Ami Bateman is using her MBA to create sustainable cleaning products
With skills she learned at Melbourne Business School, Ami Bateman has developed a startup with a difference.
Ami, a Part-time MBA graduate, has launched a new purpose-led business that gives consumers an environmentally friendly option when buying household cleaning products.
After raising more than $65,000 on the Indiegogo crowdfunding website, Ami's business Pleasant State is now on track to deliver its first shipments in December. Not bad for an idea she had less than a year ago.
"Late last year, I learnt that common household spray cleaners consist of 97 per cent or more water and only 3 per cent active ingredients. I wondered, why are we buying mostly water and transporting it around the country only to throw away the bottles?" Ami says.
Ami's idea was to manufacture and sell small, non-toxic, plant-based cleaning bars that can be dropped into water in a reusable Pleasant State bottle – or your own – so you only need to replace the bars.
The just-add-water bars are a first for Australian consumers and avoid the petrochemical-based ingredients found in most household cleaners, as well as the single-use plastic containers they come in.
"I'd already been looking for ways to cut back on my plastic usage in the home, largely to reduce environmental toxins, as I've been suffering from gastrointestinal issues for about 15 years. And we're now facing a situation where we'll have more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050," she says.
Ami has spent her career helping businesses improve their health, safety and sustainability records, including at EY, where she spent more than five years in senior roles.
The biggest difference in launching Pleasant State, Ami says, has been the opportunity to put the entire range of skills she learned from a Part-time MBA into practice.
"Since starting Pleasant State, I’ve had to build a high-performing team and supplier network, conduct customer research, develop a brand and marketing strategy, create and test a minimum viable product, iterate our business model, think through scaling our operations, and forecast cashflow. I learnt all that through my MBA.
"The approach you're seeing at Pleasant State is textbook MBA. It gave me the foundational knowledge I needed. It's been exceptionally valuable."
Ami started her company with Sian Murray, who she met in January this year after noticing her brand, communications and marketing skills on social media.
"We launched our brand on Instagram and Facebook on 1 June and, in mid-June, we ran a tester campaign," Ami says.
"We made a hundred bars by hand and shipped them to our customers and received feedback to confirm that we've developed something that's just as effective and easy to use as mainstream brands, but with significantly better environmental and social outcomes."
The pair's research showed that people in their market were willing to pay around $30 for two cleaning bars and a reusable Pleasant State bottle – a small premium over the mainstream competition, given that their bottle is reusable and one bar equals a bottle of regular cleaning product and is less harmful to human health and the environment.
That price will allow them to build Pleasant State's purpose-led credentials and make a profit, with 2 per cent of sales – or 20 per cent of profits – now going to the Take 3 For The Sea charity and similar causes in the future.
"We've driven our price off what our customers are willing to pay for a product that reflects their values and ours, while making sure that we're adding value and building up a war chest to create a foundation to support research and other businesses trying to tackle significant environmental and social problems," Ami says.
Knowing that Pleasant State's strongest markets will be in Melbourne and Sydney initially, Ami sees the Melbourne Business School alumni community as particularly valuable.
"I think the Melbourne Business School network is quite critical to our success. It has provided me with very strong networks and people that I can reach out to at any time to help me with specific issues," she says.
"They are always willing and able to do that, and you can't put a price on those kinds of networks."
For more information about sustainability at Melbourne Business School, visit the Centre for Sustainability and Business page.
To support Ami's startup, visit the Pleasant State website.