Updated: May 12, 2021
Over the next few months, we'll be talking about the journey that we're on, as social entrepreneurs, as designers, as plastic recyclers, and maybe most of all, as individuals learning (by the skin of our teeth) how to meet the needs of a start-up as it grows. To give context to this, we want to give a bullet-point overview of what our journey has looked like so far. We'll be reflecting on the biggest challenges of each phase, and how their demands made us grow, both professionally and personally. We'd love how this maps onto your experiences, if you're in a similar space.
The key take-aways:
- It took us WAY longer than we thought to set-up our business.
- It took us even longer than that to understand our own business.
Runway, for a hard-tech company like ours, has been everything. If we had quit out jobs and given ourselves 2 months to sink or swim, we would have sunk amidst the countless technical challenges that we encountered. We needed the time to experiment, and were so lucky to have our rent and overheads waived by the amazing farm our workshop is located in.
If you're thinking of starting anything up yourself, we hope looking at our timeline might be useful. On this blog, we'll be delving into the challenges of social entrepreneurship in more detail, so please stay along for the ride!
Phase 0 - Ideation & Incorporation (May - August 2020)
- Oh my, what an adventure this was. Too much to talk about here.
Phase 1: Set-Up (September 2020 - Early January 2021)
- Get Loan
- Get Workshop Container and all equipment; kit out with three-phase electricity; build worktops and shelves.
- Learn how to extrude into a closed mould successfully.
Phase 2: Foundations (Mid January - Late April 2021)
- Optimise our production process (from 50 minutes for a full brick changeover to around 5).
- Set up website and media.
- Formulate (and reformulate x50) business plan; unit economics; value proposition.
- Set up accounting systems.
- Grant applications and pitch decks.
- Sort out community-sourced, marine, and waste supply streams.
- Organise and cost overseas workshop set up.
- Break extruder; fix it; break extruder; fix it; deal with faulty shredder; improvise; make a maintenance plan for our equipment (!).
Phase 3: Launch (May 2021 - )
- UK product development and sales framework.
- Reforming how we work as a team, and coordinating our workflow.
- Relaunching our design process for brick and material redesign, now reframing design problems to a much higher technical resolution.
The past few weeks feel like they've marked a transition to a new phase of development; a shift from laying the runway, to sprinting down it. The metaphorical runway still feels less like an airfield than it does a diving board, for sure. But if we spent our days worrying about what's at the end of the tarmac, we probably wouldn't have set off in the first place: if you want to find out if you can fly, what else can you do but jump?