The Fast 50 experience with Ecoware
Their vision is to provide sustainable food packaging that is superior in quality and affordable in price - Alex Magaraggia and James Calver, the founders of Ecoware, talk to us about the Deloitte Fast 50 experience, the community and what has driven their business growth through to now.
Tell us a little about your business and your goals for the future.
We develop and manufacture single-use food & beverage packaging made from plants. Our packaging produces fewer emissions in production in comparison to oil-based packaging and is designed to be composted after use, facilitating the diversion of food waste and packaging from landfill.
It’s our mission to strive for a waste-free world, which ties in with our goals to grow a multi-national company that continues to disrupt and improve the waste industry, with a view of achievingng a circular economy. We want the food we enjoy to be disposed of along with its packaging, returning to the soil with zero-waste systems and reduced reliance on landfills and oil.
Awesome! What has driven the growth of your business over the last 3-5 years?
Many factors… This industry is growing as consumers want more sustainable solutions to traditional oil-based plastic. There is an increased movement of passionate consumers wanting to lead by example, which is helping to drive growth.
As younger business owners, we have had a strong focus on technology and always challenging the status quo. We view ourselves just as much an innovative IT business as we do a packaging business, and it’s because of this we have disrupted an industry which traditionally was not tech focused. We’ve created an “experience” for our customers to make buying sustainable packaging easy and rewarding.
Furthermore, we also have a very customer-centric approach to business. We go above and beyond for our customers and pride ourselves on quick and accurate responses and high standards. It is this level of service and response that has seen us go beyond customer service and make it about customer “experience”. We’re always thinking of ways to get a “wow” reaction, which has helped us see growth over the last few years.
What unexpected lessons have you learnt along the way?
Expect the unexpected! We’ve had plenty of surprises along the way, and things always go wrong. You expect to start at A and get to B, but sometimes you end up at C or D. This isn’t necessarily bad, but we have had to learn to be flexible. A lot of the time, the intention you’ve got at the beginning isn’t necessarily the intention you’ve arrived with at the end. The best thing is to stay focused on your overall goal.
And never say no to a coffee. You never know what might come out of that half hour of your time.
From your perspective, what creates a fast-growing business?
These days you can no longer focus purely on a profit-driven business. To be successful, you need to embrace the triple bottom line approach - giving as much consideration to social and environmental concerns as you do economic.
Besides having a good product or service is not enough, you need to be unique and disruptive. A business that enhances social or environmental well-being will gain momentum, which needs to be supported by a strong brand that is authentic, communicates well and is purpose-led. Given the power of social media these days, the consumer's voice is more powerful (or detrimental) to a brand than any marketing campaign.
Lastly, ensure you are constantly learning from others and seek advice from everyone around you. There is danger in complacency, and there is always room to improve.
Why did you enter the Fast 50?
When you’re growing quickly, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. You forget to stop to celebrate the wins you are experiencing along the way. We had some pretty substantial growth over the past five years and wanted to put a stake in the ground and celebrate it. The Fast 50 certainly helped with this.
What did being involved in the Fast 50 bring to your business, what did you get out of it?
The Fast 50 experience and community was great. We met plenty of people on the same journey and made valuable connections. Most importantly, it was a chance for us to get all our team together to celebrate hard work. We’re proud of our achievements, and we couldn’t do it without our team.
13 July, 2018 by Keri Clendon,
Keri Clendon is the Deloitte Fast 50 programme lead. She's enthusiastic about celebrating the successes of fast-growing Kiwi businesses.