Matthew Beasley, 22, co-founder of eco-friendly subscription company Live Green discusses the challenges he has come up against due to his age and the business' humble "side gig" beginnings.
What does your business do?
Live Green was an idea for us to provide sustainable alternatives to household essential products. Due to the fact that our products are super essential for around the house and consumed by everybody on a regular basis we wanted to create a subscription service as well as really cool products.
We have dish washing liquid, washing powder, natural soaps, shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes, toilet cleaner and a bunch of different spray cleaners. One of the issues we faced was that you don't need a new toothbrush every month but you might need a new soap or laundry powder each month and so we thought about how we were going to get around that and what we've done is made the delivery completely customisable in that every product you add you choose the frequency to receive it.
We launched Live Green in April last year but the subscription only launched in May. We currently have 100 subscribers and have sold over 1000 soaps and shampoos and hundreds of kilos of washing powder.
What was the motivation for starting it?
The motivation came from me when I was on a journey myself into learning about plastic and sustainability. I was slowly learning about all of these things and I wanted to make a change to how I consumed and their was this weird thing I was thinking about of 'I'm really trying hard here but failing basically' and so I basically decided if the solution was not out there then I was going to put it out there.
I wanted to create a one-stop-shop for sustainable alternatives. We fell on the household products because I was trying to think of what would make the biggest difference and something that was practical. It's all very well creating a sustainable product but I wanted people to be able to jump on the platform and feel like they are making a long term difference.
How big is your team?
There's two of us who run it - me, and Thor Eastwood, who is also a co-founder. We both studied at the University of Otago which is where we met.
My plan from quite a young age was to become a doctor and so I have a degree in physiology, and a minor in marketing, and I laugh because if you asked me three years ago if I'd be selling soap and shampoo now I'd say no, and being in business is not something I planned. But in saying that, now that I am doing it I kind of look at it and say I was always going to do it. It was always where I was going to end up - starting and running my own business.
What is Live Green's long term plans and what do you hope to achieve this year?
Long term we want to be New Zealand's sustainable brand and expand into a lot more than just essential products, and potentially branch into clothing and food.
We just want to grow our subscriber list. We're talking to a few different people at the moment who are potentially going to invest in us and give us the little kick we need to really ramp up our marketing plans. We looking to raise around $20,000 and that's because we don't want to be giving away large amounts of the business.
What are your thoughts on the uptake in subscriptions in New Zealand - do you think this is a trend and model here to stay?
It's definitely trendy at the moment, there's no doubt about that and in my humble opinion I think it is hear to stay. The benefits of the subscription model is that it's just so easy and in today's busy world everybody is looking to save time and that's why you see alot of these businesses popping up. That convenience factor, as well as ordering from the comfort of your own home, is going to be long term.
Have you faced any sets back due to your age?
We've faced a ton of challenges from technical issues with the website due to issues with out supply chain. When I first started I spent about a month building a website and it was on the wrong platform and I couldn't;t integrate it with some of the other things we were doing so I had to throw this whole big fancy website away and start again from scratch.
Our age hasn't been too much of a problem, a lot of our early communication was via email and so we didn't really go 'by the way we are 20' but we have had issues with companies at the start who wouldn't fulfil our orders and
What advice do you give others wanting to start their own business?
Do it. It's very easy to talk about ideas and have good ideas but it takes a ton of hard work and if you don't do it nothing will happen. Put in the hours because it's not going to happen itself.