LaunchBox start-up Rezero is an environmental initiative that replaces single use takeaway packaging with reusable solutions.

“Each year, in Ireland, an estimated 138m pieces of single use packaging are disposed of over the lunchtime period alone,” explained Rezero co-founder David Weitbrecht who started the company with his brother Johnny.

“With the recent growth in the takeaway sector, the amount of single use takeaway packaging is rising. Without a sustainable alternative, the problem will continue to worsen.”

“Given the right environment and choice, people tend to act positively,  and we’re here to offer this choice”

Rezero, which also operates as the ZeroWaste.ie service, is an environmental initiative that replaces single use takeaway packaging with reusable solutions. Our national deposit return network and shared pool of resources prevents disposables from going to landfill.

“Place your order, pay a deposit on the container, enjoy and return to the network for a refill or deposit refund. Our goal is to maintain the convenience of takeaway food without the waste and at no additional cost to the end user.”

The company was one of 10 start-ups that took part in the LaunchBox accelerator. LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace at Trinity College Dublin, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures. This is the eighth year of LaunchBox, but the first year that the programme is running online.

From idea to reality

David is the founder of the company and is supported by Johnny growing this system from idea to reality. A number of years ago David began to research his impact on the planet and how he could reduce it while encouraging others to do so.

With the publishing of new reports, such as the IPCC, he became acutely aware that systematic change is required to stop and reverse climate breakdown. With time running out, he decided to take action by developing a solution which empowers and enables sustainable consumption.

“Given the right environment and choice, people tend to act positively” he says, “and we’re here to offer this choice.”

Land of opportunity

The team is currently based out of Donegal where operating costs are lower.

“Dublin remains the land of opportunity when it comes to the start-up ecosystem in Ireland,” says David.

“As with many things, the bulk of the resources, accelerators and funding mechanisms are concentrated in Dublin. We have been lucky to have backing from a number of programmes who have been hugely supportive to us along our journey which we are extremely grateful for.”

Weitbrecht said that Rezero is considering its funding options for the future as it expands beyond the pilot phase. “Additional funding would accelerate our growth and is something we are currently exploring.”

Every day is an education

He explained that he had to learn core lessons on entrepreneurship early in Rezero’s journey.

“In a start-up, you are constantly learning. I learned early on not to make assumptions about the market. For example, we were considering using a plastic product in our system and assumed that customers would love it. It was only when we spoke to potential customers that we realised that customers would not use a plastic product.

“From that point onwards we began to test and validate our assumptions to ensure we were building a solution the market would adopt.”

His advice to fellow founders is to be resilient. “Keep going! There are a lot of failures and mishaps along the way but the wins and success make it all worthwhile. Thomas Watson Jr has a great quote: ‘If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.’ So keep going, keep testing, keep validating and finding out what does and doesn’t work.”

The company makes cogent use of the cloud to stay agile. “We keep our technology overheads and tools quite minimal. It’s a combination of email, a messaging service and a shared cloud folder. List of tasks and deadlines are built into an online calendar to ensure we are hitting our targets and deadlines ahead of schedule. This works well for us but may not work for others so our advice is to find a combination of technologies/tools which best suits your needs and keeps your team working efficiently and effectively.”

Pictured: Johnny and David Weitbrecht, Rezero/Zerowaste.ie

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 17 September, 2020

Recommended