Planet friendly party mugs: fette


While most of us wouldn’t necessarily associate the word “responsibility” with our college days, it’s heartwarming to see students who aren’t as concerned with the contents of a red party mug as they are with the contents of a red party mug. the mug itself and its potential impact on the environment. present.

As we continue to focus on women-founded businesses, I had the chance to speak to Priya Mittal, one of the founders of fette, a company that makes tumblers that are more environmentally friendly than the versions used. on college campuses for decades. Priya and her co-founder Olivia tackle important issues with their product and bring their own unique perspective and identity to a male-dominated industry.

Marie Juetten: What is the name of your business and where are you based?

Priya Mittal: fette is a sustainable development company that replaces the traditional red party cup with a 100% compostable cup. As a startup founded by two students from Brown University, we are primarily based in Providence, Rhode Island. That being said, we have a team of over 10 people based in New York and Boston.

Juetten: When did you start?

Mittal: fette was founded in January 2020, launched our social media presence in June 2020, and launched our product to students at Brown, Yale and Duke universities directly to consumers in September 2020. Now we are focusing on the expansion to other colleges and universities across the country.

Juetten: What problem are you solving?

Mittal: Over 8 billion red Solo cups are produced, consumed and thrown away each year. Besides Solo mugs, there are many party mugs made and sold by other brands. Regardless of the brand, each of these tumblers has one very harmful thing in common: they are made from number 6 plastic. This type of plastic, also known as polystyrene, is chemically identical to styrofoam and emits large amounts of carbon and other wastes during its production process. Not only is it not accepted in most recycling facilities, but it is very harmful for human consumption and endangers the life of animals. fette is changing that.

The overwhelming majority of red cups are purchased and used by students across the country. Whether it’s a casual night out or a party at a Greek house, these red mugs have become a staple in party culture. At fette, we believe in the need to make campus culture, and more specifically to have a good time, greener and more respectful of the environment. Unlike red cups which decompose in 500 to 1000 years, our 100% compostable cups decompose in 40 to 60 days. In addition, our cups are plant-based and require 50% less carbon emissions during production than other cups.

Besides durability, an integral feature of our mugs is that they are transparent. Currently, there is a large epidemic of sexual assault and violence on college campuses which, in large part, is linked to numerous cases of alcohol-related assault. In order to raise awareness of this issue and help students feel more comfortable going out, we have voluntarily made the decision to make our cups completely transparent. Nowadays, everyone should be able to see what they are drinking and what is in their cups at all times.

Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?

Mittal: Very largely, our customers are individuals who like to have a good time but who care enough about the environment to use our cups. Right now, we’re focused on targeting people between the ages of 18 and 25 who want to use a more sustainable alternative to the red solo cut on college campuses across the country. In order to reach these students, we mainly chat with social leaders from various organizations ranging from Greek Life, sports teams and other relevant clubs on campus.

In terms of outreach, we were able to harness the power of personal networks and academic communities to find people to talk to. Many people were kind enough to connect us with their friends at other universities, and social media has been a great way for us to reach students that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to engage with.

Juetten: Have past projects and / or experience helped this new project?

Mittal: I started a business when I was 15 called GroGreen Tech that minimized the amount of ugly products wasted in New York City. This experience taught me a lot, from the fundamentals of business development to other skills like networking and selling. I had amazing opportunities like being the opening speaker for former secretary John F. Kerry at Seeds and Chips, the Global Innovation Food Summit in Milan, Italy at age 17. I was also named to Crain NY Business 20 Under 20. It was really my first step into entrepreneurship and I absolutely loved it. The lessons I learned were invaluable as I started this out.

Juetten: Did being a woman have an impact on your decision to get started and during your startup?

Mittal: Absoutely! Starting a business in the party industry is extremely important to me as a woman. The whole journey really made me take a step back and confront my personal experiences of party culture on my own campus. At Brown, I’ve been fortunate to meet some amazing friends who love to have a good time the same way I do, whether it’s playing beer pong, going to a bar, or having a night out. Despite these experiences, I recognize that traditionally, people with my identity are not always represented in party culture.

Women often feel the need to look or act in a certain way to fit into party culture. In the media, women are often portrayed as having no authority over their bodies. It’s dangerous because it reflects the massive epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses across the country. According to RAINN, 1 in 4 college-aged women will be sexually assaulted while on campus. These things need to change and luckily the other students agree.

I firmly believe that my identity as a woman of color has been my greatest advantage in running this business. Not only did it allow me to see the party culture in a way that challenges the status quo, it also made me recognize the importance of putting inclusiveness and transparency at the forefront of our brand. . I hope fette reaffirms to the world how important it is to bring more color to the party industry, and party culture in particular.

Juetten: Did you raise any money?

Mittal: All of the funds to run our business came from a combination of money from our Social Innovation Fellowship, various student and small business grants, sustainable business grants, and generous loans for family and friends.

Juetten: Startups are an adventure – what’s your favorite startup story?

Mittal: My favorite company is Parade, a “brand of personal expression that creates a creative foundation,” as founder Cami Tellez once said. As a Co-Founder of Consumer Goods, I’m always inspired by how they built their brand from the ground up and really leveraged the power of Gen Z communities to spread the word and create their inclusive brand. Cami started Parade at age 21 and used online communities and a micro-ambassador program to lead the company to over 70,000 pre-orders before they even launched. I think Parade in particular really stands out because we’ve used a lot of their past marketing strategies to think about how best to meet our audience. It shows that this generation in particular really cares about being heard and being involved in the creative process of building a brand.

Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?

Mittal: In the context of entrepreneurship, success has always meant building a product that has the power to connect people with each other and make them feel seen and represented. For the fette, our #fettefam program connects students from all walks of life and interests around a common love for sustainability and having a good time. Whenever someone tells me that they have met someone from the program or that they feel inspired to follow their passions by seeing two different founders, I call it success. When it comes to mugs in particular, many people have told us that our clear mugs help them feel more comfortable and secure when going out with friends. For me, this is the greatest success.

I have always admired founder Sarah Blakely and her journey in founding Spanx. The fact that she started with $ 2,000 and still owns 100% of her business today is incredibly impressive. Her business is successful not only because it is worth so much, but because the product helps people gain confidence and feel comfortable in their own skin. Creating a product that has so much personal and positive impact makes it much more successful in the end.

Juetten: Advice for early stage FEMALE founders?

Mittal: Don’t waste time talking with people who don’t believe in your idea and don’t see your potential. You are not going to change your mind and there is no point in feeling discouraged by such people. 99.9% of the time you and your idea are probably way ahead of their time and when you are successful they will see it.

I can’t count the number of older men, and adults in general, who called us “little girls”, who told us not to chase the party because of our age or how we look. Realize that your age has nothing to do with the likelihood of your success and that your diverse background is what will propel you forward. Listen to their advice, thank them for their time, and walk away with a clean slate.

Juetten: What’s your next step and long term vision for your business?

Mittal: The main goal of fette for the coming year and 5 years is the same: to expand to as many other campuses as possible. We have received a ton of positive feedback from students who recognize the importance of sustainable tumblers, but also believe in supporting a brand founded and led by a woman, POC and queer. We’re here to shake things up and bring color to this industry!

To get to the heart of the matter further, over the next year, we plan to expand our micro-ambassador program to cultivate a community of environmentally conscious students who want to bring happiness to their campuses. Regarding our 5 year goal, we hope to cover as much as possible the university sustainable tumbler market and continue to develop our partnerships with brands. And who knows! Maybe we’ll reach a whole new target audience as well.

Thanks to Priya for sharing her inspiring story. The combination of Fette’s focused vision and the idea that the environment and humans can benefit from the new clear cup is a game-changer. As my kids are almost out of college, I imagine a new target market could be parents! #From.


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