Episode Three: Success in the UK!

This is a transcript of the latest episode of 'Now, That's What I Call Business', my podcast on building Incrediballs. You can listen here.

Kia ora and welcome to Now That's What I Call Business, where our discussions are just like our drinks, packed with good stuff, a little bit bubbly and sure to leave you feeling refreshed. I know that's really lame. But I like it. I'm your host Brianna West and as the founder and former CEO of Ethique I tackled the beauty industry's waste problem ridding the world of 20 million plastic bottles so far, and now with incrediballs, I’m just fizzing with plans to revolutionize the drinks industry. I’m trying to get so many puns in this because I feel like it’s just built for it. But tell me if it’s too much. This podcast isn’t just about our journey, it's about sharing our experiences, our successes, missteps and our aha moments, all in the hopes of inspiring and educating other mission-driven entrepreneurs to create businesses that change the world. So, let's crack open episode three and let's change the way you drink. 

I landed back in Aotearoa New Zealand last night from the UK. So today we're going to be talking about progress in the UK, the incredible name, opportunities, positioning, communications and community, and, I’m going to top it off with my absolute favourite thing, which is our charitable donation scheme. So welcome back. I'm delighted to have you and thank you so much for all the ratings, reviews, kind comments about this podcast. You know, it's, it's a little bit of a weird thing to do as a solo host and I really appreciate all the kind words. If you have feedback that's less kind, that's okay. Send it my way. Now, the UK, it didn't stop raining. At all. As you'd imagine, but they didn't prevent the progress or should I say they didn't dampen the progress. I'm sorry. So what we're trying to do, right, is create the world's first completely plastic free effervescent drinks range. Now the reason I want to do this, of course, is to rid the world of plastic bottles as always. But the problem with effervescent drinks is that they react very easily with the moisture that is in the atmosphere. So you can't put say a Berocca tablet into a box or a compostable sachet because it will start to react with water and air around it and you'll just have a fizzy mess. 

So when I came up with the idea of Incrediballs, which was to create a drinks brand that is completely plastic free, consumer waste free, then you just drop a tablet into your reusable bottle of water or into your glass or whatever, I didn’t understand at that point, a couple of years ago just how hard the packaging piece would be, so that’s what took us to the UK. I went with my business partner to talk to a couple of factories about the innovations going on in the packaging world. Now, I can't talk too much about this yet because they don't have this signed sealed and delivered and that's important. However, I am very excited to say we have the solution.

So yes, we now have much more of a fully fledged product than I did even last week. This means we can do exactly what I set out to do which is create that waste free drink. This does mean we need to start thinking about packaging. Please have a think in advance. How many you'd want in a box, how many you'd want in a mini box, a big box, a little box. Have a think about how you think you would want to consume these things because I am in so many different minds. What I'm thinking right now to give you a quick insight. We'll have individuals to say what I'm thinking. A box of three, a box of seven, so one a week, and a box of 20 for a bulk family. What do you reckon? 

Talking about boxes, last week I asked you what your favorite color was for the brand. As it stands it's orange. Now I'm kind of on the fence. In fact I'm not on the fence about orange. On the other side of the fence. Orange is probably one of my least favorite colors. But orange juice is also one of the most commonly drunk juices. To me it's a color that's zesty and fruity and fresh. So that's why I chose it and it turns out a lot of you think that way too. Are we still going to go with the color orange? I don't know. But it definitely seems to be your favorite. So we'll see. There's going to be a lot of voting on our packaging design, colors coming soon on social media because we are ramping up the packaging design. Brain colors have associations in your mind like gold equals luxury, purple kind of equals luxury. There's a reason Cadbury is a purple brand. Whereas if you have the likes of green immediately gives you the idea of eco-friendly, you know, that's why it is quite important to think about what color is you build your brand around. 

Obviously most of my brands have been pink, but I think we're going to try and move away from that. And that brings me to my first question for you this episode. What's important to you in terms of nutrition? What do you think you're not getting enough of that you would like to be able to consume \ everyday in a delicious drink and know that immediately you're getting your recommended daily intake? Is it iron? Is it b vitamins? Is it amino acids? Is it protein? I'm really intrigued to understand what it is. I really hate things like immune boosting because that's, that's not a thing you can't boost your immune system. It's either working or unfortunately in some people with immune system issues. It's not. As far as functional range is going to contain things like b vitamins and iron and there's also going to be one for anxiety and sleep, which I'm personally most excited about. But I'm interested to know, in a day to day drink what would you like to consume? Probiotics that's where I'm leaning. Yeah, let me know.

Something else that came up this week, which I thought was quite interesting was I got a lecture on a social media platform. I'm not going to narrow down what they did. I was going to ask them, I'm talking about them. Yes, it was a bloke. So I got a lecture about incrediballs, about how it was an immature name to choose. I was obviously simply trying to profit off the fact that they had the word balls in the title, and then I was being childish and I thought, how bizarre. I love incrediballs as a name. I think it's probably my favorite business name I've ever come up with. To think that it's because it's immature and it's got the word balls in it simply never comes across my mind. This person said that this business is simply going to be mocked. It will never go very far because of that immature name. To say I was taken aback is understanding it. What does that matter? People put so much stock by business names, right? And there's a lot of things you should avoid. I mean, take it from someone who has a French company name, try to ensure that whatever you name your company, people can actually say, because Ethique has been difficult. It means people can’t spell it and search it online which was a problem for a while, but incrediballs is fun. It's fenetic largely, it amazingly doesn’t have any trademarks so wwe didn’t have any issues with the IP around the world.

I mean, really, really is that what we're doing these days grow up? You know what, if you like your business name and you're getting stuck for it for other people, who the f*** cares? Having a distinctive name in business is really important because it means people could Google it, as long as they could spell it. But it also means you stand out. Having something like the business consultancy company is gonna make your life endlessly difficult. One, good luck having a trademark, but two, people are gonna Google that and they're gonna have all your competitors come up because that's your competitors' key words. So always have a distinctive name in business. I don't even remember how it came out with an incrediballs. I think that was just Googling and I wanted these to be a different shape to your typical tablet. Spherical came up and I thought, well, it's ball-shaped. They're not going to be spherical, by the way. It's actually turns out that that's too hard to do in the in the tablet world. Incrediballs just came up and I thought there's not a chance I'm gonna get the trademark or the dot-com. Boom, done, stoked. Easiest naming I've ever done. Some of the things I've been working on are basically our communications. And messaging strategy. 

So if you've been following us on social media, you will have seen that I've started talking on social media more about incrediballs and what I’ve been trying to do, that, of course, means developing a social media strategy and identify things like customer preferences, who our audience is, defining our brand personality, which i’m trying to go with a side of sass but fun and friendly and zesty, if you like because like you know, juice, zest and also it means setting content pillars. Now, because there isn't a product yet and there won't be for many months, it's been a little tricky to set up content pillars. So I've set it on the idea of educating our consumers about the things that they'll find in our drinks. So things like last week, you may have seen the thing I did about vanilla flavor or the thing I did about banana flavor, which was interesting and actually delving into the history of these flavors is actually fascinating. A little disturbing. Thankfully, vanilla does not come from beaver butt juice. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go and have a look at my TikTok video.

Social media was about a lot more than just saying a bunch of random stuff. Now, I didn't really know this when I first started to build Ethique, but it turns out I did a lot of things right without realizing, which was again, going back to this community. It was so critical to Ethique's success and that was again why we did so well in our equity crowdfunding rounds. So some of the examples that made Ethique so successful that I'm going to emulate back in incrediballs are things like this: Years ago for Ethique I had a slogan competition, you may know us by the hashtag “give up the bottle” but that wasn’t actually the original. I had lots of ideas, one was “raising the bar” which was more recent, one was behind bars which was ages ago, throwback to L&P for those kiwis listening out there, but give up the bottle was beautiful. It was succinct. It was clear. It was obvious what it meant and we've used that ever since and hundreds of thousands of uses on social media. Now, I don't have a slogan for incrediballs yet, but I really want one. These sorts of things are what people actually remember about your company. Now the best slogans are apparently three words long. So things like just do it. Everyone knows who that is and it does. I didn't really necessarily speak about the product itself, but it talks about the emotions behind the products. So the emotion of lacing up those shoes, those Nike shoes and going for a run, you're just doing it, or you're entering a marathon. It's that emotional connection. That's the kind of slogan I want to create for incrediballs. Give up the bottle doesn't necessarily have that emotional connection. It's not the best thing I've ever come up with in my life and actually it's fairly obvious, but it's worked well for us. Now I need to come up with one for Incrediballs. If you've got any ideas, throw them my way. We will definitely be doing another competition on it. Problem is, of course, it's hard to do a competition, when you don't have anything to give away. So I'm going to have to think about what it is I can give away as a prize for winning these competitions. 

The other part, of course in building a community brand is asking for and getting. And that is what I've been doing already in the last few weeks and what I've been doing throughout the entire life of Ethique. It's why Ethique is so beloved and we constantly had such high NPS scores. NPS stands for net promoter score, which is a basic survey for your customers, particularly the higher the score, the better and you're nine and ten are the people who promote you. Seven or eight are sort of ambivalent and anything under seven of the people who are. Detractors. It's a very interesting, very simple way of finding out how people perceive your brand. Obviously it's limited, it doesn't tell you what they perceive about your brand, but it's still, whether it's positive, negative, or ambivalent. A big part of having more and more of those promoters or those real loyal fans is having them feel like they're part of the community and part of the community is asking the questions and involving them in every step of the way. So that's why reviews are so important. I've said it before and I'll say it a million times, but often some of the best feedback you'll ever get is from people who really didn't like what they received from you. What you did for them, yes, they may be overly critical. But if someone gives you negative feedback, always try and take it on board and see what you could do better. Yes, they may be being malicious or they may be trying to give you the best possible feedback so that your business can be better. At the end of the day it’s what you need to stand out, right? Doing all this in the early years of Ethique meant that people felt a sense of ownership in Ethique and actually if you go back you can see that a lot of our customers they found us back then and are still with us in a notoriously promiscuous industry because people buy all sorts of beauty brands and they don’t seem to stick to one because they feel that shared ownership in the company and that again with incrediballs. 

You listening? You are part of building the incredible journey with me and I cannot tell you how much it means to have you here listening to me ramble on telling you about this crazy journey that sometimes I wonder why I am doing it over again. But here we are. I want to change the world and that means changing business and I've got to put my money where my mouth is right and show you how to build a business that will change the world again. I'm going to break down in some social media videos a little bit of how I've actually built the incrediballs and create brand content pillars. So if you're interested in that further, head over social media in the next couple of days and you'll see some visual breakdowns of just how to go about doing it. I can be really involved and certainly in the very beginning stages you just need a bit of an idea so you can have some consistency. So I've shown you what I've done and what I will continue to evaluate and change as the company grows, particularly when we launch. Which I'm looking at is probably going to be a early next year, which is okay. I anticipated there will be a delay. In fact, I think in the very first episode I said I don't expect it to launch the side of this year. That's how startups go. 

Right. We'll come to the most exciting bit of today's episode. If you know anything about me, you know that I believe that business should give back. It should be about much more than just making money. I don't care what Milton Friedman said. His ideas died out years ago. Let's get rid of it. Yes, business, this could be profitable, they can also have a purpose and make the world a better place. If they're not, well, they're dinosaurs. They're going to die out as consumers. We need to demand better from businesses. I've been thinking about this idea for a long time and I talked to a few people and I was told look, this probably isn't going to be possible, but I happen to know an expert who happens to be my business partner because he worked with this product or a product that we're going to use to help do this and I am being deliberately vague here. I know. I talked to him about it and he said, yeah, I think it's possible. Let's talk to some scientists and some proper food scientists. I'm a biochemist and not a food scientist. 

Now, we had this conversation in the UK and I'm very excited to say that a big part of our charitable donations angle, I hope will be to help prevent the 500,000 children every year who go blind from a completely preventable nutritional deficiency. They simply don't consume enough vitamin A in countries through Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. As a result, they go blind and as a result, 50% of those kids die within the next two years. That is an absolute disgrace. That is actually why Golden Rice was invented. So Golden Rice is full of vitamin A, that's why it's orange. I mean, of course due to all of the concerns with genetically engineered food, it wasn't released. Now I'm not getting into the genetic engineering conversation in this episode, but that's the background, right? I want to solve this problem. I want to create a tablet you can drop into water that will not only sterilize the water clean, safe, healthy water, but it will also provide bioavailable vitamins and minerals that people in those areas need in this particular instance, vitamin A. Why this hasn't been done before? I don't know. It seems like a perfect solution to me. I am not saying we are doing it because I am still far too early. I really shouldn't even be talking about it, but I'm so excited about the possibilities that I just wanted to tell you about it. I told you I was going to bring you along this journey with me with the good, bad and the ugly. This is what I'm looking at doing on top of the rest of it, right? 

The other side is how we can hope with ocean plastic. Obviously we'll be displacing plastic bottles by sheer definition because we'll be stopping you buying soda bottles and power air bottles and- everything else. How are we also going to take plastic out of the environment? Who are we going to support? We were doing great ocean protection work at Ethique? We support mission blue. We support the Eden Reforestation Project and those are wonderful organizations and actually Incrediballs has just signed up with ecology to offset all of our carbon emissions and they work with Eden Reforestation to also plant trees that are on top of offsetting carbon. They are not the same thing. Planting trees does not off-set carbon in an effective way. So anyway, that's another conversation. So how are we going to also pull plastic out of the ocean or somehow work with organizations to create more EPA's marine protected areas? I don't know. But if you've got any great marine charities or nonprofits that you think Incrediballs could partner with, I would really love to hear it. I will keep you updated with how we get on. 

Finally, in the last episode, I asked you about what goal it is that I should focus on, you know, do we save a billion plastic bottles by 2050? Are we doing a million by next year? And I've decided on inventing 10 million bottles per 2030. And I know that some of you are thinking, oh, that's great and some of you might think, oh, it's a bit unambitious. But don't forget, I'm sitting here. I don't yet have a product. I have no idea how sales are going to go. I'm in the very earliest possible stages of the startup and whilst I'm a lot more further ahead than I ever was with Ethique, even at the exact same instance, because of all the knowledge I've gained, I don't know if this is going to work, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying. So I'm not going to set a big goal that I have absolutely no chance of achieving. But I'm also not going to set something that's so easy it's nonsensical, it's ambitious. I'm excited 10 million by 2030. Let's go. 

That is today's episode. Thank you so much for listening again. Please let me know if you have any feedback. What do you want in your drinks? Do you want those probiotics or amino acids? What do you want? Do you want vitamins? We'll be doing vitamins anyway, but in your everyday drink that you just drink because you like the flavor, what would you like? Like a healthy soda. What would be your favorite thing in it? Secondly, what charity would you like us to look at from an environment? Because you're like, oh, that looks like a really bad one. I'm going to be trying to get a little standpoint. There's lots out there, but there's always going to be more I could know about. And what do you reckon about our goal? 10 million bottles by 2030. 

I'm pretty excited. These are short, snappy episodes because like a journal, you don't just want to hear me rambling on forever about nothing. So please keep sending me feedback, rate the podcast if you find it helpful, and let me know what you'd like to see next week. I hope you found this entertaining, inspiring or educational and if not, I promise I'll do better next time. I've been your host, Brianne West and this is Now That's What I Call Business where we're not just talking business. We're changing the world.