Our journey started with researching, traveling to Ko Kut for the first time and drafting our business model
Back in 2016, the glassic journey started with Patrick being on vacation in Thailand. While being aware that the plastic problem exists, he experienced it firsthand on the island of Ko Samet and decided he wanted to change something.
Back in Germany, he initialized a project at Enactus Munich, a student-initiative for social entrepreneurship, addressing the plastic polluting. Our team started searching for alternatives to the predominant plastic products.
Throughout the research on potential solutions, we came across various up- and recycling options but continued research as the economical feasibility ended up being questionable for all the cases. While interviewing sustainable hotels in Thailand we came across Soneva - a leading hospitality brand regarding sustainability and luxury. Within our calls with Soneva we got to know their approach and got aware of the multi-use bottle. In August 2017, we then visited them at their Thai resort ‘Soneva Kiri’ on Ko Kut. After talking to the people on the island we found the small island as a perfect starting point and the multi-use bottle as our first product.
Framing this bottle in a self-sustaining business would then be able to fund educational project as well as clean-ups – Our Vision was born.
On our second visit to Ko Kut we conducted lots of interviews, did market research, and met valuable advisors and partners
In March 2018, we once again packed our bags and traveled to Ko Kut for two weeks. With the support of ‘Soneva Kiri’ we interviewed hotels and restaurants to get to know them better. Additionally, we searched for a place as well as a water source for the future production side. While interviewing the owner of MeDee Resort, Kittaphat, he got to know our vision and was eager to join us as a partner. With his support we then got access to a water source as well as a place for our future building. An awesome case of being at the right time at the right place.
With a clear understanding of the market, a new partner and good connections to the community, we got back to Germany and calculated our business plan. It was crucial for our success, to make sure that we can offer our water for a competitive price while obviously being more sustainable. With the support of our advisors, we succeeded and gained more confidence in glassic. To kick off the implementation we started with a first crowdfunding campaign in autumn that year. But little we knew, how much work we had in front of us.
We built up our production facility, sharpened our customer understanding and got our glassic bottles
After we made sure that we have all legal requirements in our focus, we pitched glassic at the Enactus Start-Up Accelerator in Germany and won the Category Innovation. With the funding of our crowdfunding campaign and the trophy money we then planned our future building and with Kittaphat's help it was built in August. In another trip in September, we interviewed potential customers and deepened our understanding of their needs and their perspective on our solution. Thus, we knew after this trip who will be our first customers and how much water they would need – a perfect place to start.
Next was our bottle, while searching for a producer, we got to know the Munich glass manufactory SystemPack. After pitching them glassic, they were super excited to join us and donated over 18000 bottles. As that was not even enough, all his business partners joined as well and donated the crates, swing-tops, printing and even the logistics.
And to finish this amazing year, we joined the incubation program ActOnPlastic in Berlin. This gave us access to various experts, law consultants and extra funding which enabled us to finally purchase our machinery.
Covid-19 slowed down our progress on the island but allowed us to professionalize our processes as an upcoming impact startup
Enthusiastic about the successful progress we made in 2019, we planned to start operating our beverage business on Ko Kut within the first half of 2020. We shipped all our bottles to the island. In April, we were about to book our flights, just when the covid outbreak reached Germany as well as Thailand. The implementation came to a sudden stop, and we needed to recheck our possibilities. With returning lockdowns and ongoing covid restrictions the project on site just slowly moved forward.
Still, we used the time in Germany to further professionalize our work by enhancing our project management and people development, and to initialize the founding of our german non-profit company, the glassic gUG.
We were finally able to ship our bottles to the island and to collect necessary project funding via crowdfunding
Since summer 2020 we wanted to ship the crates to fit our bottles to Ko Kut but struggled to find free space in a container ship due to the lack of containers that season. In March 2021 we then finally got to deliver the huge number of crates to the island. As soon as our crates arrived on the island, our partners on site organized helping hands to store all our bottles in their crates. Further, we organized everything we need for our machinery which will cover all production steps from water purification, to bottling, to cleaning the bottles after use.
Now, our machinery is waiting in Bangkok to get picked up and installed as soon as the pandemic allows it. Till then, we already prepare the approval of our water quality under FDA standards to start offering the glassic water to our customers as soon as possible. To be able to finance our upcoming projects steps we ran a huge Crowdfunding Campaign during the summer months. By advancing our social media channels, creating home-made jewelry, designing supporter shirts, giving press interviews and addressing our personal networks we were able to fund an incredible sum of 12.500€!
Finally, the launch year!
We started into the new year with the goal in our minds to launch our business in autumn 2022! The idea of travelers enjoying high-quality drinking water out of our glassic-branded reusable water bottles and thereby creating an impact, really drove our progress. As the pandemic flattened, our partners were finally able to install our machinery which was an incredible milestone for us! In parallel, we developed a roadmap to break down everything we had to get done for the launch and to ensure we allocate our limited resources (especially the limited time of our team members) to the most important tasks.
The operations team prepared everything for our approval by the Food & Drug Administration including some reconstructing of our building, the marketing team reworked the website and advanced our project positioning and communication, the finance department updated our business model with more recent assumptions and explored further funding opportunities and our team leads hold everything together while driving the founding of our social enterprise. Beyond all this work, 2022 really brought us closer together as a team finally having our weekly meetings in person again and enjoying each other's company in various team events.