Q&A: A cleaner home and a cleaner planet

This week we chat to Adam Lindsay, co-founder of Koh, an eco-friendly, all-in-one cleaning system. Starting out in 2016 by testing the products at a couple of Sydney farmer’s markets, Adam has leveraged social media to grow the business by over 1200 per cent in the last three years.

ISB: What was the motivation behind you setting up Koh?

AL: When my wife and I were expecting our second child and I became a stay-at-home dad, I took on the cooking and cleaning duties and was overwhelmed by the vast array of different cleaning products in the supermarket aisle – cleaning solutions full of harsh chemicals on one side, and mops, sponges and accessories on the other. I wanted to simplify cleaning by creating one effective cleaning system that was free from harsh chemicals, easy to use and also eco-friendly.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the transition from stay-at-home dad to entrepreneur?

AL: My role as stay-at-home-dad was only meant to be a temporary one with an expected return to corporate life. But once I’d had the idea for a simplified cleaning system it became all encompassing. The biggest challenge was not having a second income while I was developing Koh and testing it at the markets. It was almost two years before I was able to pay myself a regular salary, and this tough period put a lot of strain on home life. Looking back, I can see that the lack of funds actually helped, as it forced us to launch using the “minimal viable product” approach which enabled us to start testing faster than if we’d had cash to throw at things like product packaging and design.

ISB: Why is it so important for you to have an environment-friendly range, and how do you ensure that all your products meet that requirement?

AL: Starting a business that would leave a positive legacy for both people and the planet has always been important to me. When it comes to new product development, we have strict formulations guidelines in place, and we choose to back up our claims through third party certifications like Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) and approval through the National Asthma Council’s Sensitive Choice program. There’s still lots that can be done, and as a business we’re committed to doing the best we can for the planet, including

setting ourselves the target of all products being made from 100 per cent sustainable materials by 2022.

ISB: How has social media helped in the growth of your business?

AL: I think it comes down to how much people love using the product, and how much they love to talk about it. In the early stages Facebook advertising was certainly the key channel we used to reach new customers across Australia and the UK, and we still use it alongside other digital channels, however, social media and word of mouth have played a huge part as well. Every week we have hundreds of people posting their Koh before and afters on social media, and we have over 50,000 five-star reviews. The enthusiastic customer support and communities that have been built around the love of the product has been so exciting to see, and it’s really driven a new way of thinking when it comes to cleaning.

ISB: What is your vision for the development of Koh in the next couple of years?

AL: Outstanding Customer Experience is our North Star and this is manifested through delivering the best products and service possible. In the immediate future, product innovation is going to play a key role in delivering upon this commitment. We have some exciting new launches planned for this year which aim to fill a few key gaps in our current home cleaning system. One we’ve just launched is our new Koh Dishwashing Tablets. These are a no-compromise, high performance tablet that are a safer choice for our customers and the planet. Customers enjoy peace of mind by knowing they are certified by GECA and recommended by Sensitive Choice.

ISB: And, finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d share with those looking to start their own business from scratch?

AL: Before you quit your day job, try out your idea by following the principles of a minimal viable product. Nothing is more powerful than testing your ideas out on real paying customers, even if your test product or service isn’t the perfect version of how you imagine it. By doing this you’ll quickly answer two very important questions: is this something you want to pursue, and critically, does it have market demand?

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