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EQUO International (HYYH)

Convenient eco-friendly solutions for single-use plastics.

Vietnam
Market: Food industry, Production, Trade
Stage of the project: Operating business

Date of last change: 21.04.2021
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Idea

EQUO is a sustainable brand delivering easy solutions for everyday single-use plastic items. First line of products is drinking straws made from grass, rice, coconut and sugarcane that are 100% plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable and non-toxic! Additional categories will include utensils, dishware and stationary. They are easy, no brainer switches so simple, you may not even notice them - even though Mother Nature does. We don't ask you to learn or change your actions or behavior. We want you to continue going about your day - except in a way that is better for the environment.

Current Status

Our accomplishments include:
- Running a successful Kickstarter campaign (was fully funded in 3 days and 160% funded overall). We raised $15,000 from 300+ backers.
- Awarded the SME100 Fast Moving Companies in Vietnam award
- Founder has been named Flik's 21 Womxn Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021
- Founder featured on the January 2021 cover of Women Business Magazine in Vietnam (Nu Doanh Nhan Magazine)
- An Amazon Launchpad featured Women-Owned Business
- Named one of Vegpreneur's 25 Vegan Companies You Need to Know
- First Vietnam-based company to be admitted in to the Techstars Program
- Member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition
- Associated with NGOs including Raising Earth, Skip the Plastic Straw, Hannah4Change, WWF Vietnam
- Collision 2021 Impact Startup and PITCH Semi-Finalist

Market

End Consumer
● The most responsive age group tends to be young adults, many of whom are influenced by their children
● Women are a key target for greener products, and often make purchases on behalf of men
● The best 'green' customers are people with more money to spend
● The most promising products for 'greening' tend to be at the higher end of the market
● The most promising outlets for green products are retail stores frequented by better-off shoppers.
● Have the education and intellectual orientation to appreciate value; they will understand evidence that is presented in support of environmental claims
● Children and teens are generally more concerned than adults about the environment, and are more knowledgeable about green alternatives
● Youth increasingly influence their parents' purchasing decisions and millions of them will reach adulthood in the next decade, and gain purchasing power of their own

B2B Businesses
• Ecommerce – Amazon, Lazada, Tiki, Etsy, Alibaba, Rangeme
• Mass – Health food stores, higher-end grocery chains, natural food stores
• Food Service Chains (QSRs) – Tim Hortons, Burger King, McDonalds, Wendys etc.
• Independents – Specialty Stores, Restaurants, Bars, Coffee Shops
• Specialty Chain – Convenience Stores, Party Supplies, Novelty, Department Stores
• Wholesale – Hotels, Promotional Items Businesses, Schools, Event Planning, Casinos, Farmer’s Markets Farms, Government Boards

Problem or Opportunity

EQUO will help solve the problem of millions of tonnes of plastic waste polluting the earth, people annoyed with having to carry around or wash their straws. It will also help Cities/regions having to deal with global government plastic bans, people who want to go green without a compromise to their lifestyle or changing their behavior, those who hate plastic and paper straws (especially ones that go soggy).

EQUO was started to build a brighter more sustainable future for generations to come, to help create jobs and a sustainable source of income for farmers in Southeast Asia and Vietnam, and to change the perception people may still have about Vietnam as a developing third-world country - elevating the talent and innovation from Vietnam to a world stage, while also changing the planet through sustainable solutions. EQUO helps to address the UN Sustainable Development Goal #12 – ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Solution (product or service)

EQUO is a sustainable brand delivering easy solutions for everyday single-use plastic items. First line of products is drinking straws made from grass, rice, coconut and sugarcane that are 100% plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable and non-toxic! Additional categories will include utensils, dishware and stationary. They are easy, no brainer switches so simple, you may not even notice them - even though Mother Nature does. We at EQUO don't force you to use one material which has limitations in colors, size, use or disposability. We don't ask you to learn or change your actions or behavior. We want you to continue going about your day - except in a way that is better for the environment.


We are branding a typically commoditized category to get people to care about something they never thought twice about before. Our foray in to the sustainable industry with EQUO is an attempt to change the way sustainable brands approach consumers, through a welcoming message of “every little action helps”. It’s a stark contrast to the all-or-nothing dogma that often repels consumers who are just starting or looking to switch to a greener lifestyle. EQUO's goal is to drive educational awareness about the plastic pollution problem locally in Vietnam and to give people a reason to care about a generally overlooked category by building a bright, attention-grabbing brand. Our aim is to make plastic-alternatives widely available with disposable firstly drinking straws and utensils, in order to force production to slow down and eventually be eliminated altogether for single-use plastics. Approximately 50% of all the plastic produced on the planet is used only once – if the world starts to replace these with sustainable alternatives, these small solutions can have a big impact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl00QjCqERI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-IPB1lKqVU

Competitors

● Current companies: HAY Straws, Aardvark Straws, Dixie, WinCup, Generic plastic and paper straws
● PAPER:
o Doesn't let you chew
o Too thick to be recycled
o Unravels, disintegrates, breaks down, goes limp
o Uses more materials to make them last
o Food-contaminated - not accepted by recyclers
● PASTA, METAL, WHEAT, GLASS ETC.
o Diverts delicious food resources (Bucatini)
o Asks you to do more work
o Offers only one-size fits all
o Not gluten-free/friendly
o Unsafe (sharp, a hazard, not dishwasher-friendly, breakable)
o Unusable for sensitive teeth (conducts heat, conducts cold)
o Uncertified (no name brands)

Advantages or differentiators

How we are different:

- HIGH-QUALITY - Strict manufacturing, quality assurance and quality control standards for trusted, exceptional products.
- LOCAL SUPPORT - Our products are sourced from regions that support local farming initiatives. We strive to support the community as much as we do mother nature.
- VARIETY - Our products are made of a large variety of materials, for different uses, behaviors and preferences.
- ON-THE-GROUND - We’re on the ground at the source of manufacturing working directly with partners to hit the market, innovate and problem solve faster than our long-distance competition.
- CIRCULAR ECONOMY - All our products maximize existing natural resources and byproducts to minimize waste. They leave the earth as naturally as they came in.
- EASY, NO BRAINER SOLUTIONS - Our products are so easy to switch to, you may not notice the difference. No need to compromise your lifestyle, convenience or comfort to adopt an eco-friendly alternative.
- VISION: MASS ADOPTION - We want to build the future– sustainable solutions that are affordable and accessible on a mass scale to become permanent replacements for single-use plastic.
- LONG-TERM BRAND BUILDING - We’re not trying to compete as a no-name OEM supplier. We’re building a trusted brand with equity that’s meant to stand for something and be around for the long-term. We're branding a typically commoditized category and giving people a reason to care about something they never gave a second thought about.
- EXCLUSIVE SUPPLY - Through strong relationship building and innovation collaboration, we have obtained exclusivity and agreements to unique and one-of-a-kind proprietary products.
- EXPERIENCED TEAM - We have a world class team behind the brand that knows how to build, launch and market. We may be a purpose-led business, but we know how to balance business and profits with sustainability.

Finance


Customer Acquisition:
● EQUO plans to market its services to individuals though online activity, social media, e-commerce, SEO, SEM, partnerships with retailers/NGOs and trade shows
● EQUO has set up a business development team focused on closing institutional partnerships with restaurants and café’s and food service businesses and strategic distributors
● EQUO will also work with NGOs that help to drive education and awareness about plastic pollution and sustainable alternatives
● Customers can purchase products online through multiple ecommerce channels, B2B ecommerce channels, third party retailers (online and offline) or directly with our sales team
● End users can purchase product for their own use at home or be a patron of a restaurant, coffee shop, food service store that provides our products

Business model

Business Model:
EQUO provides high quality, certified eco-friendly products to businesses and consumers. To operate EQUO build an ecosystem of working with small/medium suppliers to get them up to standard and get them market-ready to sell their products overseas.

Operating Model: The EQUO model has 3 important stakeholders – producers/manufacturers, businesses (B2B), end users/customers

Producer/Manufacturer Acquisition:
● Currently targeting small and medium-sized manufacturers and producers primarily in Vietnam and around Southeast Asia
● Internal team goes to production facility and goes through stringent quality assurance, quality control and certifications
● We then work on exclusive distribution or manufacturing contracts or production – including a continual product innovation, improvement and customer feedback loop to drive up product quality

Money will be spent on

Usage of Funds:
● Inventory to fulfil standing orders and signed contracts
● Increase in sales staff and activities to increase distribution
● Increase marketing and promotion activities
● Current operational expenses

Offer for investor

Offer on is on a SAFE valuation of $5,000,000 pre-money and 20% discount.

Team or Management

Risks

● Lack of education and awareness about plastic pollution problem
● Lack of prioritization of environmental issues (versus more immediate and more prominent global public issues like COVID-19)
● Risks of not being able to scale production and capacity to meet market needs, no-name manufacturers who threaten the market with uncertified products, not being able to reduce COGS to scale volume, not driving enough product education in the market to drive enough trial and purchase

Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment

Currently part of Techstars Toronto 2021 Cohort.

Won the competition and other awards

- Running a successful Kickstarter campaign (was fully funded in 3 days and 160% funded overall). We raised $15,000 from 300+ backers.
- Awarded the SME100 Fast Moving Companies in Vietnam award
- Founder has been named Flik's 21 Womxn Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021
- Founder featured on the January 2021 cover of Women Business Magazine in Vietnam (Nu Doanh Nhan Magazine)
- An Amazon Launchpad featured Women-Owned Business
- Named one of Vegpreneur's 25 Vegan Companies You Need to Know
- First Vietnam-based company to be admitted in to the Techstars Program
- Collision 2021 Impact Startup and PITCH Semi-Finalist

Photos

Photo 1 - Convenient eco-friendly solutions for single-use plastics.

Product Video

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Idea
Current Status
Market
Problem or Opportunity
Solution (product or service)
Competitors
Advantages or differentiators
Finance
Invested in previous rounds, $
Business model
Money will be spent on
Offer for investor
Team or Management
Mentors & Advisors
Lead investor
Risks
Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment
Won the competition and other awards
Invention/Patent
Photos
Product Video