How Obeo customers pulled together to save their food waste box.
On June 12th we emailed our customers to tell them that Obeo would no longer be around to help with recycling their food waste. Both Liz and myself knew this was coming and had spent the last year trying everything possible to avoid reaching this point. The numbers don’t lie and Obeo had to cease trading.
It was a very hard email to send. I tried to make it sound corporate. I think it was a subconscious attempt to make myself feel a little more detached from our Obeo community. It didn’t work. Immediately customer emails began to flood our inbox. Detailed, considered responses outlining the impact Obeo has had on their households recycling habits coupled with expressions of regret on yet another fallen Irish business. I sat in front of my computer and cried. I thought about the blood sweat and tears that both Liz and myself had poured into Obeo over the past 5 years and couldn’t shake the feeling of responsibility that I’d let our customers down.
For the rest of the week the customer emails kept coming. After a year of missed targets, shrinking margins and impending closure it was our customers who finally made me see the successes of Obeo and not the failures. Our little Food Waste Box had done something positive for the environment. We had made a difference. We had left a mark.
The following day the phone rang. An instantly recognisable voice from the past asked me to tell him what had happened. I told him the story of Obeo’s last year and our fight for survival. I told him how surprised I was by the reaction from our customers and how I couldn’t believe that they seemed to care as much about Obeo’s future as we did.
He asked for a meeting. Why not I thought, at this stage what do we have to lose? He greeted me like an old friend, smiled and told me that this wasn’t the end of Obeo. “You have a product and you have customers, so why not ask them to fund the next production run? Offer them a years supply of Obeo and ask them to pay in advance.” Could it really be that simple? Would our customers back us? If it worked we would be back in business and if not then we would know that we had exhausted every last option.
After a week of procrastination I finally emailed our customers to ask if they would join together to fund Obeo’s next production run. My expectations were low. Having just come to terms with Obeo’s closure I didn’t dare let myself believe that this could work. Then it happened. Obeo’s inbox began to flood with a one word reply, yes. By that evening over one third of the required customers had pledged to purchase a years supply of Obeo boxes. By the following day we had enough interest to go ahead. I finally let myself believe that this might just work.
The rules were simple. We hit our target and Obeo goes into production. We don’t hit our target and all our customers would be refunded. The time limit was 30 days. We had enough interest to make this happen but when it came to it would a ‘yes’ really translate into a sale? Thankfully we had nothing to worry about. Each day we got closer to our target and each day my confidence in Obeo’s survival grew. On August 24th I let our customers know we had done it, together we had saved Obeo.
This newsletter is a thank you to all our Obeo’ers. Whether you’ve supported us by placing a pre-order, sending us a kind email or by helping us to spread the word your belief is the reason Obeo is still here.
Want to get involved?
We are still taking pre-orders for a years supply of Obeo boxes.
We have reached our target for the next production run however, every order we receive will help secure Obeo’s future. If you would like to place a pre-order please pop along to our shop page. Here you will see two options:
– 5 separate deliveries of 30 boxes for €120 + €27.50 p&p*
– Single delivery of 150 boxes for €120 + €7.50 p&p*
If the pre-order is not for you please help us by spreading the news of Obeo’s return among your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. From November onwards Obeo will be available to buy in a single payment or a subscription of 30 boxes.
* Expected date of delivery is November ’18