Yes! Optus interviewing H2O Wipes on our recent win Posted on 27 Jan 00:00
BIG UPS WINNER H2O CLEANS UP
27 Jan 2016
Author - Katrina from Yes! Optus
An interest in sustainable living propelled new father, Leigh McCardle to set up H2O Wipes a growing business selling planet-friendly wet wipes.
North Adelaide’s H2O Wipes was recently named one of the five small businesses to receive an Optus small business Big Ups award – an initiative dedicated to giving small businesses a big helping hand.
As the South Australian/Northern Territory small business winner, H2O Wipes was recognised as the most worthy of receiving $15,000 worth of local advertising to boost their business profile and tell their unique story.
The idea for the innovative business came about when Leigh was in Bali.
There he saw bamboo viscose used to make compact wipes: a highly absorbent wipe made of a natural material that was fast to regenerate and decompose. After seeing huge potential in the idea, he took immediate steps to create an improved version; he designed innovative packaging showing a wide range of uses as an alternative to bulky synthetic wipes that dominated the market in Australia.
Leigh spent two months developing the idea and the fully biodegradable, chemical-free H2O Wipes were launched June 2013.
The wipes can be used by anyone but are particularly useful for babies, travellers, and campers wanting a lightweight eco-friendly way to clean up while on the go.
The product is sold as a lightweight “pod” that transforms with just 15ml of water, expanding to a durable 22 x 29cm reusable cloth. Once used, the wipes can be easily composted, leaving no harmful residues.
In an added benefit to parents, the wipes are fun to watch as they expand when the water is added.
H2O SUCCESS FACTORS
Yes! Online Magazine recently caught up with the busy entrepreneur to ask him for any tips he might have for other small businesses.
How do you deal with competition?
I welcome competition, but ensure I’m one step ahead. It’s a balance between respecting my rivals and focusing on how to provide a product and service that is superior. I’m not obsessed by what my competitors are doing, and remain focused on my own innovation and branding so others want to follow.
COST OF DOING BUSINESS
How do you keep your costs down?
H2O Wipes have gone from being sold as an online eBay product to one being sold in national chains within a short period of time. Since all the profits are going back into the business to assist with growth, I’ve remained at my full-time job to ensure we don’t have financial pressures or jeopardise the growth period.
ATTRACTING NEW BUSINESS
What is your strategy for attracting new business?
I’ve appointed a sales management company that acts as the sales distributor within our commercial channel. They are opening doors in areas I’m really excited about. I’ve also set up a division for agents to sell H2O Wipes.
BARRIERS TO GROWTH
What challenges do you see on the horizon?
The biggest concern going into 2016 is the performance of the Australian dollar. When this goes down, import costs go up. Another concern is talks that GST will increase. These are significant factors to my costs as I continually strive to keep pricing at competitive levels.
I’m currently in discussions with my local and overseas suppliers to find ways to reduce manufacturing costs to mitigate the fallout from these challenges. I’m also increasing my knowledge of international logistics and working closely with my customs broker to find more cost-effective ways to import stock.
How will you be approaching staffing for your business?
The first thing I look at when searching for staff (distributors and agents) is for a personality that fits within our company culture. We have a fun, friendly, caring, forward-thinking culture at H2O Wipes and I look for staff members with the same qualities.
I also recruit nationally. My distributors/agents work independently so the most successful ones are those who are self-driven.
I don’t rush when recruiting. It’s worth being patient, rather than hurrying and upsetting the balance of my team.
What improvements will you be making to your internal systems?
I will be looking into new accounting software that meets our increasingly complex requirements, so I can upload our financials more easily. I will also start using software that helps to provide accurate live stock figures, and an easy to use online re-ordering form for stockists.
How do you plan to maintain a reasonable work-life balance?
It’s taken hard work, persistence and long hours to start H2O Wipes. Throw into the mix working a full time job and a newborn and 2016 is going to be a big year – both with work and family.
It’s essential to plan my days so that I can maintain a work-life balance. I also plan to ensure that I take short holidays with the family during the year so I don’t get burnt out. I’ve always said that if work becomes resentful, it’s time to re-assess. Thankfully, I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like work.
As part of the Big Ups prize, Optus will help Leigh to promote H2O Wipes in the local North Adelaide area through a tailored advertising blitz.
Leigh said the Big Ups blitz would give H2O Wipes a great boost and would help sustain the momentum generated during the Big Ups voting campaign.
“I started the business on a shoestring budget working from my lounge room and have grown from word of mouth so this added support from Optus will really help take H2O Wipes to the next level in 2016,” Leigh said.
“The funds from Optus have come at a perfect time. I’m now selling H2O Wipes into much larger territory and the advertising is exactly what I need to strengthen brand awareness.
“To be recognised as a finalist by Optus and then win the contest based on public votes confirms what a strong and loyal consumer base H2O Wipes is establishing,” he said.