“Dare to ask” is a principle of the Potto team, which has often helped to find solutions in unexpected places.
The idea of bringing a planting pot made from pressed cow manure to the market, which began to germinate a few years ago, reached the stage of working prototype one year ago. So the next step was to move from a small-scale, semi-automated production facility to an industrial solution. “We knew that fresh salad and herb producers like Grüne Fee wanted a 100% biodegradable alternative to the plastic planter. We had a workable recipe and solution in the form of the Potto planting bag, but it took us a long time before we found our first manufacturing partner this spring,” explains Märt Raudvee, one of the founders of Potto.
A world of direct contacts
Initially focusing on the Estonian and Finnish markets, Potto started looking for a production partner in the domestic market, but it soon became clear that the necessary technology was not available in Estonia. Through contacts with friends and acquaintances, as well as intensive surfing on Google, a number of potential partners were found. Most of the time, the initial polite rejection e-mail went no further, or conversations got bogged down in technical details that were difficult to resolve from a distance. “Getting into the picture and finding the right contact within the organisation was the biggest challenge,” admits Märt Raudvee. In the meantime, they even considered buying their own production line to speed up the process. Fortunately, this scenario did not materialise.
Faster than ever
Significant progress was made possible in the spring, when Raudvee met a representative of the Chamber of Commerce to discuss Potto’s concerns. “They were quick to offer help in finding a partner, mapped out what we were looking for, and in less than a month the first meaningful contacts with manufacturing companies were established,” says Raudvee, pleased with the speed with which the EEN network enabled him to move forward.
“In our experience, the EEN network helped us to reach manufacturers we had not been able to contact on our own, because we got through to the right person in the organisation.” Raudvee adding further that, “the size and diversity of the EEN network is certainly a value in itself.”
In the coming months, the Potto team is looking forward to close cooperation with a selected production partner in Lithuania, so that from the new year onwards, customers in Estonia and Finland will be able to buy fresh salad and herbs in biodegradable Potto pots.
Author: Indreku Potto, co-founder and CEO of Potto by Sambert OÜ.
What is EEN?
The Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the representative of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) in Estonia. The network has members in 66 countries around the world, and through it we offer free background information, advice and partner search services to Estonian entrepreneurs.