Ann and Jeff of Hive Haven are apiarists, farming both European honey bees and Australian stingless native bees in Beerburrum, Queensland. They also manufacture the Hive Haven V9 Native Bee Box, which is specifically designed to alleviate hive overheating and enable the harvest of food-grade native honey. Ann’s goal coming into the F2F Ideas Program was to explore a new native bee honey product: a native bee propolis, or wound healing balm.
Ann was attracted to F2F because she wanted to be able to flesh out ideas in a supportive environment. Prior to F2F, Hive Haven had worked informally with a team of researchers at a local university for two years. Ann believed the Ideas Program would be a good opportunity to determine if there was a market for the propolis, and if so, how big it might be.
During the program, Ann identified possible target customer segments, including caregivers and health care professionals, and conducted interviews to better understand their needs. The program also enabled Ann to think about the supply chain, from harvest to finished product.
“The most valuable aspect of the program was working through customer interviews for propolis balm. The process enabled us to gain a better understanding of the marketplace and who would have been our target market had we continued developing the product.”
“The Ideas Program helped us identify our weaknesses and learn how to turn them into strengths.”
The Ideas Program Impact
After 8 weeks of customer discovery, Hive Haven made the tough decision not to proceed with the bee propolis. The decision was based on their findings from their market research, and the lack of capital to fund further university research. The interviews identified opportunities for a wound healing balm; however, they also identified that it is a competitive market, and they believed it would be risky to invest more in a product that could take 4 years to develop.
A key learning for the team during the program was the importance of sales. While they feel confident in their ability to understand the customer and develop products that meet their needs and expectations, “we are not good at selling them,” Ann explains.
During the remainder of the Ideas Program, Ann and Jeff focused on expanding their range of native honey products, as well as exploring the market potential for the Hive Haven bee box.
“We have learnt how to sell our products and this is now our focus. When we sell more hives and honey, we should be able to fund our own R&D instead of chasing funding all the time.”