Krill Design Profile

Krill lamp.

Krill Design is an Italy-based sustainable design startup. Their primary product, Ohmie: The Orange Lamp, is a lamp made of Sicilian orange peels.

Founders Icon Founder(s): Ivan Calimani, Martina Lamperti, Yack H. Di Maio
Founded in Icon Founded In: 2018
Industry Icon Industry: Art and Design, Sustainability
Location Icon Location: Milan, Italy

Interview With Ivan Calimani, Martina Lamperti, Yack H. Di Maio

Describe your product or service:

“After years of research into new biomaterials, we created Ohmie The Orange Lamp by transforming Sicilian orange peels into a 100% natural and compostable lamp. This product combines design and sustainability in a totally made-in-Italy supply chain. Born from a ‘circular economy’ paradigm, each lamp contains the peels of two to three oranges.

Ohmie addresses the problem of over-exploitation of natural resources by transforming a product that is often mistaken as waste into a valuable material.

Ohmie is the first lamp of its kind, as its rich colour and texture transforms orange peels into sleek, natural lines and surfaces that offer a distinct design and ambiance but also tell the story of its origin, evoking nature’s memories and sensations.

Another building block in the circular design movement, Ohmie The Orange Lamp is a revolutionary and innovative product that marks a clear step towards a future where reclaimed materials are the norm and the line between design and eco-design is erased.

Ohmie is much more than a product: it is the symbol of a much-needed renewal that brings greater synergy with nature into everyone's lives, without having to compromise on aesthetics or quality.”

Describe your company culture in 3 words:

“Innovative, Sustainable, Inspired”

Describe your company values and mission:

“Krill Design caters to the food waste problem. [We] wanted to create a bridge between the agro-food factories producing waste and the final consumers. In order to make the connection and support the growth of a sustainability culture, we use ‘circular design’ as the vessel for our message — design needs to incorporate reclaimed materials and blur the line between ‘normal’ design and ‘eco’ design.”

What are you ultimately hoping to achieve with your business?

“We would like to be able to develop a full line of home furnishing and decor good[s], all with the purpose of reducing waste and bringing sustainability and a story of hope and rebirth in the houses of people.”

How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.

“As for now, we [are] personally funding the startup. The Ohmie Lamp's project is instead going to be funded via the Kickstarter Campaign now running.”

How big is your team?

“Seven people.”

Tell us about your team (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)

“There are three co-founders (the CEO, the design director, and the R&D director), one marketing and communication manager, one operation manager, and two product designers.”

Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

“We decided to open Krill Design back in 2018 to merge design and technical innovation, to make sustainability beautiful and valuable for companies and people”

How did you develop and refine your idea/concept? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?

“After almost three years working solely as a B2B startup, supporting corporate clients with circular economy projects, we had developed two biopolymers and received enough confirmation from the public that a consumer good would have been well accepted. So, we took the chance and started developing Ohmie The Orange Lamp, which is going pretty well, and the returns show us that people were waiting for a sustainable interior design product that could merge ethical and aesthetic value.”

How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?

“We chose Krill Design because krill are a tiny form of shrimp living in the ocean. They are tiny but so essential to the well-being of the ecosystem, and we took inspiration from that. Moreover, we had since the beginning the dream to build a network of 3D printing hubs ... to be able to produce our good[s] as close to the final consumer as possible, and guess what? Krills live in colonies! And we have started building our own colony of 3D printing hubs, and we can now feel more and more the real possibility to make our business global.”

What makes your company unique?

“We believe in never [stopping] researching and experimenting. We are unstoppable when it comes to finding a way to turn what is considered, often wrongly, waste into something beautiful and useful. So, both our expertise in developing biomaterials and using them to create design objects and our drive in always bettering ourselves.”

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What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?

“The biggest challenge has been to affirm ourselves as reliable. Not because our supply chain or methods are difficult to understand but because of the huge and growing number of small businesses using sustainability as a marketing tool only.”

Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?

“Ohmie The Orange Lamp is targeted towards everyone who would like to have at home a design lamp that also tells a story and holds a meaning: making [choices] for a better environment and asking the design world to get up to speed with new bio-based materials.”

What's your marketing strategy?

“We are mainly using press to make our product know[n]. [W]e came out on Wired and soon we will be on Dezeen and this helps us being reliable and [enhance] our brand awareness. In parallel, we are close to the local community, and we are building our online presence and community through social media (IG, FB, LinkedIn).”

How did you acquire your first 100 customers?

“We don't technically have any customers [yet] regarding Ohmie The Orange Lamp, as we just launched it on Kickstarter with a crowdfunding campaign; therefore, our first customers (or backers to be exact) came from there. Roughly one-third came from the Kickstarter platform, one-third is derived from the online community we built until now, and the remaining one-third was acquired through press.”

What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?

“As previously stated, we don't have such metrics yet because of the stage (the crowdfunding campaign) we are in. At the beginning of August, when the campaign will end, we will be able to generate some metrics and define proper KPIs.”

How has your approach to managing your business changed from when you started to now?

“The biggest change has been deciding to open ourselves to the B2C market.”

If you could go back in time and change anything about your entrepreneurial journey, would you?

“No, we are satisfied with the choices we took.”

What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?

“We learnt that being true to ourselves is one of the most important aspects.”

How do you stay motivated?

“Through the positive feedback we receive both from our corporate clients and from the backers, now, on Kickstarter.”

What’s the #1 resource you rely on for success?

“Willpower and expertise.”

Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?

“We had to develop the habit to trust our collaborators and learn how to support each other in order to achieve goals together.”

What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?

“Sometimes in the hectic everyday life, [it] isn't easy to stop and look back, but when we think of one year ago and look at the exponential growth we managed to achieve, it is mindblowing.”

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Never give up. If you believe your idea is strong, don't let yourself be discouraged, but be open to outside feedback and advice.”

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