‘There has to be a better way’ Entrepreneur creates world’s first ‘tablet’ cleaning products to tackle plastic bottle waste

Founded in 2020, Homethings is on a mission to reduce plastic waste and keep homes across the country sparkling clean


Founded in 2020, Homethings is on a mission to reduce plastic waste and keep homes across the country sparkling clean

“I found that a typical cleaning spray is 90% to 95% water packaged in a single-use plastic bottle – and we’re using billions of them to clean our homes every year, it’s completely bonkers!” Tim Keaveney, co-founder of Homethings tells me. Tim was born and raised in Manchester and followed in the footsteps of his parents who were both entrepreneurs. Tim was exposed to the daily struggles of entrepreneurial life growing up – and from a young age he knew he wanted in. 

Tim dived into several different entrepreneurial ventures at university, including launching a fantasy football app. After graduating with an Economics and Management degree, Tim took on a corporate finance job in the city. Working alongside brands and founders in the retail sector, Tim realised he wanted to switch to a career that was more in line with his passion working with consumer goods. “It was fun admiring their successes and learning from them and their teams when I got the chance to – but I always knew I wanted to be on the other side of the table, in their shoes,” Tim said. “Sustainability, innovation and consumer brands got me excited so I knew I needed to be doing something where I could bring all those things to the table and to really make a difference.” 

When Tim was living at a house share in London, it dawned on him that he and his housemates used up several plastic bottles of products a year that all went to waste. That was when an idea struck him. He realised there needed to be a better way to package goods without leaving a carbon footprint. And that was when the idea of Homethings was born. “I first had the idea when I was living in a house share in London,” Tim explained. “I wanted to start an impact-led brand and I had a lightbulb moment in the shower one day looking at all the single-use plastic products around me and thinking ‘there has to be a better way’.”

“That led me to do loads of research through awesome resources like The Ellen MacArthur Foundation where I found that a typical cleaning spray is 90% to 95% water packaged in a single-use plastic bottle – and we’re using billions of them to clean our homes every year – completely bonkers! It felt like the timing was right too. With things like David Attenborough’s blue planet and the government’s plastic tax public awareness had never been higher. According to Kantar data, almost 29% of the UK grocery market is considered ‘Eco Active’, meaning actively looking for more sustainable brands and products with plastic being their primary concern. So, I knew I’d found something that I was passionate about and had to tackle.” 

Homethings is a sustainable household cleaning brand that creates revolutionary waterless products instead of liquid concentrates. They use non-toxic, effervescent tablets that you mix with water to create cleaning solutions in eco-friendly refillable bottles. All bottles are made of 100% post-consumer recyclable plastic. Bringing a new and innovative brand to the market, Tim faced several obstacles.

He started trying to get investors on board with the idea and launched a crowdfunding campaign to secure initial investment. “For us, having that early-stage investment was crucial for product development – and anyone who’s ever tried to create a new product from scratch will know how expensive it can be,” Tim said. “So, we knew we had to start by getting investors on board who shared our vision. At first, it was family members and friends who invested, but then we opened the pool up wider. 

“In March 2020, we launched our first campaign through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that helps bring ideas like ours to life. It allowed our community to buy our product before it was ready for market. This massively helped in the early days and subsequently has given us a vocal group of early adopters who offer us rapid feedback on our formulations.  

“We later went on to do another fundraiser primarily through our customers and community on Crowdcube. This was a really seminal moment for us – the campaign was overfunded and was closed within 24 hours of going live on Crowdcube! Which was amazing validation of how strongly our customers felt about the need for innovation and real sustainability in this category.” 

Since launching in 2020, Homethings has boomed in business. The company has since secured a turnover of £700k and are on track for £1.5m at the end of the current calendar year. They have also secured a national listing in Waitrose in April 2022 and a £250k share of the Sky Footprint ad fund. Last year, Homethings secured a £50K investment after appearing on Dragon’s Den. The business has also achieved B-Corp status, being recognised as a ‘best for the world’ company for our environmental impact. 

With the rising cost of living, many families across the UK are struggling as energy bills and food prices soar. Homethings is dedicated to keeping its products affordable while echoing its mission of sustainability. “There is still a common perception that eco products and services are more expensive and, as purse strings tighten, there is a general fear among green-driven start-ups that consumer spending will be a shift back towards cheaper and less sustainable alternatives,” Tim said. “It’s a very real threat and yes, it’s really challenging to compete on price with some mass-market brands and own label products that use cheap ingredients and chemicals and manufacture their products in countries that are thousands of miles away for a lot less than we can here in the UK. 

“For us, it is about sticking to our values in terms of how we source our products and the ingredients that we will and won’t use. Take our cleaning spray tabs, they are certified made in the UK and plant-based, certified by The Vegan Society and Cruelty-Free International. Those are values that we won’t compromise on and actually we’ve always believed as an impact-led brand that we need to be mass-market affordable. That’s why in the New Year our refill tabs will come in single sachets for customers to grab and go and these will retail at just £2 a refill.” 

Tim describes himself as a ‘determined’ individual and says he ‘doesn’t give up easily’ when the going gets tough, owing his success to being resilient and adaptable to change. “I think people would definitely describe me as determined,” he said. “I don’t give up easily. If you believe in something and have a really clear mission, then you’ve just got to go after it and have that drive and determination to make it happen. Every business is bound to have setbacks, but you just have to push through. It’s about being resilient and adaptable and accepting that not everything will go your way, but it’s how you deal with it that counts.” 

“I think it’s fair to say that the whole team have worked extremely hard over the past two years, and I think our success is representative of the focus, hard work and belief in our mission,” Tim said. “Like every new business, the past couple of years have seen an unprecedented number of challenges but the response that we’ve had from customers has been absolutely incredible and it’s nice to see that the hard work is paying off – so much so we had to open our own warehouse in Manchester to manage the rising demand from customers.”

Latifa Yedroudj
Latifa Yedroudj

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