What products, services, solutions or technology have you developed?
I started my career by launching the first compostable coffee capsules in the world, into the NZ and Australian market. Since then I have worked on trying to shift the entire packaging industry to move away from using finite resources such as oil, and sand, into renewable resources.
My first business taught me that a better material alone will not save us, and we have since developed plant-based compostable packaging and reusable, plant-based and recyclable packaging options that come with a circular end of life option (local composting or recycling bottle to bottle in NZ). We have bottles of water on the market, as an example that shows what is possible when we design and use packaging with circularity in mind.
What key customer problems or customer "wants" does your solution solve?
The moment I came up with our first bottle was in a petrol station. I was on a seven hour drive and needed water, like all of us do. When I walked up to the fridge, I became frustrated. If I wanted to buy the water I needed, I had to buy it in an oil-based plastic bottle. There was no practical choice around it.
This is true for most products in our day to day life. If you have a pet, unless you want to go and wrangle a beast yourself, you will generally have to buy your pet food in plastic packaging, that will end up in the landfill or may not be recycled properly. You want the product, but you don’t want the waste. We want to provide a choice in these moments. Allowing businesses to create quality products, and consumers to enjoy them, without having to use finite resources and create unnecessary waste.
Packaging is generally the elephant in the room. We make packaging that businesses and consumers can be proud of and that we believe is the best, and also most sustainable option currently available. We find this can only happen through end-to-end design and ensuring that the materials are matched with a system that allows for true circularity.
A business might make the best skincare in the world for example. They are experts in their space, but they are not packaging experts. This is where we come in. A plug and play solution to circular packaging.
Who are where are your target customers?
We chose water as our in-house product to be a billboard for what is possible when we do packaging right. We are not a bottled water company, but a bottle of water is something that can reach and be relevant to almost everyone. Our water bottles are made for anyone who wants to go about their day to day, but not create unnecessary waste, and do it in a way that feels aligned to them. This product is for everyone.
We then offer packaging to companies who make amazing products, that are generally let down by packaging that has been proven to cause environmental harm, be it oil-based plastic or glass which has a very high carbon footprint and leads to the over-mining of sand. We work with companies who are dedicated to having their products in leading sustainable and circular packaging options.
How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
In 2015, while standing at the fridges of a petrol station and not wanting to pull over every 30 minutes to stick my head under a tap!
ANEW provides reusable and recyclable plant based bottles and packaging, designed to give customers access to user-friendly and beautiful products, while having a lighter footprint on the earth.
How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?
Our philosophy to date is that if we are innovative enough, and create high quality products that do good, we won’t need to try and compete with the marketing budgets of some of our competitors. We will never beat Coca-Cola and their game of large marketing budgets. So we are playing our own game and focusing on doing the right thing and letting other people walk with us and talk for us. Which has worked to date and feels like an authentic way to make a brand known.
We tackle a clear and known problem so people generally welcome a solution.
We stand behind our products and getting products into people’s hands works well for us. We use our products as billboards and try to provide as much information as we can, that is accessible from the bottle itself.
We know that people want to do good. We just need to provide them the products and systems that allow them to.
What's been the biggest challenge you've faced in building your business so far?
When we launched our compostable bottle, New Zealand had no collection for compostable packaging or composting sites designed to accept them. So we had to build a nationwide collection and composting system from scratch.
We also compete with some of the largest companies in the world, this comes with its own challenges but we have become stronger and more innovative because of it.
And finally, COVID. As much as we try not to talk about it, we can’t deny how much of a challenge this presented for us. We were growing rapidly from launch until March 2020. We then lost 98% of revenue overnight and had to learn how to be resilient. It was a challenge at the time, but we can now look back and see the amazing lessons we learnt and changes we have implemented since.
What is the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
If you are starting a new business, you will have an idea or vision of what that looks like. Don’t let this overwhelm you, as there is a lot to do.
Break it into bite size chunks and think, what can I do today? Great businesses are built from many micro moments and decisions. Show up everyday and do what you can.