Hatch Program 2022
31 Jan 2022
Millie is a grain farmer, former Jillaroo and agronomist for Elders in Dalby, Queensland.
Her passion for sustainability and the environment spurred her to apply for the Farmers2Founders Hatch program to explore the product market fit for her plastic straw alternative.
Validating the idea
Millie entered the Hatch program with a product idea to create drinking straws from dehydrated oat stems. With the introduction of single-use plastic bans and transition to ‘greener’ alternatives around Australia and the world, Millie saw a gap in the market for a superior alternative to the current imperfect options on the market.
During the program, Millie undertook 15 interviews with women of a variety of ages that are conscious of their environmental footprint and who were willing to pay a premium.
The interview process highlighted one of the main pain points for customers was the sensory aspect of the alternatives to plastic straws - that paper straws become soggy, and rice and pasta straws could only be used in cold drinks and tended to taint the taste. Other common alternative straws include wheat, bamboo and grass straws, however consumers are increasingly aware that they are sourced from overseas, preferring to purchase local and Australian, but at the right price.
An important insight Millie gained from her interviews was that potential customers are skeptical of products being labelled ‘natural’ and ‘organic’, and that the concept of ‘green-washing’ is a growing issue among consumers.
The Hatch program gave Millie the confidence and practical skills to help validate her product idea as one that meets customer need and fulfils customer expectations.
The Hatch program gave me the confidence to take my idea and work on bringing it to fruition. The feedback and information I received during the program gave me a base to build a product that fulfils customer expectations and provided me with a pathway to building a sustainable business.
Millie is continuing to conduct interviews in hospitality venues looking at alternatives including high-end cafes and bars, as well as rural pubs.
She has been accepted into the Hone program, which is the next step along the Farmers2Founders pathway, where she will:
- Create an MVP
- Define her business model
- Create a website and get her marketing and channels up and running
- Launch her product to market