Angus Pauley interviews Matthew Beasley of LiVe Green; an online platform which provides environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to your household consumables and essentials.
"We aim to provide a way for the consumer to make a difference in the amount of plastic and chemicals they use and consume on a regular basis."
How did you meet the Live Green team?
There are currently 3 members: Thor Eastwood, Nick Morgan and myself. We met at Cumberland College, a University Hall here in Dunedin.
Thor is an Economics major. He is conservative and makes sure everything is done right and done properly. I am much more reckless and like to go big, bold and quickly.
Nick is an Accounting and Finance major. He has a role in that aspect of the business.
As a team I think we work well at finding the right balance of setting ambitious goals while also doing the right things and making the right decisions. Although, we are continually learning as we go.
Was there a particular moment of frustration or an a-ha moment in which you came up with the idea for Live Green?
No. The idea for Live Green was more of a snowball, gradually gaining momentum until we thought the idea was viable and had the confidence to go after it.
It was a dynamic process. Live Green originally started with an idea for a sustainable toothbrush. My personal concerns about plastic made me look for alternative ways to produce toothbrushes without producing large quantities of plastic. It was through that research Live Green evolved into what it is today.
What is a common misconception or something which people often get wrong about sustainability?
The most common misconception is that living sustainably will require a drastic change in our way of life.
We should provide solutions that allow us to live with the same ease, while also reducing our impact on the environment. For example, the plastic bag was invented for convenience. A compostable plastic bag alternative is a more effective solution than removing bags all together. That's the most appropriate and quick way to make a difference on a large scale.
Population wide behaviour change is possible, but it is also time consuming and difficult to execute. Instead, lets keep behaviour the same, but ensure that the products we consume are sustainable.
What were you doing before Live Green?
The truth is nothing really!
Haha, but seriously- I was and am studying towards a Physiology and Marketing degree (weird mix I know) at the University of Otago. I have always had plenty of thoughts and ideas for businesses over the years but this is my first attempt at actually making something happen.
My first idea for a business was when I was 10 or 11 years old. I dreamt up a self-propelled wakeboard device. My parents still have sketches I drew of it around the house somewhere. Just recently I saw a very similar product being advertised on Facebook with some success, so I guess I missed the boat on that one!
More recently, I started and ran a charity called Put The Boot In, which involved donating used and new football/rugby boots to low decile schools.
If you could recruit one famous person to Live Green right now, who would you recruit? Why?
There are two answers.
Purely as a marketing and publicity stunt I would hire Leonardo Di Caprio. His work in the field already is nothing short of admirable, and his massive influence and reach would be great for our growth. I'll admit, I’m also a bit of a fan boy over old Leo so it would be a good excuse to meet him!
If I was to hire someone that would be valuable in the long term, I think I would choose Richard Branson. His innovative attitude and wealth of experience would be an invaluable resource to tap into. Being an entrepreneur is a tricky and uncertain game, but he seems to have a knack for it.
How did you come across FoundX?
Casey Davies-Bell, the manager of the Distiller actually told us about it. We figured it was a great opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
When I look back on the night; it was a really awesome experience for us. Every person we talked to provided insight, entertainment, and most importantly something to take away. It was an awesome event and we made some very promising and exciting connections. Events like FoundX are crucial to the startup world as they link innovative and new companies with the more experienced and more importantly, deep pocketed investors!
How do people currently solve the problem, Live Green solves?
Through a lot of hard work.
To live a green lifestyle requires large amounts of research on both the issues but also the products that are acceptable. It often takes more effort again to find those products. Plus, there is a lot of information out there and the best green products are often scattered across different vendors.
Live Green takes the effort out of finding those products. We strive to be a one-stop-shop you can trust to have the most sustainable products on hand. We're even looking at subscription services to make the process even easier. That way, even if you couldn’t give a rats arse about the environment its still easier and more convenient to shop sustainably.
What has been the most frustrating part of building your startup?
Learning that failure is a good thing. I've always been taught not to fail and that failing is bad, but when you start a company, failures just mean you are getting closer to getting it right.
Initially, we treated failures and wrong decisions as exactly that. This definitely caused frustration and stress. Changing our attitudes towards failure has been an important part of our development as people and as a company.
If you could time-travel and give yourself advice without distorting space and time – what advice would you give yourself about starting Live Green?
Haha. I grew up watching Back to the Future so I know the dangers of travelling back in time.
I would tell myself to roll with the punches. Each punch comes with a lesson and each lesson gets you one step closer to creating a successful business. Don’t be afraid to get things wrong as long as you learn from your mistakes.
In previous conversations you have touted that you will be using Instagram as one of your main marketing channels – in this part of the interview we have cherry picked a couple of your personal instagrams we would like you to give more context to. Can you explain these grams?
You’re right, Instagram is such a large part of our target demographics life, and when people check their phones almost 90 times a day; it is exciting from a marketing perspective.
Gram 1 (Top left): This was a really rewarding period of my life. In my last year of school I started a charity called Put The Boot In. It involved collecting used and new boots from high decile schools in wealthy areas of Auckland and donating them to low decile schools in poorer areas.
I grew up on the North Shore of Auckland, and it was completely normal to get a new pair of boots every season, especially through growth spurts. This meant collecting the boots was surprisingly easy.
Going to the poorer schools and watching the kids try them on and run around was an incredibly rewarding experience.
Gram 2 (Bottom Right): This photo is me and my pup Kylie on the West coast Auckland beach, Muriwai.
My dog has been a part of my life since I was 6 years old and I absolutely adore her. This beach is one of her favourite spots. Now that I live away from home I make sure she always goes with me when I visit.
Finally, Matthew, If you could put anything on a billboard that would be seen by millions of people, what would you choose?
I think I would put something like ‘think of the future’. Sounds a little cheesy, but generally we focus on the present and short term. We need to make decisions based on long term consequences. Sustainability must become paramount or eventually our resources will run out. Who knows what sort of Mad Max type chaos we could end up in.