How To Scale Your Sustainable Start Up

Back at the beginning of 2021, we were lucky enough to speak with the inspiring, forward thinking duo behind Great Wrap: the world’s first certified compostable and biodegradable stretch wrap.

As well as covering the science behind compostable products, and Jordy and Julia’s personal journey, our conversation explored the future of sustainable business from Julia and Jordy’s perspective, as passionate believers in a greener, greater future.

Ten months on, the Great Wrap team has grown to now include thirty people, spread across three time zones within Australia. After their first solar powered factory opened in the Mornington Peninsula earlier this year, the Great Wrap team is set to open their second factory at the start of 2022, which will have capacity to produce up to 30,000 tonnes of plant-based products every year.

Since announcing the launch of their catering wrap (a product line they introduced as a response to countless enquiries from retailers and hospitality businesses looking to shake up their sustainability game), the Great Wrap team have seen over 500 businesses register, and the demand for their compostable hero product keeps on growing.

As a team that’s expanded from two people to thirty in under three years, we were intrigued to learn how to scale a start-up in a way that’s sustainable, successful and in-keeping with the mission statement that was made by a planet-conscious, creative couple.

When we asked the Great Wrap team for their top tips for scaling a sustainable start-up, they told us it’s all about clear communication and strong team spirit .

Create a sense of collective ownership

Great Wrap started as just the two of us: a couple who saw a problem, and decided to figure out a way to solve it. It was a humbling, curious position to start from: neither of us were chemical engineers, so it was about knowing what we wanted to achieve, and embracing the opportunity to achieve that aim in whatever creative way we could. 

Since expanding the team, we’ve been really keen to maintain that sense of collective ownership, to make each team member feel equally invested in what we’re trying to achieve. We’re only a young business, and we’re always learning, but from previous experience working for companies with disconnected, unclear missions, we knew we wanted everyone to be involved in creating the mission and goals. 

It’s been an interesting journey over the past year, with lockdowns meaning that the majority of our work has been carried out remotely, but that challenge has probably been a good way for us to ensure that sense of collective ownership, that immersive team spirit, is really strong. We’ve had to build a team remotely, and building culture remotely can be hard: how do you translate your values across a team and make people care about what they’re doing every day? We don’t want to just make jobs, we want to make meaningful jobs. That’s about including everyone, so each team member feels that the impact they’re making as an individual is meaningful, as well as that of the business as a whole. 

We’ve put a lot of energy into having chats and workshops as a team, and we recently sat down via Zoom for half a day to create a company strategy. The pillars we decided on as a team that will guide our work going forward are purpose, vision and clear compelling goals.

Encourage open communication

As well as creating a sense of collective ownership, we’ve been really conscious of creating a sense of safety: an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable to be honest, open and vulnerable. One of the ways we do that is by catching up every Friday, in a really laid back and open meeting. In that meeting we talk about the wins but also what went really wrong, because it’s so important as a start-up to never be complacent, to be constantly learning, adapting and evolving. Although we’re always communicating via our “kudos” slack channel – celebrating small wins and staying up to date on progress – that Friday meeting is a place where everyone is able to be really vulnerable, and discuss what maybe didn’t go so well that week, so we can all learn and support each other better.

Honour your boundaries 

The third tip is honour your boundaries when it comes to time management.

As a relatively small team, and as a result of the sense of shared ownership, it is easy to become a little too attached to the work you’re doing. We all work flexible hours and if someone needs to take a couple of hours off to reconnect it’s definitely encouraged. Avoid those crazy long hours and take the time out to go for a surf, to go for a swim, to reset and look after yourself.

Boundaries don’t just exist between time on and time off, but it’s important to honour your boundaries within your work day too. We have certain days that we block off as deep work days, with no meetings, so we can really focus on the business and find our flow. 

As a start-up, you’re in charge of setting the agenda, so it’s important to make it one that works for you.

Celebrate your wins

In order to keep growing, if that’s what you want to do, it’s important to celebrate the wins when they come. We’ve got exciting things on the horizon: we’re setting up our biorefinery next year along with our second factory, and we’ve been carrying out research with Monash over the past few years which allows us to keep developing our technology. Celebrating as a team when you achieve one of your aims helps keep everyone motivated and inspired, especially when everyone shares the values and believes in the ultimate mission, which is about making a positive difference for the planet.

Great Wrap’s line of compostable catering wrap is now available via their website www.greatwrap.co, so if you’re a hospitality business looking to reduce your impact on the planet, you’re covered. 

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