Why did you found your start-up, what problem are you addressing and how are you solving it?
We believe that personal care needs to be reinvented: less clutter, less waste, more sustainability - and with full convenience.
Customers love their liquid personal care products. And while most people want to live a more sustainable life and produce less waste - they don't like solid soap, combo or syndet bars for their personal care routine. So - it's time for a solution that is less waste and more eco-friendly, but still provides "the liquid experience".
Unlike traditional shower gel, shampoo or hand wash, our product manages to be the all in. WASH. 4-in-1. to save up to 90% of CO2 emissions and 95% of plastic packaging - all thanks to our "powder-to-liquid" formula.
How did you come up with the idea to create your startup?
We founded HEIMATHAUFEN in 2018 to bring our own product and service ideas to life. One of them is the all in. WASH. And the idea for it was actually born in the shower, back in 2015, but we felt the time had yet to come and so it disappeared back into the drawer. Until February 2019, when it just wouldn't let us go and it quickly became clear: NOW is the time! And so soap & precede saw the light of day.
What's special about your business model, what are you doing differently?
The obvious advantage of "powder-to-liquid" products is that if you leave out the water, you are left with a highly concentrated and light powder - this saves weight & volume and therefore leads to lower Co2 emissions. Furthermore, compared to "traditional" products, less packaging is needed.
But it doesn't stop there: by designing the primary packaging of our powder according to the required dimensions and shelf life, in order to use the primary packaging also as shipping packaging, we can save even more resources and still maintain a 100% recyclable packaging. Thanks to our flat packaging, the all in. WASH. powder fits in regular mailboxes and is delivered with your daily mail.
What's more, our product is vegan and animal-free, free from microplastics, sulfates, PEGs, parabens, silicones, or added fillers/drippers, and only requires cold tap water to mix. The active ingredients used, such as aloe vera or hydrolyzed wheat protein, are found in higher concentrations than in comparable products.
All of this is available as a standard purchase or convenient subscription model.
What were the biggest challenges you guys faced in the beginning?
When we first came up with the idea for soap&precede, we didn't know what was really in store. Most importantly, we had envisioned the development of our first product to be a bit easier. And once we got into the swing of things and gained a better understanding of what we do to our bodies, hair, hands and faces on a daily basis - that's when we realized: it's not enough to develop a water-free product, personal care products need to be completely rethought.
What was the most valuable piece of advice someone gave you during the start-up phase?
Don't try to have the perfect product from the beginning - that's almost impossible. Make a great product, learn from your customers' feedback and grow together.
What has been your biggest success so far?
Of course, our participation in the German inventor show "Das Ding des Jahres" was a great experience and we are grateful that we were able to launch our product together with the airing of the show. But what makes us most proud are the customers who write us that they have replaced most of their body care products with our all-In WASH. In fact, positive feedback from the people we make these products for - that's the greatest success you can have.
What's your next challenge?
After the complete redesign of our online shop - with shopping cart, customer account, convenient subscription management, more payment options, Europe-wide shipping (all in German and English) - we have a lot more in store: Our goal is to make the powder-to-liquid formula and the soap & precede brand better known, to reach a wider audience, to create additional fragrances and, of course, to sell our products in brick-and-mortar stores.
What would you recommend to other founders?
Try to find other like-minded people to discuss your ideas with. Nothing is more valuable than useful feedback from outside.
How did you guys come together as a team?
Since we are already partners in real life and both come from professional backgrounds that complement each other well, we had the perfect foundation to become a business team. Still, the most important thing is to learn to stop discussing business matters during our free time together.
What has really gone wrong since you started?
There's nothing that's really gone wrong - but after changing the formula over and over again until we were finally happy with it, we thought: that's it. But then we had to realize that the hard work had just begun.
What was the hardest rejection you guys ever got in a pitch?
One time we were told that a 4-in-1 solution wouldn't work at all - because that person's hair had "special needs." Of course, we tried to dig deeper and understand what that need really was, where that assumption came from. Well, it was all about a catchy marketing statement on the packaging of their shampoo of choice. That's the sad thing about it, and that's mostly how the industry works: attract customers by putting promises on the outside - without even fulfilling them with what's inside.
Where do you see your startup in 3 years?
We believe that personal care needs to be reinvented, so we're sure that in a few years, many personal care products will be water-based and come in powder or concrete tablet form. By reducing packaging and CO2 emissions, this is not only an important step towards a sustainable future, but also enables many more business models and solutions with new approaches.
In three years time, when the way the personal care industry and its products work has changed, soap & precede's products will still be available and we will start to implement some other projects we have in mind.
Do you guys still have a real social life since you started?
We try to. However, there are times when you have more time for your social life and times when you don't. Right now we're kind of in between.
Do you guys have a role model and if so, who is it?
Not specifically. Everyone has the chance to inspire you, but we admire people who put planet before profit and therefore focus on impact. Right now, that's a really important mindset. But you don't have to be CEO of a big company to do that. It's really touching what "normal" people accomplish in their daily lives.
Let's say you are the governing mayor of Hamburg for a day, what would you change?
We would offer every citizen the chance to be heard - to really be heard. There are a lot of great ideas out there - to move us forward as a city, as a society and as Europe for a sustainable and livable future. But there are too few people who really listen.
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