Delivering Sustainability to the Floral Industry
short description
Our product displaces the glass, purpose-fabricated vases sold by florists with a zero-waste vessel crafted from reclaimed materials.
Please describe your business idea and the overall impact it would have on the Austin community.
The Polycarpous Project will produce floral vases from used wine bottles and reclaimed lumber in an attractive form. This product will replace the single-use, imported glass vases that traditionally hold floral arrangements. Austinites will benefit from a reduced carbon footprint generated by the floral industry and local businesses will be able to promote sustainability within their product offerings. Austin will provide a workforce that will create and ship products to vendors across the country carrying a label identifying every vase as being handcrafted in Austin, Texas.
Which [Re]Verse Pitch Material Supplier byproducts would your business repurpose?
Our product re-uses wine bottles which may then be recycled at end-of-life to be reborn as another glass product. These may also be sourced from additional wine vendors to allow production to scale to meet demand without a single-supplier bottleneck.
What makes your proposed business model viable?
Our sampling of local floral shop managers has confirmed demand for this type of product at a sustainable price point. We expect national demand to trend similarly. The global floral industry generates more than $100 billion in revenue annually with 6% growth each year. Even a niche angle in this market has tremendous upside potential.

Our vases will be carried by existing networks of floral distributors who are looking for earth-conscious ways to support floral gift purchases. We plan to establish accounts with chains such as Central Market and Whole Foods and independent floral shops. Our B2B approach enables us to chart recurring sales to the same customers while focusing our sales efforts on securing additional accounts that will expand our unit sell-through numbers.

Material costs are nearly zero and our only overhead will be staffing and production equipment / facilities. Our team consists of individuals with years of experience in both running a small business and producing hand-crafted artisan products.
How scalable is your proposed business model?
Cost to acquire customers will be limited as each unit will be sold through retail accounts. Our scaling focus will be on production efficiencies such as CNC automation and bulk fulfillment of orders.

One craftsperson can produce 64 of these vases in 8 hours. This output could potentially be tripled by using a CNC router to cut the wood pieces. As demand increases, our production can scale through running additional CNC routers simultaneously and training additional staff.

New customers can be acquired through trade show attendance, offering no-risk consignment units to prospective new accounts, and reaching out to online floral vendors like and listing with We also have the talent in-house to develop an online B2B sales offering. At present, we do not plan to sell directly to consumers, but that could evolve in the future.
What funding will be required to fully implement, and then scale your idea? What funding do you plan to seek (beyond Reverse Pitch funds), and what will make your idea attractive those funding sources?
We can deliver consignment units to local florists and test the sell-through of this concept. Those numbers can be used to solicit additional vendors and prove the legs of this opportunity to investors. Initially, our production can be supported by our own residential workshops, but we will eventually need a leased facility with purchased CNC routers. After six months of sales, we believe we can secure bank funding to make this leap, along with seed capital provided by ourselves and the Reverse Pitch funds.

This second stage of The Polycarpous Project will require between $40,000 and $60,000 in seed capital.
Describe your team and how your experience relates to your ability to execute your business plan.
Seth Johnson- Previously owner of Ideal Skateparks, a concrete skatepark construction company that designed and built over 17 public skateparks across the US over the course of 4 years. The budgets for these projects ranged from $50,000 to $400,000 with the average facility costing $150,000+. Our staff peaked at 15 workers. Seth leverages his experience in account acquisition, marketing, and production oversight in launching The Polycarpous Project.

Kevin Mouton- Previously a custom, high-end furniture maker for more than 8 years. Budgets on these projects ranged from $2,000 to well over $30,000 per piece / installation. Kevin is a seasoned veteran of woodshop production. He has since bolstered his skillset with a business degree from Texas State University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA. Kevin's understanding of business development will be an essential factor in the success of The Polycarpous Project.
How will your business impact the Austin economy? Include the quantity and quality of jobs that the business would create and how the business would support other Austin businesses.
Initially, our enterprise will be staffed by the two of us- negotiating accounts and producing products. As our production is expected to grow, we plan to step back on the production side and employ a small team. Craftspeople producing these vessels will learn CNC programming and how to operate woodworking tools under our tutelage. We will be looking for people interested in managing the shop and grow a person(s) to step into that role.

People developing experience with CNC programming in our facility will become high wage earners and be sought after within the job market as automation becomes more prevalent throughout production industries.
Please describe the overall environmental and zero waste impact of the operation, including whether the product design allows for the material to be diverted to its highest and best use at the end of the product’s life.
Our vessel displaces another single-use, purpose-made product that typically is either recycled or ends up in a landfill. We are using materials that would otherwise be recycled (wine bottles) or be dumped at the landfill (reclaimed lumber). Across the City of Austin, many hundreds of these vases are gifted everyday. We are attempting to reduce the number of floral arrangements that use imported glass vases by substituting our own vases made from used wine bottles and reclaimed lumber. Any scrap material in our production process is already zero-waste because it is sourced from waste to begin with.

The end consumer of our product may recycle the wine bottle insert and discard the wooden components as the glass is easily separated from its wooden sconce.

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