Kick-Starting a Social Startup w/ A Friendlier Company

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With Kayli Dale, Co-founder and CEO at A Friendlier Company, we discussed how to make reuse accessible and uncovered insights into kick-starting your own (social) startup.

About A Friendlier Company

After graduating from the University of Waterloo, Kayli Dale and Jacqueline Hutchings founded A Friendlier Company to simplify reuse and make it "as convenient and accessible to everybody as possible".

It all started during their co-op experiences abroad, which exposed them to sustainable practices and circular packaging systems they had not seen yet in Canada. These eye-opening experiences, notably in the Scandinavian countries, inspired them to use reverse logistics to create "a solid process that would enable the reuse of packaging".

Launched less than six months ago, amid the pandemic, A Friendlier Company has already rapidly expanded to support several Ontarian areas thanks to the support of the people who have "rallied behind the foodservice businesses in [their] program," she says. As a result, Kayli explains they have reused "over 5,000 containers that are equivalent to diverting 600 pounds of waste from landfill". 

For the years to come, they keep in mind that they want to "create a system for the average consumer and not just people who are [interested] in sustainability" to broaden their impact. So, they envision further expansion across Ontario to reach more people.

To support them, you can ask your favourite restaurants and takeout places for reusables! You can also join their social media platforms and download their app to find locations using their system readily.

Insights into Kick-Starting a Social Startup

Finding the Idea

"Find a problem that you are passionate about. It is not an easy journey! If you do not feel incredibly passionate about what you are doing, and if it does not give you the motivation to keep going, it is going to be tough.", Kayli underlines.

The idea is to make sure to "choose a problem that needs solving," and you are willing to put the effort in to solve it.

First Steps

It is crucial always to be adaptable and resilient. A Friendlier Company faced two major obstacles at the beginning:

  • Being constantly rejected; and
  • Targeting large event venues and having to deal with COVID-19 (e.g. large unsold inventory).

However, they adjusted quickly to the changes taking place in the market and "built a system that would work during the pandemic" and would tackle the ongoing increase in takeout waste. They also adopted an iterative and focused approach that helped them move forward.

Moreover, Kayli highlights that "every piece of [their] process was a big undertaking," and they leveraged their previous exposure to the startup world and experiences to design this process. According to her, other essential factors to the company's success include:

  • Applying to various programs;
  • Networking with as many people as possible; and
  • Being willing to change your mind about your ideas.

Scaling-up

Raising equity enables growth and scaling up quickly to make a significant impact. A Friendlier Company won funding through programs first, then small equity fundraising and now they are contemplating opening up their pre-seed.

They also work with a few groups from various universities (from engineering to marketing) and are hiring co-ops students to give back to the programs that initially helped them. Also, they look for people who "understand the problem they are trying to address and feel passionate about solving it" through conferences and networking events, for instance.

Inspiration to Go!

There are so many important problems out there that are not getting enough attention, especially in the social impact area.

Those areas can still be profitable, and they need businesses and smart people to come in, work on those problems and build up those markets. It is an extremely fun and exciting journey, and I do not think you will regret it!


Thanks so much for reading this post!

If you are a social entrepreneur and would like to share your story, reach out to me via LinkedIn. I am looking forward to it!

This article was updated on May 10, 2021

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Nadia Humbert-Labeaumaz

Entrepreneur, consultant, biosciences and software engineer, working on projects enabling positive impact.

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