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A sustainable start up in Corona time - how do you do that?

on July 08, 2021  in persberichten

When Roel Schatorjé and Paul Sintnicolaas in May 2019 MOYU founded, there was not yet a virus in the air. The initial sales and collaborations went well and the focus was mainly on the business market. Until Corona abruptly put a stop to that. Within a week many requests for personalized notebooks (from companies) were postponed or even cancelled. That was a big blow to take as a starting start-up. It meant that the strategy had to be changed as soon as possible if Paul and Roel were to survive – and they wanted to. Through trial and error, this has been very successful and MOYU now even falls under the 'scale up' category. 

paul en roel, oprichters duurzame startup MOYU, uitwisbaar steenpapier

How did they achieve this, what obstacles did they encounter and what does the future strategy look like?  

Basics first: how it all started 

Before we go into this further, let's briefly discuss what the company does. Roel: “With MOYU we go single use paper and paper waste against. We also want to save, restore and protect as many forests as possible.” The company does this by making products from erasable stone paper: a relatively unknown type of paper, mainly made of limestone. The production of stone paper is a lot less intensive than pulp paper and does not require trees, water and bleaching agents. This results, among other things, in 67% less CO2 emissions during the production process (again compared to the production of pulp paper). 

Roel Schatorjé discovered that the combination of Frixion ink (heat-sensitive ink) and stone paper makes it possible to erase the ink with a damp cloth. Stone paper is water-repellent, which makes it possible to completely erase the ink and write again on the stone paper. Roel says: “I realized then that the paper is not only more sustainable is in production, but also a lot and a lot longer come along than pulp paper. You can write on it again and again.” In addition, the stone paper is recyclable according to a Silver Cradle-to-Cradle Certificate, what the product 100% circular makes. Roel and Paul have therefore developed various writing articles made of stone paper, in order to offer a sustainable alternative to pulp paper. 

Their intention is not to have people write only on rock paper from now on, but rather to make them aware that there are more raw materials for paper. Roel: “In this way we will eventually have a healthier paper industry, for which different raw materials are used instead of just trees.” 

Bears on the road in Corona time

“Initially, Corona was really bad news for us,” explains Roel. “We had focused on companies, because that's where the most paper waste occurs. If we had to start somewhere, it was there. We thought.” However, due to Corona, offices had to close and staff started working from home. As a result, it was no longer profitable for companies to invest in stone paper, as all users of it were suddenly at home. 

Paul: “Initially it was a big slap in the face. We just started to become more visible and suddenly all the doors were slammed shut. Now I am always positive, but we were very disappointed.” The gentlemen decided – more or less out of necessity – to remove the focus from the B2B market and to shift to the consumer market. A completely new and unknown territory for them, in which they have found their way through trial and error. “We thought consumers would love our mission statement and the sustainable side of stone paper, but it took us months to find out through market research that people were particularly drawn to the multifunctional side of our products. We therefore had to adjust the proposition that we had just set up for consumers," says Roel. 

Meanwhile, the MOYU team started to grow and there was more manpower to test the various propositions with consumers. It is still searching, especially because it is such an unknown product.

The ultimate middle 

Where the focus first had to be turned 180 degrees, the consumer market and the business market are now merging. Roel: “We are now learning that many of our consumers are ultimately lines to the companies again. Almost everyone works with or for a company and if they are enthusiastic about our product, they express it to their colleagues or manager. That works much better than just sending cold emails to companies that don't know us. Logical actually, in hindsight.”

Post-Corona: the dot on the horizon 

Now that the relaxations at both national and international level are becoming more and more numerous, the MOYU team now also wants the International market go explore. Not with the focus only on consumers or only business, but a healthy mix of both. Paul: “We have learned that it is precisely those combination is very important and that they complement each other. If a consumer is satisfied, he or she tells colleagues. If a company gives personalized MOYU notebooks to all employees, it works the other way around. If the employees are then enthusiastic, they tell their circle of friends again. And so the ball keeps rolling.”

The ultimate goal? “Global fame of stone paper, so that we can plant new forests in all kinds of countries through our product. That would be really great”, Roel smiles.