Danish startup battle single-use products to save the ocean

Three Danish product designers want to revolutionize how we view products by making traditional single-use products reusable

Please introduce yourself and your startup LastSwab to our readers!

We are a team of three product designers named Nicolas Aagaard, Isabel Aagaard and Kåre Frandsen dedicated to creating sustainable alternatives to everyday single use products. About one and a half years ago we read that 550 billion cotton swabs are produced every year, many of which are polluting, spoiling and killing animal life on our oceans and beaches. Therefore, we created LastSwab. A reusable cotton swab that gives you an environmentally friendly alternative.

How did you get the idea to LastSwab?

We were investigating what the most polluting items are for our oceans, and surprisingly cotton swabs were on the top 10 list. So, we found ourselves starting to prototype various alternatives and LastSwab was born.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?

We were very worried that people would think it was ‘yucky’. But the reality is, that people are open to new solutions and connect with the idea. Our solution is actually more sanitary than the toothbrush! The longevity of the product is key. Therefore, production quality control takes up more time than you might think. Making something different is always a bit hard, because you have to make sure you are speaking the same language as your production partners.

Who is your target audience?

We have a broad target audience. Obviously, people who are interested in sustainability are our core customers, but we see men and women alike as backers through Kickstarter.

What is the USP of your startup?

Creating an alternative to a single use item can have a huge impact. Imagine one item that replaces one thousand items. That’s what’s possible when replacing single use items. You can save money AND save the environment. The environmental impact is tremendous.

Can you describe a typical workday for you?

We all show up and leave the office at different times. We try to have very few meetings and don’t travel at all. When we are in the design phase we usually don’t pull long hours. But when we launch a product, and if it goes well it is all hands on deck. We do everything ourselves with a couple of external partners. There’s a lot of customer service at launch and delivering on the fulfilment later. We love both worlds, and it’s nice to switch between both.

Where do you see yourself and your startup LastSwap in five years?

LastSwab will be under the banner of LastItems – our parent company that will develop more sustainable reusable alternatives to single-use products in the coming years. 

We will have sold 100 million LastSwabs. They will have eliminated the need for 100 billion of the 550 billion cotton swaps produced each year. LastSwab will be viewed as the Colgate of reusable swabs.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

  1. Prepare before launch, and by that, I mean reach out to and collect people who want to buy your product. This will validate your idea and give you a boost when you launch.
  2. Fail forward. We made 4 failed Kickstarters before LastSwab
  3. Create something that people need. And really ask yourself whether this is the case again and again.


More information you will find here

Thank you Nicolas Aagaard, Isabel Aagaard and Kåre Frandsen for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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