On this week’s Founder to Founder episode, Teja sits down with Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO and Co-founder of TIPA, a company that produces compostable, eco-friendly packaging. They talk about the complexities of creating a brand new product, how to grow across four continents, and how she bridged the gap between software and packaging to create something that is used by beloved brands around the world.
(THE FRONTIER THEME PLAYS)
What’s up y’all? Today we have co-founder, founder, and CEO of TIPA, which is a company that specializes in creating environmentally friendly, biodegradable packaging for companies that are producing everything that we consume in the world. (THE FRONTIER THEME ENDS) Daphna, thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
Okay, so where are you guys based? I think this is exciting that we’re speaking to somebody from across the world.
Yes. So actually, at the headquarters and the company’s original places, Israel. We started here, but today we have presence in three continents: in Europe, in North America, and Australia.
Is travel a big part of your routine as CEO?
Yeah, for sure, yeah. (Teja: Really?) my routine for sure, but not only mine, also other people here.
Your team, yeah.
But yeah, yeah, yeah. It is, of course.
How, how often do you find yourself in Israel, versus in other countries day-to-day?
So, I would say if I look at it monthly, so I would say two weeks, I’m here. Two weeks, I’m overseas. Out of a month. Yeah.
Yeah. Is that hard like, with a family and everything, or are you able to manage it?
I’ve been able to manage it, but it’s not easy. It’s not easy, (Teja: Yeah.) but that’s part of my job, and I like it.
That’s true. So now that you’ve been running the business for like, over 10 years, and you’ve raised like, you know, $123 million, which, by the way, was it intentional that the dollar amount was 1, 2, 3, or did that just come as a result of that?
No, no. Nothing was planned there <laugh>.
<Laugh>. Cool. (Daphna: If you…) Go ahead. Sorry.
No, no, no. I’m just saying if we were trying to do that, we wouldn’t be able to achieve that, but those type of things are achieved you know, without intention <laugh>.
Is that your philosophy, broadly? Like, or are you sort of more goal-oriented? Like, you set a goal, you achieve it, is that how you operate the business?
Yes. That that’s how I operate the business. Of course, there are opportunities, and challenges, and risks on the way, but we have a goal, and we are totally focused on the goal, but we also, as a startup we tend to stay flexible and understand what are the needs, what are the trends? Do we need to do any changes or recalculating our roots, et cetera, et cetera. So we definitely keep our eyes open there as well.
So after 10 years of operating, what made you decide to take outside capital?
Oh, no, we raised capital from day one.
I see. Okay, just public. Gotcha. (Daphna: Yeah, yeah.) Okay, that’s cool. You know, your background is in, sort of, sustainable packaging and, (Daphna: Yeah.) you know, materials engineering, or it seems to be in something different, right?
Yeah, totally different actually. (Teja: Yeah.) Yeah, my background is software. (Teja: Okay.) I grew up in the software industry. My experience in education was, in the first years of my career, in software engineering, and I also served in the Israeli Navy. You know, (Teja: Cool. Yeah.) Israeli woman and men serve in [the] Israeli army. So I was in one of the elite units in the Israeli Army (Teja: Wow.) and dealing with software. So I’ve vast experience in the software industry both in the Navy, and then in the professional market and outside market, as well. But then after a few years, I decided to do something else, and that’s where the story starts. Yeah.
What do you think you sort of gained, in terms of extensible skills, from your time in service, from your time previously in software? Like, any lessons that you brought from your software background to your current business?
Yeah, definitely, and I think also this experience is part of the success of TIPA. I was educated, and it’s part of being in this market to always think, “What is the right solution?” Sometimes [it] needs to be out of the box. Don’t think as, you know, as the conventional market thinks, or everyone thinks, or this is what is acceptable and not, this is what acceptable in the market, let’s do this thing. So part of developing solutions, and that’s what software engineers do, is think differently and think out of the box. Try to bring a new solution, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) and it’s the same approach that I had when first I started to think about the plastic problem. So it’s not a matter of doing the same, but in a better way.
It’s a matter of doing something else, thinking differently. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) And if the market, if we talk, for example, on packaging, so if the market goes always, and thinks always, and kind of the solutions over to conventional plastic and recycling, I said to myself, “Well, this doesn’t work, obviously.” We all see that. It doesn’t work, so, and I believe that in a few years time, we’ll need a solution that is different than what the industry was doing back then and still does today, and that’s why the thinking out of the box came. So I said to myself, “Let’s look. What is the most intuitive way we use…we discard waste?” and the first thing that came to my mind was an apple. Because when I ate apple, and I threw the residuals to the waste bin, it just kind of disintegrates and biodegrades by by itself, right? (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.)
And [we] also looked kind of at nature. So what did nature do? Nature [is] packed with compostable materials, materials that kind of disappear, decompose, and turn to a new resource, post consumption, after using. For example, if we [look at] an orange, and the peel is the package, and then, post consumption, it turns into compost, a new important resource. And that was the, the idea. And so, again, if I go back to my background, I said to myself, “Okay, we need to think differently.” Another way that we’ve been going, in the last 50, 70 years, they’ve been using plastic packaging. So that’s one thing. And I can say that the other thing that I was kind of brought up on, it’s never take no as an answer. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) There are challenges. They’re gonna be challenges. Just find a way how to deal with those challenges and solve it, and this is part of the culture <laugh>, what I brought to the company.
That’s awesome. How did, so I’m sure when you guys started the company, there was probably a significant amount of market resistance to the idea, not in concept, but maybe in execution, ‘cause it’s never been done before. How did you kind of overcome some of those objections?
First of all, packaging. It’s flexible packaging. It’s quite a complex technology. (Teja:Yeah.) It’s not straightforward, not an easy one. Definitely, when you want to provide a solution, a perfect solution that emulates conventional plastic, so with the same properties, same good part of plastic package, but at the same time, based on new materials. Now, the role of the package is to pack the goods, and we had to do it the best way, right? To make sure that we provide the same quality as current packaging. In order to do that…and plus, we had to manufacture it. So we had to manufacture it, sell it, make sure that the end consumers are satisfied, understand which segments we are targeting within a huge market, et cetera, et cetera. So there were all those fronts were open, and we had to be creative in all those fronts, manufacturing front, and consumer front, shelf life, the visibility and printing on packages, et cetera, et cetera.
So what we did, is we focused on territories, focused on specific products, and start to grow from there, one step by step. At the beginning, we had kind of to find the manufacturers or producers that are willing to try new materials on their machines, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) which was a challenge as well, but we allocated those partners. We had to promise both sides. (Teja: Yeah.) We have to go to market together, we had to make few changes in this one. It wasn’t easy, as I was saying, but there were a few transactions and changes there, but eventually, today, I can gladly say that we manufacture our films. I mean, the raw materials, the films, reels of films in three continents, we convert films to packaging in three continents, so we managed to overcome the operational challenges and the go to market part of the challenges. It’s not easy today as well but of course we’re in a different place.
That’s really inspiring. And I mean, you guys have a fairly, like, pretty complex business. You know, I think software is pretty easy. (Daphna: <Laugh>.) You put some people in a room, then the thing comes out on the web, and the distribution’s pretty straightforward. So, you know, Israel is known for having a lot of sophistication around science and technology, particularly in, let’s say, like, internet companies. I know Fiverr’s based there, and they’re great guys. But does Israel have a lot of sophistication? I mean, I guess it now does around material science and manufacturing, or did you have to go out of the country to start, you know, building prototypes?
Look, I’m sure that we can find talents [in] other places, but there are great talents in Israel, (Teja: Cool.) in terms of material science. The general industry of material science and food products has been growing extensively in the last few years, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) which is great. So it’s more than just, you know, software, different kinds of software and cyber, et cetera, et cetera. It’s newer, but there are also great minds here, same as software.
That’s cool. Yeah. Yeah, and I’m sure like, a lot of the R&D around material science probably has initially a defense application and then gets commercialized, and so there’s probably a lot of different talent there that’s actually been developing for probably, you know, the last 50 years or something like that. So, (Daphna: Yes, yes. Exactly) That’s cool. Very cool. Okay, so talk to me about like, day one of starting your company. You know, was it just you, did you have like, friends that you kind of persuaded to come join you on this mission? How did you, like, start the business at such a complex business?
I kind of had this idea, and the first steps are to investigate what’s out there in the market, and I just didn’t know, you know, I’m not coming from this industry. (Teja: Sure.) And yeah, I met my co-founder back then. Actually, we met at the kindergarten and…<laugh>.
Yeah. And we started investigating and going in this direction of developing a solution, and there were assumptions that were other in the beginning, and then we understood that it’s not exactly what we thought, so we had to change, et cetera, et cetera. We made sure from from day one to work with people that are experts in the industry, although those, kind of, let’s say, consultants are pretty expensive. But we worked only with top people from the industry to kind of expedite the understanding of what’s in the market, what the market needs, how to work in this market, et cetera, et cetera. And during this journey, when, you know, I grew the company, made sure to work with people who really believe in the solution, this is kind of almost the first parameter, because it’s not an easy journey, but we have to make sure that we work as a group, because it creates a huge effective synergy.
And plus the people will, you know, go as a troop force to the market with us, need to believe in the solution. So I’m glad to say that, you know, I’ve been working with the same people for many years now. We’ve built here a beautiful group of people that believe in this solution that will do everything to succeed. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s not gonna be easy. I hope one day it’ll be easy, which, in the market is definitely going in that direction, but we’re still in a, you know, an early stage. But it’s very, it’s crucial to have good people, you know, who wants to market, but mainly support the one in the other. And I can say that in many junctions, when I had to make decisions, that was one of the most powerful thing I had to support me, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) the people that work here.
That’s awesome. That’s really cool. So what are some of like, your company values? Do you believe in like, being values-driven, that sort of thing? You know, in San Francisco, do you have a wall with like, company values? It’s very common in tech startups, so I’m wondering if…<laugh>.
No, we don’t have such a thing, (Teja: <Laugh>.) but definitely, we have values <laugh>.
My first value is people, because people need to be heard and listen, but they’re also the keys to success. So every person is an important person, and every person can talk, contribute in his or her field of expertise, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the CEO or it’s the engineer, it doesn’t matter. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) That’s one thing. The second value is the value, of course, of keeping this beautiful gift that we’ve got, our nature, our earth, et cetera, et cetera. So we believe that the solution of the compostable solution is the right one for the flexible packaging market, and we don’t do other things. Although, you know, in the journey, there were people who said, “Okay, just do this or do that, or do something a bit different, and you gain huge part of the market.” And so I said, “No, the mandate we’ve got is to do the right thing for the world, is to bring the best solution and compostable solution to the packaging industry, and to make sure that we grow.” (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) And so those principles, kind of that principle of being a company with values, that’s what has been driving us forward.
How do you think that you gained like, such a laser-focus on taking care of like, the environment? It seems bizarre that only such a small subset of our population actually cares about that, you know? Is there something that you grew up with, or you just, I don’t know, find it to be a good opportunity?
You know I haven’t [been] brought up or grew [up] with this environment, and it’s definitely not in Israel, or I would say, it wasn’t a focus when I was a child. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) It’s kind of been in the, kind of a subject that [has been] dealt [with] here, I would say, in the last 10 years or so, maybe 15 years. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) But I can definitely share, first of all, you know, it all started with, I understood it. It’s kind of complex to take care of packages, post consumption, where do I put it, do I recycle it, et cetera, et cetera. And then it all started from a discussion I had with one of my children around the plastic bottles they used to take to school back then. (Teja: Yeah <laugh>.) And I said to myself that it doesn’t make sense, because I know that each piece of plastic is actually not going anywhere.
It’s gonna stay here for hundreds of years. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) So that’s how it all started, but once I started to go in, you know, in this direction, or journey, or path of understanding what is the main problem, just understand the numbers, and suddenly like, you know, like, I put glasses on my eyes. I said, “Okay, what are we doing? What are we doing? Is humanity…what are we doing?” We’re kind of littering and leaving the litter to someone else to take care of. And as much as I continue to drill down into understanding the size of the problem, and the lack of solutions, and the fact that we keep being told that recycling is gonna solve it all, oh my god, we’ve been trying to recycle for 20 years, and nothing happens.
So what are we thinking to ourselves? (Teja: Yeah.) And all that, you know, brought me to the stage that, to the level of enthusiasm on bringing a different solution to the world. I think it was much easier for us to go with recycling, if we decided to. Maybe the company was in a different place. It was much easier for me to go do other things in my career, but I decided to do that, because I think that’s the right thing. That’s it. Now, as individual, I need to consume plastic today. There’s no alternative, (Teja: Yeah.) I mean, for everyone, and it’s gonna be, it’s a revolution. It’s gonna happen, and it’s not gonna happen in one day. It’s gonna be hard for everyone, but if you keep doing the right thing, eventually it’ll happen. Now, [when] we prepared this discussion, you asked me, “What is the meaning of TIPA?” and I said, a droplet, And I’m talking about persistency right now, so I can say that part of the meaning of TIPA is that one drop cannot change a rock, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) but a drop, and another drop, and another drop, and another, eventually we change the shape of even a rock. So persistency and keep doing the right thing, that’s, for me, a key value.
That’s awesome. Okay, so how’d you guys come up with the name?
The first discussion with my children was about the bottle. Let’s replace the bottle. (Teja: Yeah.) I was pretty innocent back then. (Teja: <Laugh>.) I thought to myself, you know, “What’s the problem? Let’s take compostable materials. Let’s invent kind of a cool package to replace bottles.” (Teja: Totally, totally.) “Throw it away, and it’ll disappear.” And the idea was to create, to invent kind of a pouch in the shape of a droplet to replace the plastic bottles. I would say six months after, I understood that the main problem [wasn’t] another bottle, ‘cause bottles probably can be recycled, but it’s more flexible packaging, and so on, and so forth. But we decided to stick with the name TIPA, until today even, because first of all, it’s very easy to pronounce. There are few meanings, which, you know, I just talked about too, but there are more meanings to the word “tipa”, and it’s kind of, this is who we are.
So you guys are headquartered in Israel, but are based in North America, in Europe, you said, and then a third.
Australia. Okay. That’s awesome. And so, you know, when you think about distribution, and you think about new markets, or are these places more so manufacturing spots where you guys build products?
It actually connects me to one of the questions you just asked me about what do I bring as a, coming from the software industry to this business? So we’re kind of an operational business model that is not common in the packaging industry, and I actually kind of borrowed it from <laugh> the software industry or semiconductors industry. So I wanted to be able to see our solution spreaded around in a viral way, like software. (Teja: Right.) Software is easy. Just send it, email it, and you copy, you copy, copy, copy, copy. That’s duplicate. (Teja: Right.) But this, we’re talking here about a tangible product, I mean, a product that needs to be manufactured. Therefore, from day one, I made sure that we can manufacture all our products on conventional plastic machinery. And we do. We are FBS <pronounced phonetically>. So we have the technology. We find the right partners in each territory.
We manufacture our films and packages in each territory. (Teja: Mmmmm.) So we started in Europe; we have been manufacturing, we do the manufacturing that’s taken from other industries. We don’t have our own machines, we don’t have our own factories, we don’t have our…but we do manufacture the films, which are the basis for packaging. Now, in Germany, in the last five or six years; this year, started in North America and in Australia. So we manufacture, locally, our films, and then convert it into packaging, again, with partners on the ground in each territory. So that’s the FBS <pronounced phonetically> model. It has its benefits and challenges, but overall, we wanna make the benefits of this model is, first of all, as you’ve been asking me, we can manufacture wherever we want.
We have to allocate the right partner. We have to run files, we have to, kind of, certify the partner, but it’s much faster and doable than buying facilities, and et cetera, et cetera, or installing machines. So that’s one thing. (Teja: Right.) The second thing is we collaborate with the market. We don’t go against the market. We collaborate with the market with companies who manufacture today conventional, plastic, and also manufacture compostable packaging. So that’s the second stage of open doors for us, opening doors for us. And also very important, we manufacture locally. So we reduce carbon footprint. And, you know, I can continue expanding the benefit of this model, but that’s how we operate, and that’s how we’ve been managing to grow,
Keep going. What are some of the benefits of that approach? I mean, there’s less transaction costs. It’s probably more capital efficient. You get people who understand the markets. Yeah.
It’s more capital efficient. It opens opportunities for us, as well, with the manufacturers, because they have their own customer base. And so, we can sell, and where we manufacture, they can sell as well in our partner’s Salesforce. It would also, you know, there’s also a challenge of getting priority on other people’s lines, (Teja: Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.) but we solve that with our partners, and it gives us the opportunity to grow and not be tightened to a specific machine. And more technologies are open for us. We can manufacture, for example, I say, three layers, five layers, and other films, blown film, cast films. I know it doesn’t necessarily say something to your audience, but those are, I mean, we can use wider technologies (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) to manufacture our products, which brings different properties. (Teja: That’s cool.)
So it’s a model that works for us. Not everybody understands this one (Teja: <Laugh>.) <laugh>, but the main thing that we gained from it, is that we manufacture today in three territories, in three continents close to our clients within reach potential. And also, you know, I’m very much satisfied to see that companies [who] manufacture conventional plastic, to manufacturing our products, and the fact that we open doors for everyone enables us to do that. So that’s kind of the viral growth I was dreaming about. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) We still have to grow. We still have to grow another, but…<laugh>.
Yeah, but it’s less friction. Yeah. (Daphna: Yes.) Yeah. That’s cool. So, you know, like, I tend to think that the software like, ecosystem is, maybe people will disagree with me, but fairly meritocratic. Like, it’s a new industry. Mostly people wanna do business with companies that are growing fast and relationships don’t matter. Like, they’re not entrenched yet in the software industry, in manufacturing, particularly with plastics and plastic alternatives. Do you feel like this industry is more relationship-driven? Are there very long partnership cycles where people work with each other for a very long time, or are relationships more transactional? Like, how do you navigate the complex web there?
It’s definitely a different industry <laugh> (Teja: Yeah <laugh>. Yeah.) than software, yeah. Yeah, it is different. Yes, it’s based on relationships. Look, first of all, just to understand, it’s an industry of over 1 billion dollars annually, globally, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) very diverse industry. So there are small manufacturers, mid-size manufacturers, big manufacturers, giant manufacturers, there are companies from 10 million dollars to 15 billion dollars, okay? They’re packaging manufacturers. So it’s a huge industry with different types of companies and different types of clients of brands, so it’s a bit different. I mean, the relationships are a bit different with small companies and bigger companies, but definitely the bigger ones are very much relationship based.
So a long time ago, I think I’m actually under NDA, but I don’t think they’d mind if I say it. (Daphna: Ok <laugh>.) A long time ago, maybe 2019, 2020, like, pre-pandemic we were talking to Fiverr, which yeah, I think is, what, 20, 30 minutes down the street, and they reached out to us, and they wanted us to fly to Tel Aviv. And just, you know, with basically the world shutting down, we didn’t end up working together, but I really like those guys, have a lot of respect for those guys. They’ve built a tremendous business, and it seemed, you know, one thing that I took away from them is that in Israel, it seems like there’s a lot of knowledge transfer, and a lot of companies want other companies there to succeed, and a lot of the founders connect, and there’s a really well-developed ecosystem. Do you feel that, in your business and where you’re working, like you have a lot of other founders to connect with and a lot of other folks to talk shop with?
Yes. I mean, this industry is quite a wide industry. I mean, (Teja: Yeah.) the start, let’s call it the “early stage companies” in Israel, startup companies, innovation is very…in our field, in packaging and sustainability, the market is pretty new. I mean, we were kind of pioneers in this field. So that is more. The packaging alternatives, it’s not a huge industry, not in Israel, but there’s more. We support each other, the founders or entrepreneurs, you know, it’s not on a daily basis, but there are forums. There are kind of meetings that take place to support one another. Yes, the only environment is an environment that understands what is an entrepreneur, what are the challenges, what do we need, does the government support the beginning of the way, et cetera, et cetera. So since this industry is kind of wide in Israel, there is a support. Still, <laugh> being a leader and a CEO, it’s a, <laugh> it’s a challenge.
Yeah. You’re the tip of the spear. (Daphna: Yes.) Right. Yeah. Okay, so how did you, like, learn everything that you know about the market, just given your background? Did you have advisors? Did you just learn as you go?
As I said, at the beginning, I made sure we kind of recruited the best people in the market, so to bring knowledge into the company. And there was a kind of a fast track to learn what we do, what we need to do, how the market behaves, what we wanna do the same, what we wanna do differently. And so that’s now, as the company continues to grow, and things change, we had to kind of sometimes bring more knowledge, different knowledge to the company. And, you know, they’re kind of two fields of expertise that I needed here. One of them is in the packaging industry, the second one is the materials, and the third one is how to build [an] interactive company, or different company (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) that can really make a change. Disruptive, (Teja: Right.) that’s the word I was looking for. Disruptive company that can really make a change. As I said, the people from in the company, and the board members, and the advisors that we had kind of contributed a lot to the company’s growth. If we could do things differently, of course we could <laugh>. (Teja: <Laugh>.) You know, there’s always worry.
Of course. Yep, yep. Totally. Every day, in the morning, yes. I’m like, “Ah, I wonder if we had done that differently,” (Daphna: Yes, yes.) “what would it be like.” Yeah.
Sliding doors. Do we wanna do this or that?
Yeah. It seems like building your team and getting these different types of expertise was really important to the company’s success and future success as well. What are, you know, as you do recruiting, maybe you’re not involved so much in the day-to-day recruiting of the line engineers and such, but what are some heuristics that you use to make a good hire across your business?
So, of course, knowledge is important. (Teja: Yeah.) We make sure that the person is the right, I mean the experience or knowledge that is needed. The first permit is personality <laugh>. (Teja: Yeah.) First of all, if the person is in the company’s DNA, and then if he or she has the desired know-how, knowledge, et cetera. And then we kind of, you know, we try for both sides to set up meetings, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) as many as we can, before recruiting to understand, to put everything open on the table and say, “This is the company, those are the upsides, and those are the downsides, those are the challenges, this is what we don’t have here.” More what we don’t have, rather than what we have, challenge the desire to join us <laugh>. (Teja: <Laugh>.)
You know, but sometimes it just, you know, does the opposite. (Teja: Yes.) People really wanna join us after they understand all the challenges. (Teja: Yes.) But yes, and we made mistakes, and we also made very good equipment. So there’s some successes, some failures. I think there’s no one formula, but for me, it’s really important to meet [a] person in-person, not over zoom. Meet [the] person in-person, sit in the same room, have even one hour discussion, and that’s a lot.
What do you think the difference is, in terms of meeting in-person versus in Zoom? I have some ideas, but I’m curious about your take on it.
It’s body language. (Teja: Mmmmm.) Which is kind of, that’s the main thing for me, body language. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) And, you know, behavior over zoom is different than behavior of being in the same room. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) So what does the person say? How they enter the room, what is the interaction between, or in beginning, and the end of the meeting. Asking hard questions, it’s easier to answer over Zoom. That’s what I think. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) So it’s very bad language, I would say <laugh>.
Have you ever, I mean, I don’t know how much you can disclose about this, but have you ever hired somebody over Zoom, and then you met them in person, and you were just like, I think we made a mistake. Or let’s not even say at work. In any context, you’ve met somebody over Zoom, they seemed great, and then you meet them in person, and they’re not so great.
No, because I don’t think I hired over Zoom. (Teja: <Laugh>.) <Laugh>. I make sure I make the people report to me. I mean, with [the] hire officer.
Yeah. One observation that I’ve made is, you know, we’ve hired over Zoom a bunch, especially during the pandemic, and it’s kind of our business, you know, but I have met people in real life, and the one thing that I notice, is it’s very hard to tell height over Zoom. (Daphna: Yes, yes.) Right? And then you meet somebody and you’re like, “Dude, this guy is huge.” (Daphna: Yes.) Right? Or you meet somebody, and you’re like, “This person is six inches smaller than I expected,” (Daphna: Yes.) you know?
Yes, that happens a lot. Yeah.
And it shifts the energy perception almost of kind of how they interact with people, you know? (Daphna: Yeah, yeah.) That’s been a very interesting dynamic (Daphna: Yes, yes.) in the Zoom world.
Yes, but height is not a problem for me <laugh>.
<Laugh>. Yeah, of course.
But you know, there is a thing where, I mean, I don’t fully understand this, but I think people’s social confidence, this is not a question, this is just an observation, so, pardon me for indulging myself, but I think somebody’s social confidence can affect, in a group setting, their ability to arrive at a solution, (Teja: For sure.) you know?
Self-confidence is a huge power in the personality.
Yeah, totally. To your point, I do think it’s easier to be more confident over Zoom, (Daphna: Yes, right.) in a way. Easier to be more rude too, you know? (Daphna: You’re right.) Yeah, it’s interesting. Yeah, I mean, it seems so interesting, because you guys have to have recruiting capability across the three, I mean…how to build tight operations, how to engineer new materials, how to do packaging, and so it’s like three distinct functions. (Daphna: Yes.) Yeah, that’s crazy. Hmm. What been the biggest challenge in scaling? Is it the R&D part, or is it just getting all the operations tight, so you can operate across the different territories effectively?
Yeah, it’s all front. It’s mainly operations and sales. So to get the right clients, to sell the right product, and to manufacture it. So those are the main, kind of, creating a system that walks in together, you know, with all different parts of it to be integrated rightly, and to be able to generate the demand, and to fulfill the demand. Yeah, it is a challenge. It’s a doable one, but it is a challenge, and part of it we learn on the way.
Yeah. It’s interesting. That’s also like, probably at least what our board cares the most about discussing, you know? It’s like, I wanna bring up all these R&D questions that we’re trying to answer. They’re like, “Okay, well, how is the operations, and how’s the sales doing?” And it’s like, (Daphna: Yes.) “Okay, yeah, we can talk more about, yeah.” (Daphna: Yeah.) You know, so what’s next for your company? (Daphna <Laugh>.) Where are you guys going? Where are you guys headed? You guys gonna raise $1,123,000,000 next <laugh>?
So, yeah. Our target is to grow, (Teja: Yeah.) and to make sure that the viral growth actually happens. And once the usage of our materials will grow, everything else will come. So, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) you know, I always look on what is the right thing that we need to look for, and now we need to look for expanding the usage of our technology (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) as much as we can in the right way, of course. And then the rest will come. (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) You know, the money, the size, all that.
Yeah. That’s all an outcome, yeah. Do you guys sell into, I guess you guys sell into companies that are creating packaging for their products? That’s the main consumer? (Daphna: Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yes.) Have you guys ran like, public awareness campaigns for the problem, or do you guys feel like the problem is understood well enough?
No, no. (Teja: Cool.) It’s not understood. (Teja: <Laugh>.) I mean, it’s not understood. No, not at all. (Teja: Yeah.) And we’ve been doing it here since, I don’t know, the last, I would say, few years, six years, five years we’ve been, we’ve been doing that, kind of spreading the problem. Look, we’re not a huge company, so we cannot educate the market, (Teja: Right.) but we can definitely increase the awareness, so…
This is a more selfish question. How do you guys, as an operator, how do you measure the efficacy of campaigns like that, versus just the things that are very attributable to growth? Do you ever think about that, or do you just allocate a budget and you’re like, go figure it out.
We allocate a budget, and no, we measure. Online, it’s easier to measure, (Teja: Yes.) because then we can, and we do almost everything online, if not 100% online. So we measure, you know, all the indexes that are measurable with campaigns, with ads, with articles, with opinion articles, (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.) with any activity that we do. We measure the interest and what turns out of each activity. Yeah. That’s what the marketing team does.
Yeah <laugh>. So, I find it hard, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around like, awareness campaigns, for us in particular, because you can directly attribute ad spend to more like, inbound leads, you know? It’s very easy. Whereas with a banner or a sponsorship of a conference, you’re kind of like…
Oh, we don’t do that. No, (Teja: <Laugh>.) we don’t do sponsorship of conferences. (Teja: Yeah.) No, we don’t. As I said, we do online. We do public relations. I mean, so we publish articles, et cetera, and we do social media in general. We participate in exhibitions, et cetera, but that’s all measurable, because we measure the leads that come in and (Teja: Yeah.) eventually the POs. (Teja: Totally.) Yeah.
Totally. It’s all about POs. That’s…
It’s all about POs <laugh>. Yeah.
What, what’s some of your advice to other founders that are working in the sustainability sort of industry that probably have complex businesses? It’s not a lot of, I think, I mean, it seems like tech people are more vocal, but folks that are working outside of the direct software industry are not yet. So I’m curious what your advice is.
First of all, stick to your goal, I mean, to the core, to the commission of the company. Of course, understand and sense the market, and if things change, but keep doing what you believe needs to be done, or what is what you believe is the mission, and be patient, because it takes time. It doesn’t pay back as software [does] and not at the pace, not in the timeline, but it is a mission, which is important of course, for every company, depends on the company. Believe in what you do, because if you and your team believe in what you do, then you do it rightly, and you really, then you can grow the business. That’s my observation. You know, maybe there are other people who have different observations, but you have to be, you have to know what your target is, and, you know, go directly to and keep focusing on what you do. At the same time, keep your options open and be flexible, because you are like a speedboat. (Teja: Right.) If you need to change the direction, the course, just do it, but still to the same direction, you know, the same mission, the same goal. So it’s being focused and flexible. It’s being sensitive to what happens in the markets, but at the same time, keep pushing your solution. (THE FRONTIER THEME FADES IN) Insert changes, if they’re needed, and build your team. The team is eventually the success factor.
Mmm <affirmative>. Well, where can people find you? Find TIPA on the interwebs?
Our website is http://www.TIPA dash C-O-R-P. TIPA-corp.com.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Daphna. Really appreciate your time.
Faith, via previous recording (46:38):
Thanks for listening to The Frontier Podcast, powered by Gun.io. We drop two episodes per week, so if you like this episode, be sure to subscribe on your platform of choice, and come hang out with us again next week, and bring all your internet friends. If you have questions or recommendations, just shoot us a Twitter DM @theFrontierPod, and we’ll see you next week. (THE FRONTIER THEME ENDS)