Thursday 15 May 2014

New Start-up To Use Co-Creation for Ethical Product Development

A new UK start-up is looking to the collaborative process of co-creation to develop high quality beverages that would be in keeping with the ethical values of society. Agora developed by two young entrepreneurs, has announced the launch of its first co-created product called 99% Guiltless a raspberry and mint flavoured water beverage devised by the company's collaborative community. 

Agora was founded by two young entrepreneurs, Allan Szymczyk and Jan Verwijs. Initially it started off as a student project to explore the potential of crowdsourcing in creating a business in which people could participate in every major area from conception to creation. Whilst studying at the Hult International Business School, Allan and Jan initiated a trial run from the school's San Francisco campus. Consulting with other students the project resulted in two smoothie variants which were sold on campus and the profits donated to charity. Following the project's success Allan and Jan decided to transform it into a business venture in the UK and crowdsourced the product's name, Agora, the Greek word for market place. 

The official website for Agora was launched in January 2014 and collaboration on the company's first product began almost immediately. After sourcing ideas from Agora's members as well as consultation with industry leaders, the efforts led to the creation of the company's first product, raspberry and mint flavoured water that promises to be healthy and packed with flavour. To reflect the ethical nature of the company and its product the name 99% Guiltless was chosen. It promises to be free of sugar, additives and calories.

A market study for 99% Guiltless is currently under-way with the initial flavour of raspberry and mint having already been selected by the community. On this basis various flavour houses have been consulted for samples in order to create around 70 different flavour variation from which 11 were selected. These are currently being trialled with a view to reducing the number to five of the most popular samples. Taste testing sessions are to follow combined with a concept check or study that will survey 100 people and include initial designs for the product's bottle and label. Agora aims to begin production upon completion of the market study. 

When to comes to multinational soft drink manufacturers, controversy that calls the ethics of that company in question never seems to be far away. Whereas major companies are all focussed on making huge profits for their shareholders, Agora promises something that its consumers can trust; a brand that is ethically and democratically produced with potential customers as its creators, having a say in what makes up the finished product. The democratic quality of co-creation which Agora has built itself on looks to show how co-creation and crowdsourcing, can not only build a profitable business but also, like the Hisbe supermarket, embody the ethical values society demands from its businesses. For more information and to become a part of the community click here to visit the Agora platform.

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