Recently, we caught up with one of our newest shareholders (thanks again, Ari). In this guest blog, Ari shares his thinking about investing in a crazy hair-brained idea like Zero Co, and why it is such a great thing. Ari went from zero to hero and coined it as "cleaning the house and breaking the rules". Here's what he had to say:
After spending most of the last decade focussed on venture investments, I decided last year when setting up No Brand that our initial focus would be mainly centred around investing in funds and co-investing. Occasionally we would co-found companies, and we would have a strong focus on helping founders to create value and increase their financial security with FounderCo.
Angel investing wasn’t on the list. Then I met Mike Smith, founder of Zero Co and I broke my rules.
I first heard about Zero Co through FounderCo as the team was researching DTC companies in Australia. I checked out their site. At first glance, it looked good. Great branding, interesting product selection, novel business model.
Cleaning products aren’t the first thought when thinking about a category for a startup. Most people would assume the category is hyper-competitive, old and boring, dominated by conglomerates like P&G, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive.
Zero Co reminded me of other great DTC companies. They have a community led approach, a strong purpose and have developed their own products from scratch.
On my first call with Mike, I went through my high-level checklist:
Market: large enough now or in the future for a venture-style return
Team: strong team with domain expertise, open to learning and growing
Traction: early signs of product market fit, great engagement metrics, potential to scale
Zero Co passed with flying colours. Mike is an intelligent, experienced and humble founder. Zero Co’s metrics are better than most venture backed companies at an equivalent stage. There were no obvious show stoppers.
Next step, we bought the starter kit as part of our product due diligence process. I had two young analysts assist me. My two young daughters unboxed the starter kit, took selfies with the colourful cleaning products and then proceeded to fill up the reusable containers and place them down across various places around the house.
When they washed their hands with the Zero Co hand wash, “Dad, it smells so good” was the recurring comment. I think they washed their hands more the following week than they had in the previous month.
When I explained to them that Zero Co’s products were not only great but also helped by taking plastics out of the ocean, they were both sold.
We then ran a more comprehensive due diligence process and the No Brand team put together our investment paper. I’m delighted to share that we are now investors in Zero Co and are keen to play our part to help un trash the planet.
We’re thrilled to be on the journey with Mike and team, together with our friends at Skip Capital and Athletic Ventures.
For more of Ari's updates you can find him over at ariklinger.com