The Business Pitch: Mike Orange, DirtyMan skincare

By Mike Orange

Mike Orange and wife Tracey - creators of DirtyMan blokes skincare.
Mike Orange and wife Tracey - creators of DirtyMan blokes skincare.

Our aim for DirtyMan is simple. We want to shake up the blokes skincare category in grocery. We believe we can add value to the category and encourage men, who otherwise wouldn't look after their skin, the chance to feel good about doing so.

I was an aircraft engineer, then started an engineering business which I ran for six years before going full time on DirtyMan. Tracey, my wife and business partner, has a degree in marketing and has built and sold a great recruitment business. We have three kids and live out in the countryside near Helensville.

Our Story

In 2006, I was having a shower in the corner of our kitchen with no curtain while we were having some home renovations, I looked out at the rubble of my house thinking how dirty it was. Guys generally like getting dirty from boys mucking around in the mud to grown men loving the outdoors. Dirty Man was born in that rubble.

From then on Tracey and I began the creation on DirtyMan skincare products and after a lot of market testing, product testing, design and late evening after hours we had a range of five products and a brand we think guys can relate to.

DirtyMan is designed by men for men. We are proudly Kiwi- made and always will be. Our products do exactly what they say they do without the need for fake science and made- up words designed to impress.

We wanted to give guys a choice they could feel proud of using, not one they would hide away in a cupboard because it was girly.

Now what the hell do we do?

We had sold DirtyMan through a lot of chemists but knew that in order to really grow DirtyMan, we would need to capture the grocery market. This would need a great deal more experience than either of us had to draw upon.

I had heard of The ICEHOUSE and thought they only concentrated on tech business and would have no interest in a skincare range,especially one for blokes.

Tracey had heard about the First Wednesday nights that The ICEHOUSE runs as an introduction to what they can do and she booked me in. I went along still believing it was no place for me but as we sat down and begun our introductions I found people with all sorts of ideas wondering how to take them further.

After the session I stayed back for a beer and learnt a little more about the incubation program and The ICEHOUSE's support and validation of entrepreneurial ideas. The ICEHOUSE took DirtyMan into The Hatchery programme.

The ICEHOUSE Hatchery programme

Normally the Hatchery starts with an idea, then a business plan and concept are created and executed around this. Then they use market validation to test the solution proposed before any big money is spent on something doomed to fail.

Our "Entrepreneur In Residence," Nick Egerton was able to tailor the program to concentrate where we needed help urgently and also begin to build the structure and thinking needed to succeed in what we were trying to achieve.

We learned how to identify our target market and how to engage them and to translate this into a plan of attack. The Hatchery moulded our idea into a value proposition and the thinking and the work done there gave Tracey and I the tools we needed to approach and secure a supermarket key account, Foodstuffs Auckland.

And now

We are currently in the ICEHOUSE incubation program with the support of an outstanding mentor. Over the next year we want to expand our distribution network across New Zealand to encompass all the grocery players and The Warehouse

We are seeking funding. Ideally we would like to sell a share in the business to a partner with experience in what we are doing particularly the marketing side. Our five year plan is to gain a strong foothold in NZ before entering Australia, the UK, Europe and Asia.

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