The Misprint Co came through Lightning Lab Manufacturing in 2015 and have since developed into a company that uses the notebooks as a vehicle for behavioural change. Their mission is simple: take paper that would normally be recycled and reuse it in the form of notebooks. By buying one of their notebooks, customers are cutting down on carbon emissions and water use. The water footprint of making virgin A4 paper is 10L per page – by using one of their notebooks, the customer is saving between 130-260L of water.
The company works with over 40 organisations and schools including Wellington City Council, MetService, Zealandia, Flick Electric Co, Grow Wellington, Strategy Advertising and Design, Massey University and Wellington East Girls College. Each organisation is given a collection box which holds 4000 pieces of paper, saving 55% of a tree and 45,500 litres of water, making 350 notebooks. They’ve been featured in Idealog, Dominion Post and 1 News.
What’s your startup journey in a nutshell?
Well, in a nutshell The Misprint Co. was founded in 2014 by four people including Jenny Buckler, Kareena Harris & Priscilla Loong. As designers we felt guilty about the huge amounts of paper we used and printed on a daily basis. Most of this paper was hardly used which made the guilt worse! So we decided to do something about it. We started repurposing this already used paper into good-looking notebooks. It was here The Misprint Co. was born including our motto:
How did Lightning Lab MFG influence you and your team?
When we entered 125 High St, we had no idea of the journey we were about to embark on. But it was here we learnt how to actually start a business and create a working business model and financial plan. We were taught the basic building blocks to get shit done in business and we’ve carried and built on this throughout the past year or so after completing the accelerator.
What have you achieved since Lightning Lab MFG?
It honestly feels like we’ve done and experienced everything since finishing LLMFG. We bootstrapped for quite a while as we built our services and ironed out pricing and production, all the while gaining more customers. We later raised $45k in funding doing the Low Carbon Challenge and running a PledgeMe campaign. We have also just won the #MyBizQuest 2017!
We’ve gone through company restructures and hiring new people. We’ve now conducted more job interviews than we’ve done ourselves. We currently have over 60 customers purchasing notebooks and using our services, most of who are in Wellington but we also have a few in Auckland and Christchurch. We also moved office space in December 2016 and are now running our business our out of our own space.
Oh we’ve also won a few awards! A Gold award in Pride and Print as well as winning Bronze at the Best Design Awards in Sustainable product design and becoming a Finalist in Consumer Product Design at the Best Awards.
What do you find most challenging about being a startup?
Everything… even this question is challenging. But actually there are always different challenges that pop up, from the usual tiredness and frequent struggle to keep up the work/life balance. We’ve only just started making an effort to keep somewhat ‘normal’ work hours.
There are constant curve balls we have to deal with everyday, whether that be dealing with customer complaints and notebook hiccups. Or good things like keeping up with the demand of orders coming in, which also has the flipside anxiety spike of ‘oh crap do we have enough paper to make the order!?’. It’s all very exciting and can be quite challenging.
What gets you out of bed every morning to come and work on your startup? Why do you love doing what you do?
Our gingernut and tea supply and the smell of paper. Nah just kidding…
The drive to succeed! Kareena and I are very passionate about what we do and we really want to see our business develop and sustain itself. Being a social enterprise we are also not only about making revenue but we also want to make environmental and social change. It’s exciting see how our environmental impact is ever increasing. So far we have saved 2 million litres of water – woo-hoo
How did Creative HQ benefit your startups growth (revenue & physical) and what do you enjoy the most about being a part of the Creative HQ network?
We have gained a lot of support including mentorship and business development via CHQ. The perk of receiving free office space after our accelerator finished was very beneficial, this allowed us to build our business and services making bootstrapping a tad easier.
The CHQ network is amazing, everyone who works there are awesome people and now great mates. Even since moving out of the co-working space we still pop down and socialise with everyone.
What’s the next BIG chunky goal for your startup? Where do you see the business in 5-10 years?
We’re currently developing a growth model to expand into Auckland, around New Zealand and into overseas markets. This includes creating IP for ourselves by creating software to track paper, allowing us to know exactly how much paper we have and how many notebooks we can make, as well as tracking our environmental statistics. We see our company having multiple hubs around New Zealand and overseas. These hubs will create our repurposed stationery from each city’s waste paper, using local paper, printers and people to create our product.
Secondly we plan to be a preferred notebook supplier for conferences. We see this as a huge opportunity not only to increase revenue but for marketing and expanding our brand awareness. Conferences are also notorious for the amount of waste generated. If conferences have the opportunity to use already used paper for some of their product swag this is a win for them and us.
Our plan to become the preferred sustainable office stationery supplier as an alternative to Office Max. These notebooks will be made out of businesses own paper or our Offset paper. Allowing them to have unique and sustainable on brand stationery.
Lastly we have started our Repurposing in Schools programme, the programme will educate students about sustainability and the circular economy. Our Offset service will be the catalyst to teach students about the circular economy, waste and repurposing.
Tell us about your most inspirational / motivational experience being a startup thus far?
I suppose you could say it’s pretty motivating seeing how far our business has come in the past two years. Especially as we have learnt about business and how to run a business while actually doing it!
Since moving into our own office space we feel the pressure even more these days. This is highly motivating because if we don’t meet our sales targets each month there are many more repercussions to deal with. Thankfully over the past few months since moving out of CHQ our monthly sales targets are being met and we constantly have more orders coming through. We are currently in growth phase but our time is ever increasingly being stretched. On the upside we have heaps more space to sort and make our notebooks.