In 2013 visionary entrepreneurs launched a unique, patented pencil that can be planted, before turning into herbs, vegetables or flowers. Today, Sprout sells more than 450,000 pencils a month in more than 60 different countries!
“We are hitting the nail on the head in an age, when people are increasingly moving away from the use-and-chuckaway culture,” says Sprout’s founder, the Dane Michael Stausholm. The goal is to become a world leader in the field of innovative, sustainable, green consumer products.
In 2012, when three students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston put their idea for a plantable pencil on the world’s biggest crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.com, things took off immediately. In just 30 days, 2,000 people had invested about $40,000 in the project – an amount that far exceeded expectations. The interest was enormous, including from Michael Stausholm, the founder of Sprout. “I was excited about the idea, and thought it had so much potential,” says Michael Stausholm, formerly a sustainability consultant for major companies. So he signed a deal with the students for production and sales of the first pencils, which were launched in June 2013. He subsequently bought the students out and is today the main shareholder in Sprout, which owns all the patents and IP rights for the pencils.
Ever since the germinating pencils came on the market, the interest has been huge: not only from the press, but also from bloggers from all over the world. So far, more than 3,000 bloggers have written about the pencil. That means that today, at the head office in Taastrup, there is a full-time member of staff whose sole task is to deal with requests of this nature.
Michael Stausholm reveals that, despite being a start-up business, Sprout has not spent vast sums of money on marketing, because the products contain such good stories they can sell themselves. There are new products in the portfolio and the strategy is to continue telling stories about sustainability.
“Sprout is all about sustainability and is a response to the increasing use-and-chuck-away culture that has evolved in our society. Our pencils get a new lease of life when they have finished serving their primary function. Companies in particular have expressed great interest. We are witnessing an increasing desire in companies and organisations throughout the world to signal a greener, more sustainable profile. In that respect, one can safely say that Sprout has perfectly captured the spirit of the
age,” he says. So a large number of Sprout pencils are sold to companies, who personalise the pencils by having their own logo or message engraved on them. Giants such as Disney, IKEA, Pepsi, Bank of America, the World Wildlife Fund and Telecom Italia are just some of the companies who have replaced the traditional company ballpoints with Sprout pencils. Customers also include schools, municipalities and government agencies.
“One of the major strengths of Sprout pencils is their capacity to pull such a complex issue as sustainability down to earth. One of our important tasks is to make sustainability pragmatic and comprehensible – but, most of all, fun. Our plantable pencils and paper are perfect for spotlighting the reuse of the Earth’s resources. We’re talking micro level, but we’ve all got to start somewhere,” he says.
Sprout has lofty ambitions. A capital injection in spring 2015 from a Danish investor has enabled Sprout to concentrate on conquering the American market. The goal is to become a world leader in the field of innovative, sustainable, green products, manufactured using degradable materials and under decent working conditions.
The Sprout pencil has been patented and trademarked in Europe, the USA, Turkey, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada and many more countries.
The Sprout pencil is also made in 12 different colors – each color has its plant variant. Apart from the pencil, Sprout also make sprouting paper, cards and stickers as well as tiny gardens by Sprout. Tiny gardens are small paper boxes with hemp mats to grow microgreens.
All images and content via the Sprout website at http://www.sproutworld.com/
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