5 minutes with No Pong

Monday 12 February 2018
Luke Keioskie's picture
The Shaker

Tell us a bit about yourselves.  

It’s Chris Caley here, one of the founders of No Pong! Before starting No Pong I worked in advertising and marketing for over 15 years, and worked with a number of startup businesses. Melanie McVean, my wife and co-founder, is also a midwifery consultant, international board certified lactation consultant, and a passionate advocate for women’s health.  We both believe it’s important to live healthy, active lifestyles and we’re pretty particular about what we put on our bodies.

When we first started No Pong we had no idea it would take on a life of its own, but when a business and brand starts to be propelled along on (and under!) the shoulders of our amazing customers, we started to find that our real job was to join in on the conversations and ensure that we always deliver an awesome customer experience for every one of them.

Explain your product – what is No Pong? What is a ‘natural deodorant’?

No Pong is an extremely effective deodorant, that we’ve found consistently (and conservatively!) lasts for over 12 hours. All of our ingredients can be found in nature, and No Pong doesn’t contain any synthesised compounds at all.  It’s amazing what nature can provide when you put the pieces together the right way.

The other thing that is a little bit different about us, unlike many other everyday grooming products, is that we’re very focused online.  We believe great, effective natural products should be convenient and affordable.  Our business is designed to keep No Pong priced affordably for customers, and we also offer a convenient Monthly Club, so that customers that love No Pong can get it delivered to their door every month.

How did you come up with the idea of No Pong?

Melanie has always been very conscious about what she puts on her body, and has a very scientific, evidence-based approach to things she tackles.  She had been making a very early version of No Pong and we happened to be on a surfing trip in the tropics without water or laundry.  After using this deodorant cream, I just couldn’t believe I didn’t smell. I ended up wearing the same shirt for three days and still didn’t smell, and at that point we thought we might be on to something.  We’ve repeated this several times on trips into remote places, and we’ve had some customers tell us they’ve replicated this experiment but it’s not necessarily something we recommend!

Where can we get No Pong?

Nourished Life is one of our largest supporters, they’re a wonderful organisation that are doing a fantastic job of promoting a healthy, conscious lifestyle so we feel very aligned.  Although we are online focused, we do love to support other independent small businesses, we’re one after all, so we put together wholesale starter kits and an easy way for stockists to manage their inventory.  Given this we have a very diverse range of stockists that also include several GoVita stores as well as Terry White Chemists.

Tell us about your 24-hour ‘hackathon’ success? What is it, how does it work?

The whole idea of a hackathon, is to create a huge impact with absolutely minimal resource. 

The benefit of this is three-fold. Firstly, you don’t commit a huge amount of time and/or money into a project that you aren’t sure will work so it’s a smart approach. That said, it does require commitment and an absolute laser focus for a shorter period of time, which brings the second benefit, in that it is incredible what you can achieve when you really focus on getting things done, and work efficiently.  On our hackathon day, we literally registered the business name, created the website and logo, worked out packaging solutions and put together a simple strategy to get us going.  Some of these things have evolved from feedback and learnings along the way, but our overall strategy and even our logo are still the ones we came up with on that day.

The final benefit is that the hackathon should give you everything you need to test your idea with real customers without spending thousands of dollars on an idea you might not even be sure will work.  Huge impact, minimal resource, and important market learnings… ie, if there is a market for your business or not.

What advice can you give people looking to launch their own business?

The single biggest piece of advice we would give is to test your market before investing lots of time and money, especially if it’s in a new or unfamiliar space.  This doesn’t mean asking your friends.  As much as they love you, friends are no substitute for feedback from real-world customers.

There are lots of creative ways you can test an idea with very little resource, from running a FB poll to a specific targeting group of people or placing an ad in Gumtree for free.  If you don’t get any response at all, then orange flags should be waving because even if you have all of the infrastructure of a business in place, you’re not actually IN business until you’re actually transacting in some way with customers.  It’s best you find this out before you invest heavily, and if you find some initial momentum it will be much easier to grow from there.