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Swordplay2.0: a spread-as-a-service (SaaS) model for butter, knives and beyond

Reimagine the way we serve butter spreads by introducing a product-as-a-service model to completely eliminate the use of plastics

Photo of Darren Yeo

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SWORDPLAY 2.0  

There is a huge waste in the butter tear-off process. Butter has a single use in its package, and sometimes all it takes is a swipe of a knife to finish the butter. Small plastic formats are then thrown away without any way to recover the material. 

Rather than creating tear-offs, what if B2B Owner's had their spreads fully on their butter knives, like a sword and its sheath (capsule)? Within the capsule holds the food ingredient such as butter, hummus, jam and many other spreads available to people. The capsule is cleverly designed such that people may twist and scoop out the spread from within. The friendly form reminds users of an ice-cream stick, and once done, they can continue to use the knife for other purposes.

However, if we are to extend the idea to reimagine the delivery model, we can introduce a product as a service model, or in this case, spread as a service. This means that while B2B owners are paying only for the butter spread, they will not be paying for the cutleries. Instead, the cutleries goes back, and gets reused again after being washed and filled with the ingredients. This creates a closed loop without creating an additional burden on the environment since deliveries of butter are already happening. 

We target local suppliers, who prides themselves with quality food output. Because, at the end of the day, the whole culinary experience, including the quality of food, is what we are after for our end user's experience. It also helps the local guys scale their businesses together.

When done locally, circularity is achieved. Less carbon footprint is made due to tighter loops. Besides reusability of the cutleries, Camphor's partnership with business customers also helps control full product usage and recovery, such that we are able to make new capsules with the same materials. With the advancement of recycling and 3d printing, new life can be given to the capsules

SWORDPLAY will significantly reduce the plastic waste, and thus the impact on the environment. But more than that, it ensures that there is a closed loop for a range of context, from homes (think airbnb or just for personal consumption) to hotels to restaurants to airlines. Beyond the butter service, SWORDPLAY extends to other food ingredients, such as jam and hummus. Ultimately, a closed loop is created where the supplier avoids paying for additional material cost, and can impose a cheaper lease model to the B2B owners, where the suppliers can control the number of the materials that is used.

WHY 2.0

Having spoken to 3 chefs and 1 hotel manager, with a few cold emails lined up, I realized that the biggest insight is that while restaurant wishes to own the internal processes of washing and filling, they wish to do it on their terms with cost as the biggest driver. Given the scale of guest who requested for spreads, as well as the various options on how spreads could be prepared and served, there is no strong demand for a hotel or restaurant to switch to a greener approach. The chef and hotel also pride themselves in the way they handle food, both as hygiene and food quality, so preparing their own butter and portioning it out is what they do to prevent wastage and handle customer experience. The lesson learnt to see where other business opportunities could lie.

While my sense is to continue to speak more hotel owners and have the time and space to work on subsequent versions, I realized that the airline industry is way bigger in terms of scale, an appetite for innovation and underlying needs, though hygiene, food quality and cost remain the same. Hence, I have shifted my focus on airlines, but also to create a set of milestones that targets specific hotel and restaurant owners

CHALLENGE

The Big Idea 

 


USER JOURNEY 

Product Journey Map


User experience across stakeholder




USABILITY TESTING


FUTURECASTING

 


USABILITY LOG: To document the whole refinement process 


30th August

Conducted user testing with former air stewardess over SWORDPLAY and its system, as well as to understand the airline industry better. Had insights on why bread is used as meals, the process of food served to consumers, and some considerations when designing SWORDPLAY for planes


29th August 2017

Conducted user testing with hotel manager and fine dining chef over SWORDPLAY and its system. Learnt about the washing and filling process, and hotel consideration when choosing a local producer or a particular food recipe. Also understood the material consideration around cutleries and its interaction with spreads, and the amount of pride a hotel would have in its food quality when it has a in house central kitchen


25th August 2017

Did a Quick and dirty prototyping that will be used for experimenting and feedback with an upcoming restaurant manager. After finishing the prototype, a few iteration popped up:

- What if there is a flat extrusion created so that the capsule can rest upright?

- Handle can be slightly slender

- Twisting the knife to dig out butter prompted a thread-like groove to grip butter out of the container

- what if we swap the head of the knife with other apparatus, like a toothpick, a brush, a longer capsule? The list goes on to the various configurations


22nd August 2017

UPDATE: SWORDPLAY knife CAD modelling done, user testing with hotel chef conducted

NEXT STEP: creating rough and ready prototype, user testing with students, restaurant managers and owners, check in with our advisor! Stay tuned!

Sharing session and immersion trip with chefs in hotel kitchen

From left to right: plenty of recyclable plastics, but there isn't a formal system to collect and recycle plastics; chef Ming did think about coming with a dessert dish with a similar SWORDPLAY concept! Kitchen makes their own butter and spreads, but could be as base ingredients for pastry.

Feedback on prototype: beautiful, well design. liked the shape of the design, and has class/luxurious feel to it. Questions about the recyclability of the materials, though respondent might not fully understand the circular management. Respondents commented about the brittleness of glass. There are recycling bins in the back kitchen, but not much has been recycled due to the high possibilities of contamination from food leftovers. Not part of any SOP for kitchen as there is no machinery or complex food consideration, hence it is easy to be introduced operationally.


21st August 2017

UPDATE: Thorough investigation of the solution, working on a rough and ready prototype, done an interview with chef

NEXT STEP: More user testing, product development on the rest of the solutions, check in with our advisor! Stay tuned!

Interviewed a pastry chef who have worked in a large chain hotel for more than 7 years. To him, spreads are important enough for them to see how they can recreate a new taste to build upon the existing spreads. Most chefs will buy pre-mixes that are off the shelf and may present it to their guests. VIPs are treated slightly differently; chefs will build spreads from scratch to serve them. He commented that tear-offs are highly favourable at the buffet. One observation he makes is the huge waste of tear-off, from partial eating to not eating it at all. "Waiters will not deliberately take spreads out. In the rush of things, they will just swoop all of the food away, even spreads that are not touched"

When commenting on the prototype, he claims that material and labour cost will come in the way of chain hotels. Labour is huge factor in Singapore, especially if there are additional sets of culteries that need to be washed. He did say that boutique and niche establishment might fare better. Umami is not what consumers are aware of, ultimately, it's the ingredients that makes the difference to the average consumer.

The chef also makes homemade jam and sweet onion churney, and aspires to start his own business one day. While cost of running is still one of his biggest concerns, he likes doing his craft, and will entrust a company to handle the relationship and distribution of his produce. "Yes, i would like to see this as a business someday."

Idea Title

SWORDPLAY

Company / Organization Name

Camphor.io is a startup with an eco conscious attitude to make our idea into a reality.

Where are you / your team located?

Singapore

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

SWORDPLAY is repositioned as part of the culinary experience, whereby it becomes a reusable scabbard (capsule) for butter spreads. B2B owners can return the capsules for new sets for their customers. Suppliers in the meantime can resue the spreabbard by washing and filling it up with the food ingredient. A closed loop is created where the supplier avoids paying for additional material cost, and can impose a cheaper leasem model to the B2B owners.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Mainly Case 2 on tear-offs

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Airbnb homes, Boutique hotels, Chain restaurants, Inflight catering services in Singapore or a similar country setup

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

SWORDPLAY will be made easy for early adopters who are hosts to AirbNb homes. It will also target boutique hotels and niche restaurant who values a circular business. Ultimately, the inflight catering services will benefit from the closed loop service it provides. SWORDPLAY will also extend to other spreads, such as jam and hummus. Obstacles will include an initial dip in sales and revenue loss, market access and lack of education, and managing complexity across all stakeholders

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

It will give me the permission to have the time and space to work on this new idea. Continue to test feasibility and design of SWORDPLAY, emphasizing on hygiene and cost, that will keep the butter. The goal is also to find B2B partners to try SWORDPLAY and gather feedback. Work out the business model such that it is justifiable to use the product as a service model

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Came as an individual idea over the topic of butter tear-offs and airlines where the butter and knife seems to be separated, even though they ought to be as close as possible. Through a play of metaphors, a sword then came to mind. the "play" aspect came from Akbar, who saw the sword as an ice-cream stick, and it brought an emotional experience to the act of spreading and enjoyment

Tell us about your work experience

Began as an industrial design student, worked in a design consultancy, studied innovation, failed as a startup, now as an innovation facilitator running experiments. Thinking about what's next.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

As of now, the team is formed based on the passion for the challenge. We have a web domain, and Limited Liability Partnership is possible

Please describe, in detail, your business model and how you intend to test and iterate this model.

As knives will be issued and returned on a daily basis, airlines will pay for only the spreads in the cutlery set and for the delivery fee. Revenue split can only be done with local suppliers for every bag issued to Camphor. Lastly, the knives and refillable bags can also be purchased by consumers, who can also benefit from the local supplier network, or do their own. Cost will mainly come from labour cost for washing and filling up the knife, transportation, and initial capital cost

Please explain how your innovation will work within, potentially improve, and provide benefit to the plastics system.

If we look at a spread (product) as a service model, there is no need to create new plastic packaging as knives and its capsules are leased out and returned based on a closed loop system. Reusability will be the main focus, as even the plastic refillable bags can be used again. When wear and tear becomes evident in the above objects, the parts go through a material recovery process as aluminum parts and PP plastic bags are recyclable, and new replacements can be made from the same material

Please describe, in depth, how your solution will reduce the overall environmental footprint of packaging.

By working directly with local business owners, the sourcing and production model is significantly reduced as handcraft replaces factory production (rollers, machinery, electricity, maintenance). There will no longer be warehousing and distribution, given that SWORDPLAY can be managed within communities and regions, hence removing freight transportation and multiple destinations. Lastly, cutleries are regularly assessed through its reusing cycle, and any end-of-life products get recycled.

Please outline how your design, material, and delivery choices will influence price, and how you intend to address the price increase that may result from this solution.

In a competitive F&B environment where good restaurants thrive due to careful cost management, we have little choice but to match the cost of butter tub, with a possible 20% price markup for reputable local brands or through delivery fee. That being said, we will need to experiment if our clients are willing to give us a deposit amount, which covers the capital cost of the cutlery, and will be returned upon at the end of the lease, and to show that SWORDPLAY generate profits with customers

Please explain how your solution will impact user behavior, and what design considerations you've included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions with your Idea. 

We want to give a unique experience to diners, so that they can remember their food in a pleasant and impactful way: When was the last time you enjoyed a spread so much that every last drop counts? Inspired by the icecream stick, SWORDPLAY is a knife and capsule set that attempts to evoke playful eating and tasting. Sealed as a lid for the spread, diners can shift the cork lid upwards and use it as the handle of the butter knife.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

$10,000 will allow us to run experiments to bring the product to life, and gather attention from media and the public $100,000 will allow us to build a batch of products to bring our business to life

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Team

Hey Darren Yeo . This is soooo comprehensive. I do like how you've done so much work on it already and brought it to life with your models. It's also interesting how you've decided that the scale and impact is greater in the airline industry.
We also considered the same issues about Singapore - with labour and space directly affecting the overall feasibility and cost of our solution. Makes some elements really though here right!?

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