Jessica Thomson Robbins is reducing plastic waste with memobottle
Jessica Thomson-Robbins has always loved books. Now she's helping to change the world with water bottles shaped like pages, and they're a bestseller.
Jessica is Sales Director at memobottle, a Melbourne startup whose founders addressed the environmental damage caused by throw-away plastic water bottles by creating a reusable bottle in the the sizes of A5 and A6 sheets of paper.
The former bookworm is more surprised than anyone that her career path veered away from words toward numbers. Jessica works closely with memobottle co-founder and accountant Jonathan Byrt and regularly discusses the company’s pressing accounting and economic challenges with him.
“I just never, ever believed I’d be doing that. It’s crazy and still amuses me. It’s never something that I actually wanted to get into, the hardcore accounting side of a business. But having that basic understanding is so helpful. I’m able to sense-check what Jonathan is doing.”
The company now has eight warehouses around the world, ready to stock a new range of products, after the first production run “pretty much sold out”.
“My MBA has really helped with the financial side of things,” Jessica says.
“We operate in AUD, USD and Euro. It’s part of my role to constantly set prices for our products, so understanding the financial and economic landscape in all our markets is really important.”
Jessica says she was working 12–15-hour days, including on weekends, in the run up to Christmas and is really excited by the company’s prospects.
“We’re working with Melbourne City Council and Swinburne University to develop some great new products, and I’m working hard to find new partners and new areas that we can go into. One of the big problems for a startup is cash flow, and making sure the revenue comes in and the overheads stay down. So, I’m pretty busy and not planning to leave any time soon.”
Jessica joined memobottle in 2016, around the time she graduated with her MBA, which she studied part-time. She says it gave her more than solid numerical, strategy and marketing skills.
“I made some really good friends doing the MBA. I’m constantly texting and phoning them, bouncing ideas off for work. It’s personal too but really helpful to have people around who all have the same level of understanding and you don’t have to muck around explaining things to.”