Case Study: O2Today
The Starting Point
With a deep background in management and a wealth of experience regarding the marketing of luxury goods to a globe trotting clientele demanding sophistication and thought, O2Today Co-founder and CEO, Bruce Lorange saw an opportunity and a product in need of refined consideration. That vision led to partnering with notable Dutch designer, Marcel Wanders.
Wanders is known widely in product design having created over 1,900+ iconic products for both private clients as well as premium brands such as Baccarat, Louis Vuitton and Swarovski to name just a handful. They set about exploring how to create a well thought out product that achieved superior utilitarian goals in filtration, comfort and design while offering maximal benefits in ease of use and fashionability. Together they launched O2TODAY.
O2TODAY designs, manufactures and brings to market respiratory protective devices, breathing masks, for those concerned with the health and care of their lungs.
A Growing Concern
The need and market is reflected by the experiences of any who travel to areas of rapid development as well as those who follow the headlines domestically. In the US recent posts on the topic from the CDC state “many challenges remain in protecting Americans from air quality problems. Ground-level ozone, the main part of smog, and particle pollution are just two of the many threats to air quality and public health in the United States.”(excerpt from CDC, emphasis added). Similarly regarding urban areas abroad it is not unusual to see alerts containing statements such as “..a putrid, nicotine-shaded mist loomed over Beijing .. bringing the latest “airpocalypse” to this smog-choked city.” as stated in a recent article on The Guardian.
Whether while traveling abroad to areas where air quality may be an issue or as part of general care in dense urban arenas air pollution poses a problem that is unwanted and dangerous, 02TODAY breathing masks offer a simple all natural solution.
Popular in Asia and among those who travel frequently breathing masks are a rapidly growing part of urban apparel but several issues impeded their ready adoption in the states that O2TODAY made a targeted point of addressing. One impediment to more widespread usage is the act of wearing a mask in the first place. Practical concerns such as pollution or germ transmission motivating the choice doesn’t preclude people from wanting to look fashionable and individualized. That focus is what inspired Bruce to partner with Marcel and allows 02TODAY to bring sophistication and style to the end product. Insofar as developing the business end, Bruce says, “Beyond the professional competency and know-how that EGFS brings to the table, I appreciate the personal relationship I’ve developed with my CFO and Senior Accountant. In many ways, it feels like working with Co-Founders thanks to the level of commitment, personal involvement, care, and feedback I’ve received. Taking a vision from idea to market, while exhilarating, can be a lonely journey – knowing EGFS has my back has made all the difference in the experience of getting there! ”
Beyond the look and feel of the breathing mask there is the concern of airflow, filtering is wanted, restriction is not. To that end they looked worldwide before choosing Merino wool from New Zealand. This fiber offers several notable and instrumental qualities essential to a desirable product. Its breathability and flow are balanced to provide free and easy breathing along with a natural antimicrobial element. Furthermore the natural sustainability of the source material itself and its relative footprint ecologically speaking was very attractive to the goals of O2TODAY.
Partnership with Early Growth Financial Services
The partnership and involvement of Early Growth Financial Services Firm (EGFS) with O2TODAY came after the close of a successful seed round pursuit with Formation 8. Having closed in on funds to launch the development of the product the investor personally recommended several firms as sources of insight on the knowledge and guidance of how to best run the financial backend of 02TODAY.
In the interviewing process that followed with the heads of the suggested companies O2TODAY founder Bruce met with EGFS president Gadiel Morantes. Besides feeling confident in their interaction it quickly became apparent that what EGFS had to offer was going to be extremely useful as well as competitively priced to the growing company. Starting out with an entry level package of service 02TODAY rapidly grew the involvement to include utilizing a dedicated CFO from EGFS , Sirk Roh.
Together Sirk and EGFS ‘s services have been highly useful in helping fine tune and create the financial oversight infrastructure for 02TODAY. The guidance from EGFS has been utilized on an array of matters, whether to offering input on how best to conduct global transactions, or providing insights on cost analysis, supply chain management and compliance, and sales projections among much else. According to Bruce himself, “Sirk, Kathleen, and the team at EGFS have been instrumental in allowing me to stay focused on the core business issues I need to address as CEO with the confidence that our financial infrastructure, bookkeeping, and administrative needs were being fully managed on the back end – it’s like having a full HR and Finance team in-house but without the costs or headcount commitments that can weigh down an early stage operation.”
A convinced fan and self declared evangelist for EGFS Bruce highly recommends any startup consider utilizing the services and guidance of EGFS. Beyond the service provided to his company personally he has said that working with the firm that provides financial services to nearly 20% of all startups nationwide gives him a strong sense of being part of the bigger picture that makes up the startup ecosystem. While the startup ecosystem spans cities coast to coast it really is at heart many of the same select few, and it means quite a lot to be among and served by a sophisticated firm who is often at the center of it all.