My NOCCA Experience: Eco-friendly E-commerce packaging.
AnnaLiisa Palatu shares her experience in the NOCCA program and her journey of establishing her new startup- WOOLA
Why did you participate in NOCCA?
We won the hackathon that took place in Tallinn. After the win, Kaisa, the program the organizer from the Estonian side, said that we are eligible for some advice and mentoring and that's how we got into the NOCCA program. Our business idea is to make packaging out of sheep wool to reduce the plastic waste of e-commerce.
We got to know the organizers from the hackathon that was done in Mektory but that was not the idea that we entered into the hackathon with. After the first Hackathon in Mektory, we pivoted and changed our initial idea and decided to go with a new idea.
Could you tell about your business?
Sheep wool in Estonia is an unused resource, about 90% of it is thrown away and the situation is similar in other European countries as well. Sheep are mainly raised for their meat so their type of wool is not sufficient for making yarn or producing any kind of fabric out of it. We produce bubble wrap made of sheep wool and we also make protective envelopes for E-commerce packaging purposes. Right now we are still in the validation phase. We are currently setting up our production unit but we're not producing on a large scale yet!
What NOCCA activities did you participate in?
I believe the first part of the program was in Helsinki in December. There my co-founder and I attended a three-day workshop if I remember correctly they were about product validation and clients. For us, it was helpful that some students from the University in Helsinki were kind of added into our team. The event was really good for making contacts, in case we want to expand into the Finnish market later. We took also part in an Idea and Acceleration Bootcamp in Tehnopol Tallinn in January. I took part in a few days of workshops in Tallinn. The networking events in Tallinn were nice! Right after the Bootcamp, my co-founder participated in sTARTUp Day in Tartu where he pitched our idea.
How would you describe your NOCCA experience?
It was a positive experience for sure! I liked how everything was organized very professionally and punctually. As a startup founder, your most expansive resource is your time and it was well spent in NOCCA activities. In Helsinki workshops, I felt that some of the topics didn't apply to us, we are not first-time founders so we already knew how to pitch an idea and things like that but the feedback from the Finnish coaches was really helpful. We got also connected to some talented Finnish students who were great.
In Tallinn, I liked how they covered the topics regarding finances, like fundraising and budgeting, as this is one of the most important topics. In general, the NOCCA experience was very positive but we would have benefited more if we could have chosen only relevant workshops for us, as the finance one, and skip those that were not useful to us anymore.
What’s the current status of your business idea?
We registered the company in March and right now we're raising funds. We hope to close the fundraising round in the coming months and set up a facility to start our production around October 2020.
What would you say to someone who is planning to participate in NOCCA?
I would recommend participating, in case you don't have previous experience with startups or you don't know how to take the first steps. I think the NOCCA program is very helpful because of some of the theories that were covered like how to validate your idea and how to get to the first customer persona. It’s great to have deadlines and external people who will push you to move faster. You will also gain skills during the journey that you could utilize in the future.
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