Tell us about your business and what is your venture’s mission 

“My business (tentatively called Regenerate Yerba Mate) is a sustainable yerba mate company. Our mission is to provide healthy and energizing iced tea to our on-the-go consumers while promoting biodiversity and sustainable agriculture where the tea is grown in South America.” (Nigel Holgate, 2021)

“Glorious Day is an environmentally and socially sustainable skincare product. The packaging is made with upcycled materials such as sugarcane, bamboo and coconut husk. They are renewable and have nearly the same durable, ductile and antibacterial properties as plastic. We professionally clean (the packaging) and refill it with the same product. The formulations behind the moisturizer, eye cream or serum will be natural and cruelty-free and work in synergy with active chemicals. The R&D will arise from Korean bioscience that has been globally recognized for its efficacy, personalization and superior performance. My mission is for individuals to achieve their version of ‘good skin’ on whichever standard that means for them without contributing to landfill, ocean waste or climate change. At the same time, my vision is to challenge the status quo of the fast-moving and waste-generating personal care and cosmetic industry to aim for a circular economy. I hope it becomes increasingly apparent that sustainability is not a liability, and it is possible to be gentle to our skin and the environment.” (Gloria Ko, 2021).

Why did you join the program?

I joined the program to flesh out my business idea more fully and to see if it could be viable at scale. I am hoping to learn the fundamentals of running a business – marketing, prototyping and sales – so that this business can be as successful as possible.” (Nigel Holgate, 2021)

“I was interested in ICUBE in March last year. However, I didn’t get the chance to really explore it until very recently. There were many ways the Leap Startup League drew me in. Some of these were the success stories of start-ups, the advisement and support, the consistent schedule until April with the competitive pitch and, most importantly, the incubator being free of charge.” (Gloria Ko, 2021)

What you are hoping to learn with ICUBE’s support?

“I want to improve my weaknesses in both hard skills and soft skills in order to leverage my start-up. I hope to gain a more robust understanding of financials, legal contracts between suppliers and manufacturers, finding the key metrics to success, risk analysis and more. And, of course, I have to step out of my comfort zone by sharpening my communication skills and public speaking. No one is going to buy my product or take me seriously if I don’t show the confidence or articulate the conviction that there is value in my product for stakeholders. So, I’m excited to learn from other entrepreneurs and industry experts.” (Gloria Ko, 2021)

How does it feel starting your business during this pandemic?

It’s certainly daunting to start a business during the pandemic, but it’s also an opportunity to enter the market as so much of life seems to be up in the air right now. It’s also great to have the advantage of starting a business while still in school and with access to all of ICUBE’s resources – it certainly helps reduce the risk of starting a business while working a full-time job.” (Nigel Holgate, 2021)

“I believe the timing is ideal for my product based on consumer behaviour. The lockdown has allowed many people to spend more time on their care, evidenced by a 34 per cent increase in skincare sales. The cons of the pandemic are that some manufacturers have shut down or operated at less than full capacity. My goal is to gather as much data and market research (as possible) and gauge customer interest before launching a prototype in a post-COVID world. Like many beauty brands, I will also be pivoting towards a direct-to-consumer channel rather than shopping in-store. Overall, I do feel overwhelmed in bridging the gap of a viable business model. However, gaining the support from family, friends and Leap Startup League as well as my intrinsic motivation is what keeps me grounded during these times of uncertainty.” (Gloria Ko, 2021)