INTERVIEW - Jojo, Kompotoi, Switzerland
To our readers in Switzerland, you might have seen these little wooden toilet cabins pop on squares or festivals in the past years. They actually appeared in the outside part of Metalli in Zug a few weeks ago to replace the underground toilets under repair, and it's pretty obvious they attracted the attention of OUTSIDE THE BOX in no time.
There was especially no way we could not contact Kompotoi's founder, Jojo Linder, after finding out the name of their Instagram page (no spoiler alert here, check it out yourself by clicking on the link!)
It's not the first time we talk about toilets here. One of our Cool Stuff article was covering the work of Who Gives A Crap, the Australian brand of forest-friendly toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. So with no more delays we are please to share with you Jojo's interview!
Stay safe and healthy, and do not forget to wash your hands!
Hi Jojo and Team Kompotoi!
Welcome to OUTSIDE THE BOX and thank you for spending the time to answer some questions for us!
One question we ask all our participants, in order to know the people behind a project:
please tell us a few words about yourself!
Hi I’m Jojo Linder and I’m 36. I live with my wife and our two girls in Wila. My hobbies are skate and Snowboarding. We have bees and chickens. I love pizza and I love to connect with new people.
Maybe the first question that many will ask: how does one decide to develop a toilet-related business?!
Haha… That’s a quit long story. First I studied permaculture in Austria. There I built my first compost toilet. Then I went to India for a foundation and worked in a school. In the same village they used composting toilets. And what came out of these toilets was the best soil you could get in this area. I was very impressed. Back in Switzerland I went to an event and needed to go to the toilet. So I stood in front of a plastic chemical porta-potty and I was just like: “come on, is that really it?!”
Tell us more how you started Kompotoi as a business!
What were the ideas behind your business model?
Who is part of the team?
How long did it take for the project to materialize and for the first cabins to be out in the streets?
It started quite slowly. The idea was in my brain and I just told some friends of mine. One friend, Marcos, (my partner now) told me that he learned when he studied environmental engineering that this could work. And another friend asked me to deliver a toilet to his event at the end of the summer.
So we built our first Kompo-toilet out of recycling wood and went to our first event in about 6 weeks. It was quite a struggle to bring it there but the customers were very happy.
So we decided to go on: we opened an association and went online.
You have won many entrepreneurship prizes over the past years, how did these programs and prizes help?
Some help more, and some do not help so much. But for sure it is always a boost of motivation.
What advice would you want to share with new entrepreneurs to help them start a business, especially for outside-the-box ideas like yours?
I think it is best to start really early with a prototype and see how the market reacts.
Then you can change it and change it again till it works out.
What challenges did you face, and on the contrary what have been the successes you’d want to share out loud?
At the moment with the Corona situation it is very hard to function as a small start-up business. We lost around 1mio. CHF in revenue because events just could not take place.
How does a Kompotoi dry-toilet cabin actually work?
It is very easy. We just separe fix and fluid materials, and we flush with wood chips.
What can you tell people who are reluctant to use your toilets?
I mean, no one likes the plastic chemical solution. So everyone prefer our Kompotoi’s.
I was personally surprised to see the cabins very-well maintained, clean, odour-free: how do you maintain them?
We can clean them with a high pressure washer.
I also really liked the cool, edgy designs inside: how is design critical in your business?
Oh, design plays a very important role. I guess more then 50% of the customers book us because our toilets are cosy and good-looking. The fact that it is an eco-friendly solution is just another extra reason.
I would think there has been resistance by people to see the cabins installed in the streets?
Not at all! The city of Zürich has done a survey and from 1000 feedbacks we received 3 bad ones only.
On your website you have listed other toilet solutions to adapt to different solutions, from professional to private use. How is the market response to your offers?
There is actually a lot of off-grid Alpine houses, hunting huts, garden houses and tiny houses that need such a solution. So there is also quite a big request for our Kompotois.
Learn more about Kompotoi and get in touch with the team:
Pics/ Zug pictures, mine; others and video: Kompotoi