’ll learn

  • The importance of solving a real problem that people can clearly understand
  • How to look to the past for answers to innovation solutions for the future
  • How to create products that fit seamlessly into everyday human behaviour
  • How to capture the hearts and minds of customers and investors
  • How to get the help and support you need from experts and investors
  • A handy resource for running a successful crowdfunding campaign

Notes and Links

Skipping Rocks Lab, creators of Ohoo

Ohoo on Twitter

Ohoo on Instagram

Read more about edible packaging including an edible water bottle, edible packaging and edible cutlery on Eco & Beyond.

Resource of the Week: Kickstarter Creator handbook and Kickstarter Campus community

Episode Transcript

Guy: [00:00:01] You’re listening to Good Foodies and this is Episode 33. Today we’re talking to Pierre Paslier from Ooho! water. They’ve created a flexible and edible material out of seaweed and are on a mission to literally make packaging disappear. There’s also some great tips about raising money through crowd funding and a resource of the week which will help you achieve a successful campaign. So, stay tuned.

Kylie: [00:00:28] This is the Good Foodies podcast a weekly show about people, brands, and businesses doing good in the world of food.

Guy: [00:00:37] Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Guy Routledge from Sampling Digital and Eco & Beyond and I’m here with Kylie Ackers in the studio today. Kylie, welcome to the show.

Kylie: [00:00:46] Hello.

Guy: [00:00:47] Today we’ve got an amazing topic a really innovative start-up working in the packaging space. Have you heard of these squishy balls called Ooho? I think that’s how you say it.

Kylie: [00:00:59] I have heard them and funnily enough I’ve met the co-founder,Pierre, at a Table Club event. And on that first question I said to him is “How the hell do you pronounce this?”, and he basically said “However you want”, because apparently when they came up with his product they were struggling to find a name for it. And every time they explained it to someone or showed it to someone they went “Ooh!” and so that’s where the name came from.

Guy: [00:01:24] That’s amazing.

Kylie: [00:01:25] Yeah. So I met Pierre at a Table Club which is, these dinners that they put together for founders to come and talk about their businesses. And so typically other business owners or other entrepreneurs come along. And it was a fascinating evening. I said there was like 12 of us around the table. And I’ve never been to one of these where there was this many questions. I mean it’s a really fascinating topic and Pierre had a couple of the little, uhm, I wouldn’t say that they’re balls because they’re more like the sachets like you would use when you put in your washing machine. So they’re kind of like you can see where they’re kind of heat sealed on the outside. But I have seen in some of their other videos that they are actually spherical and they’re quite big. So you can kind of hold them in your whole hand and piece the packaging with your teeth and then kind of suck out the liquid whereas the ones we had you could actually put the whole thing in your mouth. So I think they come in in various different things. But yeah totally fascinating. I was lucky enough to sit next to Pierre for the first half of the dinner. And I’m sure that he had an earache after all the questions that I asked.

Guy: [00:02:28] Well you were just prepping him for the experience with me because I also have many questions.

Kylie: [00:02:32] Yeah, no totally at the end of that dinner I said to him “Hey we’d love to get you on the podcasting site” “Yeah, sure. I’ve never done a podcast before so that’d be great!”.

Guy: [00:02:38] Well he was like a natural he just got on the call and spoke about what he knows best which is himself, his story, and his business.

Kylie: [00:02:46] On the night, he was super relaxed, super comfortable and just a really nice guy and clearly, super passionate about what they do which is so great to see.

Guy: [00:02:54] And I guess something that doesn’t come through on the audio is that he’s quite a young guy, isn’t he?

Kylie: [00:02:58] Yeah. He’s like literally just out of university by a couple of years. I was super jealous sitting there listening to his, you know, straight out of a masters into something so fantastic for the planet. He’s got a great future at it.

Guy: [00:03:11] Yeah absolutely. And so without further ado let’s just jump into that conversation that I had with Pierre.

The Interview

Pierre: [00:03:21] I’m one of the co-founders of Skipping Rocks Lab, and we are a start-up based in London and we do sustainable packaging, and we focus specifically on using natural materials such as seaweed to try to create an alternative to the single-use plastic and single-use packaging that we use in our everyday life. And specifically we’ve started with a product that is called Ooho!. And it’s, you could describe it as a bubble, completely transparent made from the seaweed extract, that can contain beverages such as water or juices or alcohol or sauces, cosmetics, lots of different things. And what’s quite specific about these these type of packaging is that the packaging is actually edible so you can get rid of the packaging by eating the outer layer. And this is something that we’ve been developing for the last four years, and we think that it’s a potentially great innovation specifically for consumption on-the-go. So we’ve we’ve been focusing for the past four years on things like marathons or festivals. And now we’re looking into how to bring this innovation to retail and also to take away. Recently we’ve been developing versions that encapsulate ketchup and mayo for your deliveries so that your takeaway is not creating a pile of plastic.

Guy: [00:04:51] It’s amazing. So you’re talking about an edible water bottle or an edible piece of packaging and it’s made of seaweed, did you say?

Pierre: [00:04:59] Yeah. So we’re using extracts from brown seaweed particularly in the product, the first product, Ooho!, and what’s quite amazing about seaweed, is that it’s got a lot of, it’s really good for tackling the problem of packaging because packaging needs to be cheap, it needs to be easy to process, and it needs to be quite resistant and seaweed is super renewable. Some of the seaweed that we use grows up to three meters per day. That just shows how quickly that resource grows. It’s edible in pretty much all oceans around the world. And it has the potential of being much cheaper to process and to extract than plastic when the price will well keep on rising. So, definitely it’s one of those materials that is exciting to look at for the potential it has for packaging and in particular it is this one element that is quite interesting about seaweed is that it’s not competing with food crops. So it’s something that is not going to divert some of the agriculture away from feeding people.

Guy: [00:06:05] Wow, really interesting. And so can it be any type of seaweed or is there a specific kind of species or style or you mentioned brown seaweed. But to me that is could be just the colour of it or it could be a particular type. Can you talk a little bit more about that.

Pierre: [00:06:20] Sure. So you’ve got different species of seaweed but within the family of brown seaweed, that commonly called kelp. You’ve got tens of species in different continents, in different oceans around the world. I think to date we’ve tried probably about 20 species of brown seaweed and we have relatively similar results. So there’s really a potential for using local seaweeds when we reach scale. And in the world of seaweed you’ve got lots of different species and the colour is what defines this category and it has a special extract that is the one we’re using in our packaging. And that extract is basically the building block of the seaweed. So if you think of our packaging we get rid of all of the brown things and this many things so it doesn’t, it’s not salty, doesn’t smell like fish but it’s it’s it’s the building block of the seaweed that we basically extract from the seaweed and recombine to create a transparent film and yeah that’s how the process

Guy: [00:07:28] It’s brilliant. So I’d like to get into the background and where all this came from in a second but before we do that I have so many questions about this about this thing. I’ve seen pictures of it on your website. And but I’ve never had the chance to really see one in person, but the way that it’s been described to me is kind of like, one of those like gel capsules that you might put in your washing machine or something like that in terms of it’s this squishy bowl of something with a liquid inside. Would you say that’s about right?

Pierre: [00:07:56] Yeah, I think in terms of of comparables. We usually say that our packaging is more like a fruit than like a bottle. And this is something that we try to bring in the design of of those sachets as well like, how do we make people feel like this is something that comes from nature and something that is that is very natural. It is a flexible film, so it basically gets its structural integrity from the content that is inside of the sachet. It also means that once you’ve finished to drink it if you if you decide not to eat it and you throw it away, it completely collapses because it’s just a film. Which means that also it takes very little space when once it’s consumed. Often people ask what the taste of the membrane is like and actually we’ve worked a lot to try to make sure that there is no taste. As there is nothing that reminds you of seaweed. Basically it has a bit of texture but it has absolutely no taste. This is something that we think is important for a packaging not to have any kind of impact on the content. But that being said, for specific applications we can also add taste, specifically for juices and cocktails we can add a bit of a flavor on the packaging itself so that once you’ve drunk it and eaten it, there is a bit of an extra aftertaste.

Guy: [00:09:22] That’s an amazing idea. I really like the sound of turning it into a, into a cocktail, maybe that’s just because, it’s the afternoon and I quite fancy a nice relaxing drink, but there’s so many, so many options that you can do with it. And of course I guess one of the huge benefits of it is that it’s an alternative to plastic and not only is it an alternative to the material and all the resources and energy that goes into creating plastic. But then there’s no waste at the end either because you can literally eat it. But it’s interesting that you compared it to a fruit because I believe that it’s also, it will decompose and it will degrade in a similar kind of time span to a piece of fruit, if you were to not eat the packaging but to kind of drop it or leave it or just put it on the side of the, on the desk or something.

Pierre: [00:10:07] That’s correct. And actually that’s one of the most likely scenario when we look at how people will consume our products. We think that being able to eat it is going to vouch for how natural it is, but when you consume a beverage you don’t really want to eat the packaging afterwards. So most of the time people will be able to discard the packaging in a bin just like they would of the peel of a banana or an apple or any kind of leftover disposable packaging. And you’re absolutely right that the packaging itself is entirely biodegradable. Biodegradability is something that is hard to define and the word has been misused a lot recently. So to give a bit of an idea to everyone that it takes four to six weeks biodegrade so it’s on the very very short side of the timescale that, that biodegradability can mean. And we like to make that distinction between the different solutions that are branded as biodegradable I think that’s one thing that we’re really passionate about to have something that is not creating any hidden problems. So for example the, like the main bio-plastic that is used currently for, as an alternative to PET and to plastic is PLA, it’s made from corn or from crops and then it’s depolymerized into these polylactic acid. And for example, this type of bio-plastic doesn’t degrade on its own, it needs to be in the special industrial compost, and if it leaks into the environment you will take the same seven hundred years than a normal plastic bottle to biodegrade. So what was really important for us when we started this was to create something that, in the worst case scenario where we failed to, as a safe society, to collect it, and to treat it. If it reaches the landfill or the environment the ocean is not going to be something that creates a long-lasting problem. And the motto of the company is we make packaging disappear and decided that packaging could disappear really quickly something that we are very interested in.

Guy: [00:12:19] I really love that motto and I think it is just so wonderfully clear. It’s like we make packaging disappear. It’s got such a nice ring to it but it’s just really sums up exactly what you do as well and what’s interesting is you’ve now turned this into into a business and we can perhaps talk to that a little bit later on today but this is not your primary background you’re not a businessman by trade you’re a scientist, aren’t you?

Pierre: [00:12:41] We’re a group of people that is sometimes hard to define because our backgrounds don’t really represent exactly the kind of activities that we have right now. But my co-founder and I met during a masters called Innovation Design Engineering in Royal College of Art and Imperial College here in London and this is a message that brings people from very different backgrounds. So personally I was trained as a mechanical engineer and then I worked in the packaging industry for L’Oreal so I was making shampoo bottles by the tens of millions. And my co-founder has a background in architecture and in design. So we didn’t really approach this problem from our own expertise but we found inspiration in things that were already kind of existing and trying to leverage some blocks of technologies that that had been there for a long time. And when we started this, this project during our masters we got inspired by fake caviar and those kind of small-ish tasting bowls that you can find in the supermarket and those are actually using technology called spherification that combines calcium salt with this extract from, from brown seaweed at the very small scale to make those bubbles. And that was kind of the starting point. We looked at this old food technology from the 60s, and we thought how can we try to leverage that to make something different to make packaging and they work. There had been a lot of interest in this technology as well in the 90s for MIT molecular gastronomy but it always stayed in the kitchen. It was something that was more for the experience of biting into something for a fancy restaurant dessert or something like this. And so when we started looking at the potential of this technology we tried to basically make the scale of those bubbles as big as we could, and we found a few different tricks that allow this to make the first prototypes, but quickly we kind of reached the limits of what we can do, without a background in seaweed or in biology. And being based in Imperial College, that was a great opportunity to quickly meet people from different backgrounds, chemical engineering, chemists, and put together a team of people who were able to push the technology further and try to re-reach the level of performances that are required for making a packaging. So that’s really where we managed to progress the technology in. And then a bit further than that, we also had to find a technology for the manufacturing of these that would be very scalable and that would solve a lot of the problems that are unique to this packaging. And we realised that we couldn’t really use the classic manufacturing model of the rich companies which is having a big factory that maybe serves an entire country or a few countries, a bit as a hub. And our protocol would never survive the shelf life that is required for going through the supply chain.

Guy: [00:15:55] Yeah, because I guess, if you put liquid into this membrane which is biodegradable then it’s going to dissolve eventually and how long does that take.

Pierre: [00:16:05] Yeah. So that’s a really good point. I think that we became very conscious that if you want something that can disappear within four to six weeks, you’re not going to have a shelf life of three years like your average bottle on on the shelf. So we really focused on these instant consumption and actually the biggest problem was how do we bring those products quickly enough to the consumer. And we kind of turned the system around and said, well maybe we have to make it exactly where it’s going to be consumed. And we started to develop the manufacturing process that is based on local manufacturing. So the idea is, that we can produce exactly where you’re going to consume the product a bit like an espresso machine, if you will, is going to produce your coffee just before you drink it.

Guy: [00:16:54] Oh,wow.

Pierre: [00:16:55] We were working on making this machine as small and efficient as possible so that we could reach these like production on demand. So the model for for us is going to be to basically distribute those machines and sell the raw materials for people to be able to encapsulate their own beverages and sell directly to their consumers, products that are made fresh for same day consumption, let’s say, the shelf life can be extended to a few days but with this model you can really make something fresh that is going to be consumed almost immediately.

Guy: [00:17:30] It’s really interesting the way that you talk about it like like an espresso type model where you’ve got something that sits on the kitchen counter and you can make your coffee from the little capsule. I’m assuming that this isn’t the kind of thing that would sit in some body’s home because that perhaps wouldn’t be the need for them to package up some some water or some ketchup or some cosmetics in in the home. But I guess this is something that you’d be putting into like a cafe or a restaurant or a takeaway place rather than at home. Would that be right?

Pierre: [00:17:59] That’s exactly right. And we are we’re looking at those places where there is a need for a disposable packaging for on-the-go consumption. I mentioned marathons but basically those running events are a very good example of a drink that is going to be consumed within seconds, and that’s probably like one of the worst uses of plastic you could imagine.

Guy: [00:18:19] Yeah.

Pierre: [00:18:20] Plastic is basically indestructible. So we’re trying to target those phases where there is the biggest gap between what we the current packaging is going to create as a waste and how quickly is going to be used. And as you mentioned for cafes and for our restaurants and basically the fast food industry, we’re really interested in how we’ll be able to enter this area because the facts are shocking I think that on average the small plastic bottles get used within less than five minutes. So we just are so used to buying those products consuming them instantly and then not wanting to carry around the like the packaging of the bottle and I think that there is a real opportunity to have something that is made on the spot in your local Pret A Manger or Starbucks or in your, like in a festival or wherever and and then you would consume it in a matter of like minutes, and forget about it without creating any negative impact on the environment.

Guy: [00:19:24] Yeah. I mean one example that kind of springs to mind for me is we use one of these meal kit services that are called Gousto, and they send out all of the ingredients that you need to make a series of recipes that you order online and a lot of the time they’re packaging up things like spices or vinegars or mayonnaise and stuff like that. And it’s, sometimes they come in a branded package but sometimes they’re just in like a clear plastic pouch and something like this would be perfect for that because, I know that recently they’ve pledged to slash their plastic use by 50 percent or something, but this sounds like a really really interesting alternative to that kind of problem.

Pierre: [00:20:00] Actually that’s it. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because one of the latest developments that has a lot of potential I think is a trial that we’ve done with Just Eat, the delivery platform. And we’ve been providing one of their restaurants for six weeks with ketchup and garlic mayo sachets for the burgers and the pizzas that they were sending to their customers. It just works perfectly. The average time that the product is going to be used is a few hours which matches perfectly the shelf life of our products and even those restaurants get deliveries of those sachets every couple of days so the local manufacturing concept works really well for them. And I think that, this is, some of those single-use plastic have to go and they are next on the list. I think the ketchup sachets are the new plastic straw, there’s gonna be a lot more needs for finding out the answers to these because people will want an alternative. When you look at the whole packaging industry, there’s lots of products that really require very advanced properties from very well-understood plastics polymers that we are going to have a hard time replacing, but there’s also a lot of them where there is natural materials that will do the job right now, and we just have to separate those so we can no longer have the same small plastic bottle for every type of event. We have to segment the ones where we actually need these kind of products and the ones where we can use an alternative.

Guy: [00:21:37] And I can’t remember if you said already, but what is the shelf life of like a water, Ooho! thing, I’m trying to find the right word for it.

Pierre: [00:21:48] Yeah. The sachets, the shelf life is something that we can control to a certain extent. So it’s between a day and a week. But again we’re always trying to formulate to have the fastest biodegradability and it’s always a compromise. So if you want a week shelf life or a month shelf life, you can have a total different biodegradability duration.

Guy: [00:22:13] Yeah,makes sense.

Pierre: [00:22:14] For us, we really focus on the markets that require the shortest shelf life and therefore can disappear as quickly as possible.

Guy: [00:22:21] And in terms of the cost, I mean, how does it compare to something like a plastic water bottle?

Pierre: [00:22:26] That’s one of the things as well that we are very excited about with this technology. I think that, if you want to have large impact, we have to compete with plastic on price. And I think that when you look at the situation at scale, there’s definitely a market for these products that is going to be able to compete with plastic. To start with, obviously we are start-up so we don’t buy our raw ingredients at the same kind of prices as we will in the future. But we we already have the vision that within a few years we’re going to really be able to offer to people something that is going to be possibly cheaper than the present alternatives. And I think that our market of seaweed packaging is going to grow and decrease in price whereas plastic is bound to become more expensive as well. So there’s definitely a lot of reasons to be a first mover and like jumping to this new type of packaging because sooner or later the plastic option will just cost more.

Guy: [00:23:30] Cost more in terms of money but hugely more cost to the environment as well which is something that’s very much on in the news and on people’s minds at the moment. And it’s great that message is starting to come through and people are starting to think a little bit more about all this stuff. And you use the word impact a few seconds ago and there’s a wonderful thing on your website which speaks to your mission for impact with the company. I don’t know if you know off the top of your head but I’ve got it written down here it’s something like you want to stop one billion plastic bottles reaching the ocean every year and stop 300 million kilograms of CO2 from ever being emitted. I mean that’s a heap, there’s some huge numbers there and it’s a huge mission to have.

Pierre: [00:24:13] Yeah. I think those are huge numbers but they cannot represent how huge the problem is as well.

Guy: [00:24:20] Absolutely.

Pierre: [00:24:21] What’s really exciting for us is now we’re getting to a stage with this start-up where we really have something that works and that we were able to scale that solution. And so by being able to have these distributed manufacturing all around, we can really start to have an impact in lots of different places around the world in a very organic way. And when you look at the problem, I mean like a billion plastic bottles sounds like a lot but in the US alone, there’s more than a 100 billion plastic bottles being used every year so I think that this is just the scale of the problem and looking at how the undergo market is growing and is already about like 30 percent of the packaging market, is just a huge part of the problem that we can tackle immediately. So we’re really really excited to see how we can have some impact at scale

Guy: [00:25:16] And in terms of scaling up, I’m assuming something like this to develop and innovate and do all the research and development on is is very expensive. So have you, have you had a lot of funding to help you push it along?

Pierre: [00:25:28] For the, along the four years of existence of Skipping Rocks Lab, the start-up, we’ve had different sources of funding. We started thanks to European grants and that’s been really helping us at the very beginning to get together basics of the business and about a year and a half ago we decided to do an equity crowd funding campaign. So we basically opened to the public to buy shares to the company through the platform Crowdcube. It was a incredible moment for us. We basically doubled our target just within three days so there was a like very very unexpected feedback from from the community and from all those new investors. We also had a lot of visibility, I guess, on social media as some video is getting 100 million views and it was just insane, so been really really important for us to get that awareness so that people can reach out and and expand their program and we can try to provide solutions so it’s been a great way to fund the project. And now we have 900 investors that are little investors all around the world, and like being excited for us and trying to create a future opportunities for the business, so, a great model for scaling the business. And recently we’ve we’ve taken some funding as well from from Sky Ocean Ventures, it’s a new funds launched by Sky to try to accelerate the impact plastic pollution on the ocean. And I think that there’s a lot of common ground with with their fund and we’re really excited to have them on board to try to accelerate things as much as possible.

Guy: [00:27:16] It’s fantastic to hear and you have, did you say you had 900 investors through the crowd funding round?

Pierre: [00:27:21] Yeah that’s correct.

Guy: [00:27:22] Fantastic. How much did you raise for that?

Pierre: [00:27:24] So that was eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds in total.

Guy: [00:27:29] Wow impressive amounts of money to be able to do an impressive mission to take on this kind of stuff. And the way that you speak, you’re very eloquent and you seem very calm and you just answering all these questions as they come and talking about this thing that you love and have been working on for years. But I imagine it wasn’t a smooth and easy ride. Surely there were some challenges along the way in terms of what were you doing and how you were going to solve this huge problem. Can you talk us through some of those some of those stories and the events that must have taken place over the last four years?

Pierre: [00:27:58] Yeah I think that it’s been great at times and harder at other times and definitely in the first couple of years, for real, like the period before the crowd funding where the resources were really stretched, it was really hard to see how we were going to bring this innovation to the world. It’s been great to have a lot of support from families and friends and also a really good relationship with my co-founder to really try to find the easiest way to put things in action. And I think that there was always this motivation, we always saw the impact that we could have and that’s been driving us a lot. So even when it was not necessarily easy to see how things were coming together, there was this vision of actually really bringing an alternative to the world that was that was quite exciting. And I think that that’s something that in other start-ups that are focused on sustainability and meeting other founders, it’s a really powerful drive. And I think that it’s something that is also inspiring a lot of people to start their own company and and jumping into this this ecosystem of trying to find alternatives to all the programs that we’ve created for ourselves.

Guy: [00:29:22] Yeah, absolutely. But I guess it must be very different now that you’re a co-founder of a company that’s got 900 investors, you’ve raised a huge six figure sums, but it all started when you were a student doing a master’s at Imperial and UCL and so how how has life changed as a result of that?

Pierre: [00:29:39] We’ve tried to keep the culture that we had from the beginning and we are still doing things the same way we have, the ability to accelerate a lot how we how we work, but we, we still really like to have a very hands-on approach to developing those solutions and even thinking of, when we started we actually made the first prototypes in my co-founder’s kitchen. When you look at our office and lab now, it actually looks more like a experimental kitchen than like a traditional lab. So I think you can definitely keep part of that culture alive as you grow and I think that’s something that is important for us that it feels like the way we created it is is consistent with the way we’re growing it, and we’re trying to keep that life

Guy: [00:30:33] Yeah. And have you had to pick up the kind of, the business skills required to to be a co-founder that’s running a company with all these investors along the way or did that come naturally to you?

Pierre: [00:30:43] No, absolutely not. I think that it’s one of the funny things of being more of a technical co-founder, you learn the business skills a bit on-the-spot, I think we learnt a lot from the show Silicon Valley.

Guy: [00:30:58] The TV show.

Pierre: [00:31:00] We can’t learn things on-the-spot and I think that we made a lot of mistakes. Not as a bad mistake but mistakes where you you learn something at the end so it was it was always a learning experience. We’ve now, like, built a team with people who are excellent in their in their jobs and so now we have all that are really skilled and the team is doing fantastic work. Yeah, there’s been times at the beginning where we had to navigate with limited skills in the business world but at the end of the day, there’s something about business that is about common sense, and so you’ve got to convince people that what you’re doing makes sense, and as long as you can leverage that, the rest can be figured out somehow.

Guy: [00:31:48] Absolutely. I think it’s something that we’re always striving for in our business is to keep things as simple as possible and to make them as clear as possible. Because if you have something that people can understand, then they can get on-board and especially when in a business like yours where the mission is so so big and powerful and kind of really drives everything. If you can connect a simple concept to a simple but powerful mission, then you’re onto a real winner. And that’s exactly what you guys have done which is which is amazing. And I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these things to really see what they like. So where could we find them? Where are you, where are you working at the moment? What kind of events are you at? or how can we get our hands on these things?

Pierre: [00:32:29] So we’re still finalising the development of the machine, so that’s why there’s limited availability of the product but we’re having more and more trials underway and hopefully from like 2019 there’s going to be a lot more machines available around the country to see those products more regularly in specific places. But over the summer we’ve done a few festivals, so that was a great way to test cocktails, and I call the shots, we are continuing the trial with just treats. So there’s gonna be a few restaurants that are going to be serving their takeaway food with ketchup and Mayo sachets in the coming month. We continually, continuously work with running event organisers to try to provide the most sustainable way to consume water at those events. So if you follow us on Instagram and on Twitter, you’ll see the events that we planned to do in the coming month. And hopefully from 2019 there’s going to be a lot more continuity in where Ooho!’s available.

Guy: [00:33:41] Brilliant stuff and we’ll link-up these accounts in the show notes of goodfoodies.co.uk, so if you want to go and follow the guys at Skipping Rocks Lab, then you’ll be able to find all the details over there. We’re drawing towards the end of the time that we’ve got together today and it’s been absolutely fascinating listening to the story and you know some information about the product and really really wish you guys all the best with it. You’ve talked a little bit about the next steps already and I’m sure there’s people listening who have dreams of creating similar kind of impact or innovating to create something completely new and interesting. And so from the experiences that you’ve had over the last four years what would be your one piece of advice to leave the listeners with?

Pierre: [00:34:23] One thing that has been key for us and I don’t know how to transferable it is, but when you create something that is capturing people’s imagination, the social media can have a really important role to play, and that’s something that translated quite well for us into the crowd funding. So, if you’re starting something that is easy for people to get excited about in terms of like the prototypes of the business idea and that you can translate that into a crowd funding campaign, that’s that’s a very easy and maybe unprecedented way to fund a business. I think that ten years ago that that would have been a much harder task for this kind of concepts and ideas. So, I’m really impressed by how people are basically funding other people to do things that define interesting or fascinating and I’m a big advocate for more crowd funding because I think that it’s it’s funding project that otherwise might not get the money from business angels or from the traditional investors. I don’t think that it works for every project, but certainly if it’s something that is relatable, it’s one of the most interesting ways to get funding and put your plan into action.

Guy: [00:35:49] That was Pierre Paslier from Skipping Rocks Lab and Ooho!And you can find out more about them at skippingrockslab.com and oohowater.com, that’s O O H O water.com. Still to come today are lessons learned and resource of the week, after this.

Lessons Learned

Kylie: [00:36:15] Great to hear those stories and explanation again from Pierre. I feel like I was back at the dinner table from some months ago. But one of the things that Pierre mentions here on the interview but really could we delved into it a little bit more at the Table Club dinner was this idea of having something that the public really engage with, and apologies if I misquote you here Pierre, but, on the night he was saying that, they’ve done some video for their crowd funding campaign and then someone came along and took that and kind of did a montage of it, put some music to it, and created something slightly different and put it up somewhere on social without Skipping Rocks Labs permission or without Crowd Cube, and it didn’t tell anyone, and that’s the video that went viral and that’s what helped them to raise their money. Oh, actually, well exceed their target in three days and there’s apparently a point at which point Pierre said to Crowd Cube, “Do we just keep letting this go or do we like stop it now?”, and the guys in Crowd Cube of course they’re like, “Let it go!”.

Guy: [00:37:18] Wow, that is amazing, isn’t it? And I think this comes back to something that we were chatting about whilst we were listening back to the interview which is a business is all about solving a problem. But if you can solve a problem that that people can really get behind, then it’s going to really capture those hearts and minds of people. And in this case, I mean this is just one example of that literally going viral.

Kylie: [00:37:43] Yeah. And I think too, it’s not just solving the problem but solving the problem in a way that’s really easy to communicate to people. So with balls, you know people can see, oh okay, it’s like literally a ball in a film, I can eat it, there is nothing left. So there’s no need to explain.

Guy: [00:37:59] It’s so simple.

Kylie: [00:38:00] Exactly. Everyone can get it, like a couple of pictures and people go, “Oh, I get it.” All right.

Guy: [00:38:04] It’s also such a novelty as well. The thing that first kind of captured my heart about it was there’s a little photo that they’ve got of somebody squishing this ball between two fingers and then it explains what it what it is, and the combination of the slightly unusual image, and then a description of something that is such a common problem like wanting to have a bottle of water or a sachet of something. That combination of things is just really interesting and works so well.

Kylie: [00:38:33] Yeah. But then on the other hand you take a couple of seconds, “Oh okay, so how would I transport that? And who else has had their fingers on that?” So all these questions come up and that’s what it appears. Got those challenges now of the shelf life and all of those kind of, I guess intricacies to the product so you know having the uniqueness is gray but it also comes with many many challenges.

Guy: [00:38:55] But perhaps that’s a good thing in terms of the amount of questions that people have like you had lots of questions for Pierre at the dinner, I had lots of questions for Pierre on the, on the interview. And if you’re ever in a situation where someone says, “Oh, so what do you do?”, and you explain it, and they’re like, “Oh, OK.”, and they have no questions, chances are either you haven’t communicated clearly what it is that you’re solving or how you’re solving it. But yeah if there’s lots of questions and people like, “Oh, that sounds interesting, how about this? How about this? How about this?”, then I think that’s a good sign that you’re onto something.

Kylie: [00:39:25] Yeah, I think if they’re the right questions people wanting to know more than you know you’ve got something. If they’re the kind of “What you mean?” questions like this the confusion questions, then I think probably no, you haven’t got it just right yet.

Guy: [00:39:37] Yeah, absolutely. And so, I mean whilst this isn’t a simple thing that you can just go in immediately apply to your own business, I think it’s just something to be aware of and you know it’s always evolving always changing. You’ll come up with new ways of talking about things or new videos or new photography or whatever to communicate that stuff, and yeah, it’s an ever evolving thing.

Kylie: [00:39:58] And I think too like, Pierre came up with this solution of packaging, but then they had to work out the application of it and I think that’s we’re thinking about a case of how would this work best for the product but also work best for consumers? How are they most likely to engage with this product? And that’s where I think the real power comes and so everyone should be doing that in their business. It’s not just thinking about it from their own product perspective, but thinking how are the consumers going to, you know, receive this and how are they going to engage best with it and kind of use your product or try to use your product in that way.

Guy: [00:40:31] Yeah. And what’s what’s really interesting about this is it’s a completely new form factor but it’s not trying to change consumer behaviour too much. And there was even something that he said in the interview like when most people drink a bottle of water, they don’t then go and eat the packaging. And so, even though that is possible with the with the Ooho! balls it is not necessarily what everybody will do and so they’re trying to work within the boundaries of normal human behaviour.

Kylie: [00:40:58] Yeah, and he’s not like that same with the mustard and the ketchup or whatever we just did. He’s like, that’s gonna happen, right? These these takeaway companies are going to send these out with take away orders so why not just try and change the packaging so that when they do go out at least they’re not harming the environment.

Guy: [00:41:14] Yeah absolutely. I think it’s some great stuff there. There was one other thing that you wrote down as well which I think is definitely worth talking about.

Kylie: [00:41:21] Yeah. Pierre talks at some point about when they’d got to a certain point in their journey, they realised that they didn’t have the skills to kind of keep going to finish the journey and to really take it to market. So they went looking for those skills and I think because they’re so young and they’re innovative and perhaps it’s because they’re a little bit more scientific. Some of the ego that some people have, so they think, “Oh, I have to do this all myself”, whether it’s ego or just pride, I don’t know, but there is a tendency for entrepreneurs to want to do it all themselves and to learn everything. These guys went, “Nah, we’re good at what we do, we need some help with whatever it was”, they went to look for that, and they were in the perfect environment for us so they just went to their, to the local college wherever they were doing their masters and kind of found the experts that they needed to help them with the next stage of their journey.

Guy: [00:42:09] Yeah, I mean great to be able to just kind of walk down the corridor and say, “Hey, is anyone know anything about this because we’re stuck”. So important to get help. And and yeah I think that’s a really good point about the ego and the pride, it could be a combination of one or other or both of them but yeah, getting help whether that is getting help with money or getting help with building a team or just you know asking for advice and recommendations and stuff like that, communities is so important in this, in this field because you know you don’t know what you don’t know.

Kylie: [00:42:39] Yeah, and I think the same applies to the crowd funding that they’ve given away, I don’t know how much of their equity, but they’ve given away some equity in their company in exchange for some money and they would not have been able to kind of get to where they are if they hadn’t done that. So I know a lot of founders, us included, have talked about, you know, not wanting to give away too much of their company certainly before it’s successful, but I think equally if you don’t give away that and bring other people on board you know you might be doing yourself some detriment.

Guy: [00:43:07] Cool, good stuff. So I think that’s pretty much everything that we have for this. Should we move on to the resource of the week.

Resource of the Week

Guy: [00:43:17] So our resource of the week this week we’re going to continue the crowd funding theme. We were hunting around for some tips, some advice, like a handbook or a guide or something to to share to help people with crowd funding. We know it’s a hugely popular route to market especially for innovative products. It’s a great way to capture the hearts and minds as we’ve talked about already. And we came across this brilliant resource on Kickstarter. So they’ve got two things actually. The first is a handbook which is like lots of advice about how to run a successful crowd funding campaign, but then they also have a whole community platform as well which they call the campus where you can go and ask questions and get advice from people who have either been there and done it before or who were going through the same kind of experience as as you, so yeah, kickstarter.com. Obviously a great platform for crowd funding but they’ve got some really good advice and an educational material there as well.

Kylie: [00:44:15] And the thing I love about Kickstarter especially for smaller businesses is that it’s a reward based funding platform rather than an equity based one. So really all you’re doing is pre-selling some of your product which is great that if you want to go when presell before you invest a lot of money in making something and you want to test the market, it’s a great way to be able to do that and basically not lose out a load of cash.

Guy: [00:44:38] Yeah. And I think it is a nice way to kind of give back to those people who are helping you get off the line at the very beginning and of course it can also be a great marketing channel as well in terms of raising awareness.

Kylie: [00:44:50] Those of people use it as marketing activities getting in front of completely new people because there is a whole audience on Kickstarter just continually looking for a new cool products to invest in.

Guy: [00:44:59] Yeah, I mean these are the early adopters and these are the people who have the potential to become your ambassadors and to spread the word far and wide about what it is you’re doing, some great stuff out there. This handbook contains all the kind of stuff that you might need stuff about getting started, telling your story, working out what those rewards are going to be, and really going through the funding experience as well promoting your campaign. How to communicate with everybody and then how to fulfil all of those those rewards at the end as well. So some some really great stuff there. We’ve got links in the show notes at goodfoodies.co.uk or you can probably find it if you just head to kickstarter.com.

Kylie: [00:45:37] Copy that, difficult to find, truly.

Guy: [00:45:38] Cool. So that wraps it up for another week. Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it as always. As we said for notes and links and details of how to find Skipping Rocks Lab and Ooho! just ahead..

Kylie: [00:45:51] O O H O!

Guy: [00:45:51] Ooho!, is it?

Kylie: [00:45:51] That’s how I call it.

Guy: [00:45:52] Okay, well we can do, we can continue to debate this when we wrap things up here. I’m sure it’ll be a fascinating discussion, and yeah. Thanks for joining us this week. Have a fantastic week ahead and we’ll see you next week. Just..
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Kylie: [00:46:08] Bye for now.