Following a refreshing stay in Africa, our designer is back in France, where her biodesign agency Termatière now has its first material, a composite of vine shoots for manufacturing wine crates.
After my African adventures, it’s back to Montpellier—plane, train, restart. For now, I put away my bricks made from banana tree trunks and leaves, palm nut husks and the residue of pressed palm oil, to get back to my vine shoots. In order to escape the usual post-traveling blues, the very next day I have an appointment for a Termatière market research study. When you gotta go, you gotta go!
Redirecting the strategy
Coming out of this two-hour meeting about Termatière’s market, my intuition was confirmed, based on tangible elements and clear opinions voiced by potential clients.
In a nutshell, a wine crate with biosourced composite panels made from vine shoots and glue made from grape seed tannin is interesting to all players in the sector.
Indeed, it’a sexy concept, but those most interested are the big wine accounts, for whom Termatière’s product can materialize marketing strategies and practically influence their politics.
However, France’s wine crate market is relatively small. So I am confronted with high-level equations between the production cost of my crate (which must compete with cheap imported wood) and its manufacturing volume. It goes without saying that the more you produce, the less it costs… But then you still need to sell all that volume.
I’m leaning more towards a realtively artisanal mode of fabrication, but which has the advantage of being potentially more locally implemented. Besides, the machines I need are not all that high-tech. And that’s the whole point of my approach as a maker.
My business plan and my company development strategy are thus taking on an expected turn. I will need to find a creative solution here too. Is this “vine shoots” project still in line with the positioning and the philosophy of the company I created?
It’s too early to say, as the doors are still open today, while this strategy is in progress. And doubt is all part of the game, otherwise the adventure wouldn’t be so stimulating!
Despite this aside, there is no question of stopping en route. I will give myself a few more months of work to finish my cycle of exploration and convince the clientele. Until the end of 2016, I will focus on my commercial approach, as well as prototyping.
Three key encounters!
To do so, three crucial meetings await me this month, including my participation in the Chefs World Summit in Monaco, “the 1st world congress about international gastronomy”, on November 27-29.
I also see things under a new light, following my two-day training in principled negotiation, hosted by the incubator of Ecole des Mines d’Alès. I got completely wrapped up in the sketches that we acted out. First, I was a vintage car buyer, then a real estate agent, and finally a marketing director. Each time, I applied simple little techniques in order to achieve the three goals of principled negotiation: obtaining more, obtaining better, maintaining the relationship. Enough to calmly prepare for my three upcoming meetings in a world (very) far from my own.
A helping hand from Fondation de France
Finally, the good news of the month came from Fondation de France. With Termatière, I won a Déclics Jeunes 2016 grant, which awards young people under 30 with a clear vocation. Others believe as much as I do in the potential and issues of developing local materials from agricultural residues—now that’s encouraging!