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You Can’t Do That In Business

This article originally posted November 6, 2013 on our tumblr blog


Ever watch the show Shark Tank so much you can predict the questions the Sharks will ask? We have, and we know we’d give Kevin O’Leary a heart attack. In fact, we had a very similar experience in a friendlier setting at the 2013 Quinlan Social Enterprise Competition. Our founder, Kate, entered Meliora K in the competition hoping to get some professional feedback on using business as a tool to improve human health and the environment, and she found herself presenting the business plan to a panel of 5 distinguished judges. The very first question after giving the presentation was, “but…aren’t you worried about giving away all of this information to your customers?”

If we had to make a list of all of the scary parts about starting a new business, giving away information to our customers is somewhere on the list around 223, after #222 Why Are There So Many Boxes Here and before #224 I think I Misspelled Something on Twitter. We decided first that we’d give away as much information as possible to help our customers understand their cleaning products, and we simply think that’s more important than whatever economic advantages we might gain by keeping the recipe information to ourselves.

The truth is, this is definitely an experiment. We aren’t 100% sure it’s going to work. But we know what we are setting out to do, and it’s our mission to help people understand what’s going into their homes. Selling our products is one way to do that, because what we make is so much easier to understand than most of what you’ll see at the store. But we also accept that some folks will want to make their own products using the recipes we have posted. And that is totally okay by us. Maybe they’ll tell their friends, who will buy our products. Maybe they’ll start a rival company making and selling the exact same products (our team has lots of manufacturing experience, so we’ve got an edge there). Either way, we’re replacing conventional cleaning products with ones that are better for our families and for our waterways. If everyone on earth decides to make their own laundry soap, our team will have to find something else to do. We hear there’s money in cosmetics.