Hi Pete, would you mind starting us off with an intro to yourself, and EVRYTHNG?
I’m Peter James. I’m VP of Product at EVRYTHNG. EVRYTHNG is a Product Cloud that manages billions of digital identities for consumer product brands. By connecting every real-world product with an Active Digital Identity™ in the EVRYTHNG Product Cloud, brands now have end-to-end visibility into a product’s journey, from manufacturing to the consumer, to recycling or resale. This allows brands to meet consumer expectations for transparency, authenticity, and personalized direct-to-consumer experiences.
By giving each individual product a unique digital identity when it is manufactured or produced, brands and consumers alike are able to track a product’s provenance data throughout its supply chain journey. For instance, we work with the world’s largest producer of Atlantic Salmon, Mowi. By giving every pack of fish an Active Digital Identity™ , consumers can trace it all the way back to the farm where the salmon was harvested. They simply scan the QR code on the pack of Salmon with their smartphone to retrieve the information.
We are also working with brands to provide authenticity data. For instance, we are working with Ralph Lauren to digitize its entire apparel line to protect against issues like counterfeiting and parallel trade. As a consumer you want to know that your money is being spent on an authentic product, and that’s one of the benefits EVRYTHNG’s platform can bring.
Have you been influenced or inspired by the global push on sustainability, and ethical sourcing?
Absolutely. Many of our customers in the apparel industry have placed our technology at the center of their business to achieve sustainability goals. We recently made an announcement about Another Tomorrow, a premium apparel brand committed to bringing circularity to fashion. EVRYTHNG brings transparency to Another Tomorrow’s supply chain by providing full visibility into the sourcing of raw materials and ethical labor practices.
We are also working with major producers of household cleaning items providing full visibility into ingredients, the impact on the environment, and where and how the products can be recycled.
One interesting partnership I might mention is Carrefour Supermarkets. We’ve partnered to engage consumers in the recycling process. Consumers can simply scan the package of any product they’ve purchased to learn exactly how and where to recycle the item. To incentivize shoppers, Carrefour has implemented a rewards system to gamify the recycling initiative. The result: a measurable increase in recycling and a resulting decrease in CO2 emissions.
You’ve mentioned you work with a lot of apparel brands, and food and beverage companies. Is there a reason you focus on those ‘types’ of brands?
As our name would suggest, we do eventually want to have ‘every’ product in the world digitized. Currently, we’re focused on the industries mentioned because it is where we believe we can make the biggest impact. More than four trillion products are manufactured each year, we are working with major brands to digitize billions of those products today.
As we continue to scale, we’ll look at other industries and areas to grow. For instance, the current COVID-19 crisis has highlighted a need for greater supply chain efficiency and visibility in pharma.
Consumer product brands work with us for a variety of reasons including the need to meet growing consumer demand for transparency, authenticity and personalized consumer experiences. Consumers are demanding transparency into the sustainability data of how products are made and brought to market, while brands are seeking visibility into the journeys of individual products, from production to the consumer, to recycling, reuse or resale and all the way back to the source materials or components used to make the items. But previously, gathering, aggregating, and sharing this information hasn’t been easy or cost-effective.
EVRYTHNG solves this problem by giving every physical product item a unique Active Digital Identity™ (ADI) on the Web, making it possible to gather data across each item’s journey from manufacture to consumer and beyond, even as an item passes between many different role players. With every real-world item connected to the Web, data can be gathered and shared at scale in both reach and economics.
How would I go about tracing my purchase through your platform?
EVRYTHNG is working with global brands using the GS1 Digital Link standard to have one code on their product packaging for both consumer engagement and supply chain applications. GS1 Digital Link upgrades the ubiquitous barcode standard used by two million manufacturers around the world.
Let’s talk about a real example, Mowi ASA, who is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon, was the very first brand to roll out this new standard at mass scale. A GS1 Digital Link-enabled QR code on each pack connects to a unique EVRYTHNG ADI managed in the EVRYTHNG Product Cloud. Consumers can simply point their smartphones at the QR code on the Mowi package to access item-specific provenance information on their fresh seafood products.
The beauty is in the simplicity. That’s the best thing about QR codes: you can take out your smartphone, open up the camera, scan, and automatically connect to our system. No special apps required. We use that unique barcode to connect to the unique product in the Product Cloud, pull out the desired information, and deliver it directly to the consumer’s smartphone. With MOWI, we provide information about each salmon’s journey from farm to fork.
Could you break down your own journey, from the start of your career, to now, at a growing startup?
It’s been very mixed! Prior to EVRYTHNG, I was at Experian, and before that at Prudential, but I started my career with a ‘startup’ called DAI. I also worked at OpenBet where I helped grow the company from 30 people to over 700 people.
And that’s very much the cycle I enjoy — joining a company that’s going through massive growth. I believe these are among the most valuable skills and experience I bring to EVRYTHNG. We’ve got an amazing culture and incredible start-up attitude filled with excitement, not to mention that we are also proven in the market. We’ve got market fit, and some really important customers; we are positioned well for massive growth.
What attracted you to EVRYTHNG?
I think, for me personally, it was the opportunity to work on something that’s genuinely technically complex, but also has a really neat and elegant solution. As a product person, that’s what really engages me: elegant solutions to complex problems.
How much growth and restructuring have you seen in your own team since you started, six months back?
Within my team, I’ve assigned product managers to each of our main product lines. We’ve also got product owners, a UX team, and product marketing. My team represents a really nice encapsulation of our big picture strategy — well-rounded.
My goal or perhaps, better said ambition, is to make sure the company scales right. We split the product manager and product owner roles so that the depth of understanding, experience, and knowledge of the product lines is not diluted whilst we scale up the development team with dedicated product owners. It’s about making sure the team can back each other up, and that we don’t scale too quickly or in the wrong way.
I was really lucky to inherit a great team of really passionate and talented product folks.
If we’re thinking ‘life is like a box of chocolates’…?
Then I was lucky enough to land a box of Hotel Chocolat!
How much change have you seen and / or implemented with regards your roadmap, during your six months with EVRYTHNG so far?
Well, I’d love to spin-off and give you a blow-by-blow account of all the big changes I’ve made, but it’s not really my style, and it wouldn’t sound genuine if I did.
Since joining the company, I’ve been very much focused on understanding (with great depth) EVRYTHNG’s product development process so I can steer it to map to our business objectives. We have a very collaborative environment. Working together as a team is one of our core values. So as the head of product, I’m also responsible for linking arms with other functions within the company such as engineering, sales, and marketing. The changes I’ve made in terms of the way we communicate internally have had a really galvanising effect on our efficiency.
You can never over-communicate; people will always tell you if you’re under-communicating but no one has ever complained about over-communicating! It’s also the biggest consternation in any startup — that no one has a full view of the product roadmap. This said I’ve created two roadmaps within my team — we have our strategic roadmap, which looks 12 months ahead, and we have our increment roadmap, which covers a far more detailed overview of 3-month (quarterly) goals.
Since everything we do is Agile, there’s a built-in expectation that things will change, but we like to have a baseline plan to assess change against, and hopefully predict what the impact will be. The 12-month version of the roadmap shows our trajectory, as well as our ambition; it’s high-level, more goal-driven, and more subject to change in the long-term.
What’s the best thing about working at EVRYTHNG?
I love the culture. As I said, I’ve been lucky to inherit a great team of my own, but that extends throughout the whole company. There have been some great hiring decisions made over time, and everyone is really friendly and incredibly passionate. As a ‘product person’ who wants to get excited about products, that’s really what gets me up in the morning — knowing that we all believe in the product, and are excited about what we’re trying to achieve with it.
As one of the ‘most disruptive brands in the UK,’ what’s the next step for EVRYTHNG?
We want to continue on the promise of ‘disruption,’ and also continue to innovate to address the ever-evolving needs of the consumer products industry. Transparency, traceability, authenticity and personalized consumer engagement all rose to the top as major needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. EVRYTHNG helps consumer product brands address these needs head-on.
I also hope that the way we interact with brands and customers will really push the sustainability aspect; as the father of two teenage boys, I’ve found they’re a lot more aware of the dangers of climate change, and think far more deeply about the purchasing choices they make. Whilst it sounds a little melodramatic, I’d like them to be proud of what I’m doing, in promoting positive change, and hopefully leaving a better world behind for them.