Ground Control makes product development faster, cheaper and more sustainable for startups

After nearly a decade at the helm of a product development agency, Karl Vaupel understood just how tricky the process of designing a physical product can be.

And so ground control was born: a platform that allows new and established brands to design or redesign their products to make them more affordable and sustainable.

“Currently, designing a physical product to be net zero is so complicated that it usually becomes unrealistic,” Vaupel said.

“For example, each recycled material or packaging you replace affects three other crucial factors, such as the assembly process, marketing or shipping costs. It’s impossible to plan everything in advance, so brands that want to improve just have to go for it, leading to many failed attempts and missed opportunities.

Vaupel and his team set out to solve this problem by working with VC Antler at an early stage.

“Ground Control is a platform, where anyone managing a product or looking to develop a new product, can get a full roadmap with real quotes in 30 seconds,” he said.

“From the idea to the product that comes off the shelf; and each step in between. Whether it’s customizing compostable packaging, redesigning a component or bringing an entire supply chain back to Australia.

Given the near endless amount of products, trying to create a process to help such a variety of brands is a massive undertaking. Despite the challenges, Vaupel felt this would be the best way to have the biggest impact.

“A big deal was communicating something as large and complex as understanding the problem can be a half-hour conversation, let alone explaining the solution,” he said.

“Also creating a business model that is both practical to launch in a relatively short period of time, yet extremely scalable to impact the world.

“An industrial design company can potentially design a few hundred or thousands of products because the process relies heavily on very smart people and doesn’t scale well. But when there are millions of products, they have to be replaced by sustainable alternatives as soon as possible – that’s not enough, so we want to create a solution, which any brand can apply to any product, to make it more sustainable.

Work with antler has been invaluable, especially with the fundraising process, Vaupel said.

“Coaching with Antler has been great, just to have someone who really understands the fundraising process,” he said.

“We’ve spoken to a number of investors along the way and each time there’s a lot to cover, so it’s fantastic to have a coach who understands the business and can advise throughout the process.

“We also had many very in-depth sessions with industry experts that would otherwise be hard to get, which was very helpful.

“With Antler, I’m really happy to have help with fundraising, which allows us to focus more on the product and running the business. You can spend so much time fundraising and that’s crucial, but streamlining it a bit is a really big plus.

Looking ahead, Vaupel hopes to expand Ground Control and eventually work with big, established brands.

“Our plan is to expand our initial user base (which focuses on relatively new products and emerging brands), to help established companies and multinational brands redesign their products to be cheaper and more sustainable,” he said.

“We believe that durability and price should not be a compromise. Instead, sustainability can actually reduce costs.

“Sustainability is better for the consumer and the brand, you just need the right strategic tool to simplify all the new options.”

  • Startup Daily is Antler’s official media partner in Australia.

Gary C. Lisi