After almost a decade running a product development agency, Karl Vaupel understood just how tricky the process of designing a physical product can be.
And so Ground Control was born: a platform that allows new and established brands to design or redesign their products to make them more affordable and sustainable.
“Currently designing a physical product to be net zero is so complicated that it usually becomes unrealistic,” Vaupel said.
“For example every recycled material or piece of packaging you substitute affects three other crucial factors, like the assembly process, marketing or shipping cost. It’s impossible to predict everything in advance, so those brands that do want to improve just have to go for it – which leads to many failed attempts and missed opportunities.”
Vaupel and his team set out to solve that problem working with early-stage VC Antler.
“Ground Control is a platform, where anyone who manages a product or is looking to develop a new product, can get an entire roadmap with real quotes in 30 seconds,” he said.
“From idea to product flying off the shelf; and every step in between. Whether it’s tailoring compostable packaging, re-designing one component, or bringing an entire supply chain back to Australia.”
Given the near-infinite amount of products, trying to create a process to help such a wide variety of brands is a huge undertaking. Despite the challenges, Vaupel felt this would be the best way to have the largest impact.
“A big issue was communicating something so broad and complex were just understanding the problem can be a half-hour conversation, let alone explaining the solution,” he said.
“Also creating a business model that is both practical to launch in a relatively short amount of time, yet extremely scalable to have an impact on the world.
“An industrial design firm can potentially design a couple of hundred or thousand products because the process relies heavily on very smart people and doesn’t scale well.. But when there are millions of products, that need to be replaced with sustainable alternatives ASAP – it’s not enough.So we want to create a solution, that any brand can apply to any product, to make it more sustainable.”
Working with Antler has been very valuable, especially with the capital raising process, Vaupel said.
“The coaching with Antler has been great, just to have someone who genuinely understands the fundraising process,” he said.
“We’ve spoken to a number of investors along the way and every time there is a lot to cover, so it’s fantastic to have a coach who understands the business and can advise throughout the process.
“We also had a lot of very in-depth sessions with industry experts that would be hard to get otherwise which was really helpful.
“With Antler, I’m really happy to have help on the fundraising side, which allows us to focus more on the product and running the business. You can spend so much time fundraising and that’s crucial, but streamlining it a little bit is a really big advantage.”
Looking ahead, Vaupel hopes to grow Ground Control and eventually work with large established brands.
“Our plan is to expand our initial user base (which is focused on relatively new products and emerging brands), to help established companies and multinational brands redesign their products to be cheaper and more sustainable,” he said.
“We believe that sustainability and price shouldn’t be a tradeoff. Instead, sustainability can actually reduce the cost.”
“Sustainability is better for the consumer and the brand, you just need the right strategy tool to simplify all the new options”.
- Startup Daily is the official media partner of Antler in Australia.