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To not give up on your goal and vision

BE O Bottle biobased designer waterbottle no fossil plastic

Please introduce yourself and your startup BE O to our readers!

My name is Wouter Moekotte, 35 years old and I’m co-founder of BE O Bottle; the world’s first biobased designer waterbottle. Besides BE O, I founded Bio Futura 11 years ago, a pioneer in the field of compostable packaging. Lastly, I am involved in setting up Zero Mobility, a smart mobility startup aiming to reduce traffic and pollution by introducing e-kickscooters onto our roads. 

How did you get the idea for BE O?

Founder Damir Perkic came up with the idea originally. He developed the idea and design and I came on board later on as investor & co-founder. Damir was frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm about biobased plastics with his former employer and wanted to make a difference and solve a huge problem: our addiction to single used plastics based on mineral oil. Re-usable waterbottles are not a new idea, but to make them from almost 100% plantbased material was almost non-existent and proved very hard. But we got there after a lot of testing and trial & error. In general, we believe business can be force for good and entrepreneurship can be a way to offer solutions to a market which doesn’t work well or can be improved significantly. New, private initiatives are not hindered or bound by traditional infrastructure or thinking and can offer innovative ways of solving a problem. 

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?

For a first-time entrepreneur like Damir, there are many hurdles to overcome and attracting financing was one of them. I was able to help out, also with my experience from my first successful venture (Bio Futura). Damir proved very persistent and with his knowledge of injection moulding and production processes we had a lot of trials and designs carried out. Many didn’t work or were too ambitious. The material was still fairly new and behaved slightly different in the production machines than we anticipated.

On top of that, we had an audacious design and closure mechanism in mind that proved just too hard to start off with in the beginning. This has cost us a half year and a lot of money. Through hard and creative work & thinking Damir succeeded and we launched the bottle earlier this year. The upside of the long production process was that we had plenty of time talking to potential clients and distributers. Fortunately, our first batch was almost immediately sold out. 

Who is your target audience?

We wish to reach out to anyone in countries with fresh & clean tap water, especially where lot of single used plastic bottles are sold which we can replace. More specifically, we target retailers, online sustainable product platforms and promotional gift product wholesalers. We find it important the product matches with the offer and philosophy of our vendor partner. We can see the BE O bottle especially being used by people who like to do good and do their but in addressing climate change, but at the same time don’t want to be overwhelmed by the issue of climate change and feel too guilty about it. 

What is the USP of your startup?

We use a renewable resource, sugarcane, to make our bottles. Besides using a plantbased material our startup also addresses the problem of the linear economy; the take, make and waste of billions of single used oil based plastic bottles every single year. Those bottles are hardly recycled and often end up in landfill, or worse, the natural environment. Conventional plastic is produced with fossil oil material and our product is renewable (2 times harvested in 1 year), takes CO2 from the air (almost 5 times more CO2 absorption than that we emit with transportation & production) and we (through the raw material provider) support local farmers instead of global oil firms.

In the future (2050) we will need roundabout 20% of yearly oil usage only for the plastic industry if we don’t look at renewable materials (bioplastics). So it is very important for the sake of the future generations that we seek to find alternative renewable materials. 

Can you describe a typical workday of you?

Ideally, I start the day with a cup of tea and read about 20 pages of a relevant book or document. Then breakfast and straight off to the 2-4 meetings I have on average every workday. In between I catch up on emails. I try to work in ‘blocks’ of handling email and focusing on a specific task so that I not end up being distracted all the time. But I admit this can be hard with all the daily input around you. I love to play a game of ping pong during the day with a colleague and this can become quite competitive. In the evening I generally do a bit of work or sport. 

Where do you see yourself and your start-up BE O in five years?

BE O has big ambitions, because there is still so much oil-based plastic to replace and we are so used to single used plastic (bottles) in our lives. But we also believe outstanding design is essential to bringing new materials to the marketplace and help consumer acceptance. So over the next few years, we’ll introduce a whole line of consumer products, expand abroad and at some point we wish to have our own production line. 

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

To not give up on your goal and vision. Don’t try to do everything yourself and seek help and advice of experienced people in developing the business.

More information you will find here

Thank you Wouter Moekotte for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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