We have all been in that situation when we have needed a quick and easy solution to fix or modify items. The spoke snapping on a bicycle, your child's favourite toy breaking on a trip to the park, or those fiddly little rivet's on an umbrella disconnecting on a windy day. Whatever the problem, a fantastic new product, the FORMcard, a handy, pocket sized card of strong, meltable bio-plastic can offer a solution. In November 2015, Peter Marigold’s FORMcard business escalated in just 24 hours. And three months after its launch, 200,000 of the mouldable plastic cards had already been sold across the world. Since the business started, an incredible 26 million viewers have watched FORMcard's Facebook video which shows the growing public appetite for accessible sustainable solutions. This viral success has created an overwhelming demand from Germany, the US and even Saudi Arabia. The London based entrepreneur developed the idea after becoming interested in the ways that plastic can melts at low temperatures and how this could be useful in our homes. His sustainable story shows the exciting space which is emerging for bio-based products and solutions. Our reporter Emily O’Dowd was keen to find out more about the bioplastic solution that has gripped people across the world.
FORMcards are starch-based bioplastic which become pliable once they are placed in boiling water for 30 seconds. When they are cool, they can be ready to use to fix things or to create new solutions around the house. The bioplastic is as strong as nylon which means they are long term solutions or easy to fix things in emergency situations.
With a background working with displays in galleries, installations and public art projects, the London based designer thought that kitchens could be very interesting spaces to begin creating new innovations and products. Home to a combination of varying temperatures from microwaves, hobs and ovens, after some experimenting, Peter found an easy way to squash molecules together to create some amazing applications. “What is unique about FORMcard is that I tried to make it as simple and fun as possible.” They come in a range of colours to make its appealing design as attractive for customers as possible.
But whilst FORMcards is an innovative and sustainable solution, it was an accidental discovery for Peter; “I was never fixated on creating a bio-based product, it just so happened that I invented the right product for my own needs. I am naturally frugal and I’m always trying to fix things, so this product combines both of those aspects as well as its environmental benefits.”
A year after coming up with the idea, Peter ( @ ) decided to apply for a Kick-Starter crowd funding initiative. He recorded and edited a video and then launched the campaign which was successfully funded in just 24 hours! Then the orders came rolling in. He finished his campaign in early December before being supported by another crowd-funder and since then the product has received over 20,000 orders.
“I never understood how powerful and viral advertising could be - I had no idea it would be this popular!”
But was Peter prepared for this large demand? “Yes and no.The benefit of using Kickstarter to launch a product is that you have enough time to prepare for production and then fulfilment. Additionally, our production is based in the UK which is very convenient for us. If it was shipped out to China then obviously it would take so much longer to wait for the deliveries.”
Peter’s innovation bridges the gap between sustainability and accessibility, but he still believes that many consumers still lack awareness. “We live in such a contradictory period with an insane amount of consumption.”
“We have entered this world where people are throwing things away all the time for a small thing that is broken,” Marigold said. “It is not their fault. They know that if you try to get something fixed by a manufacturer, it is disproportionately expensive so people buy new things all the time. They eventually just get sick of them and then get rid of it.”
The viral response which took off overnight proves Peter’s point. “There are a lot of conflicting opinions in the consumer market. Even though you can share a video on Facebook voicing how bad something in the environment is, there is a gap between what people think and what people do.”
FORMcard’s "enormous” customer base in the UK has been closely followed by the US and Germany. “I was particularly surprised when I had a huge order from Saudi Arabia, but it just goes to show the impact of viral media!” Peter explains that at times it has been complicated to launch a global business because different regions demand different things. “For example, in the US they want to independently relaunch the product. So some countries want to sell FORMcard, and others want to develop it.”
After the success of product, the next business move is to extend the product range. Peter is currently in the process of developing two new products which he is hoping to launch as part of the FORMcard range. Customer feedback has been “invaluable” to this process and the new products will be shaped according to his customer’s demands.
So what is this London designer’s hopes for the future? “At the moment, Formcard still appeals to a very niche genre of customers, but I want to promote how useful it can be for DIY – I use it all the time. I hope to enter new regions and have new distributors across the US, France and Germany, but there are more countries coming forward all the time. Now my focus is to get it in hardware stores across the world.”
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