Willemijn Wortelboer and her husband invented and developed RAW Paints: a wall paint powder that claimed first place in the Climate theme of the Accenture Innovation Awards. All product lines of RAW Paints belong to the cleanest paint of the Netherlands and are being tested extensively by the inventors themselves.
Why do we carry 60 percent water in a can of paint and therefore also solvents and biocides? Why do we not add the water at the moment the paint is ready for use? This question led to the establishment of RAW Paints, a startup that produces and sells durable, sustainable and trendy wall paint.
What is RAW Paints?
“RAW Paints is a paint powder for all kinds of walls – inside as well as outside. It can do everything any other wall paint does, but without any volatile solvents and water. The transportation of the paint is therefore a lot more energy efficient. By adding the water at home, you are contributing to a more sustainable environment. Just add the right amount of water through the opening of the stand-up pouch, and you can start painting. Also, the paint works perfectly on moist surfaces, like in basements, due to its mineral composition. It adheres to the surface and a solid coating arises that does not peel off.”
What inspired you to start? How did the idea arise?
“My husband has been developing the paint powder since 2015. Mixing in jars. Testing on tiles. He worked towards the end result by starting in our home at the bottom of the stairs, and finally ending up in Spain to finalize the formula. During the past two years, we measured the demand of RAW Paints in the market.”
What was your approach?
“I can only sell something that I support 100 percent. I am an idealist. We were standing on a ladder ourselves to test our own product. Among others, at houses at the boulevard in Zandvoort where the exposure to sand, sea and UV radiation is high, but also in basements with a high humidity level. Similarly, we have applied our paint to concrete road surfaces. The excellent results of RAW Paints have been confirmed by TNO.”
When did you know RAW Paints was viable?
“The positive word of mouth that our tests yielded. That, and the AIA-victory are the crown of three years of hard work on a product that can disrupt the market and improve the world. Enthusiast responses are essential. The AIA put us in the spotlight, and you can tell that the world is waking up.”
Why did you decide to participate in the Accenture Innovation Awards 2018?
“Because of a tip from one of our contacts in response to finishing in second place in the Packaging Awards. I had never heard about AIA before but I still registered RAW Paints. I held no expectations, however. When we got selected for the Top 25, I thought ‘Oh, what will be next?’ The organization of the Accenture Innovation Awards turned out to be a well-oiled machine, with extremely professional jury members. We pitched and ended up in the Top 10 and then the Top 5. On November 2, we were announced as the winner in the Climate category. Amazing, and in the first instance, very unexpected. It received a lot of publicity.”
What have you learned?
“It really pushed me to assess the company critically and ask myself: where do I want to go with RAW Paints? A one-minute pitch in front of the jury was very exciting for me personally, and actually quite a challenge that I am grateful to have overcome. It has strengthened me and my perseverance to improve the world with RAW Paints.”
What was the decisive factor for the jury to announce RAW Paints as the winner?
“That it is a groundbreaking product that is able to disrupt the whole paint industry. It is scalable and feasible. There is a passionate leader. Praising words from the jury, to which they connected that I have the responsibility that a positive impact on the climate does actually take place. This victory gives that thought an extra impulse.”
What are the challenges for RAW Paints?
“Creating partnerships. As a small player, I want to collaborate with partners that have the same approach and passion as I have. At this moment I am talking about possible collaborations and scalability. I do not see other initiatives as competition as I strongly believe that together we can achieve more. That cannot be expressed in terms of money. Another challenge is to persuade painters to become customers. They could be thinking, ‘My grandfather has been using brand X’s paints for as long as he can remember, so why would I do it differently?’. We’ll have to break that pattern.”
What kind of trends do you expect in the market of RAW Paints during the coming years?
“The established industry is quite reluctant to change. Mostly, the companies want to be profitable; at least, that is what it looks like. I believe that it is not wealth they should be looking for. Yes, it is an idealistic statement, but it is realistic. It suits the sustainability trend. For me, the market is about timing and the right people in the right place. I am surrounded by a team of self-employed people. With this well-functioning ‘wheel of fortune’, I want to improve the whole world with paint powder.”
What is your golden tip for innovators?
“If you believe in something, you’ll have to move in that direction. Intriniscally experience it. Regardless of setbacks. It is a long road, and you should dare to deviate from the beaten paths. Always listen to your intuition. That is the common thread.”