Memobottle: Where Business Acumen Meets Environmental Activism
By April Davis| 07 Jan 2019
Acting as a vehicle for change, memobottle is the story of two Aussie blokes looking to reduce single-use plastic with a product that’s both innovative and functional.
Meet Jonathan Byrt and Jesse Leeworthy, the duo responsible for the development of a drink bottle that actually fits in your bag.
The co-founders of memobottle.
“The memobottle was born from two main frustrations that we had. Growing up in a small coastal town in Australia, we were constantly spending time at the beach and outdoors. We noticed an increase in the number of plastic water bottles that would wash ashore at our local beach, and decided to look into it a bit further,” Leeworthy tells Power Retail.
“We had no idea how large this problem was initially and we were completely shocked at how, in a country that provides clean and accessible drinking water, people could buy single-use bottled water and pay over 1,400 times more than what it costs from the tap.”
The pair was also fed up with trying to fit round drink bottles in their bags. “The majority of the bottles out there were designed around ease of manufacture. Because of this, car holders, bike holders and accessories followed suit. We decided to flip the equation and create a product that was optimised for transportation but still held the functionality of traditional water bottles. From here, I went to work on the design that soon became the memobottle,” Leeworthy explains.
“We knew from the get-go that the memobottle couldn’t just be a beautiful product, it also needed to become a vehicle for change – to change people’s thought patterns around how water can be consumed.”
The Five-Year Goal
According to Leeworthy, memobottle isn’t just about making a quick buck off a cool product, it’s about the company’s global ambition to provide a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles.
memobottle aims to reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles in circulation.
“Our mission is to reduce single-use water bottles and inspire a more reusable society through the design of convenient and sustainable alternatives. Last year, 525 billion single-use plastic water bottles were consumed globally, even though 91 percent of the world’s population has access to clean drinking water. Our goal, as a collective, is to halve this consumption by 2025,” he says.
However, despite the business’s rapid growth since its inception, Leeworthy believes the company still has a long way to go if it wants to achieve its global ambitions. “We are only at the tip of the iceberg. Our brand is still relatively unknown in international markets, so there is a lot of expansion to come, which is exciting,” he explains. “International expansion is our main focus in the short-term. We have a product roadmap that we plan to roll-out over the next 12-24 months, which we think will be quite revolutionary.”
How memobottle Intends to Get There
Achieving Widespread Sustainability
According to Byrt, education and awareness will be key to unlocking memobottle’s potential as a brand and as a vehicle for change.
“Education and awareness are two of our main focuses at memobottle,” Byrt says. “Our aim is to change people’s perceptions and move them away from the throwaway mentality, to, in turn, reduce single-use water bottles.
“We estimate that we have been able to prevent over 50 million single-use bottles from being consumed and ending up in landfill. This is an incredible achievement, but we still have a long way to go. Over 250 billion single-use bottles are consumed and discarded each year. It is our goal to at least halve this consumption by 2025,” he says.
“We have an extremely passionate network who are committed to positive environmental change. We actively share information and tips to help people lead an environmentally sustainable life, which also means that access to clean drinking water is also incredibly important to us. We have a great partnership with a US not-for-profit, where for every memobottle sold we provide over two weeks of clean drinking water to someone in need,” Byrt explains.
In the last 12-months, Byrt says that memobottle has made great strides in expanding its presence internationally.
“We’ve attended 10 international trade shows, signed on 10-15 distributors and agents, and have stocked our products in over 500 additional international retail stores,” he says.
memobottle’s founders say international expansion is its main focus.
Part of this growth has involved partnering with high profile influencers to help spread the word and gain more exposure for memobottle. “We’ve partnered with some of the world’s leading brands, such as Spotify, Bentley and Twitter by providing memobottles as gifts for employees, or at events,” Byrt says.
“We have already seen a huge increase in sales from these international markets, having generated $1.57 million in revenue in the first five months of 2018 compared to $1.85 million for the full year in 2017 thanks to an increase in international activity. At this rate, we are well on track to double last year’s revenue.”
However, breaking into international markets hasn’t been a completely seamless process, with Byrt citing issues with language barriers and cultural differences, as well as logistical hurdles.
“To overcome this, we actively search for partners to assist with the distribution, marketing and education of our products and brand. This has been a big part of our growth over the last 12-months.”
While cross-border growth and widespread adoption of the memobottle is Leeworthy and Byrt’s ultimate goal, finding the money to make these ambitions a reality has been tricky.
“As word of the memobottle brand extends internationally, the demand for our products continues to increase,” Leeworthy says. “Growing demand has meant larger production runs, meaning more money is tied up in the production cycle. This has resulted in stock outages and lost sales. It can be extremely frustrating when available company cash flow doesn’t allow the growth that we know is possible. We are therefore looking to raise investment to provide additional working capital and marketing for rapid international expansion.
“We have put a lot of thought into how we want to finance our expansion. Memobottle was created through crowdfunding, and we now have a passionate and engaged network of customers and supporters. We felt it only fitting that we continue to grow with our network by offering the opportunity to become both emotionally and financially part of memobottle’s expansion and growth for years to come.”