LAVA-LITE Green Start-up Award Winner
Lava-Lite is the Midlands Green Start-up of the Year winner at the final of the StartUp Awards National Series. This brand new awards programme has been launched to recognise the booming startup scene across the UK, which has accelerated since the pandemic began.
In 2020, when most of the world was shutting down, more than 400,000 startups were set up in Britain, with similar increases seen in other European countries. There was stiff competition with over 2,500 applications received in response to the Startup Awards National Series’ first-ever call for entries.
Those attending Glee are no strangers to Lava-Lite, as it was shortlisted for the best new product in 2020 by Glee Gardening. We spoke with co-founder Dominic Tompkin to learn more about how it all started and his plans for the future.
How did you first come up with the idea for Lava-Lite? We had an eureka moment when we realised the capabilities of the Volcanic stone, and so went on to develop ways it could be utilised in horticulture and pest control.
Was sustainability a major concern from the start? Absolutely, gardening and horticulture are a great way of nurturing and protecting our planet. We simply couldn’t put forward a collection of products that would be detrimental to its delicate balance.
What’s your unique selling point? All LAVA-LITE products are 100% natural, PH neutral, non toxic and chemical free. Also it doesn’t have to go through an industrial heating process to make it expand like perlite, vermiculite and expanded clay balls, which is great for the environment. And it's Peat Free!
Was it hard to find investment to move the business forward? It was IMPOSSIBLE. Banks, etc. do not want to fund start ups. They want to offer their services to you once you are successfully launched, have absorbed your start up costs and are conducting business.
Is it privately funded or did you approach venture capitalists? Privately funded.
Do you continue to have sustainable goals embedded in your business? We are committed to working towards fully recyclable pouches and new innovative packaging. Watch this space...
What’s the main different you notice in the market since you first started? As a company, we are new to the market place and started just before the Pandemic hit with all its restrictions. It's difficult to answer what the difference in the market is since we started, but we have observed an huge growth in the popularity of house plants, which is serviced perfectly by our collection of products.
What are your plans for the business in the coming years? We have a drive and determination to build on our success, and have new products and innovations currently in development. Looking forward it's very exciting for LAVA-LITE!
What advice do you give to other startups at an earlier stage of their development? “Never quit”, “believe in yourself and your company”, “get out of your comfort zone”... These things are often said, but they are important and should always be kept in mind. We started at the beginning of a pandemic, and could have quitted at anytime, but our desire to succeed outweighed any pressure to throw in the towel.