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Design By Sol is April's Featured Business of the Month

Fri, 15 April 2016

Solveiga Pakštaitė won a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award in March 2015 and was a finalist for the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Her first product, Bump Mark now known as mimica, is a piece of smart packaging that gives a biologically accurate indication of when food expires. She developed the concept as her final major project for her industrial design BA, before making the move to commercialise it a few months after she graduated. As Solveiga points out, food is one of our most precious resources, yet we are still in the dark about the condition it is in when we buy it. Not having this information wastes an unforgivable amount of good food. Bump Mark solves this problem. It is a bio-responsive food expiry label that is calibrated to experience decay at the same rate as the food it is labelling and provide accurate, real-time indication of the product’s freshness.
Shell LiveWIRE sat down with Solveiga to catch up with her and to see what’s next for her award winning business Design By Sol and their game-changing product mimica.
What was the inspiration behind mimica?
I actually initially set out with the aim of improving access to food expiry information for visually impaired people, but with global food waste figures at their historical high, I quickly became determined to create a solution that would start to change people's attitude and behaviour towards throwing away perfectly good food. It is irrational that in a tracking and quantifying-obsessed world, that we’re still in the dark about the condition of one of our most precious resources - food. The inspiration for the actual Bump Mark solution struck when I was looking at an old banana... its skin was trying to tell me something and I wondered why plastic packaging doesn't behave in the same way.
How did you get into entrepreneurship? Did you always want to go into business for yourself?
Not at all! I never saw myself commercialising a product myself until I entered Bump Mark into the James Dyson Award and got some press attention. The journalists were asking ‘when will be see this on shelves?’ and companies were contacting me wanting to work with me so I really fell into entrepreneurship by accident. A happy accident I would say as I'm learning so much!
What challenges did you face when setting up your business?
There is no existing template for getting a smart package to market for us to follow. We're figuring it out at every step of the way!
What is your biggest (or proudest) achievement with the business?
I was so proud to be chosen as the Mayor of London's Low Carbon Entrepreneur last year. It's amazing to be recognised and supported by such a high profile figure.
You won a Shell LiveWIRE Award in 2015, how have things changed for you since then?
I actually have a team working with me now! The prize money certainly helped with getting a few interns on board before we moved on to being able to support a full time hire this year. The whole pace of the project quickens so much when you have other amazing people working with you towards a common goal.
What’s next for Design By Sol and mimica?
I believe that if the only knowledge that we impart onto consumers is whether or not a certain food can be eaten at a specific time, then we have failed. I feel we have a responsibility to change the industry for the better, by introducing tools that provide more intelligent monitoring of our resources. As well as this, creating channels through which to offer better food education is going to have a far greater effect on future efficient use of resources than the information the Bump Mark can offer alone. We want to teach the younger generation about the value of food through growing their own and teach their parents tricks for checking the freshness of their foods on products that are yet to benefit from the Bump Mark. Everybody should have access to this information and play a part in a sustainable mission.
Entrepreneurs drive innovation. How do you think this can be used to help create a smarter future?
I strongly believe that the most dangerous sentence is 'but that's the standard' as I feel it inhibits critical thinking and innovation. To me, a successful entrepreneur is not afraid to explore their curiosities outside of the societal norm and is bold in their execution.
What role do you think entrepreneurs will play in the transition to a low carbon society?
With the technologies we are using today, there is no way the Earth can sustain us indefinitely. We need to keep innovating and constantly improve how we're using our finite resources because we owe it to our future generations and to the planet.
What advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs who want to create businesses that will create a smarter future?
Your most crazy ideas can make a difference. Don't let yourself wonder 'what if?' in the future.
Got a Smart Idea for a Business?
Do you have a smart business idea that will provide a solution to the world’s future transport, food, energy, or natural resource challenges, or make our urban environments cleaner and more sustainable places to work and live in? If so you can apply online now for funding!


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