900.care is a Parisian start-up founded by Aymeric Grange and Thomas Arnaudo, whose ambition is to make refills the new standard in the hygiene products market.
For a long time, hygiene has been based on the single-use plastic system. However, it is now possible to adopt a zero-waste behavior. This is what 900.care proposes with its refillable products solution. The principle is based on sending active ingredients to be mixed with water to recreate the product. This solution allows excellent savings in terms of transportation since the water is incorporated at the place of use and only the active product is transported.
At present, the products proposed by the start-up are shower gel, hand soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.
From the genesis of the business idea to the future of 900.care, you will find exciting and valuable information and an excellent anecdote in this entrepreneurial journey sometimes full of pitfalls that the founders have brilliantly overcome.
To keep in mind
- As far as hygiene products are concerned, a family throws away 5 kg of plastic waste in a year.
- Hygiene-related bottles and flasks contain about 90% water and only 10% active ingredients
- Chapter 1: the entrepreneurial experience in 1 figure
- Chapter 2: the genesis of the business idea
- Chapter 3: the confirmation of the business idea
- Chapter 4: getting started
- Chapter 5: take off
- Chapter 6: the future
- IntoTheMinds podcasts
The 3 marketing ideas to retain absolutely
- Using a crowdfunding platform is a great way to pre-fund your production and check customer interest (so it’s a little bit like market research)
- A second marketing idea is to have consumers test your product by asking for their opinions (via a questionnaire). This will allow you to improve your prototype (see step 2 of our market research methodology) while creating a community spirit.
- Another relevant marketing idea is transparent communication. This one allows integrating the customers in a close and trustworthy relationship. It can also be a way to turn what could be a significant problem into customer satisfaction.
This is the amount of plastic waste avoided by 900.care since its launch on December 15, 2020.
The idea for 900.care originated underwater. Thanks to his father, a diving instructor, Aymeric Grange had the opportunity to explore the ocean floor. Over the years, he noticed that plastic waste was causing more and more pollution. His observation was the following:
It’s good to recycle, but we can’t solve the problem at the root. To stem the plastic flow, maybe we need to get out of the single-use plastic model.
He solidified this idea through his work experience in large companies, where he saw a slow pace of structural change.
When the whole supply chain is based on single-use plastic, it’s tough to get out. It’s not possible to change things internally. It’s better to start from scratch and create a sustainable model from the beginning.
The agreement of a laboratory to work on a first version of the chewable toothpaste marked the beginning of the confirmation of the business idea.
At the same time, the start-up had resorted to advertising on Facebook to have its product tested for free and to answer a questionnaire to get the first feedback. The number of testers was well beyond their expectations since no less than 10,000 people showed interest!
It then took several formulations and feedback from testers to arrive at the final product.
A series of challenges characterized the start-up phase.
The first challenge was financing production. What to do when a laboratory doesn’t want to invest in producing on a large scale before having a significant order, and your company can’t commit?
900.care solved this problem by launching a crowdfunding campaign on Ulule. The fact that people pay for the products today and accept to receive them later allows to receive money upstream and to federate a community (the need for working capital is therefore positive).
The campaign on Ulule was an absolute hit for 900.care. The craze was such that a second campaign was launched on KissKissBankBank to satisfy the demand. During this period, a video posted by 900.care made the buzz and allowed to exceed the record of the first campaign.
The second challenge was the pricing of the products. 900.care was giving away free products and therefore did not consider the purchasing power.
The products were naturally quite expensive given the low sales volume. The price of a shower gel refill was fixed at 6 euros, which was not in the consumers’ budgets. Aware of the importance of purchasing power, the founders promised to lower the price of the products considerably if the volume increased. This promise was kept as the price was reduced by 40%, with a price for shower gels set at 3.50€.
The third challenge concerned communication. After having finalized the formulation of the products, the purchase of the industrial machine used to make the toothpaste, and a significant order, the unexpected happened. The device used to make the toothpaste broke down. This event caused a delay of one month in delivering the products. Very concerned about the situation, Aymeric decided to be transparent with the customers. He explained the problem by showing the subscribers a picture of the broken machine and proposed compensation. This transparency was very much appreciated, even accepted, and helped to strengthen the ties around 900.care.
900.care has taken off thanks to a 10-million-euro fundraising.
This budget allowed the start-up to increase its workforce from 6 to 25 employees.
The company was able to invest in communication and develop its distribution channels. This funding also allowed 900.care to continue its R&D efforts and internalize its laboratory for product formulation.
Aymeric mentions 3 future objectives.
The first is significantly impacting the hygiene market by avoiding millions of plastic waste.
The second is to be a driver of change so that half of the hygiene market is based on refillable products.
The third is to propose 900.care products in Europe and worldwide.
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The “Entrepreneurship and Marketing” podcast traces the different stages in the life of a promising start-up. By identifying the critical elements of success at each phase of the start-up’s development, we help you find solutions for your company.
The podcast is divided into chapters of 4 to 6 minutes. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific theme or development phase. You can listen to the entire podcast or choose to listen to only a part of it by directly selecting the one that interests you the most. You can also find the video version of the interview on our YouTube channel.
Illustration images: shutterstock