Elevator Pitch: Frank Green

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Ben Young, Founder of sustainability lifestyle brand Frank Green.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

The business idea is to inspire and motivate people not to use single use products by creating the world's most loved reusable products people actually want to use.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

The strategies we are using are: building a brand, building a product that actually ticks consumers’ boxes, and making sure every step of the way, we are profitable. We then use every spare bit of money in the business to invest in its future. We don’t rest on our laurels.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

We like to think of the frank green brand, not as a reusable bottle or cup manufacturer, but as a sustainability lifestyle brand. We just launched our new lifestyle line, featuring reusable bags, straws, carry trays and a new straw lid and carry strap. These new products serve to provide eco-friendly and chic alternatives to most single use situations.

Our initial design process of our cups (which took over 4 years) was influenced by research highlighting that while reusable cup and bottle options were available, they weren’t being used all the time, everyday due to aesthetic and functionality flaws. And so, frank green product design is heavily based on fusing beautiful style, meticulous design and superior functionality.

Our products are built to last, and typically this is a trait of our key competitors as well. We’re not competing against cheap alternatives that consumers will give up on after a short period or that will warp, bend, have ill-fitting lids etc when placed in heated conditions (liquids or dishwasher etc). That said, of course we believe and have created frank green products to have a few edges up our sleeves to compete with these global brands.

  • The Scandi-inspired aesthetic appeals to both a broad audience as it fits seamlessly into most styles – whether there be a desire for a luxe look, or an understated elegance/cool
  • The award winning spill-proof lid means no drips on your shirt or in your bag so you can safely carry it every day, everywhere
  • Premium materials mean greater durability and no odour or stain retention like some others do.
  • Our range of sizes means all beverage preferences are met
  • Other more practical measures like being dishwasher safe and fitting all standard cup holders means our products can fit more seamlessly into consumers everyday lives
  • Our Next Generation reusable cups and bottles feature contactless payments and are powered by Visa payWave, making paying on the go that much easier.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Scaling up quickly to meet strong growth in demand has been a big challenge for the business. This meant moving much of our manufacturing and custom printing facilities “in-house” so to speak. This provided greater control over quality control and scheduling for example enabling us to be producing 24/7 during peak periods of demand.

In addition, having the right people on board, and being able to support the team under high pressure periods has been difficult. Moving from a relative start-up to a big business over such a short period has meant we haven’t always gotten this right, but I’m incredibly proud of the team we have in place now and the strategies we’re building in to better deal with the tough times and celebrate the good times will always be critical to the future success and growth of our business.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

At first I thought, Google Mail, because I like to be able to communicate easily with people but then I thought, actually, my phone. I know that’s not an app, but it’s the most effective business tool, because I’d rather be able to call someone up and get to the heart of the matter and solve things quickly. And for music, I like Deza. It’s like Spotify but on Android.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

There is no one piece of business advice that is the best. All of the pieces of advice I’ve learned I put together because there's no one secret to a great business. You can get your product, systems, scalability, and brand positioning right, but if you don’t have the right people working together and creating an amazing culture, with a real purpose then that other stuff doesn't matter in the longer term.


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