Confronting the waste collection giant

Garbage hook "Lett på Kroken".
"Lett på Kroken" started as a small youth company. The Ålesund girls behind the idea of the garbage hook, now have sold over 120,000 units in Norway and are considering expanding abroad. Photo: Sigrid Grøm Bakken/NHH.
NHH By Sigrid Grøm Bakken

27 February 2019 10:47

Confronting the waste collection giant

NHH students Mari Larsen Sæther, Ruth Søyseth Jensen (22) invested NOK 100,000 of their savings in a business idea to combat plastic pollution. Now, they are facing fierce competition from the waste collection industry.

Lett på Kroken

  • The hook is easily attached to the waste bin and attaches the plastic waste recycling bags to the garbage container.
  • The solution prevents littering in nature and makes everyday life easier for both families and waste collectors. The plastic waste recycling bags have previously been tied to the bin bag, but the waste collectors avoid repetitive strain injuries and save time as they do not have to exert themselves to untie knots several times during the day.
  • The unique S-shaped design allows the hook to be turned around and used both on thick and thin handles.
  • The hook has been sold to municipalities across Norway in batches ranging from one up to 50,000 units.

The business idea and company Lett på Kroken was developed by childhood friends Mari Larsen Sæther, Ruth Søyseth Jensen and Anna Meek Fiskerstrand when the girls were 16 and attending upper secondary school in Ålesund.

The hook they developed attaches to the waste bin’s handle and is used to fasten plastic waste recycling bags before they are collected by the waste collection companies. The entrepreneurs believe that this solution makes life easier for both private individuals and waste collectors, and at the same time prevents pollution of nature.

Invested NOK 100,000

The girls invested NOK 100,000 of their savings to develop the product, and so far, over 120,000 units have been sold in Norway.

‘We have registered the product to protect its design, and in the beginning we were the only providers of this type of hook. Eventually, we faced competition from Total Holding, and since then we have encountered them in several competitive tendering procedures,’ says Sæther.

Ruth Søyset Jensen and Mari Larsen.
Today Ruth Søyset Jensen and Mari Larsen live in Bergen and study at NHH. The profit from the sales, are used to finance their studies and house savings. Photo: Sigrid Grøm Bakken/NHH.

The girls’ entrepreneurial company and Total Holding are the only providers of the hook in Norway. In spite of the competitor being one of Norway’s leading providers of waste management equipment, and therefore an established company in the market, the girls have several times won competitive tendering procedures, most recently last autumn when they won a sale for a batch of 20,000 units.

‘We are a small company, and we are three young women in a male-dominated business, but we nonetheless want the waste collection companies to take a chance on us. It is an enormous vote of confidence and very encouraging,’ says Sæther.

You must dare to invest, believe in yourself and do not be afraid to ask for help.

Mari Larsen Sæther

Want to expand

She says that their NHH degrees have been useful when building up the company, in particular when it comes to budgeting, marketing and developing strategies for competitive tendering.

‘The profits from the sales are used, among other things, to finance our studies and homes,’ she says.

Travels to Japan to gain relevant work experience

Last autumn, the government set a requirement for more practical training in education. NHH has taken steps to meet this requirement and is now sending students abroad to give them relevant work experience.

The young women have big ambitions, and are now looking at opportunities to expand to other European countries.

‘Norway is at the forefront when it comes to recycling, and it is only a matter of time before other countries follow. We see a growing market for the hook in other countries,’ says Sæther.

The garbage hook "Lett på Kroken".
The girls invested NOK 100,000 on the idea which until now has sold over 120,000 units in Norway. Production takes place at a Norwegian company in Latvia, where the hooks are cast in mold. Photo: Sigrid Grøm Bakken/NHH.

They want to be an inspiration for others who want to invest in innovation and entrepreneurship. Sæther has three good pieces of advice for them:

‘You must dare to invest, believe in yourself and do not be afraid to ask for help.’