We entered 2021 in the exceptionally difficult circumstances of an ongoing, global pandemia, when companies operated within reduced budgets for CSR and environmental activities.
Despite the huge challenges related to maintaining the continuity of upcycling projects carried out in 2020, we managed to obtain an investment of around 200,000 Euro from the Austrian network of business angels, Danube Angels for further development of our platform.
The crowdfunding campaign conducted by Danube Angels was a huge success, and Deko Eko gained fantastic partners for the development and expansion in the DACHE markets.
The development of our business in 2021 was also influenced by another, next to Danube Angels, partner - a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper, Stora Enso.
As one of six carefully selected start-ups from around the world, we have been qualified for the Stora Enso acceleration program. The result of the 3-month accelaration was the development of a new business model based on large-scale projects, carried out in cooperation with huge retail chains. As part of the new model, we plan to systematically introduce upcycling products to the retailers' offer. We have prepared a catalogue for the retail industry with proposals for ecological products from categories such as home & decor, garden or fashion.
We are already negotiating with one of the chains on the regular sale of pots and buckets made of a difficult to recycle mix of waste foil generated in its stores.
Our goal is to introduce these products for regular sale in the second quarter of 2022.
In 2021, we have been working on refining the technologies and production processes and finding upcycling partners for turning back to the loop various types of waste, like coffee grounds or plastic, on a much larger scale, moving away from the projects that were based mainly on marketing activities of companies.
In 2021, we worked on finding the so-called product - market fit for the online platform Dekoeko.com. We have established cooperation with a recognized marketpace expert - Łukasz Faciejew, who previously developed, among others, platforms such as niania.pl from the Pomocni.pl group. Together, we were looking for the development paths of our first platform in Europe connecting companies interested in managing their waste with upcycling designers. We will present the results of this analytical and strategic work soon.
Despite the focus on conceptual work, the activity on our marketplace did not stop. Together with ERGO Hestia, we have launched the first partner e-shop, containing a unique collection of products prepared from recycled materials and the company waste. The products in the store are available for open sale, and ERGO Hestia employees and business partners can take advantage of special discounts. In addition, part of the income from sales will be transfered to charity organizations and NGOs.
We have also prepared new accounts for upcycling designers. They have gained a refreshed layout and functionalities enabling cooperation with business and are currently being tested by selected designers from the Deko Eko community.
We are pleased to observe the growing awareness of companies about the circular economy. After a period of pandemic shock, they are returning to ongoing projects in the area of sustainable development.
Technology is also entering the circular world, which is reflected in the development of green-tech platforms. During a webinar on the occasion of Circular Week (a series of events around the idea of circular economy), together with representatives of these platforms, we wondered how we can use technology to reduce the amount of generated waste.
One of our priorities for 2022 will be the development of scalable projects, conducted in cooperation with large retail chains in Poland and other markets where the Dekoeko.com platform is present. We plan to systematically increase the portfolio of products introduced to these chains using for their production waste materials, such as plastic, foil or textiles.
We are also planning further expansion in Germany and Austria, gaining new clients from that market. An important task will also be to refine and implement a new strategy for the upcycling marketplace online, as well as expanding our consulting competences in close-loop projects for our clients.