It took Inga not one, but two Ulule campaigns to launch her brand of reusable, machine-washable household products. And the second crowdfunding campaign was so successful that there was no longer any doubt about the project’s positioning and target audience.
“It validated our concept, which is to encourage everyone, not just the ultra-eco-conscious, to switch from disposable to sustainable everyday products, from sponges and paper towels to tissues and make-up remover pads,” explained Benjamin Bir, co-founder of Inga.
For this second campaign, the pre-sales target of 200 products was exceeded by 26,139% to reach 50,000 products, representing sales of €500,000. A real boom that served as a springboard for the creation of the Paris-based brand, in terms of the development of its platform and logistics, from suppliers to deliverers.
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Inga campaigns had precise objectives
“Our two crowdfunding campaigns had very different objectives. In July 2021, we just wanted to confirm an intuition, to test consumer interest in sustainable household products”, explains Benjamin Bir. Nearly 530 contributions were collected for a paper towel that sold 5,000 copies, generating sales of €30,000.
To speed things up, production was launched in China, but the scale of the market was already becoming apparent. The company will not be legally established until September 2021. And Benjamin Bir is thinking about the next move. It took him nine months to find manufacturers in Europe and validate the first product prototypes. The textiles are produced in Portugal, the sponge containers, made of recycled plastic, come from a Breton supplier, and finally, assembly and packaging are carried out by a detention workshop in Lorraine.
The second crowdfunding campaign was launched in May 2022. “Our target of 200 pre-sales was deliberately low so that we could communicate positively as we went along and become better known. But to reach the record of 50,000 products… We weren’t ready,” said Benjamin Bir.
After all, only the prototypes of four references in four colors each had been finalized. So how do you build up your stock? Which colors to choose? The machine went into overdrive. “At the same time, we had developed our website. So the production we were launching wasn’t just going to cover the needs of the fundraising campaign. It went beyond that, and was the real kick-off for the brand,” said Benjamin Bir.
The problems are piling up: the color of the boxes doesn’t match, the blue sponge fabric is shredded, the box mold is faulty, etc. “Our deliveries were announced for October 2022. In the end, they only took place in December 2022. But the key is transparency and communication with customers, who then show understanding,” advises Benjamin Bir. To be sure of delivering before Christmas, the entrepreneur is also beefing up his logistics by assigning an expert for a few weeks’ work.
“Fortunately, I already had entrepreneurial experience, also in the BtoC sector. It helps to assess the tempo of decisions and to surround yourself with the right people,” admits Benjamin Bir. Founder of Cultur’In The City, a boxed entertainment company that was sold to Wonderbox in 2020, the entrepreneur soon sought the advice of Thibaut Chaussy, former marketing and communications manager at Innocent Drinks.
At the end of the first Ulule campaign, he teams up with Christophe Terrin, a consulting and digital expert. In early 2022, a textile engineer, Marion Guy, joins the team. And in June 2023, a former Procter & Gamble sales manager takes over as Inga’s commercial director to position the brand in supermarkets. “I build my team according to the needs of the project, with a key person for each division,” said Benjamin Bir.
Choosing the right team also requires courage
He is equally adept at raising funds, thanks to his experience with Cultur’In The City, which successfully completed two rounds of financing totaling €1.5 million. “I know what to say to reassure investors. Our household products market is a mass market. I don’t lose sight of the fact that I’m a sponge salesman,” he said. After raising an initial €400,000 in March 2022, Inga is currently in the process of raising between €800,000 and €1.2 million. In its first year on the market, between mid-2022 and mid-2023, the brand achieved sales of €1 million.
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First published in Les Echos ENTREPRENEURS, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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