Updated: Feb 11
It has already been more than a year since we launched our reusable packaging service in Amsterdam. Just like 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had a big impact in 2021 on our business and everyone's life. Nonetheless we managed to make great progress as an organization so we thought it would be great to share a recap of our first year in business.
The 1st of December we introduced SwapBox to Amsterdam, laying the first stepping stone for the reusable packaging revolution that would spread to 120 restaurants in the Netherlands and Belgium. Starting with 14 restaurant partners, and 115 users, together making over 500 swaps in the first month. Our confidence was boosted to know that the reusable packaging concept was well received.
It is hard to imagine now, but the first version of the SwapBox App was web based. To borrow a SwapBox you would need to give your email address and pin code to the employee of the restaurant (sounds like a lot of work right?). Like any start-up, we immediately started to try to improve the process for both our users and partners. We accomplished this next step by introducing the QR Code to our web app early January.
In January we discovered another reusable packaging start-up that was quickly gaining traction, this was WePack led by Jinna. Sharing a passion for advancing the reusable packaging revolution we directly had a strong connection with WePack. After several meetings we came to the conclusion that we shared the same vision for the industry and our start-ups respectively. What followed was a merger between SwapBox and WePack to enable faster growth.
Soon after the merger we quickly utilized the increased synergies to expand the SwapBox operation to Brussels. This was a very big step for SwapBox and definitely came with its challenges but together with our new partners in Brussels we were able to quickly start making an impact.
The logical next step to increase the convenience for everyone was to create a native app. The native app made it a lot easier for our partners to scan the user QR Codes and package barcodes. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties the launch of the SwapBox Apps did not go as planned. Upon launching the app we saw that there were multiple issues in the app that resulted in having to stop our operation for 3 weeks. For us this was a very painful but very educational experience.
During the summer we started our first pilot working together with an office location in Rembrandttoren in Amsterdam in partnership with Bain & Co. During the pilot all Bain & Co employees received their company meals in our reusable SwapBoxes. In this pilot Bain & Co and SwapBox replaced over 1600 single use packages with reusable SwapBoxes.
Following the successful implementation of reusable packaging at Bain & Co, we launched our partnership with Hotelschool The Hague Amsterdam Campus. This partnership allows students and faculty to take away meals and coffee in reusable SwapBox containers and cups at the cantine.
In November, we hit a massive milestone because working together with all our partners and users we hit the 20 000 Swap mark! This means we replaced more than 20 000 disposable packages with reusable SwapBox containers. To make November even better we also managed to raise our seed round investment. With this investment we are going to improve the SwapBox experience to make swapping even easier. Furthermore, we will grow our team so that we can expand our network so that everyone can enjoy their food and drinks in reusable SwapBox containers.
To conclude, 2021 was a great year for SwapBox. We managed to realize a substantial impact in our first year. For this we want to thank all our users and partners!