One section of the environmental industry that may be more high risk are those companies that decide to create a product that does not have an established market or use such as the Nebia shower as discussed in the last post. These products attempt to create a trend within themselves, and offer a product that will help the consumer to become more environmentally conscious. However, in order to become more environmentally conscious, they must adapt a new hobby or habit that they may not have had before, rather than a near necessity like showering. In order to begin to explore this type of company, I have selected a company called “The Kinkajou”, a tool that helps consumers turn their old glass bottles into usable glassware. Hopefully by exploring this company I can begin to see the risks that are associated with a company who chooses to create or capitalize on a small trend with their product.
The short description of the Kinkajou on their Kickstarter page reads: “Named after the small South American mammal with big teeth the Kinkajou is a bottle cutter with a new twist. The cutters currently available on the market are big and bulky and not very interesting to look at. My design was meant to be simple to operate, easy to store and more aesthetically pleasing; something you wouldn’t mind keeping in your kitchen”. On their website, their description relays that Patrick Lehoux was the man who created the company, and through a series of 3 different Kickstarter campaigns, raised about $175,000 for his company. He runs it out of a small office in Northern Ontario, Canada.
From a numerical standpoint, the current (3rd) Kickstarter campaign has raised $80,946 and has 1,087 backers. The goal for the third campaign was to raise $75,000, which they exceeded. Additionally, for Kickstarter, 1,087 backers is a substantial amount. Unfortunately, there are no postings for how this company is doing with its sales, revenue, and profits. Let’s dive into the business plan for this company and see how it could hold up in the environmental industry.
The Kinkajou is essentially a knick-knack product, created for people with a specific hobby or those who wish to pick up a new hobby. Obviously this product creates a way for people to save glass bottles and reduce their waste, but it would be difficult to say that this way is easier for the consumer than recycling normally, or saves them any time or money. Essentially, the Kinkajou is relying on the business plan that the idea of their product is so interesting that people would adapt it into their lives as a hobby. The good thing is that this product only needs to be purchased once, people don’t necessarily have to consistently use it once it has been purchased. The bad thing is also that it only needs to be purchased once. This product is not something that people will keep coming back for, or that people may naturally expect to replace with time, like one might expect to replace a shower every 10 years. In my opinion, I feel as if the Kinkajou makes a cool trick only marginally easier to do. One would have to be pretty dedicated to the idea of a personal glassware in order to purchase one of these. At the same time, a lot of people seem fascinated by this idea. Maybe just the option of being able to make a cool personal glassware easily and for a cheap price is enough for most consumers. Overall, I think the Kinkajou is a good idea, but will need to work hard to survive in a niche market.