Calling All Eco-Warriors -- Naomi Simson Says We Need You!
Want to change the world? Eco-innovations are more important than ever.
With bag-free shopping now the norm in our supermarkets and keep-cups a bigger than ever presence in our coffee shops, it seems Australia could finally be catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to sustainability and eco-friendly products.
But according to Shark Tank’s Naomi Simson, aspiring eco-warriors shouldn’t rest on their environmental laurels, instead we need to focus on making sure that we keep moving things forward – there’s plenty more to be done, after all.
"The biggest impediment to innovation -- especially when it comes to eco-friendly products -- is people saying they can't do it and not giving it a crack," she says.
"Only when people do these things do we get an incredible breakthrough. Australia has always been a nation of innovation and we need to continue that and not talk ourselves out of that.”
From Shark Tank's perspective, Simson says the sharks are all circling when it comes to eco-friendly pitches. Her tip for potential pitchers? Think about an experience or service you can provide, as opposed to an actual product (tankers take note, you can save the world and thank us later!).
“People want to spend more on experiences and I don’t necessarily think our show has picked up on that trend just yet. We’ve featured a lot of products, food -- and things -- but we don’t see a lot of services, and yet we know consumers are purchasing services more than anything. I'd like to see more ingenious examples of services that people can provide.”
Her reason? The cost to the planet of production when it comes to products – something the Sharks are already talking about this season. “We all thought we were doing the right thing by buying green bags, only to discover the cost to the planet in energy, resources and pollution was massive."
While a product might be reusable, what’s it costing the planet?”
"We have to look at all eco-products in a holistic view," she continues. "What was the cost to produce these things? It’s important to make sure you're not using more energy than you're actually saving.
However -- don't worry, she's not poo-pooing those pitching eco-ideas at all. "While we haven't solved this problem yet, we are really pleased to see the direction in which things are going – so a sustainable pitch is always a welcomed one!”
While she says there is a definite gap in the shark market for more sustainable products, Naomi says we should also be focussing on changing behaviours.
“You can come up with the most wonderful product but you have to change people’s behaviours and you have to inspire them to change the way they might have been doing something before -- and that is quite hard.
“For example, Keep Cups have been around forever and how often do we show up at the coffee shop without them?” she smiles. “It’s about changing behaviours but sometimes that's difficult to do.”
So what’s her final word of advice for any aspiring eco-warriors who do have a great idea?
“Get what we call minimal viable product – a development technique where you get a few [products] made and trial it with family and friends, or take it to the local market," she suggests.
"If it’s a really great idea but people aren’t prepared to spend money on it then it’s not going to happen. We might think we're solving a problem but if it's not what people are prepared to spend money on, then it’s never going to work.”
You heard the lady. Now go save the world!