With the sale of every bottle, sustainable brand Ocean Bottle collects 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles. Wait, what? But how? We wanted to know more and asked founders William and Nick what inspired them to start cool looking sustainable bottles for cold and hot drinks – trying to save our oceans.
Who founded Ocean Bottle?
Ocean Bottle was founded by William Pearson and Nick Doman, launching their first product in 2019.
William’s interest lies at the intersection of entrepreneurship, social impact, and environmental conservation. He was recently awarded Forbes 30 under 30 and has also been selected as one of Norway’s top 30 leaders under 30 for his work pursuing the sustainable development goals. After completing his undergraduate degree in engineering, William spent a year working at sea in the Indian Ocean, where he saw first hand the current state of pollution in the world’s oceans. William is no stranger to working in sustainability-focused businesses, with experience in product development, eco products and renewable energy, including the development of an atomically thin solar cell for his engineering thesis.
Nick has experience in start-ups, charities and venture capital. He holds an MA in History from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in Management from London Business School. Nick worked for the UK’s biggest venture builder Blenheim Chalcot where he was in the investments team. This role has allowed him the opportunity to get hands on with the portfolio companies on a daily basis. Nick has tri-citizenship of Britain, Australia and Canada and his love for the environment has stemmed directly from exploring these countries’ beautiful landscapes and the oceans that surround them. Nick hopes to continue the rest of his career as it has started, in a social enterprise looking to solve one of the world’s most pressing issues.
What inspired you to start Ocean Bottle?
During University, a friend of mine studied marine biology and he was studying microplastics, and would not stop talking about it! To begin with, I didn’t think that such a small thing, such as microplastics could be such a severe problem.
Then I spent a year as a deckhand in the Indian Ocean. I saw a lot of plastic pollution first hand in the Maldives. All of the plastic from the resorts was collected and burnt on an island called Thilafushi, once burnt, it then drifted off into the ocean. The final straw was going to Columbia, and seeing the rivers choking in plastic waste. I couldn’t help but think to myself ‘what happens when the rain comes?’, all of the plastic lying here is going to flood into the ocean.
I then began to research the problem further and learned that 22 million kgs of plastic pour into the ocean every day. I then was left asking myself how we could collect plastic before it enters the ocean? This is when I came across Plastic Bank who were in the process of setting up recycling infrastructure in some of the worst-hit places. We realised that this was a great solution and that we should connect people all over the world to it.
I met co-founder Nick at London Business School, and we partnered together to create Ocean Bottle.
In what way does Ocean Bottle contribute to a better planet?
Ocean Bottle contributes to a better planet in two ways. Firstly, each product has a direct impact in stopping ocean-bound plastic and improves social mobility at the same time. With the sale of every bottle, we fund the collection of 11.4kgs of plastic, the equivalent to 1000 plastic bottles. We do this by developing a people-powered recycling infrastructure in coastal communities around the world and enabling the locals to exchange plastic for valuable rewards. Secondly, the people who own an Ocean Bottle are able to reduce their own footprint by choosing reusables.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of the way that we stuck to our guns from the very beginning with Ocean Bottle. We didn’t let the advice of mentors change our opinion. We listened to the good advice and ignored the wrong advice. I’m also proud of our team and our partners, every day feels like a new beginning!
Do you have any advice or tips for young entrepeneurs
who want to start a sustainable brand?
My advice to young entrepreneurs would be, to firstly have a think about what actually is sustainable. You can make a product that is less harmful than something else, but it might not actually be doing good for future generations. It’s also a massive help to lean on people for the things you’re not particularly good at, for me there’s loads! The right partners who can support you is very important.