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The making of… ROCC Naturals

Welcome to The making of... blog series. To start, can you give us a bit of a background into who you are and where you’ve come from.

Hi I'm Prue Rocchi, the Co-Founder of ROCC Naturals, a 12-month old start-up specialising in Sustainable Oral Care.

Before founding ROCC, I spent ten years in varied Marketing and Public Relations positions.

I kick-started my career as a fashion publicist in New York, then, after moving home to Melbourne, transitioned over to marketing. I've been fortunate to work with quite a few different companies, but what has stayed consistent is that I've always worked for brands within the health, fitness and wellness fields.

As a fashion publicist, I worked on clients such as Saturdays in NYC (a surf fashion brand), then in Melbourne as a Marketing Manager at Triple M (heavily sports focused). My previous role before ROCC was in the fitness industry.

I share my Co-Founder title with my Husband, although he has a full-time job and other businesses he runs, so I'm the dedicated go-to at ROCC. My role encompasses everything from product development, logistics, marketing, copywriting, bookkeeping, customer service and whatever else is thrown my way.

 

That’s a great summary of where you’ve come from. We totally get the “doing everything” as an entrepreneur. So you’ve been consistent with the health, fitness and wellness fields… how did you come up with the idea for ROCC?

I was pregnant, standing in a supermarket aisle and wanting to switch from a chemical toothpaste to a more natural, yet sustainable one with fewer nasties. There wasn't one single product in the sea of red and blue boxes that ticked both boxes. ROCC started as a question, which turned into a challenge (or many challenges). The main burning question was ‘If the whole world uses toothpaste twice a day, and every single empty tube goes to landfill for 500 years… why isn’t there a more sustainable option out there?’ And ROCC was born.

 

We love that. Most business ideas start from a gap in the market and setting a hypothesis. So how did you test your question? What research did you do to arrive at what you've got now and how did you test your product-market fit?

First off, I spent an incredible amount of time researching why the ingredients in regular toothpaste are toxic and bad for you.

After that, my time was spent (this one was hard to solve) looking into how to make a toothpaste tube sustainable. Traditional toothpaste tubes aren't recyclable thanks to their two layers of plastic and foil sandwiched in-between.

My third research point was how can we make this more nourishing - this included diving deep into scientific research and clinical reports.

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Awesome. You’ve got to love scientific and clinical research reports. What about your first runs? What were the first iterations of your product like?

Our manufacturer has been doing this for a long time. The first formulation wasn't bad, but nowhere near minty enough! We also tested a lot of tube options for our packaging.

 

We know getting your idea off the ground isn’t cheap. So, how did you initially fund everything?

ROCC is fully bootstrapped.

 

Knowing your bootstrapping your start-up. Can you tell us how you went about the branding process to arrive at what you have today?

I love design, so I created an explicit brief on what ROCC values were for our creative agency, Date Of Birth, Melbourne. I accompanied this with a few visual examples.

The first concept DOB created is what ROCC is today. They struck gold. The designs weren't anything like the reference I sent them, but it absolutely represented the ROCC values. I fell in love with the brand as soon as I saw it, and didn't change a thing!

 

That’s great news. You often don’t see clients fall 100 percent in love with the first brand concepts. Now the brand is good to go, how are you getting the word out there? How are you scaling the brand?

We're focusing our marketing on today's traditional channels - digital advertising, influencers, PR and podcast sponsorships. We're in Coles this year, so a big opportunity for exposure just by being on their shelves. 

What about future challenges? What would you say your biggest challenge or challenges are moving forward?

Just one?! I think scaling the brand and being bootstrapped will be one of our first major challenges. The other issue is managing family life and scaling a brand. I've just had my second daughter who is six weeks old, the juggle is real!

 

From what you’ve experienced, what advice would you give another entrepreneur who is embarking on their own startup journey?

You’ve got to plan and research thoroughly. At ROCC, I spent an incredible amount of time researching formulations, packaging, competitors and market trends. This has given ROCC the advantage of being first to market with our products and packaging.  Having in-depth knowledge before you start will help you differentiate your product and market it effectively to your audience whilst developing growth plans accordingly.

Images by © Date Of Birth

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