Australian agency B-Corp is taking another step forward in the march towards sustainability, launching a range of reusable stainless steel bottles alongside its plastic range and once again using the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to help fund the development of products.
Founded by Jonathan Byrt and Jesse Leeworthy in 2014, memobottle makes flat reusable water bottles the size of a book or notepad, designed to slip into bags and briefcases without being too cumbersome.
In the past seven years, the founders say that memobottle sales have diverted more than 100 million single-use plastic bottles from trash, and in 2016, the co-founders even included their bottles in gift bags at the Oscars. .
For every bottle sold, memobottle donates enough to provide five months of clean water through the US nonprofit water.org.Through that partnership, Byrt and Leeworthy claim that Memobottle has provided more than 11 million days of clear water, to date, and in the next two years, expect that impact to double again.
The new stainless steel products come simply as a response to an “undercurrent” of customer demand, which has been there almost from day one, Leeworthy says.
But the new products also follow an 18-month roller coaster ride for the business.
In a global pandemic and work-from-home world, there is understandably less demand for reusable bottles, particularly those designed to be placed alongside your informational documents. And, before COVID-19, 70% of Menobottle’s revenue came from in-store sales.
At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated an existing trend toward environmentally conscious shopping.
“Society’s ecological anxiety has increased,” explains co-founder Byrt.
“A lot more people are buying more consciously.”
The founders doubled their business online, focused on product development and reaching out to their community of customers and backers.
“In recent months we have probably found ourselves in a better position than we could have been,” says Byrt.
Growing up together
Now the co-founders are reaching out to that community to help finance the production of the stainless steel range. At the time of publication, the campaign had already surpassed its initial goal of $ 27,367, with more than $ 28,000 pledged by more than 200 backers.
This is Memobottle’s third Kickstarter campaign, following its first foray into crowdfunding in August 2014. That campaign saw Memobottle surpass its $ 15,000 goal considerably, with 6,118 backers ultimately contributing more than $ 260,000 in funding.
His second campaign reached its goal of $ 30,000 ($ 40,580) in nine hours, and went on to raise $ 137,238 ($ 186,896).
In 2018, the startup raised another $ 383,238 through an equity crowdfunding campaign in Birchal, which brought 398 investors on board.
Including follow-up investments, made after the Kickstarter campaigns closed, the founders have raised more than $ 1 million in pre-order crowdfunding, to date.
While Byrt says he doesn’t want to “put a dollar figure to fool ourselves” on the current campaign, the pair feel ambitious in terms of their stretch goal and hope this will be the company’s most successful campaign to date. date.
When asked why they are sticking with Kickstarter, rather than going the venture capital route, or equity crowdfunding again, Leeworthy points to the “very loyal fanbase” the platform has helped build. .
“We were essentially born out of crowdfunding,” she explains.
But equally, he says that campaigns that see sponsors pre-order products essentially put the power in the hands of the customers.
“Kickstarter is like market research at its finest,” she says.
He means that if the team designs a product, but aspiring clients aren’t interested, they just won’t.
“It’s a very good thing to involve the customer base in the business and the direction of the business and really help us grow together.”