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The Positive Impact of Passion with Edward Routh

Join Tim and Edward Routh with Relloe in this fun conversation about the positive impact of following your passions.

Ed is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and led multiple startups across multiple sectors. The ranging from marketing to used cars. He is a jack of all trades currently leads. A supply chain is a service platform that is revolutionizing the way that brands make ship and track products. This is a platform that's powered by an vetted network of manufacturers across 15 countries, providing brands with quality, reliable, and sustaining contract manufacturing.

Relloe is a Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS) platform that provides premium manufacturing and logistics services with transparent order management and end-to-end supply chain visibility.

Relloe’s logistics solutions are scaled and tailored to meet specialized needs for enterprises seeking to access competitive supply chains focused on product quality, reliability, and sustainability. With over 30-years of experience, Relloe distinguishes itself as a leading resource for supply chain management and manufacturing for companies; operating across 15 countries with a footprint of 6,500 people.

Full Transcript:

Tim Chrisman:

[00:00:09] Hello and welcome to another edition of Podcasts for the Future. I'm your host, Tim Chrisman. I'm joined today by Ed Routh. Ed is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and led multiple startups across multiple sectors. The ranging from marketing to used cars. He is a jack of all trades currently leads. A supply chain is a service platform that is revolutionizing the way that brands make ship and track products.

[00:00:44] This is a platform that's powered by an vetted network of manufacturers across 15 countries, providing brands with quality, reliable, and sustaining contract manufacturing. I'm excited to have a chance to talk with [00:01:00] Ed, and not least of all, because in. Some of my time running companies, I have run into some of the problems.

[00:01:07] It sounds like Relo is here to solve. So with that let's get to it.

[00:01:14] Edward Routh: Tim. Hey, how's it going?

[00:01:17] Tim Chrisman: Good. How are you doing, Ed? I'm good, man. I'm good. Thank you. Thank you for having me on.

[00:01:23] Oh, gladly. The general idea is to get at what it is, what that challenge is worth doing that you're working on. Yeah. What gets you up in the morning and how did you get to where you get, Cause the subtext.

[00:01:38] For, listeners is it doesn't matter what you did in school, doesn't matter what you've done in your career, right? You can. If you have a passion for something, just go for it.

[00:01:49] Edward Routh: Yeah. I love it. That's a great, nice open format. Yeah, again, thank you for having me on.

[00:01:53] It's great. Why don't I just start with, a bit of background and provide some context to people about myself, the journey, and then move on who, what [00:02:00] relo is, what we're up to and where we're going. Yep. Feel free to me back in here off. But Cool. So I'm originally from the uk for those you, you can tell, and a small town in southwest England called Bourton in Dorset it it's a sort of place that has more animals than people.

[00:02:12] So it's a relatively quiet upbringing. But, growing up I always had this passion for building things. And I remember I had this little journal that I would. Write down business ideas in and I actually looked back at it recently and there were definitely some ideas in there that were pretty rogue.

[00:02:25] I remember I spent the summer when I was 15, researching food dehydration centers. Cause I thought they would be the solution to world hunger. But, among all these ideas, one common theme, good and bad was that, I always wanted them to have a a positive impact.

[00:02:38] The objective wasn't solely monetary for me. It was really building something that, that, that made a difference. That was really where the passion was. And so I followed this entrepreneurial drive, if you will, up north to to Manchester in North England where I studied international management.

[00:02:51] And as part my degree I had the opportunity to go study at USC in Los Angeles for a year. And so while I was there, I was really, Captivated by [00:03:00] a lot of the startup culture and the sense of entrepreneurship which was really lacking in the UK at the time, particularly in tech.

[00:03:06] And there was this real sense of, I guess for lack of a better way of putting it, admiration for people that were entrepreneurial and ambitious and, try to do big things and take risks. And, I think it's just more common in the US in general, but I think it's very much concentrated.

[00:03:21] From a tech perspective in, in la Yeah. I made some great connections and friends and I ended up getting a job with a friend's dad who who gave me, gave me a job and I ended up moving here full time. And, but the goal of studying company. But at this point I still had no idea.

[00:03:34] No idea what, Yeah. Yeah. Pretty much a blind slate. And so I wore a few different hats. I started out in business development for a product design studio, and then dabbled in, in digital marketing. But really my, my, my passion was for technology and using the latest technology to solve hard problems.

[00:03:50] And I viewed the holy grail of this is, To disrupt a big, traditional, inefficient industry, one of the real challenging, [00:04:00] challenging objectives. Yeah. So I, my solution to this was I became somewhat addicted to coding. And I ended up teaching myself how to code. And I built a few platforms to varying degrees of success in and functionality.

[00:04:11] But the goal was never to be, a developer. For me, coding was just a set of tools that provided me the ability to iterate over ideas quickly. You can act as like a self-contained unit, and just explore things without having to worry about, reaching out to other people.

[00:04:24] And you could make a lot of, you could make a lot of progress very quickly and you get a lot of feedback very quickly. And so I found that really valuable. And one of the platforms I built was a peer tope consulting. Where people could, it's like a Google type interface and people could search for help with things.

[00:04:37] And it was a list of experts that you could contact on demand. And while doing this, the, I saw a rapid rise in the number of people that were searching for help with manufacturing products and in particular manufacturing sustainable product. Oh. And I was starting to explore this data and, I saw this trend to explode and it became pretty evident pretty [00:05:00] quickly that there was like a huge unserved market or of small medium businesses that were looking to manufacture sustainable products.

[00:05:08] And so I tested out, a few different marketing campaigns and from the start we were getting like 20 leads a day of 10 bucks. Our acquisition cost. Pretty much negligible. And, demand is often the most challenging point for a business and for a startup.

[00:05:21] The previous startups that I had been involved in or struggled for demand, I think a lot of the time people come up with an idea and then try and find a place in the market for it. And this was a different approach of, okay, here's, look at this unserved demand.

[00:05:36] How can you cater to. So I really pivot. I pivoted to, to focus on this full time and I set up this new company called Relo and pursued this goal of building a platform that makes it easy for brands to, to make ship and track sustainable products and to do so by providing. Providing end to end transparency over the supply chain from source to store.

[00:05:57] And we do this through the use of what we call product [00:06:00] passports. And so this sort of, this idea, the time, it ticked all the boxes for me. It was a, yeah. Big additional inefficient industry that was right for this disruption. And I was fortunate enough at the time, one of my, one of my good friends and now co-founders shared in this vision and enjoy me.

[00:06:13] And I wouldn't have been able to do it alone, but the first few years, Were a real crash course in, in manufacturing and supply chain there. There were multiple times when we were a whisker away from failure, but you barely made it through. Oh, yeah. And at one point we were managing dozens of orders across, say, 20 factories in 10 countries.

[00:06:31] And we were doing all manually. It was like WhatsApp, emails, phone calls, spreadsheets. Yeah. Yeah. Excuse me. We hadn't built our platform yet, and so this is when things started to go wrong and, you hit the sort of terminal velocity and products were getting delivered with mistakes.

[00:06:45] We had, notices from customs that we hadn't declared our imports properly. And, I'd taken out our loan at this time to cover the operating expenses. So it all compounded to a point where it was on the verge of failure. And remember the real low point, I have this unenviable task of having to file.

[00:06:59] [00:07:00] International tax returns. Oh. And there was this, like one form in this, like 50, in this 50 page return that if you miss the filing of that one form, there is a fine of 10 grand a month for every month that you missed the filing. And I found this out six months after the filing was due. Oh no. And this was at the point where you're like, burnt out, juggling all these deals.

[00:07:21] And so that was definitely the moment where I remember I look back and I'm like, that was definitely a throw in the towel, contemp. Despite all these issues, the company was doing better than it ever had. We had between this rising anti-China sentiment where people were leaving China left, right and center for various reasons, like tariffs and also just again, public sentiment.

[00:07:39] A couple and then Covid as I mentioned, there was just enormous disruption in supply chains and that's honestly sometimes the best time to try and get into an industry when it's absolute chaos. We were inundated. Companies that needed everything from, accessing new manufacturers to getting into new markets, to moving the shore was a big thing.

[00:07:58] And at the end of the day, improving [00:08:00] sustainability. And so we were forced to work through the problems very quickly and got more and more attraction and and better understand our customers and the market and the opportunity and solve, we were really, we were solving real problems for people and getting a lot of value.

[00:08:10] So that, that kind of gave me faith and motivation to keep going. And thankfully I was able to get out of that fine. And despite all the issue we were able to keep all our promises to our customers and kept our commitments to our supplies and manufacturers. So it was a pretty wild time.

[00:08:22] It was very much like trying to build a play while flying it, saying it was very much what it felt like. It felt like we got 10 years experience in 18 months, was, it was one of those crash courses and then and things started to stabilize after that, we began to, Fewer, better customers.

[00:08:36] We really just started to focus and I feel like that's a lot of the advice we've been getting. We're currently going through fundraising and we're getting a lot of advice of and just tips and from friends and family and everyone of just, focus is the most important thing.

[00:08:46] And so we really double down. I'm sure you've seen that in the things that you've done, and we try and juggle too many things. We Trump is too many things. Just, you don't really make any progress at all in any of them. And so we really focused on, at that point, fewer, better [00:09:00] customers and fewer, better manufacturers and quality of the quantity, and it was around this time.

[00:09:05] We met our third partner and co-founder Vic, who was this 20 plus year manufacturing veteran, owns his own factories ran a big manufacturing network that supplies some big brands like, RA and Burberry guests. Yeah. So we really, we told him our vision, he really had all the experience and credibility that we needed and he came in, he loved the idea and came in and took over all our manufacturing operations, which was an absolute blessing.

[00:09:27] And. Allowed us to focus on building out the technology. We really position ourselves as more of a technology company. And so one of the main takeaways from this is allowed get us an opportunity for, idea to mature a lot. Being in the trenches every day for the best part of two years, speaking to thousands of customers you really start to see where the pain points are for a customer.

[00:09:44] Yeah. And just to, I guess just to lay out the main problem and get on to to relo is, Right now there's just this real severe lack of supply chain transparency and visibility over manufacturing. This is led to the sustainability industry [00:10:00] being riddled with lack of accountability, misleading claims, lack of transparency.

[00:10:04] The fact that most brands have no idea where their products come from. Oh, yeah. It's and like 50% of even major brands, only 50% dis, disclose information about their supply chains. And you're not even talking about some of the small, medium businesses, which is what we really try to focus on.

[00:10:19] Yeah. They don't have, they don't have the luxury of, and the technology to to have that kind of level of transparency. And it's probably, they

[00:10:26] Tim Chrisman: probably just don't.

[00:10:29] Edward Routh: You're right. And yeah. And a lot of the time it's not even, it's not even that they don't want to. lot of the times they just can't, it's not all the sort of dishonest brands. A lot of the time people are trying to do the right thing. Yeah. But for whatever, for various means. H and m is funny story. H and m last month You've heard greenwashing, the time greenwashing essentially, where people make misleading claims about the environmental impact of something.

[00:10:52] And h and m last month they had on their website for a range of products they're getting sued for this. And they, the claims were [00:11:00] that some of their products have 30 use, 30% less water than regular products. But their website had a, like a glitch and actually the data point was minus 30 and not 30.

[00:11:10] And it presented all the data for all of their sustainability metrics. It presented it In the inverse. Yeah. So they're in real trouble right now trying to overcome that. But just, that's an unfortunate situation, but it does. They do have some negligence behind the scenes of various I think that they could do a better job of providing some of the standards, upholding some of the standards they claim.

[00:11:34] But that was really just bad, unlucky. And, but same thing. It leads to confusion and it's just misleading for the consumer. And so like when we go back to the businesses, like the main priorities that businesses have. Mackenzie did a study recently. Globally about what the biggest priorities were.

[00:11:49] Number one is sustainability, and number two is transparency. Yeah. And it's just, it's, it's the world we live. Put things in perspective on a more macro level, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% [00:12:00] of global carbon emissions, which is, that's more than all international and maritime international flight to maritime shipping combined.

[00:12:07] And the current pace we're on, it's going to increase by 50% by 2030. A lot of it due to the rise fast fashion. Everyone wants more things, like more things now, right? And people have had to change models as a result, but it's not, turns out not to be good for the environment.

[00:12:22] Tim Chrisman: Who would've known? Throw away. Who would've

[00:12:24] Edward Routh: known? Who would've known. So yeah, greenwashing claims have skyrocketed in recent years. A lot of, there's, there is this massive shift in trend, which comes to no surprise to anyone of people are trying to be more eco-conscious.

[00:12:36] You have all these environmental reports that are getting released with all this data and, there are enormous incentives for brands to tap into. This more, eco-conscious shopper. Yeah. And the temptation to do that. Patagonia is considered like the gold standard and they do it well.

[00:12:51] I have a lot of brands that make misleading claims in order to tap into some of this some of this sustainability market, which are at best misleading, at are worst. It can be criminal, right?

[00:12:59] Tim Chrisman: [00:13:00] Yeah, no, I saw that. So I started a nutritional supplement company right from back and that was all over the place.

[00:13:06] That was why I started the company, was because like, I couldn't find the quality I needed trust that anything was what it said. It was incredible.

[00:13:17] Edward Routh: Yeah. And so how did you go about identifying the suppliers and the source of the materials that you used in, in, in those supplements?

[00:13:23] Tim Chrisman: The first problem was finding a manufacturer who is willing to actually source quality ingredients.

[00:13:28] Edward Routh: Yeah. That's out. That was hard. I'm like, Look, low hanging fruit isn't so easy to get. Yeah.

[00:13:32] Tim Chrisman: Yeah. I'm like, Look, I'll pay for, high quality ingredients. But, and they're like but it's gonna be more expensive, and most of 'em didn't even carry it, Didn't even know how to source it. And. Us eventually found a manufacturer on the west coast that did source and could trace where they got it from. So that was key.

[00:13:52] Edward Routh: So you kept it domestic, you manufacture we,

[00:13:55] Tim Chrisman: we couldn't, Some of the ingredients just aren't made right.

[00:13:58] And so it was a matter of [00:14:00] both us and the manufacturer tested the ingredients. To double check the claims of the original producer and Yeah. Once that, would that, that being checked out, it worked, but, we were, our cost was two or three times higher than any of our other competitors.

[00:14:17] Because

[00:14:18] Edward Routh: they didn't care. Yeah. And there is a premium that people are willing to pay for quality but only so much. , you still have to be competitive that bracket. Oh yeah. And that's the thing when you're talking about consumer products and consumer brands, like the margins are tight.

[00:14:31] Yep. It's very hard to try and, there's not as much wiggle room as buyers realized when they're like, Okay, don't cut corners with this. Don't cut corners with this. And it's challenging and, a lot of the times, especially on the supplier, Most of these suppliers that we deal with at least are in developing countries and they don't have the luxury of being, of prioritizing sustainability over, over the sort of economic aspect.

[00:14:52] And yeah it's tough cuz there are a lot of people who try and do the right thing, as I say, but they just fall short for because of the [00:15:00] inherent complexities involved in the industry and the lack of transparency. One, one of the things which we realized very quickly and when we got into the industry is one of the main areas of confusion and debate is that there is still a lack of clarity of what the term sustainable actually.

[00:15:15] You know when you have, Yeah. When you have, take a t-shirt, for example, with 80% sustainable materials and 20% untraceable materials does that count as a sustainable t-shirt? What, about a hundred percent organic cotton, but as a high carbon footprint? Cause it got shipped by air.

[00:15:29] There's this lack of a universally agreed upon definition of sustainability. It makes it difficult for brands and consumers alike to sort to navigate the space even when their intentions are pure. And and the veracity of the term sustainable has made more challenging when considered like ESG factors like environmental social governance.

[00:15:46] You have, should a carbon neutral footprint product be called sustainable, if it was made using forced Labor standards would technically fall under, the ESG umbrella. And we directly relate to sustainability, but it seems wildly unethical. Exactly to make [00:16:00] sustainability claim about a product at the expense of humane and safe labor standards.

[00:16:04] Yeah.

[00:16:04] Tim Chrisman: So it's like alcohol being labeled like gluten free or, yeah.

[00:16:08] Edward Routh: Who are you trying to convince at that point? Yeah. It's yeah, this, it's enormous confusion and people. It just, it's such a high barrier to entry from everything from the sort of knowledge required to often the resources as well.

[00:16:22] Yeah and so our approach to this was not necessarily trying to be a hundred percent sustainable from day one. . Our strategy was to take a more granular bottom up approach and focus first on what we can control and measure with the goal of providing brands with the access to, to, to transparent supply chains.

[00:16:40] Yeah. So that they can build trust with their customers, not by being perfect, but by being honest. It's, Yeah. And and that really led to. This objective being cemented of us trying to help consumer brands manufacture sustainable. Cause initially we just started out with just manufacturing regular products.

[00:16:56] Cause we did, again, like we, we were, we are still, growing and we [00:17:00] didn't have the luxury to turn down big orders because they didn't want 'em to be sustainable, so our journeys been a work in progress and we recognize some of the challenges with our suppliers. Who have, who say they're only 70% of the deals they do are sustainable and 30% are not.

[00:17:14] Because they, the reality on the ground is that you don't have that luxury to, to have to be perfect. Yeah. It's just not how things going. So we need to break down this. Black and white treatment of the word sustainability and just, and try and first understand what it where we are individually is brands and then how we can accurately measure and quantify certain criteria to, to track improvements.

[00:17:40] Because it's really the process of getting better that we should be focused on and not. And not this, if you're not a hundred percent sustainable, you are, your terrible brand. It's it's tough. And our approach to this problem is threefold.

[00:17:52] One, we have built a manufacturing network that is, the highly vetted with the, those most stringent [00:18:00] sustainability, compliance and ethical standards available. But we are dealing with thousands of people. Across multiple manufacturers and countries. So the reality is of the operations on the ground is it goes a lot further than just check marks on the page, zeros and ones.

[00:18:13] And you have to, The reality is that in order to get this business to work with such a human component, yeah. We needed to first find manufacturers that not only check all the boxes from a performance and a compliance standpoint, but what aligned. In the pursuit of manufacturing sustainably and transparency, and not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it's good business.

[00:18:34] You just to, to throw out, a stat, the last two years the number of consumers that were willing to. Paying more sustainable products increased by 42% and that, that trend is pretty much seeing, like across the board in terms of the direction that these are going.

[00:18:48] And again it probably doesn't come as any idea any surprise to people that these are the way that, that things are shifting. Yeah. And when we've built this network, like we would be foolish to think, as I mentioned, that these companies [00:19:00] would sacrifice economically in order to operate more sustainably.

[00:19:03] And so we had to make sure that these. Incentives were aligned and we built a system that created greater economic value. Not at the expense of sustainability, but cause of it. Yeah. And Finding this synergy between people and technology is where I think the real progress and innovation could be made in traditional industries like ours.

[00:19:21] And it's just, for me, it's just a fascinating topic. Finding, I think a lot of the times there is this very sort of western technological, like sexy approach where you have a silver bullet of technology and you map it onto an industry and it solves all the problems without there being any other.

[00:19:36] Component and that obviously that has worked in several industries, but a lot of these traditional ones, whether it is this large human component. Yep. Yep. You one of the previous companies we did there was it was trying to get adoption used car dealerships for this automotive technology that we were rolling out and trying to get used car dealers in Kansas.

[00:19:57] To adopt some of the latest technology that we [00:20:00] had was a false err. It was just so much friction that you get when you try, when you start to try and change people's behavior, that's when things get go south pretty quickly. And we really focused on integrating technology from the ground up with the right suppliers and, having everyone aligned in terms of incentives, cuz that really is the only way you can get the adoption you need.

[00:20:20] In my opinion. To make a change in some of these industries. And the second point, the sort of the threefold solution that we, how we approach this is a platform, making it, make, creating a single point of access. To a supply chain ecosystem of services that everything you need to launch a product or manage a product from, design and manufacturing and development to some of the more mundane like financing and logistics.

[00:20:45] But allow, a simple point that makes it easy for customers and cuts through some of this noise. Of some of the challenges that you faced of trying to find the right suppliers, go to this platform where you know that everyone who you could find or that could manufacture products on [00:21:00] there is, has been certified, is sustainable and has, does operate to the highest standard.

[00:21:04] And you know that the sort of the, this portal is the, I think the second opponent. And lastly and perhaps most exciting is to provide a traceability from. The source to store for the products through the use of these product passports, which are, these digital product specific reports that are linked to a product vi, like a Q QR code on the label.

[00:21:25] So you, Oh, okay. You would look a store and you'd see a product and you'd scan a QR code on the care label on the inside, and you'd be taken to this digital report. And it provides brands and consumers with everything they need to know about a product. The product history, all the supplier information, the material information, everything authenticated and verified.

[00:21:41] And we're currently running a pilot program right now with a handful of our customers for for a public launch early next year. But this is the sort of the. Balance between technology and people that we're trying to get right and the, we're trying to bot bottle, I guess all the sustainability and transparency that we can ingest into the back of the platform [00:22:00] and distill it and present it to customers in a way that they get a lot of value from, and brands can then use it to.

[00:22:05] To mark charge sustainability premiums to provide more transparency. And so this product passport really is a sort of culmination, if you will, of a lot of other areas of what we're trying to do. I think it captures captures well the solution that I think the market needs right now.

[00:22:20] No, agreed.

[00:22:21] Tim Chrisman: And doing it in a way that, doesn't have the same sort of friction that a company trying to do it on its own.

[00:22:26] Edward Routh: And there is sort. Yeah. And there's also a lot of benefit about being just independent. There's a sustainable apparel coalition, which is, they have a similar metric called the Higg Index.

[00:22:37] And, the group that runs it is made up of 250 members, all of which are, some of the largest apparel brands in the world, like Nike, h and m Gap, and the, I think the total revenues are about, a trillion dollars or something absurd. And the main metric used. By apparel companies.

[00:22:54] In the fashion industry is the Higg Index, which is run by the [00:23:00] main apparel brands in the fashion industry. So there's this real conflict of interest, and I'm sure that some of the intentions appear, but it's very hard to navigate some of the noise when you have such conflict of interest.

[00:23:12] And so there, there's a lot of, people are very disgruntled about some of the approaches they take cuz it, it is a bit too too close to home for some of them to comment on. But so it's really, it's an interesting time to, to try and make a change in this industry.

[00:23:26] There is obviously, A lot of disruption going on and the greenwashing claims are compounding seem every day. We're, we feel like it's the right time for what we're trying to do. And, we're getting a lot of demand. We're over 50 customers right now. We've got up to, around 60, 70 manufacturers in our network for about a dozen countries.

[00:23:46] And so we're really putting our foot on the gas and trying to grow this. As I mentioned, we're doing a pilot program right now. A handful of our customers for the product passports and , one, one of the biggest, one of the biggest questions we get asked, and going back to my comment earlier about how [00:24:00] about demand is one thing.

[00:24:01] It's one thing talking to, talking to investors and brands and saying, Look, there's a lot of opportunity for this. But, actually talking to the brands is really the only way to, to determine whether there is gonna be adoption. And one of the benefits we have is our sort of distribution advantage of, we have through our network of suppliers and partners, We have access to direct directly to the supply chains of hundreds of brands which they serve.

[00:24:26] Oh, wow. And so rather than doing like a top down rollout and distribution of going to each of these brands and saying, Hey, check out this product, Passport, our strategy is to leverage the preexisting relationships that we have with our suppliers and roll out the product through bottom up distribution And act and implement it in within the supply chain.

[00:24:45] And then roll out to the customers that the brands that way. And so far it seems to be it seems to be working and we're getting some some good early feedback. So it's definitely an exciting time. Yeah.

[00:24:55] Tim Chrisman: No, it sounds like it. So you mentioned vetting these suppliers.

[00:24:59] How does that work? [00:25:00]

[00:25:01] Edward Routh: Yeah, So the the process really involve, it can involve up to 10 different steps. Depending on where they are. We have people on the ground in the majority of our locations. And, they do most of the due diligence. We do fill in the gaps with third party accredited, auditors and inspector.

[00:25:15] But that's been one of the challenges is Tim is scaling to new markets where there's a lot of opportunities such as nearshore and maintaining the same level of credibility vetting that we do. The, we're fortunate that we do have, we live in an age where you can. You can the video and digital element of going through and inspecting factories is good.

[00:25:37] But there's, this is a touch and feel industry. There's no real replacement for being there and having someone on the ground. And so we have had to we have had to. To grow, it's almost like a marketplace. You have to grow both sides of it at the same time. So we had to scale our vesting capabilities alongside the manufacturing capabilities.

[00:25:56] Cause it doesn't take that much for the brand, for our own brand image to be ruined if [00:26:00] we Oh yeah. Know manufacturer, is exposed as being, X, y, Z, right? Oh yeah. And we, but we do everything from an initial interview to factory visit. We verify all the credentials that are associated with the supplier.

[00:26:12] We do reference checks. We also, under the Freedom of Information Act, you can actually petition the US Customs and Border Protection to release the shipping logs for the last five years into the us. So one of the benefits about being in America, the Freedom of Information Act is powerful.

[00:26:27] And so we can analyze all the shipping log. Into the us, which is a million rows, millions of rows of data, and see the shipping history of the majority of our supply network, which is, completely separate to whatever they say. You can't always trust, even if people have a good reputation, we need to come at it from multiple angles.

[00:26:44] And so the goal is to really try and build this bulletproof vetting process and, we're still learning it and getting better. And the challenge is also you have to rely on some other. Certifications and other yeah. Accreditors to to really build some of this stuff out.

[00:26:58] You can't, especially with the limited [00:27:00] resources we have, as a startup you have to have a certain amount of good faith in how other people operate, especially when that's their main job, so Rap is a. Organization that does a commendable job, but they, everyone has holes.

[00:27:12] And again, like our job isn't trying to be perfect and say this is 98% sustainable. It's really to provide these product passports on all of our products that the, give the brand and the consumer transparency and say, Okay, these are the, we can measure 70% of this product.

[00:27:29] Accurately very well. And these are the criteria that we measured on each. There is 30%, which is still, we're still unsure. This is what we, this is what we know. So just to present all the data that we actually know about a product and build on that, start by developing trust and then build from there to, to get to a, more sustainable situ.

[00:27:49] Cause there's, it is this lack of trust now that is Yeah, it's true. Corrosive. It's corrosive. It's, eroding a lot of, The the consumer trust in brands at the moment. So we're, the good thing is this [00:28:00] is a topic that excites people. Yeah. People want to get involved with this more.

[00:28:03] And, there are a lot of, active investors in spaces like this and brands who want to be the pioneer of Yeah. Yeah. Sustain initiatives. So it's been fun. It's been fun to talk to a lot of people and it's there's a lot of. There's a lot going on for sure.

[00:28:18] Tim Chrisman: No, for sure. And it's not necessarily that people want everybody to be perfect they just want to know what's going on,

[00:28:25] Edward Routh: right? Yeah. It's balance, right? Cause there's this sort of a minimum amount of information sometimes people want. Yeah. And so it, it's gonna be an ongoing journey and a lot of what our conversations are now is join us on this journey.

[00:28:39] Join us in figuring this out and join us, figuring out the. Sure. It's, we're not trying to cut any corners. I think that's when things get burned, but there is a lot of scrutiny over this industry and so trying to navigate those hurdles Yeah. Is is challenging. Don't wanna put any steps wrong.

[00:28:55] No, for

[00:28:56] Tim Chrisman: sure. Yeah. And what does it look like for a company [00:29:00] coming to you and saying, Hey, we wanna. We're a startup. We wanna use your network of manufacturers.

[00:29:05] Edward Routh: Yeah, good question. So right now we're very much invite only. So we would just go through, first we look at the brand holistically and just have a real chat with them about what they're looking to achieve, what their objectives are.

[00:29:15] And if we think it's a good fit, we would, invite them to our platform. We. Connect them with we'd look at what projects they had going on, we'd look at the products they're looking for, and maybe they wanted to say, move nearshore, or maybe they wanted to, use more sustainable materials.

[00:29:28] And so we would talk to our suppliers and we'd start collaborating. You have to, there's a lot of, there's a lot of people with different skill sets and knowledge that need to loop in for various things that maybe they want to improve their efficiency. So it's very dependent.

[00:29:40] Everything's very case by case. Sure. For some of these brands. So depending on the criteria. We would put together, we would tailor a solution for them and put together a plant and implementation strategy of how they, for example, want to move out of China to India and adopt, BCI Cotton, which is, the better cotton index.

[00:29:57] And better quality. So we put together that [00:30:00] and as I say, if they need help with logistics, we would walk them through it, but nothing happens. The challenge that we had initially is the timeline for a lot of the deals in this industry are very long. Sometimes there is long as six to nine to 12 months.

[00:30:13] Yeah. From start of the development of a new product to. To final delivery. It can take a long time and like we, we work with everyone from entrepreneurs and small medium businesses to, to public companies. And everyone has different, something we wanna order now and have it have it delivered in 30 days.

[00:30:30] And others are planning for next summer already. And we have. We're trying to build out the technology to, to manage it as, as best as we can. But there's a lot of, there's, there's, the funny thing is a lot of people who we talk to who see different opportunities in what we're trying to do.

[00:30:43] There was a person we talked to yesterday who's Oh, you guys should try and leverage financing more and someone else say, Oh, you guys should go into logistics more. So going back to the focus point, like that's been one of the things that we've really. Try to prioritize is just keeping an eye on the prize and not get too distracted by all these [00:31:00] other ideas.

[00:31:02] How

[00:31:02] Tim Chrisman: good they're, Yeah, no, that makes sense. And it's something that doesn't always come naturally to entrepreneurs cuz they're like, I think this opportunity, I can do something. Yeah.

[00:31:12] Edward Routh: As I say, saying the last thing a company needs is another good

[00:31:15] Tim Chrisman: idea. Exactly. See exactly. It's yeah, it's hard.

[00:31:19] Kudos steal for keeping that focus.

[00:31:22] Edward Routh: Hey. Yeah, it's it's a grind every day, but when you're doing something you love you just roll with it, it doesn't fulfill work.

[00:31:30] Yeah. And doing it towards, a good purpose and to have people around you that are excited and building a team and building a company has a real, is a real enjoyment and satisfaction in that. So it's been pretty rewarding to. No

[00:31:42] it

[00:31:42] Tim Chrisman: sounds like it. And this is, you mentioned at the beginning like there's a lot of luck that comes into this related to covid and things working.

[00:31:51] Yeah. And yeah, like doing this 15 years ago not only do you not have the data available, there's just not the same demand signal. And [00:32:00] so this is one of those ideas that works, just works now. Everything fits together and it's it's pretty cool to watch.

[00:32:07] Edward Routh: Yeah. Yeah, and it evolved, It evolved pretty quickly over the last couple of years.

[00:32:13] There's, with all the supply chain issues, there was just so much, there was so much going on. There were so many companies that, that, that crashed and burned. There were so many that took off. And then there were these covid companies, like Zoom for example. They just did really well.

[00:32:27] So there was so much, there was so much chaos and it was hard to really. Anchor an idea in one place for long enough without getting, while getting pulled in all these different directions and. And so the fact that we made it through that whole period and are now in a position where I'm, you look back and you think could, you could have gone a lot of different ways as the as the journey unfolded.

[00:32:52] But this is definitely one where I know that everyone on our team is pretty excited to be Did, Did did you experience similar things during Covid? Did you have [00:33:00] things pulling you toward different directions? It was maybe any personal, I know in this space industry, by the way, Tim that's pretty good.

[00:33:06] Tim Chrisman: I'm glad I yeah. Yeah, no, it was, I joke with people that it's, Getting too attached to some version of your company or what you're doing is a recipe for disaster because it's got to change. You said you got 10 years of experience in 18 months, and that's probably pretty close to true with the amount of change that occurred the number of disasters you faced, and it's just, it's been for the past few years, just the time when you had to move fast.

[00:33:40] Yeah. And I love it. It's it's yeah, it's invigo.

[00:33:46] Edward Routh: There was there, you could almost see it play out in real time. When we had, the beginning we were getting on with these. COOs and COOs of these large companies. And sometimes like the VPs sourcing at these multinational corporations.

[00:33:56] And at the beginning, you are like, you are very much [00:34:00] walking the, not, you don't walking the walk yet. You're very much just putting on the front and trying to do it. But over time, after as things evolve, you realize that you can start to handle some of.

[00:34:09] The question's better and you stop to feel a lot more prepared and you do see that experience manifest pretty quickly when you're forced to it. When you're, Yeah. When you're probably feature the fire, you really will absorb the information that you need to and and hit the ground running.

[00:34:22] Where you have to, because. There's no option. There's that that thing burn the boats is something I always like to come back to cuz it's just encapsulates is better. That is better than anything else of the idea of just no turning back. And I think that's been something that we've definitely we haven't really thought about the time back at my point, yeah.

[00:34:40] Tim Chrisman: That's how you know you're doing something that means something and you're excited about. So it's It's, that's something that we all want, right? Some people that manifest by having that stable job that they do that for 40 years, they want that meaning and to be excited.

[00:34:57] And others, go out and get 18 months [00:35:00] of experience. That looks a lot like decades

[00:35:03] Edward Routh: of work. Yeah, and so the, right now, we're really, I always think that some of, like the biggest in innovations sometimes come from people outside the industry. Cause they, they approach the problem with a, a fresh perspective without any mental parameters.

[00:35:18] If you are taught in an industry when you are, growing up in an industry. You know how to think about a problem, then likely you're gonna stumble across the same dead ends as exactly everyone else. So for example, I know in 2000, 3M developed a, like a breakthrough concept for pres preventing infections that were associated with surgery after getting input from a theatrical makeup artist.

[00:35:40] Oh wow. And who was just coincidentally she was a specialist in preventing skin infections and I think the key is to find these like appropriately analogous fields from which to take ideas and expertise. I always used to think of slum dog billionaire a lot when I would apply, like things that just happened in my past that led me to a point where, Oh, that [00:36:00] moment really gave me what I needed to know for this moment and how, a lot of those things really have a knock on effect and positioning you well.

[00:36:07] So for me, all wearing all those different hats was. Was quite a looking back now, it developed a sort of a more of a generalist skillset that I was able to apply to some of these problems. And it's fun to, it's fun to go through that, it's fun to build out with a business with the things that you've learned.

[00:36:23] Yeah, no,

[00:36:24] Tim Chrisman: I completely agree. And it's really cool seeing, this idea you had start to take a life of its own and Yeah. Yeah. It's so exciting.

[00:36:34] Edward Routh: Yeah, we're obviously going through going a period right now of we're raising money right now. We're looking to a big launch in, in the beginning, next year for the product passport.

[00:36:43] So it's it's all good. There are a lot of phone calls and zooms and investors and advisors and all sorts of things going on right now. It's been, it feels like it's already Thursday. I know,

[00:36:52] Tim Chrisman: right? It's how it's

[00:36:54] Edward Routh: It's fun, when you're doing something you enjoy, it's kinda a pleasure.

[00:36:57] And then you gotta enjoy the ride. Otherwise you're just gonna get to the point [00:37:00] where it's, and you reach the end and you look around and you like, what's the point? But what was the point? No, I say this now. I say this now. And if I was back in that position, the beginning, I'd be like, What is going on?

[00:37:10] Tim Chrisman: That's fair. That's fair. Yeah. I know we're getting close on time here. But it it's been great talking to you, Ed. Yeah.

[00:37:16] Edward Routh: I appreciate you again inviting me on. I, we're gonna have to do something at some point. I wanna pick your brain on some of the space stuff. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:37:23] Same credentials that you've got in that area. It's a fascinating area. Yeah. We'll have to do

[00:37:27] Tim Chrisman: a follow up and and chat more.

[00:37:29] Edward Routh: Nice. I appreciate it man, thanks again. Yeah, thanks for being here. All right, man. Have a good one.

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