We talked to Kaur Reinjärv, the founder and CEO at GoGoNano about the the e-shop of nanotechnological products made in Estonia and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Kaur Reinjärv: Thank you for asking. We are doing fine and being not yet affected with COVID-19 personally, luckily. I wish strong health to all who have experienced it personally or dealing with it now. It has affected many people and businesses and will be affecting some more time.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded GoGoNano.
Kaur Reinjärv: I’m 30 years old entrepreneur and have been included in different businesses for over 10 years now, exactly after finishing high school. I was not very keen and interested to start working under anyone else. I have always been self-taught and fanatic about things that I’m interested in and that I find fascinating.
The first business I started about 10 years ago was a simple dropshipping/retail/wholesale company working with different consumer electronic devices such as mobiles, tablets, computers, cameras, lenses, and so on. I managed to find very many partners around the world and build it up, having zero budget. Everything was built from ground zero, starting from the website/programming(I have been a freelance developer for around 15 years), marketing, accounting, logistics, partners, customer service, and so on by myself. I spent countless hours learning to get into it because I was fascinated by all the business scenarios. Later on, one of the friends joined me, and things started to take off. We managed to make some sales. It took 4-5 months before the first sales started to come in.
After a couple of years, we noticed that this is a too competitive area to get it very far. Neither was it very innovative because big companies were already on the market, and without a budget, it was quite impossible to compete. The yearly revenue never got over 50K EUR. So we decided to start looking for other options. As I’m also keened into eco-friendly solutions, sustainability, and materials, I came into the idea of replacing old, not very universal, plastic screen protectors. As there were no actual solutions on the market back in 2013, this was looking like a really good idea. Having a universal screen protector that could protect against everyday usage marks, scratches, be oil/water repellent, and keep your devices looking like new sounded crazy idea but very promising. After that, I met one of my great friends and colleagues from Belgium, who was really into chemistry. That was pretty much the sign, and we thought to put heads together and brand what many know under GoGoNano got founded. I personally had no chemistry/nanotechnology experience but have been studying it since with all the projects that I have managed to pull off. This happened back in 2013, and in 2014 GoGoNano came out with its first product – Liquid shield screen protector, which started to sell right away. Between those two businesses, I studied and did some programming and web development, so it was no trouble for me to develop an e-commerce site for the brand. Until now, our Liquid Shield screen protector is one of the most selling products around the world. This product has been sold to over 100 different countries around the world.
How does GoGoNano innovate?
Kaur Reinjärv: Since 2014, we have been working on other nano-coating solutions as well as now included cleaning products in our portfolio. Developing products, we always keep sustainability in mind and try to keep everything as green as possible. Most of our products are biodegradable and have no harm to users or the environment. That’s how we innovate by reducing the amount of waste that is being sent to landfills, the number of chemicals that are used daily in every household, which in most cases are harmful. With nanotechnology, the possibilities are unlimited. With invisible nano-coatings, people are able to enjoy beloved products and items longer time, keep them cleaner, and avoid heavy chemicals being used to get them cleaned.
Our protectors have a silicon/silica polymer as the main ingredient, and silicon is derived from quartz. For creating a hydrophobic polymer, man-made processing is used to create new material. When applied, this polymer creates an ultra-thin but strong, durable layer that provides hydrophobic & stain-resistant properties. The active ingredient is known to be safe. The ingredients are also derived from an abundant mineral and is researched to degrade in 20-30 years lifespan. It is non-toxic and contains no fossil fuel solvents. The co-solvent we use is from natural fermentation and added in a small quantity, so the product is not classified as a” dangerous good” solvents are used to improve wetting, drying time, and application, especially on non-absorbent surfaces.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Kaur Reinjärv: Coronavirus pandemic is affecting very many businesses and people around the world. Some are winning from it, and most are losing from people being isolated and able to go out and do things they are used to. It’s half true for us. As we mostly run our business online, using innovative and nowadays channels instead of the old retail business model, which is not as popular as it used to be. Actually, we have kept our revenue same, or slightly even increased but not as much as we planned. People are worried about more essential and everyday products rather than finding innovative, eco-friendly solutions that are costly from synthetic chemicals/materials. That’s why we came out with a new product called Anti-Viral disinfectant/cleaner 2-in-1 to help to fight this pandemic in an innovative, sustainable, and safe way.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Kaur Reinjärv: We have not yet had to make any very difficult choices. Considering the fact that we already were developing that Anti-viral disinfectant based on sustainable lacid-acid, this was the hardest decision. The timing was really bad because the whole world shut down, and we were left without a chance of getting any sprayers, bottles, etc., to pack our product. We had to make some difficult choices because everything was more costly than it would have been on normal days. As well, there was no chance to check for the quality of the bottles/sprayers. We did put everything into it to have a safe solution available for the public. Synthetic ethanol-based disinfectants are far from being safe or sustainable, so this was really bothering me. But without hesitation, we did it, and we published the product to help and fight with the pandemic. This is not a one-time solution. This is a long-term product that will be needed now and even more in the future. The biggest lesson was that you always have to be ready for unexpected situations and ready to adapt to that kind of situation. This won’t be the last type of situation that we will be facing in the near future, so it’s a very good lesson to take with me. As we saw, most people were not ready for anything like that. People went crazy and bought everything they could, needed, or not needed.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Kaur Reinjärv: Yes, there is some competition but not as heavy as in the electronics business. Nanotechnology has been around for rough 20 years at most. Yes, it’s known for a longer time, but it has been actively developed for the past 20-25 years. Only now companies, businesses in different sectors are including nanotechnology in their product developments – automotive, electronics, textile and leather, medicine industries, and many others. That happens because of the great advantages that nanotechnology has to offer without changing too much composition or look of any materials or products. The main competition is coming from Germany but as well from Turkey and Japan companies who are developing similar products. This is only positive for the overall public because competition makes companies put more effort into research and development before releasing products. We have our own niche, our own unique technology. Our products are currently the most eco-friendly and sustainable on the market, so I feel very comfortable about them.
Current mass-market protectors are solvent-based and 100% toxic, containing petrochemicals & PFC’s. PFC’s or fluorocarbons are known to be toxic & carcinogenic, and persistent to the environment. These ingredients are of high concern for our own health and decrease biodiversity. PFC’s do not break down easily and circulate back from our water to our food and finally into our body. Furthermore, fossil fuels based solvents (petrochemicals) are a limited resource, add to global warming, and is therefore not sustainable. Of course, there are some exceptions, but that comes from companies like us, who really care about the environment, not from big corporations that are run by money only.
Your final thoughts?
Kaur Reinjärv: Finally, I think it’s very important to show people different options and possibilities, safe ones that really can make our lives better while keeping our environment more protected. People and governments are more and more worried about the future situation, and green chemistry is being taken more seriously. I think many of us want to leave something to enjoy for our children as well. We can drill fossil fuels endlessly as its limited resource, and we cannot chop down all the trees and kill everything on our planet. We might get a chance to live on Mars one day thanks to technological developments, but only because of that. We must not kill our Earth because this is our home. People need to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.
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