Creating Risk-Heavy Environmentally Conscious Trends

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.




Innovation in Established Industries – Nebia Shower

Innovators in the “environmental” industry are always looking for ways to apply their lens of environmental consciousness to various business sectors. This format has worked well for innovators who wish to start new businesses to ride the new wave of environmental consciousness, which has its roots in the environmental movement of the 1970s as inspired by Rachel Carson’s novel “Silent Spring”. One company that has taken its step into a pre existing sector and found success with an environmental lens is the company “Nebia”, whose business model focuses on selling water saving shower heads.

Nebia was founded by Gabriel Parisi-Amon and Philip Winter, and got their start when they posted their idea to Kickstarter in August 2015. To date, they have raised $3,126,114 for their company through this platform. This innovative leap the company took was in the “creation” vein of entrepreneurship, likely why the company relies on the financial safety net of the Kickstarter platform. Nebia also made smart innovative and entrepreneurial moves to work with large corporations like Apple and Google in the development of their product, using this companies that support entrepreneurs for their credibility, large assets and resources, and useful feedback.

According to their website, Nebia attempted to address the need of innovating shower technology, something they claim has undergone very little “meaningful innovation” in the last century. Essentially, the product is a shower head that channels water into a wide mist, at 10 times the coverage of an average shower, and uses 70% less water than the standard shower. Specifically, Nebia uses 0.75 gallons of water per minute, versus industry standard of 2.5 gallons per minute. The closest competitor for Nebia in terms of showers that attempt to be water saving is the EPA WaterSense which uses 2 gallons per minute. This is quite the testament to Nebia’s uniqueness and that it’s numbers set it apart from any competitors in their field.

Based on these numbers, Nebia is able to claim that they are able to save the average California house of 4 $397 per year if their product is in use in that home. From there, the product pays for itself in two years for the customer. It appears that Nebia hopes to set a new industry standard for showers, but it is unclear how they will be able to maintain dominance in the market if it continues to grow, and does in fact become the standard. The Nebia Kickstarter is equipped with a tool that can help families and businesses calculate their savings, a highly transparent and useful tool to generate customers. In addition to this, there are a variety of tools and graphics that help to explain the way in which the product actually works, adding to this new exciting innovative air that is a lot of the draw of this product.

The interesting thing about the Nebia company is that its marketing model goes beyond just its ability to save water. The Nebia company also focuses on its product’s ability to provide a showering experience that is better than standard industry showers. Nebia asserts that the “warm mist” experience in their showers is a sort of high class, luxury experience, subverting the sort of “dirty/granola” lifestyle that is sometimes negatively associated with the environmentally conscious industry.

Overall, this company exemplifies what has become the model for a strong company in the environmental field. They combine elements of environmental consciousness with modern design and intrigue, providing a product that has a strong draw to save both families and businesses considerable amounts of money. This business is strong and helped to send this 3 year old idea into quick success. But, this must be attributed to the smart entrepreneurial moves of the creators of this business and their constant work to improve their product and business model.