Didn’t see that coming! Of stolen vans and changing plans…

Wow. It’s been around 3 months since we last posted on our blog, and what a crazy few months it’s been.

We were working towards our financial year end in May, looking to post annual revenue growth of around 40% for 2-year growth of 450-500%. We had just recycled our 1 millionth nappy of 2013 and were on course to hit our target of 3 million for the year. We were seeing record traffic on our website, which was converting to record numbers of families and childminders signing up for our Home Nappy Recycling service. And following our being named Nursery Supplier/Innovator of the Year 2012 at the NMT Nursery Awards just before Christmas (more on that here) we had almost hit our 2013 target for new nappy recycling nurseries inside of 6 months!

So despite the everyday challenges of running and growing a start-up business, things were going well. Then we got hit with a huge double whammy.

First up came the break in at our HQ. One of our vans and various other things stolen. Huge shout out to everyone who shared our status on facebook and twitter that day, the response was unbelievable – thousands of people saw our posts, hundreds shared and commented. Someone spotted our van and incredibly we recovered it and handed it over to the police for forensic analysis inside of a crazy 24 hours. We were so relieved and extremely grateful to everyone who helped us that day. Still, keeping the show on the road (zero missed collections as always – good work guys!), recovering from the break-in and replacing stolen things set us back around £3k – not an insignificant sum for a business in our position ie we need every penny to finance our growth, keep the lights on and make payroll for our outstanding team!

Still, these things happen. But we had barely recovered from the break-in when we were hit with an even bigger bombshell. We got a call from the guys at Knowaste, who recycle all the nappies we collect. They needed to make some changes to improve their processes and their current site couldn’t accommodate those changes. So they had to take a very hard decision to relocate their operation – meaning we wouldn’t be able to recycle any nappies until the new site was ready, which could take 6-12 months.

That meant we had to take a hard decision ourselves. One half of the dual mission we had poured so much love, devotion and effort into would have to be shelved until Knowaste were back up and running. And we would have to focus on the other half our mission, which is offering nurseries a fairer deal and a much higher quality of service than they can get elsewhere.

As always though, every problem is merely an opportunity in disguise. And we realised that we could take this opportunity to accelerate some other plans we always had, plans related to our original thesis – our developed, consumerist world was treating waste as a problem, rather than the resource that nature intended, and we could help lead that necessary and inevitable transition.

Green Bottoms was born of this thesis and was, is and will remain a central component of our business. We had always hoped to add complimentary businesses to Green Bottoms however, and now we’re pushing forward with those plans. We hope to share more news around this soon.

To all our nappy recycling families, particularly the many who sent us messages of support and thanked us for the service you have received – thank you so much. The guys here work hard, day in, day out, and we love hearing that that work results in people being delighted with the service. We’re as sorry as you all are that we can’t continue with the home collections for the time being. But we’re also proud to have pioneered home nappy recycling and to have helped prove the concept and demand for nappy recycling, and to have recycled 3.5 – 4 million nappies from Sept 2011 to May 2013. That’s a real achievement and we hope everyone who joined us for that journey is as proud as we are.

As we mentioned back in February (without fully foreseeing the implications!) it’s still very, very early days for nappy recycling and just as we are sure that nappy recycling is still the future, there’ll probably be more hiccups along the way too. But Green Bottoms will be a part of that future, and we hope to play just as important a role in the next chapter as we did in the first. For now, whilst we await the relocation of the Knowaste facility, we’re hard at work delivering our as-perfect-as-possible service to our nursery customers each and every day, and busy working on our exciting new plans. Thanks for reading and look out for more news soon!


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