The 2021 Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants cast the net wide to find Australia’s most innovative new businesses who deserve a boost to help them go global. An expert panel chose five winners – let’s meet them.
Prisca Ongonga-Daehn founded her company baresop in 2019 to help reduce single-use plastic bathroom products.
Imagine 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 80,000 tonnes piled up in the Pacific Ocean, covering an area three times the size of France.
This is the reality of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, according to scientists from Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation developing advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
It was a conversation with her family about the ocean’s plastic problem that led Prisca Ongonga-Daehn to come up with a solution to help people cut down on single-use plastic products in their bathrooms.
The business idea: Waterless, zero waste personal care products
When she learned that the water content in products such as hand and body washes require them to be packaged in single-use packaging, Prisca founded baresop and went on a two-year journey to find a waterless, planet-friendly alternative.
“I believe we all have a purpose and we’re all capable of making a difference,” she tells Kochie’s Business Builders. “My vision was and is to create an impact way bigger than me.”
Prisca’s research resulted in baresop’s first product: a plant-based hand and body wash powder concentrate delivered in a certified home compostable sachet. Customers can either use their own reusable plastic bottle with a foaming pump or buy one from baresop, add 300ml of water and one sachet. Each sachet provides more than 300 pumps.
“I found a gap in the market for a solution that makes it super easy for people to reduce their single-use plastic waste from the bathroom,” says Prisca. “We decided to focus solely on the bathroom and innovate an easy solution that’s also relevant to modern and busy lifestyles.”
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A solution-focused approach
It wasn’t the easiest of business journeys, as Prisca initially faced pushback from the industry, constantly being told that her concept was not doable. But the purpose-driven entrepreneur refused to give up. “We just kept pushing on, believing that we had a solution that was ground-breaking and we were going to do everything we could to make it reality,” she says. “I am solutions- not problems-driven by nature, so I saw this as a welcome challenge.”
As well as ensuring that every step in the manufacture of the company’s products is as low-emission and environmentally friendly as possible, Prisca was also keen to make the hand and body washes natural, non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free.
“My life journey and health issues brought me to a point where I had to change what I let into my body,” she says. “So I lean towards plant-based products not just in regards to food but also with house care and skincare products. I’m aware of how toxic ingredients affect our internal makeup and how that’s linked to our overall mental and physical health.”
The next steps in baresop’s growth
It’s been just seven months since baresop launched its first products in November 2020 and the Melbourne-based company is off to a strong start. According to Prisca, baresop has seen a 50 per cent monthly recurring revenue and a 70 per cent subscription rate for refill sachets.
Prisca’s local business growth is about to receive a boost after she was named one of the five winners of the Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants, winning a prize package worth $200k to grow her business online.
The Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant includes $20,000 cash, Amazon advertising support, an exclusive Amazon boot camp experience with experts, a national advertising package with JCDecaux Nurture and access to industry experts and onsite marketing placements on Amazon.com.
Through these marketing and mentorship opportunities, brands like baresop can get their products seen by more Australians and focus their efforts on innovating with new, unique products.
“Winning this grant will propel our sales growth, and the advertising, sales and marketing support will give us more visibility in Australia and the USA – a market we wanted to get into early on,” says Prisca. “As an early-stage startup, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the scale of branding and promotion this opportunity has brought.”
Amazon Launchpad is Amazon’s exclusive program for startups and entrepreneurs who’d like to grow their businesses online and reach millions of potential customers. The program also helps businesses with inventory management, order fulfilment, customer service, and marketing support.
The grant will go a long way to helping Prisca realise her vision of revolutionising the personal care industry, both on our shores and beyond.
“This is a global concept,” she says. “In five years, we want to be a global market leader in waterless personal care.”
Meet the other Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant winners:
Find out more about how new and emerging brands are growing locally and scaling globally on Amazon Launchpad.
This article is brought to you by Kochie’s Business Builders in partnership with Amazon Launchpad.