Oxford capital eis fund
    • About Us

      Learn more about us


      See our current oppurtunities


      Meet our team

      EIS investment faqs


      See our frequently asked questions


      See our latest news articles

      Contact Us

      Get in touch with us

Bower Collective – Meet the Founders

We recently invested into sustainable subscription company Bower Collective, alongside Founders Factory and a number of angel investors. Bower offers a range of home and personal care products and is on a mission to eliminate plastic waste. It has developed an innovative approach to ecommerce by providing a closed loop, plastic waste-free solution. Customers subscribe to a range of products that are supplied in refill packages. Empty packages are returned and used again for the next customer, and after several cycles are recycled.

Bower Collective was founded in summer 2019 by friends Nick Torday and Marcus Hill, their inspiration being the Bowerbird – famous for recycling brightly coloured plastic scraps to decorate its nest, or Bower. Nick’s background before Bower was running a digital and technology consultancy that included clients such as the UN, WWF and Amnesty International, helping to solve major global social and environmental issues. Marcus founded and built London Bio Packaging, one of the UK’s leading providers of biodegradable packaging for the food industry, which he then sold to the FTSE 100 company Bunzl. Both share a passion for sustainable business.

The business has been on a rapid growth trajectory since launch in January 2020, with month-on-month revenue growth of 44% and an ARR of £550k. It has built a community of over 30,000 highly engaged customers. Customer feedback has also been very positive, the brand has an excellent 4.8 star feedback rating on Trustpilot and a high organic referral rate.

We sat down with them to discuss their inspiration behind the brand, launching a new company through a global pandemic and what’s next for them on their growth journey.

What was your initial inspiration behind launching Bower Collective?

Nick: Some years ago at my old business we ran a campaign with a big global NGO about marine plastic waste. This began a process of looking into this issue more deeply. Also, with three kids, I was very conscious of the large quantities of waste we were generating at home. When we began our own journey as a family to eliminate plastic waste I realised that the product options available weren’t great and that there was a great opportunity to do something better, which is when I called Marcus and we began the journey together that resulted in the creation of Bower Collective.

Marcus: I am passionate about using business as a force for good in the world. Start-ups in particular are a great way to address environmental and social problems. Previously I founded a bio-plastic packaging company and for a while I have been thinking about how to engage people more directly with sustainable products (my previous business was B2B). So, when Nick got in touch with me to explore ideas around a new start-up to tackle the plastic waste crisis I jumped at the opportunity.

What was the biggest challenge in setting up the business in 2020?

Nick: Well the arrival of COVID-19 only a month or so after we launched presented lots of challenges, to everybody not just Bower. The biggest challenge for us has been the volatility in supply chains, which has had some impact for us but we have managed to keep on top of it. 

Marcus: Struggling to get stock during the early part of lockdown was the biggest challenge which thankfully we have come through. Starting a business from scratch is never easy but we have managed to enjoy it!

Who are your typical customers and how have you engaged with them?

Nick: Our customers are conscious consumers who are actively working towards creating a more sustainable home; they want to learn how to do this better, but also feel like they are contributing to what we are doing as a brand. Knowing this, we decided to launch a closed product community group on Facebook for our most engaged customers, we currently have 500 customers in the group who help with new product development and testing.

 As well as being a place to discuss sustainability in general, we regularly publish polls and questions to the group to gauge what we should launch, or how to improve our design. It’s a great place to quickly gather feedback amongst a bigger group, and in the early days, it gave us the opportunity to sense check some ideas before launching them. Keeping the group closed is an important way to make these conversations feel exclusive.

We’ve also rapidly grown our Instagram followers and engage consistently with consumers and supporters across our social channels.

How did you refine the product and offering ahead of launch?

Nick: We spoke to our customers at every opportunity. In the first 1-2 months, after a purchase was made, we would ask customers if they would mind having a call with us to gather some feedback. I would then personally call and speak to them, and this insight was invaluable. We are also incredibly responsive to messages via customer service and still use it as a learning resource to find out how we can improve and what products to launch next.

How have you found the process of securing funding?

Nick: So far it has been very positive. Our initial investment from Founders Factory got us off to a great start and when we presented at their virtual Investor Showcase in early May that really moved the needle for us. Off the back of this pitch, we received a lot of interest and secured a lot of investment off the back of that session alone. This included the investment from Oxford Capital which we were delighted with and has proved to be the beginning of a really positive and fruitful relationship.

Overall, we know we are the right business for the right time and therefore feel we have a compelling story – and metrics – to share with investors.

What’s next for the brand?

Marcus: At a macro market level, Bower is at the convergence of three mega-trends: a move towards e-commerce, an awakening around sustainability and a Covid related drive towards home hygiene products.  A recent report by consultancy A&M in partnership with Retail Economics states that “an estimated 17.2 million consumers in the UK, nearly a quarter of the entire population, will permanently change the way they shop, redirecting their spending online”.  We are really excited about how well positioned Bower is to capitalise on these paradigm shifts.

In early September we launched our charity partnership with the Marine Conservation Society. For every purchase with Bower Collective, our customers help protect 1m² of endangered seagrass.
This is a key component of our mission to create a more sustainable world with a particular focus on the marine environment.

We have recently launched several new products including our Bower Grapefruit & Lemongrass Hand Sanitiser Gel! This product helps keep our customers safe when out and about whilst allowing them to reduce their plastic waste. This is now one of our best-selling products and one we are particularly proud of.

Share Post: