An e-commerce business which makes reusable water bottles from plants has grown by 300%, after the founders expanded their offering to include brand partnerships. The team has worked with Business Gateway since their initial product launch in 2020, when the young team brought their idea from concept to cash.
S’wheat based in East Lothian was founded by 22-year-old Amee Ritchie and 25-year-old Jake Elliot-Hook who came up with the idea while studying at university. S’wheat produces water bottles made from 100% plant fibres. Sustainability is embedded throughout their operations, and they promote a ‘no plastic’ ethos from their products to their packaging.
Amee and Jake approached Business Gateway for help starting up their business after they graduated from university and college and received a variety of support which helped them start the business. This included 1:1 support from an adviser, help with their business plan and advice about company regulations, HR, and marketing. They were given help about possible funding options, which attending webinars, and successfully accessed £10,000 from Scottish Edge which helped them create their prototype in 2019.
Amee Ritchie, founder, S’wheat said, “We were confident in our business idea, but we had no idea how to go about bringing it into the market, which is where Business Gateway was vital. They opened our eyes to the variety of support that is available for start-ups in Scotland and ensured we were prepared for every stage of launching our business.”
In 2019, following a successful pre-sale Crowdfunding campaign which raised over £22,000, Amee and Jake launched their product in 2020, where it is sold online via their website, www.swheatbottle.com. They have continued to grow, and recently launched a new offering for companies to co-brand and feature their logo onto S’wheat bottles.
This offering has helped the business increase its turnover by 300% since its introduction in November 2021.
The team also received support from DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme, delivered by Business Gateway. Through this, they accessed help from a specialist consultant who was able to show the duo how to design and code their website.
Amee said, “While we may only just be starting out, we’ve got big ideas which will help us on our mission to protect the environment from plastic pollution, while encouraging others to do the same. We’ve already planted over 2,000 trees as part of our commitment to the environment and aim to accelerate this in line with our growth over the next year. Our goal is to plant 10,000 trees by the end of the year.
“It’s been a huge learning curve, and we’ve benefited from Business Gateway’s advice and support the entire way. We’re now entering a new and exciting period of growth and will continue working with Business Gateway on our new strategy as we move forward.”
Steve Newlin, adviser, Business Gateway, said, “Amee and Jake came to Business Gateway with an ambitious idea that we helped turn into reality by giving them targeted support which gave them the confidence to launch their business, and they are now going from strength to strength.
“Amee and Jake are proof that it doesn’t matter about how old you are. If you have a strong idea, it’s possible to start-up your business at any age, and for anyone unsure about how to run a business, Business Gateway is there to help.”