Pitch to the Panel: Reward4Waste
WHO IS REWARD4WASTE?
Reward4Waste is a reuse and recycling platform which uses unique coding to bring end-to-end traceability and transparency to every single item. Their consumer-facing app educates, engages and incentivises people to be better and makes it easy for them to recycle better – in any context and in any situation. The rewards can be redeemed for cash, loyalty vouchers or benefits, or donated to charity.
Reward4Waste Director, Steve Clarke, explains: “Imagine a world where, at the tap of a button on your phone, you can see how much of your packaging is in the circular economy. And how many items have been recycled or re-used, bringing transparency and accountability to what you do. This is what our technology does – you can return and recycle items at any digital return point, including kerbside home recycling boxes. If you’re a business or individual looking to achieve your sustainability targets, we can help you become a force for good.”
Steve continues, “We’re passionate about the environment and like tackling big problems. That’s why we created Reward4Waste. We’re on a mission to keep items in the circular economy for longer. We have a great team of experts from different areas, including tech, operations, commercial, global standards and marketing. And we’re also collaborating with multinational global organisations who believe in our concept which is a great confidence boost to us.”
I was on the look out for local business support. Being an Oxfordshire based business, I discovered OxLEP and visited their website. I went through their online business tool triage system to see what support was on offer for a business like ours, and what we could benefit from. This is when we were signposted to the eScalate programme which was supporting businesses for social good and scale up businesses – the perfect programme for our business at the time.”
Over the following two years the Reward4Waste team took part in a raft of different business support from OxLEP.
“We’ve attended some great webinars including one on becoming a B Corp and another on networking for environmental impact. They were really valuable for us; we learnt a lot from the experts and other peers in the group too. The eScalate programme was a great fit for us as it provides support to social enterprises and it also supports scale-up businesses. As we are moving into that phase of our business we engaged in the scale-up support too.
This included some peer-to-peer group sessions and a useful webinar on investment readiness. We had a lot to learn about that and took some excellent nuggets of information away from it. We’re definitely going to do more peer-to-peer groups in the future as well. It’s important to continue to build our network of connections.”
LOOKING FOR INVESTMENT TO SCALE-UP THE BUSINESS
Two years since launch, Reward4Waste has reached a stage where they are looking to gain external investment to take the business into the next phase. Steve explains: “We’re looking for investment to support our team in one way, shape or form. What we want to do is hire a team of developers to sort out some of the advanced technology we know needs to be finalised. We need people to focus on sales and marketing to develop the pipeline further and drive the market forward. And we also need people to deliver on prospects that we convert to revenue.”
PITCHING THE RIGHT NOTE
As a growing business with the ambition to expand their business and scale-up, Reward4Waste were invited to take part in OxLEP’s Pitch to the Panel – an event that gives businesses the opportunity to meet and pitch to a group of Oxfordshire based investors.
Steve tells us why he wanted to get involved. “Our purpose for getting involved with the Pitch to the Panel process was to get us to the point where we feel we are investment-ready and to practise in a safe environment and present our pitch deck. Our contact at OxLEP was really supportive and helped us get prepared. We knew that we were not quite at the stage of investment readiness yet, but the encouragement we got from OxLEP was great and made us feel much more comfortable pitching.”
Reward4Waste performed brilliantly in the first round and were invited back to pitch again in the final. “We were really excited to be invited back to the next round, a little surprised, but excited! The first round was only ten minutes so we needed to make sure we said all the right things about our business to gain interest. Then the next round was longer, we had a twenty-five-minute presentation prepared. The investors seemed engaged and asked us lots of questions, which again was also good practice for us. And following the pitch we gained some useful and constructive feedback. It was interesting to see what their reaction was and to learn from them as to what we can improve. It was a positive experience, we’ve taken a lot away from it.”
When asked would you advise others to take part in an event like this in the future Steve says, “100% yes. Even if you feel a bit daunted and not quite ready, it’s a great event. It’s not often you get a panel of investors just put in front of you like that. OxLEP are always on hand to support you as well, so yes, give
it a go.”