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The making of… FryAway

Welcome to The making of… blog series. Can you start off by telling us your name and the name of the company you founded.

Hi! I'm Laura Lady, Founder and CEO of FryAway.

We've read that you had a previous life in the toy industry. Can you elaborate a little on that and also tell us how you came about starting FryAway?

I love creating products and delivering experiences that make people's lives better.

As a toy marketer, I've had the good fortune to work alongside truly brilliant creatives and strategists across some of the world’s most loved kids' entertainment brands. And I've had a lot of fun along the way.

From a personal standpoint, food is my passion. Experimenting in the kitchen, bringing a new recipe to life and feeding people brings me joy.

In FryAway, my two worlds are coming together to create products that speak to who I am and what I care about. I am marrying my love of cooking with my deep respect for this planet, with a product that solves a universal problem for home cooks: what to do with leftover oil.

So having said that, what was the spark behind the FryAway idea?

The seed for FryAway was planted several years ago over a dinner conversation with friends. A 250-meter long Fatberg, weighing a hefty 130 tons had just been discovered in London.

A Fatberg is what happens deep in our sewers when cooking oil meets other waste products. The mass grows as humans continue to dump waste and oil down drains and plumbing until it becomes the aptly named 'Fatberg'. It was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing and I was both horrified and fascinated.

Like many home cooks, I have been guilty of pouring oil down the drain. You tell yourself it's okay, it's just a little -- you can chase it with hot water and it'll be just fine. Multiply that by the millions and it becomes a fatberg-sized problem. Equally detrimental is the amount of waste that ends up in landfills when oil gets tossed out in a plastic jug or container that could have otherwise been recycled.

I heard about products in Japan that solidified cooking oil for disposal and set about developing my own solution to this problem for the US market.

Hmm, we're not sure what to say after someone mentions Fatberg. And we definitely don't want any of those things creeping around our sewers or water ways. So knowing there's a problem what research did you do to arrive at what you've got now? How did you test your product-market fit?

I turned my kitchen into a laboratory as I experimented with different methodologies to solidify cooking oil. As I continued to carry out research, I landed on hydrogenation as a way to thicken or harden a liquid by adding hydrogen, in essence "saturating" a liquid fat to convert it into a solid at room temperature. This is a fairly standard process used in the manufacture of margarine and vegetable shortening.

I felt confident that I could find a handful of consumers to buy into this idea, and was willing to go for it, even if it meant launching a niche product.

Turning your kitchen into a laboratory sounds like a heap fun. With all the experimentation you did, what were the first iterations of your product like?

What is in the market now are our first runs! Since launch, we have made some small changes to the packaging to clearly state, in bold red letters, that FryAway must be used in hot oil. Early reviews indicated most people don't read the instructions on the back of the packaging -- I'm guilty of that as well, so I should have known better!

The bottom line is that we constantly read reviews and listen to feedback, so FryAway is continuously evolving to ensure we're delivering a product that makes people's lives better.

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Shipping the product so to speak and making small iterations as you go is super smart. What about funding? How did you initially fund everything?

FryAway has been self-funded from the start. Like most entrepreneurs, alongside the title of CEO and Founder, I could also add chemist, manufacturing technician and warehouse worker, among others. It's been a wild ride!

Haha. We can all relate to wearing multiple hats and playing various roles in the business. So how did you go about the branding process and how you arrived at where you are today?

When FryAway was created, and I saw liquid oil transform into a solid disc right in the pan, it felt like something magical had just happened.

The FryAway branding and messaging is meant to be playful and colourful. Our packaging design has a hand-drawn quality and the font is quirky and fun. In short, FryAway branding is an homage to a career I have deeply loved, dedicated to delivering magic and joy to kids around the world.

What about awareness? How are you getting the word out there? How are you scaling the brand?

With FryAway, seeing is believing and we're experiencing organic growth as a result. Our early adopters are becoming advocates and, not only spreading the word, but purchasing and gifting FryAway to their friends and family.

While we got our start as a D2C brand, we are starting to expand into new channels and markets.

That's great to hear. Many brand owners don't understand that trial is one thing... but repeat purchase and advocacy is everything. So far it sounds like you're ticking the right boxes and things are running without that typical startup chaos. So what would you say your biggest challenge or challenges would be moving forward?

Raising awareness of an invisible problem is challenging, but almost everyone has experienced leftover cooking oil and the "now what" dilemma. As such, FryAway has a dual purpose: delivering convenience and reducing environmental impact.

Delivering convenience means that the price point also has to be convenient, which can run counter to an environmental focus. As a company on a mission to reduce environmental impact, delivering on that promise comes at a high cost. For example, our packaging is post-consumer recycled and we try to source our materials locally to minimize our carbon footprint.

We will have to be smart about how we chart our growth and maintain financial discipline in order to successfully deliver on both promises.

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