Brand/start up name: Greenbo

Product: Innovative products for gardening. Our first product is a vase-flower box for balcony balustrades.

Type of organization: Design start-up. The company was born three years ago. It produces and markets its products in Israel and abroad.

The partners are: Maya Golan, a lawyer who deals with the legal sector and the sales; Meir Haklay, a Judo school manager, is responsible for the company development; Avi Youlus, engineer and lawyer, is responsible for the economic area; Roy Joulus, studied design at Ascola Meimeid College, has a BA in business economics, is responsible for the sales and marketing (35 years old).

When and how did the project originate? We started developing the idea in 2006. Then, in 2008 we left our jobs in the Hi-tech field. The idea originated from the wish to cultivate green in small flats in Tel Aviv, even in small balconies where there is no space for earth and vases. After many trials on the vase suspension, we put together two old flower boxes and set them astride on a balustrade with the help of a metallic rest, which became rusty though. It was right then that we got the idea of a strong plastic vase in a wide range of colours, one and twofold, which could be put astride any balustrade. So from a banal vase it became a design piece.

How much did you invest to start the company? Dozens of thousands of euros.

Who insteded the money? We invested our savings. I (Roy) collected my parents’ pension fund and we started some mortgages on our flats and then we obtained other loans. The Keren Shemesh fund for young innovative entrepreneurs really helped us, both as a mentor and with a loan.

How far have you gone with the project? We distribute to about 500 nursery gardens, design shops, flower shops and supermarket chains in Israel, Europe (Carrefour, Casino, Castorama), the United States (The Home Depot, Commerce Corporation), in Australia and Latin America we have distributors and agents.

When did you understand that the project had overcome the ideational phase and had become a product? It happened when the first series came out, when we saw the products coming out of the matrixes and we started wrapping them, all night long. In that moment it was clear that the adventure had started.

Has there been a moment when you wanted to give up? There always are moments of crisis on the way. When the activity grows, the risk of losing everything rises, but we never considered giving up. The people working at Greenbo know how to deal with hardships. This awareness reinforced our association.

A handbook for young design entrepreneurs?

  1. The organizing phase is the longest and the most important. Here you have to understand if your enterprise is competitive, risky and how many resources it needs.
  2. Identify your weaknesses. You need to fill in these spaces with a partner who can complement your skills; otherwise you’ll have to face everything by yourselves with a big effort.
  3. Choose a subject you’re passionate about. Entrepreneurship requires many hours of our daily life. If you don’t like what you do you won’t be able to develop the activity in the course of time.
  4. An entrepreneur sacrifices a lot of his private life, a lot more than any employee. Nobody will do what you don’t do.
  5. Do not fall in love with your products. An objective point of view is the instrument, which allows us to learn from our mistakes and to mend them.
  6. The customer is always right. The company exists thanks to its customers. Keep in touch with your customers.
  7. Ask and learn from other people, because you don’t know everything. If you don’t become expert in your field, your clients will notice it and you’ll lose them.
  8. Find an organization to guide and assist you in the beginning. In Israel the Keren Shemesh fund is a non-profit organization providing professional support and loans to new companies.
  9. Try to grow an ‘elephant skin’ for the difficult moments, but stay humble and balanced even when things are going at full sail.
  10. The world is made of people, not products. Behind every activity there are the people. Develop contacts and create collaborations. A planted seed today will give its fruits tomorrow.

Anything else? In July 2012 Greenbo won the Red dot Award (product design winner). Moreover Greenbo also won the second YBI prize (The Prince’s Youth Business International), a contest founded by the Prince of Wales and Barclays bank for the young innovative firms.

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