Proudly sponsored by: Victoria’s Small Business Festival
In this podcast episode of In The Company, we chat with Julie Anne and Glen Mayer, founders of Subo, the reusable food bottle designed and made in Australia.
As active parents of young children, Julie Anne and Glen would often find themselves on the move, and wanting to feed their kids nutritious, homemade food that was also easy to handle and minimized the potential for being worn instead of eaten.
In 2012, sparked by an idea under she had under the shower, Julie Anne challenged Glen to make a prototype food bottle from a toothpaste pump dispenser. Held together with duct tape the prototype worked and was enough for encourage the Mayers to develop the idea further.
Between their full-time jobs and parenting roles, Julie Anne and Glen launched the product in October 2016, and this month sees Glen leave his jobs in sales to leap into Subo full-time.
Today we chat about how the Mayer family have their sights firmly set on changing the way we eat on the go.
This episode is bought to you by Victoria’s Small Business Festival, happening across the state from in August and early September 2017. Check out festival.business.vic.gov.au to access over 500 free and affordable events to elevate, support and inspire you and your business.
Kylie: You’re listening to In the Company, a podcast about humanising work and designing better working lives. Each episode is curated to provoke you to think more deeply about things that matter in your career and life and how to build your toolkit for how to thrive as a human in business today. We explore how we work from the inside out. I’m Kylie Lewis, and it’s great to be in your company. Welcome.
Today we’re in the company of Julie-Anne and Glenn Mayor, founders of Subo, the reusable food bottle designed and made in Australia. Julie-Anne took the leap to start eh business in 2012, and in July 2017 her husband Glenn took the leap to leave his job in sales and join her full-time. From an idea that was born under a shower, today the Mayor family are changing the way parents feed their children.
Welcome Julie-Anne and Glenn.
Julie-Anne: Thank you very much. Nice to meet you Kylie.
Glenn: Hi. Kylie, thanks for having us.
Kylie: Pleasure. Now I just wanted to check, are the kids tucked up in bed?
Julie-Anne: Yes they are, we’re very lucky to have a fairly strict bedtime routine so yeah, we’ve got all the kids in bed.
Kylie: Now it’s pretty indicative of people who run their small business that we are recording this at nighttime, at the end of a working day when the kids are in bed and we’re back on the tools getting our work done.
So we’ll jump into what it’s been like for you to start the business in just a moment. But before we do that, I just wanted to find out a little bit more about when you guys were kids and things you like doing when you were small.
Glenn: You might hear it in my voice, my accent that I’m from Canada. So growing up in Canada I loved winters and ice hockey on the frozen pond.
Julie-Anne: And I also loved outdoors. I was very much into horse riding and pony club and water skiing at Bonnie Doon, which is very Australian.
Kylie: That is so Australian. That’s fantastic. So the quintessential Australian childhood there.
Julie-Anne: It was, yes, very much.
Kylie: So both really active, both outdoors, both on the move?
Julie-Anne: Very much so, yes. We both liked to get out and about and do activities and sports and things.
Glenn: Now with kids we’re chasing after them and my son’s following in my footsteps by playing ice hockey. And Jules has got the girls interested in horse riding as well. So it looks like they’ll be following in our footsteps.
Kylie: Yeah, so a really active lifestyle with the kids and being out and about. And by the sound of it also, fueling the kids really well and being mindful about how to keep their energy up to do all of those things.
Glenn: Yeah. Certainly. That’s I guess part of what led into our business volume, making sure that we give them the proper foods and we did a lot of homemade cooking, especially when they were quite younger.
Julie-Anne: We used to spend our Friday nights pureeing, mashing, portioning, and freezing the kids meals for the next week so gone were the nights we were going out to nice restaurants and wine bars to pureeing and mashing and freezing food.
Kylie: Absolutely. It’s the rite of passage for every parent to get their pumpkin and put it into a puree.
You just mentioned that you have three children. And how old are they?
Glenn: Murphy is our eldest, she’s seven. Hudson’s our middle child. He’s five, and Marley is our little girl. She’s three.
Kylie: So really in the thick of things and raising a family.
So before we get into just how you started the business, I’m really keen to understand what are some of the things that motivate people to start their own business. And I often find that that comes down to some of the core beliefs that they have. So I’d really like to ask each of you what are three things that you believe?
Julie-Anne: I think our initial … I come from a particularly entrepreneurial family where my dad, from when I can remember had his own businesses. So business was always talked about at home around the kitchen table at dinnertime. So I think it’s been in my blood to start my own business. And when we had kids, I think a driver for us is to be able to educate our kids the way that we want to educate them. So to do that we know that we have to sacrifice and then it obviously needs to be a means to be able to do that as well. So two things: we sort of wanted to leave a legacy for our kids, and also have the freedom to be able to educate them the way that we wanted to educate them.
Glenn: That goes for me. I guess three things that I believe in, hard work pays off. So we want to tell the kids that working in this business ultimately will pay off. Also, you create your own opportunities. Hard work leads to opportunity. And lastly you treat people the way you like to be treated. So those are three things that we believe in and we try and pass on to our kids.
Kylie: Fantastic. Well, it sounds like that’s fertile ground for going and making a leap and not just making a leap into self-employment but actually leaping to entrepreneurship where you’ve created a new project. So could you please tell us a little more about Subo and what it is?
Julie-Anne: So Subo is a reusable food bottle like you would have a drink bottle for drinks. This is actually a bottle for food. So instead of having a single use squeezy packs that you buy from the supermarket or there now use reusable squeezie packs. Its non-squeeze and it’s reusable and you can take it apart completely to clean it, which is always a bonus with parents.
Glenn: So it’s perfect for foods like purees, mash, yoghourts, smoothies. As Jules said the types of foods that you see in the squeezie pouches. And the reason why we made it non squeeze is so that you can give it to younger children and you don’t have to worry about them creating wasteful mess by squeezing out the contents. So I guess the idea is that the only way for the food to come out of the bottle was to sip on the spout.
Julie-Anne: And then you get the food into the child’s mouth so you are 99% sure of not making a mess.
Kylie: Absolutely. How much food ends up all over their face or their clothes or their arms?
Glenn: That’s certainly right. Our first child, Murphy, was a bit of a messy eater so I guess you could say that she was part of the reason why we invented this product.
Kylie: Yeah. And so what is it that makes it unique? I think it’s the mechanism that pushes up from the bottom, is that right?
Glenn: Yeah, that’s right. So we have a cylindrical tube, which creates the bottle and a moving platform. So the platform sits at the bottom of the tube and then pour the food on top of the platform in the tube, put the spoon on the top and as they sip the food through the top of the spout the platform automatically moves up enough to push the food out.
Julie-Anne: And it’s really as easy can be to sip out of the straw.
Kylie: Yeah. So how did the idea for it come about?
Julie-Anne: So we are active people. We are fortunate to have a beach house in our family. And we would go down, pick the kids up from childcare on a Friday night, and I would be sitting in between two car seats trying to feed the kids dinner to beat peak hour traffic with a spoon and a bowl. It just wouldn’t work. Someone would kick the bowl, it’d end up all over the car. And I tried the squeezy packs but the kids being the age they were, they wanted to feed themselves. They’d grab the pack and squeeze it everywhere.
And then again, travelling back to Canada, trying to feed kids on planes out of jars and frozen tubs and things I made at home, it just never worked. And I also wanted to be able to feed them our own homemade food out and about while we’re out, like at the park or while I was doing the grocery shopping or in the pram or on the way to the beach house where I could give them something they could feed themselves and it wasn’t takeaway food or I wanted something more nutritious. So that’s how Subo came about. I wanted something that they couldn’t squeeze so they couldn’t make a mess and I could put my food in it.
Glenn: Jules came out of the shower one day with a toothpaste container, one of the old pump toothpaste containers and said, “Have a look at this, do you think we could create this to create a non-squeeze feeding pouch?” So I then managed to pull apart the toothpaste container and took all the bits out that I didn’t need and put together a homemade prototype to try and prove the concept. And we took it step by step from there.
Kylie: So did you have an engineering background or an industrial design background?
Glenn: No, not at all actually. So it was just a bit of a clunky-looking prototype, to be honest. There was a bit of duct tape and it didn’t look the greatest. But we managed to use the prototype to prove the concept and then take it to industrial designers where we were able to get their help to create a proper prototype. And it went from there.
Julie-Anne: If I’d had a camera, I wish I had a camera that night cause Glenn’s face when I walked out of the shower with the toothpaste container and said: “Do you think we could feed our kids out of this?” I wish I had that moment of that face that he had. He thought I was crazy but here we are today.
Kylie: And I think you joined a long line of people who have had bolts of inspiration under the shower. It seems to be a very good place for contemplation and coming up with great ideas. So let’s add that to the vault of good ideas that are born out of showers.
Julie-Anne: Yeah. We often call it the think tank.
Glenn: There’ve certainly been a few ideas that came out of the shower that haven’t really made it anywhere but have been quite funny when we look back on it now. Which yeah.
Julie-Anne: This one made it.
Kylie: I think it should be an innovation tool that’s added to curriculums is when all else fails, go and have a long shower.
Julie-Anne: So true.
Kylie: So what made you believe that you could actually create this product?
Glenn: So I think it was definitely the homemade prototype. There was a bit of a light bulb moment with it once we pulled it all apart and used parts that we need. I think I tried yoghourt to of it the first time and just how easy it was to feed myself the yoghourt through this little prototype. We then went and saw the industrial designers and just to see the excitement that they had for such an innovation, so from there we were able to get some government grants. Just to have the people see the product and believe in it was a bit of inspiration for us.
Julie-Anne: We also had, once we made our prototype I went and bought another half a dozen toothpaste tubes and we made a few. And then we had some friends who were like, “OH, that’s great, can you make us one?” So Glenn had a little bit of a go at making some friends some too and once we sort of realised there were other people that wanted this product and saw the need for it as well, I think that’s when we thought yeah, we could probably commercialise this.
Kylie: Did you know an industrial designer or did you just get on google and type, or did you know to look for an industrial designer?
Julie-Anne: So we had absolutely no experience in any of this. The first thing that we did was go into the study and googled who makes drink bottles and how to make a drink bottle. Because that’s the closest thing. There’s nothing on the market like it, but that was the closet thing that we could attribute to what we wanted and we visualised. It was really as basic as that and we kind of fumbled our way through and we’re just really lucky that we meet one person and they’re like you should speak to this person and we just really had some really great referrals.
Kylie: So what were the biggest challenges to creating the product?
Glenn: I would say I guess the manufacturing process for ourselves going from having a prototype that is specifically made to going into mass production. So I’m trying to et the actual manufactured product to work like the prototype. We do have some intricate parts that have small tolerances that need to be met so I guess that whole process was getting samples and making these tiny little adjustments to get it to work exactly how we wanted it to work. I guess we didn’t’ expect that to be such a long process. But we’re happy that we had the support from local manufacturing and our industrial designers to help us get through that period and ensuring that we had a product that we were 100% confident in the quality and how it worked.
Kylie: So the product is made in Australia which is fantastic.
Glenn: Yes, that’s right. So we made a decision early on to manufacture in Australia and were backed by the Australian aid campaign. So we manufacture in Melbourne, which we looking back on our decision, we know now that it was a 100% right decision. We’ve got a fantastic relationship with our manufacturer. We also had the industrial designers that were local that were very much a part of the entire process routinely.
Julie-Anne: There were two non-negotiables when we very first started this project. And one was that it was going to be the highest quality and functionality and the other was it would be Australian made. With those two non-negotiables that were really at the forefront of making a lot of decisions, we were very lucky that through the industrial design process, our manufacturer would sit in on those meetings because what you design on a computer doesn’t always translate into manufacturing. So he was always there to say no that’s not going to work and this is what we should do and we can get around it this way. So our manufacturer has been absolutely pinnacle in the success of this project. I can’t tell you how fantastic he’s been in making sure we succeed and so does the product and it’s of the highest quality.
Kylie: Can we just backtrack a second? Glenn you’d been working in sales, you’ve got a history in sales. That’s what you’ve been doing. And you were working full-time all throughout this time?
Glenn: Yes, that’s right.
Kylie: And what were you doing, Julie?
Julie-Anne: I’ve always worked full-time as well apart from taking the maternity leave with the three kids, I’ve always worked full time and I was an event manager. I managed a function venue. I’ve been doing that for a long time now.
Kylie: So you were both working full-time.
Julie-Anne: Nothing to do with industrial design.
Kylie: No, but essential skills for being able to pull disparate people and things together in a coordinated way to produce an outcome, right?
Julie-Anne: Yes, that’s right.
Kylie: Really transferrable, important skills.
So were you also working full-time at this point?
Julie-Anne: Yes, absolutely. And I am actually still working full-time now. So Glenn’s taken the leap to move to the business full-time. And then he’s got what’s our plan is to do and then for me to follow.
Kylie: Sorry, at the moment it’s Glenn that’s leapt into the business full-time and you’re still working as an event manager?
Glenn: Yeah. So up until now I’ve been working on the business around seven o’clock at night until midnight, sometimes past that. And then taking time off when we can to go to expos or important meetings to sort the day.
Julie-Anne: It’s been a juggle.
Kylie: So it’s taken five years from the initial idea and mocking up the concept from under the shower in 2012 to now being able to support one of you full-time to take that leap?
So one of the things I wanted to ask about was what kind of support have you received from the startup community? Cause you mentioned just before Glenn that you applied and received some grant funding. How did you get into the startup community to know what was available or to access resources that might be helpful?
Glenn: So again, I guess it comes through the relationships that we had with our local service provider. With our industrial designers they had mentioned the Victoria state government grant programme. It was DBI, Department of Business and Innovation. At that time they had an innovation venture programme that we were lucky to get funding through. So that helped us with our industrial design costs. And from there we had met another, I guess, would you call Elaine a very …
Julie-Anne: She’s a very amazing lady. She’s got so many hats she wears.
Glenn: So we met Elaine Zelcher who was, at that time, part of the commercialization Australia programme, which was a federal government initiative through our industrial designer again. And we worked with her to get funding through Commercialization Australia. She helped us in the early stages with market research, some IP costs for our intellectual property, and also industrial designing costs. From there we moved into another grant programme through the federal government called Accelerating commercialization. And again her case manager was Elaine Zelcher. And that really helped us to get our tools and helped us to get manufacturing in Australia.
Julie-Anne: And if we had not, I guess, for lack of a better word, stumbled across these grant programmes, this would never have taken off. They have been instrumental in the success of the business to date. Because financially we wouldn’t have been able afford this alone, so yeah they’ve been absolutely fantastic. And not only financially helped us but in mentorship as well. They’ve connected us to a lot of fantastic people who just want to set you up to succeed. They’ll do everything they can to give you the tools to really succeed in the project. And it’s not always about the product itself. They also look at the people behind the product as well, which is really important. So Elaine has been really great in boosting us up to succeed.
Glenn: Yeah, she’s been a great supporter of us.
Kylie: You always need someone backing you in a corner don’t you to kind of help champion the cause and times when you are doubting yourself about the viability or are we crazy or how is this ever going to work?
Julie-Anne: Absolutely. She’s always a phone call or an email away. Just reminds you and helps you refocus. I think it’s been really great as well. So yeah, without these grant programmes and we never knew about them. It was literally we were sitting in a very early industrial … we were doing due diligence and looking at an industrial designer’s. One of the ones we went to happened to say, “Oh, have you heard about the grant programmes?” And we’re like, “No,” and he’s like, “Oh, actually I went to a conference yesterday and sat next to a lady called Elaine Zelcher. You should contact her.” And it just all unfolded from there. And also the industrial designer we chose, in the end, had another client that was successful with the Innovation Voucher through Department of Business and Innovation. And he then put us onto that. That was through the state government whereas Elaine works through the federal government. So it was really, again, just people. People, people, people just putting us in the right direction.
Kylie: And also putting yourself in a position to find those people as well. But yes, it seemed the base of support that you had from local government or state government to accessing federal government grants. That’s a really helpful pathway for people to understand that that exists, I think.
Julie-Anne: Absolutely. And yeah, if I could let more people know that they exist, it is a very stringent application process. But yeah, I think to let people know that there is help in different many facets, both in mentoring and also financially through grants.
Kylie: Yes, and I think Business Victoria has resources on their website for people to start to look about the state government grants that people can access as well. So that’s only a google away.
Julie-Anne: Absolutely, yeah. There is a lot of very, very useful information on there as well.
Kylie: Yes. And I’ve often spoken to people who have applied for grants and sometimes not been successful but have undoubtedly found the process to be really valuable because it’s got them to think about things that they hadn’t otherwise or perhaps to formalise the things that are running around in their head and actually get them down on paper in a sensible format.
Glenn: Yeah, certainly. The application process was a huge learning curve for us. Going through the different criteria that they ask you to meet has essentially helped us to form a business plan of sorts in view of the age itself. Yeah, it’s been a really good process. A steep learning curve.
Kylie: Yeah. So I imagine that there was a fair amount of financial investment that needed to happen when you’re talking about engaging an industrial designer and then engaging a local manufacturer and I’m guessing getting some custom tooling made and going through the prototype process. Were you able to achieve that wholly through grant funding or did you need to tip in yourself?
Glenn: Yeah, so with all of the funding we had to tip in some of the money. So in the Commercialization Australia programme it was 20% of the funding that we had to …
Julie-Anne: The way that it … sorry to cut you off there. The way that it was, the different grant programmes have different percentages that you are responsible for. So the first innovation grant was 75% for the government and 25% for us. The commercialization Australia proof of concept grant was 80% the government and 20% for us to fund personally, and the accelerating commercialization grant that we’re currently in is a 50//50. So they do 50% and we contribute 50%. So yeah, different grants have different funding that you also need to come up with as well.
Kylie: So how have you managed that financially?
Julie-Anne: I think we, very early on, we set a financial budget that I guess we were willing to risk with this business that, because with business it’s all a risk, so it was all in the planning. We very much had to sit down and understand that we were risking it, that we might lose the lot. And thought, it’s a learning process, so I think the planning and having a set budget knowing the possibility that we could always go down the street and put it in the drain.
Kylie: Yes, that’s the uncertainty is often what holds people back from daring to take the risk but it sounds like you’ve mitigated that by going, “We’re going to allow ourselves a certain degree of risk at this point so that we can still sleep at night.”
Julie-Anne: Yes, absolutely. We didn’t want to start this process and not be able to finish it, so we knew that it was going to be quite a substantial amount of money since we wanted to do it properly. But you have to have the flip side of that as what if it doesn’t work? Yeah I think it was all in the planning and knowing that there are two sides to business. It’s either gonna work or it’s not.
Kylie: Do you think growing up in an entrepreneurial family helped you with that mindset Julie-Anne?
Julie-Anne: Absolutely. Yes, my family’s very entrepreneurial and they’re all the financial side of entrepreneurship as well. That’s something that I’ve been able to bring to the business is that side of it. I’m no expert by any means but I think I know enough to know that there has to be a plan and there has to be an exit strategy.
Kylie: From the outset you’ve had an exit strategy?
Julie-Anne: Yeah. Everything we’ve done. Glenn’s very big on due diligence and writing down your pros and cons and what’s the outcome of this and what’s the outcome of that. So yeah, I think together our different skill bases always helped so something big for us is what’s the best case scenario and what’s the worst case scenario and we have to be okay with both.
Kylie: Yeah. And this seemed like a good enough risk to take. There’s more on the pros side of the list than the cons?
Julie-Anne: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s also a factor of we would always regret if we didn’t take the risk. And you don’t want to live with regret. So that’s something that we live by.
Kylie: This episode of In the Company is brought to you by the 2017 Small Business Festival, which is run by the Victorian government in Australia and is designed to help start-ups and small to medium businesses go from strength to strength. Check out the festival website to find free and affordable events all across Melbourne and regional Victoria throughout the months of August and early September. There’s over 500 events including workshops, webinars, mentoring, and podcasts just like this one. Visit festival.business.vic.gov.au to learn, grow, and connect.
So you mentioned that Glenn writes pros and cons lists. One of the questions that I have for you is about the pros and cons of working with your spouse in a startup.
Julie-Anne: Right. So there are pros and cons to working with your spouse. I would say the biggest. The thing that I’ve learned from actually working with Glenn is that our personal relationship, I guess our marriage, is very different to working together. There’s almost like you see a different side to your spouse. I see Glenn in our business life being very specific and he likes things done a certain way whereas that’s how I am in our personal life. So it’s like we flipped roles in business to our personal life. But I think we have to understand and learn about each other.
Glenn: Yes, certainly. And I think I guess a pro for us is we’re constantly backing each other and we’re own motivators. We both have our different skillsets and Julie-Anne reminds me at times I’m good at what I’m doing. We’re very good at motivating each other. A con I would say is probably that it becomes very easy to talk shop all hours of the day when we should be resting. So the pro is that we back each other and the con is that we probably talk shop too much.
Julie-Anne: Absolutely. We get a night out once in a blue moon and we sit there and talk about the business. I think one night we went out to dinner and I pulled the laptop out of my handbag and Glenn’s like that’s where I draw the line. We can’t have any laptops out to dinner. I’m like this is good time management. He’s like no, put it away.
Kylie: Have you learned any ways of kind of preserving that romantic side of your relationship outside of the business?
Glenn: Yeah, we’re certainly learning I guess to compartmentalise our lives. We’re business owners, both working full-time, we’re parents, but we also do try and spend time on our own relationship and so yeah. We do get some time out and we have to remind ourselves to put Subo aside and let’s spend some time with each other.
Julie-Anne: I think too, the time Glenn and I have a very strong friendship. It sounds corny. We do, we have a very strong friendship and we have from the minute we met each other. So sometimes yeah, we have to keep reminding ourselves that business is business and our relationship is our relationship but we’ve got a very strong relationship outside of the business. And we do. He’s gonna hate me saying this, but one night a month Glenn colours my hair. And this actually sounds silly but it forces us to sit in the bathroom and talk. So there’s no iPads, there’s no laptops, there’s no kids cause we won’t do it with the kids around. And it’s actually a night that we both enjoy but it’s colouring my hair. So, yeah. He’s probably gonna hate me saying that.
Kylie: I’m putting in the vote for saying that is just a beautiful act of love that if you guys can squeeze that in and fit that around and support each other that much, I think you’re in good hands.
Julie-Anne: Yeah. I’m very lucky he’s a fantastic husband. We may fight in business but we never fight in our personal life.
Kylie: Or about hair colours by the sound of it.
Julie-Anne: It’s a bit odd cause Glenn’s like “Why can’t you go and get this done at the hair salon?” I’m like, “This is quality time.” But yeah, we have fun with it.
Glenn: We have fun with it.
Kylie: I think that’s fantastic. What do you wish you knew back in 2012 that you know now?
Glenn: I guess that this help was there. We were pleasantly surprised I think it’s a daunting thing to come up with an idea and try and figure out your path to market and how to commercialise the product. So it’s amazing how much help there is out there so had we known that back in 2012, I think we would have been a lot more confident going out there and getting the product out there. Yeah, just that there’s help out there and to know where to look for it.
Julie-Anne: I think back when we started too, I don’t think we gave ourselves enough credit that we can do this. It was almost like at each stage we’re like oh. We were awarded a grant and we successfully had the product designed. So I think I wish we gave ourselves more credit for our experience acknowledged and to really go for it and have that confidence in ourselves too.
Kylie: I find that a lot in the businesses that I work with is that people are actually a lot more competent than they give themselves credit for and when they actually stop and think about the things that they have achieved because they’re often thinking about all the things they haven’t achieved, but when you take a moment to think about all the things that you do bring to the table and you are capable of executing and you have in your toolkit to be able to draw on and the skill base that you have, people are a lot more competent than they actually realise. And I think that’s why it’s important like you said, to have an Elaine in your corner that can help you recognise and give you kind of the nudges in the direction that you need. But that you yourselves are the ones that have taken those opportunities and made the most of them.
Julie-Anne: Absolutely 100%. And hindsight’s 20/20. I wish we knew that back in 2012.
Kylie: Yes and do you think that that would have enabled you to market a bit faster?
Julie-Anne: We did have a holdup early on. So when we were in the grant process the commercialization Australia grant was broken up into three different stages and we were successful in the first stage and we had put our application in for the second stage of that grant programme and they literally closed it the next day because they had a change in government. So they stopped all the grant programmes. And we couldn’t financially support the business without the grant so we had to wait, and I think it was 11 months before we could reapply for the new grant. So that was something that sort of held us up early on. But I think too, hindsight, we probably should have taken the leap earlier. But you don’t know that at the time.
Glenn: Yeah, I think we’re starting to see a lot more confidence in the product and that we’re getting fantastic feedback on the market and I think if we had been more confident in our own abilities, we probably would have taken the leap a little bit earlier.
Kylie: When did the product actually launch?
Glenn: In October last year, so nine months ago.
Kylie: So early days. And how’s it been taken up so far?
Julie-Anne: It’s literally I can’t tell you how fantastic our customers are. Really, really supportive. We haven’t really pushed the marketing too much at this point. It’s been a lot of word of mouth and social media to date. And we just find that once people buy the product they’re converted. They see the actual benefit in it in so many different ways. And we’ve also opened up so many different new markets in schools and kindergartens wanting to get away from single-use packaging foods. And also cycling stores and golf clubs for an older market as well. So for parents on the go for people riding their bike to work and waiting to have porridge on the way to work. They can with Subo because you don’t have to tip it up to impede your view and it fits in the …
Glenn: Water bottle cage.
Julie-Anne: The water bottle cage on a bike. Ladies on the golf course that would normally take a yoghourt and a banana in their golf bag and then eat them and then have wrappings. So then they can mix it before they go and have it in Subo, sip on it on the way around, and there’s no wrappings. It’s opened up a lot more markets as well.
Kylie: So it has a good sustainable aspect to it as well in that it’s multiple use and cuts down on packaging.
How have you gone about protecting the idea?
Glenn: So we have and IP strategy that we worked out quite early with our IP attorneys. So we have patented the product in Australia and put in applications in different markets across the world for patent protection. We also have trademarked Subo in the same areas, in Australia and other countries around the world.
Kylie: So I would have imagined that you’ve gotten really strong advice from your stakeholders in that.
Glenn: Certainly, that was part of one of the criteria in the grant application processes through the federal government grant. That the product that we were looking to create was patentable and it could be protected. So each one of those federal government grants was funding went towards our management strategies.
Kylie: Yes, I imagine as the more the idea starts to spread and to catch on, that the more that protecting the IP will become evident.
Glenn: Yeah, certainly. It’s always a concern that someone will try and come up with a product similar to ours but we’re confident in the patent we applied for and we certainly hope that …
Julie-Anne: It’s an idea that will happen at some stage but you can’t spend your life worrying about what other people are doing. We protected our design and I guess, what did they say, that someone copying is the largest form of flattery? So we’ll know we were the first and things. It’s not an easy product to copy anyway. The manufacturing process. But our IP strategy’s very strong thanks to the government grants.
Kylie: Fantastic. So Glenn you’re now leaping full-time in the business from your role as an employee in another business in sales. How are you making the leap from an employee to self-employment?
Glenn: Well, I guess we’ll soon find out at the end of this month I’ll be working on the business full-time and it’s quite an exciting time for us. We’ve got plans to expand our product range, further develop our market, fifteen online retailers, we’re looking to extend that and also to get more product on the shelves in brick and mortar stores. So the plan for the next 12 months is to develop that and also look at our exporting markets. We’ve already had plenty of interest from people around the world that want to distribute Subo in companies around the world so we want to develop the market as well in the next 12 months.
Julie-Anne: I think too, it’s not until you take the leap. We’ve had so many people say to us, “Wow, I wish I could do that.” And about how much courage it takes to take the leap. I think we minimise that side of it as we normally do there was a plan and a time frame and an exit strategy. It wasn’t something where we’re like quite your job tomorrow. It was something that was planned and I guess we’re moving from working in the business to working on the business and really driving it. So we’re definitely at that point that it needs to be taken to the next level. I think a lot of the people around you, when you do take the leap, remind you how much courage it takes to take the leap and to back yourself and to sacrifice and to risk. It’s not easy. We don’t know what the next 12 months and beyond is gonna look for us but we’re willing to give it a go.
Kylie: Yes. And so did you have some tidbits in mind that you wanted to have hit or some forecasts that you wanted to have in the pipeline of looking like they were coming to fruition in order to make that leap, or there’s still some uncertainty in that but you sound like you’re very calculated in the risks that you take.
Glenn: Yeah, so we certainly forecasted year one and nine months in we’ve surpassed the target that we had set in year one. So I guess having passed that, it was an indication for us that yes it’s time for us to make a leap and work on this full time and push a little bit harder. So the goalposts have moved for us. We’re looking to speed up our plan to export and to look at brick and mortar stores and develop the other past market within Australia as well.
Julie-Anne: Yeah we’re definitely very much goal setters. So you have your short-term goals and your long terms goals and the ultimate goals of how you’re gonna get there. So yeah we’ve definitely mapped that out.
Kylie: So this has been a bit of a leap in the making but how have you changed as people and as partners and as parents since taking the leap?
Glenn: I think our time management skills and multi-tasking skills have certainly improved. So we’ve managed I guess being parents as well as employees to juggle that over the last few years.
Julie-Anne: I think our confidence is growing too with this. Cause we’ve had such great success to date. I think we’re seeing our potential and the potential of the product as well. So I guess that’s how it’s changed us. We’re not particularly overly confident people but I think that’s certainly changed us to think yeah, we can do this. And I think that has definitely changed us as people and as parents as well. Cause I know the kids see us, we talk about the business with the kids a lot that you’re given things in life and you have to work hard and cause you know, being a working parent your kids are like, “mummy are you gonna pick up today from school?” And you’ve gotta say no and I’ve gotta work or have a meeting or something. So they understand and also educating them. So I guess that’s changed us as parents as well involving the kids when they are so young. They understand those life skills and things.
Kylie: So what would you say to other people itching to take a leap?
Julie-Anne: Id’ say believe in yourself and surround yourself with successful people that are willing to boost you up and what you succeed.
Kylie: And what does the next stage of your leap look like?
Glenn: So first it’s expanding our product range and developing our market and looking at the export market. A lot of interest around countries around the world that are asking for our product so we’re looking to expand by region.
Julie-Anne: And also our product line. We’ll have more products out there as well and it’s funny every time I come to Glenn and say, “Do you know what we need to make?” He says, “No, we’re doing this one first. Let’s just back the truck up.” I have a little book in the study with my ideas. So I think we’ll definitely be driving that as well.
Kylie: So you need to shorten your showers for a while.
Glenn: I might actually …
Glenn: Take the shower out of commission for a while.
Kylie: I don’t know what might happen if she might have a bath. You could be in all sorts of trouble then.
Julie-Anne: I don’t think Glenn would like me to have a bath. Absolutely.
Kylie: So from our chat tonight, Julie-Anne and Glen, what three things would you like listeners to take away from our chat?
Glenn: So I think just to make sure that you love the product or business that you’re working with because you’re gonna spend a lot of time in it so make sure that you really love it. Look for help out there cause it’s certainly out there. There’s people that are willing to help. And buy Subo food bottle. Support local business.
Julie-Anne: That’s the biggest. That should be number one.
Kylie: So for those people that do want to do that, where can they go to buy a Subo food container?
Julie-Anne: Yeah, so we have our own eCommerce store, which is www.suboproducts.com.au. Our Facebook and Instagram handles are @suboproducts with an “s”. Also we’ve got online retailers as well. So if you have a look in our Instagram and social media we regularly list new retailers and suppliers coming on board. So yeah a lot of our great retailers do great things like have free postage and things like that. So yes, it’s getting more and more accessible. And also as Glenn mentioned before, we’ll be bringing on more brick and mortar stores so you can go into a store and see it and feel it and the quality of this product I can’t tell you how good it is and that’s some feedback that we get a lot is to get a sort of see it and to know that it really works.
Kylie: So Subo is S for Sam, U, B for Bob, O, right? Subo.
Julie-Anne: That’s correct.
Kylie: And what was the story behind the name?
Glenn: So Subo is a Tagalog word. My heritage, my mother’s from the Philippines so the language in the Philippines is Tagalog. And when I was very young my mom would feed me and say “subo” which in Tagalog means to eat or to feed. So it’s just a throwback to my early days of my mother feeding me.
Kylie: Beautiful. So what a great tie-in. What a great way to bring some of your childhood into the product and into many more childhoods.
Julie-Anne: Yeah I think it really goes along with our ethos of our brand. We’re very much a family business and you know, we like to make things very personal for our customers and things like that. So that’s very important to us. So it sort of all ties in very well.
Kylie: Fantastic. Well we’ve come to the end of our conversation, so thank you so much. But before we go, we have a little thing that we do at the end of each of our podcasts called our 10×10. Which is where we have 10 questions and you’ve got 10 seconds to answer each question. Are you ready to go with this guys?
Glenn: Yeah, we are. Are we each doing `10 or are we gonna alternate here?
Kylie: What would you like to do? Would you like to respond to each or would you like to take turns and alternate?
Julie-Anne: I think we’ll just answer quickly each.
Kylie: Yeah. Okay so we’re gonna do our 10×10 and you’re going to each have a crack at answering our questions.
Glenn: Okay, sure I’ll go first.
Glenn: Or should we do ladies first? I’ll go first.
Kylie: Okay, let’s get started. What I like about myself is…
Glenn: I’m not afraid to fail.
Julie-Anne: And I would say that I have a good heart and I like to see people succeed.
Kylie: I beat procrastination by…
Glenn: By knowing not everything needs to be absolutely perfect.
Julie-Anne: I’m the biggest procrastinator you’ll ever meet so I’ve never beat it.
Kylie: A song on my life soundtrack is…
Glenn: I think this one we could answer together. Better Together.
Julie-Anne: Better Together.
Glenn: I think our kids call it the mommy and daddy song.
Julie-Anne: The mommy and daddy song.
Kylie: A book that changed me is…
Glenn: A friend of mine gave me a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Julie-Anne: I hate reading so I’m not great with books. But I did read one that’s the Richard Branson biography. So that was definitely changed me in my business mind.
Kylie: Well if you’re gonna read just one book that’s probably a great one to read for an entrepreneur.
Julie-Anne: It’s a good one.
Kylie: Something everyone must do is…
Glenn: Buy a Subo.
Julie-Anne: Buy a Subo and support small business.
Kylie: The world needs more …
Julie-Anne: Subo bottles.
Glenn: Small businesses.
Kylie: Fear and I …
Julie-Anne: Hate each other. I am the biggest scaredy cat in the world.
Glenn: Fear and I … Geez that’s a tough one. We’ve only got 10 seconds.
Julie-Anne: You don’t really have fear.
Glenn: Fear and I don’t exist.
Julie-Anne: Don’t exist.
Kylie: A phrase I live by is …
Glenn: You only live once.
Julie-Anne: And you only treat others like you want to be treated.
Kylie: Something that always makes me feel good is.
Glenn: I’m an ice hockey player at heart so being on the ice with the boys, I guess.
Julie-Anne: I love frosty fruit. So I generally a frosty fruit always makes me better.
Kylie: And the last one, number 10. My legacy will be …
Julie-Anne: I think ours will be pretty much be the same, our family.
Glenn: Our family, yeah.
Julie-Anne: Family is very important to both of us.
Kylie: Fantastic. Well thank you so much for speaking with us tonight Julie-Anne and Glenn. And I wish you the very, very best in taking the leap forward and can’t wait to see what happens on the Subo stage as it starts to take over the world.
Glenn: Thanks so much Kylie for having us. It’s been …
Julie-Anne: Yeah, it’s been really fun and hopefully we can help someone out there like that’s something that’s very big with Glenn and I. Paying it forward and to repay all the great people that have and continue to help us. So hopefully we’re gonna help someone out there to take the leap and back yourself and have confidence.
Kylie: Great. We’ll end it there. Thank you so much.
Julie-Anne: Thank you so much Kylie.
Glenn: Thanks Kylie.