The Entrepreneur: Amelia Gammon, bide

To start a business tackling two major global challenges is no small feat, but that is exactly what Amelia, founder of eco-cleaning social enterprise bide, has done.

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Company: bide
Founder: Amelia Gammon
Website: bideplanet.com

Not only does bide aim to tackle the climate crisis head on through sustainable practices and the production of environmentally friendly, toxin-free cleaning products. But Amelia’s business is also a social enterprise. It combats the growing unemployment crisis resulting from the pandemic, as well as the historic marginalisation of women and carers.

Bide’s ethos is simple but commendable – to build a business to support the Planet and People that inhabit it.

The eco-conscious company started with eco-cleaning products, but will be expanding into other ranges this year, produced and packaged by bide’s home manufacturing network in their own homes. This means that they can work from home at any time that suits them. It's a great opportunity for those who previously would have struggled to find employment.

Amelia Gammon, founder and CEO of bide, speaks to Startups about intersectional environmentalism, her achievements so far as an entrepreneur, and the challenges faced in starting up a business as a woman.

The Business

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique?

bide is a sustainable lifestyle brand producing eco-products that have social impact. bide addresses rocketing unemployment by removing barriers for marginalised people to get work. Rather than make our eco-cleaning products in a factory, we bring the factories into people's homes.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Firstly, receiving the accolade of the highest rated products by Ethical Consumer Magazine for not one but all of bide’s eco-cleaning product range. It was an indisputable recognition that we are hitting the mark for ethics and eco-credentials. We're looking forward to expanding these ethics into more ranges beyond eco-cleaning.

Secondly, I was delighted to be awarded Diversity and Inclusion Champion at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. For an early stage startup, it really shows we’re on the right track.

Receiving the accolade of the highest rated products by Ethical Consumer Magazine for not one but all of bide’s eco-cleaning product range. It was an indisputable recognition that we are hitting the mark for ethics and eco-credentials.

How did you fund your business?

We have definitely hustled to get bide the place where it is today and luckily bide is fuelled by a combination of crowdfunding and a collection of committed angel investors, who quickly saw the potential in what we offer.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

I’m interested in the metrics around acquisition, retention, and interaction. Getting and keeping customers is critical for any DTC business.

Our home manufacturing lead numbers are also crucial – every day we receive new enquiries from women who want to join our home manufacturing team. We are over-subscribed.

To what extent does your business trade internationally?

We do not currently trade internationally. We are bringing production to within 30 miles of consumption; a hyper-local approach to manufacturing and distribution which supports local economies and reduces carbon emissions. Our vision for international trading is to replicate our model in each country of distribution; producing in-market.

Where would you like your business to be in five years?

Within 5 years, the bide brand will be the kitemark for ethical and social production. We will have diversified into new product verticals with our own branded range. You can expect to see international expansion and we will start to on-board third party goods into our manufacturing ecosystem.

What software or technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

We launched our live beta using Shopify’s system. This enabled us to quickly get an ecommerce solution in place, so that we could observe customer behaviour and readily tweak our proposition through the first 12 months.

Find out more about bide via the video below: 


Growth challenges

What is the biggest challenge you've faced in business?

We have built the business on a robust ethical and environmental value system. Our values are consistently challenged during a typical start-up journey. When you are bootstrapping, you need to really hustle – cutting corners to reduce costs. But when you have an ethical and eco start-up, cutting corners is not an option. So we have to search harder to find economically viable solutions that don't compromise on social and environmental impact.

When you are bootstrapping, you need to really hustle – cutting corners to reduce costs. But when you have an ethical and eco start-up, cutting corners is not an option. So we have to search harder to find economically viable solutions that don't compromise on social and environmental impact.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you started on your business journey?

Being a founder and starting a business is hard and everyone tells you that before you start. Yet one of the biggest surprises I find as an entrepreneur is that it’s still an obstacle to be a woman. From personal branding workshops to investor pitching, it’s still a male dominated area. For example, we still even use female founders as a proxy, and founders as a proxy for men. We have an awful habit of adding ‘female’ as a prefix to any position of influence.

How has the pandemic affected the market you operate in?

Our business model has thrived during the pandemic. We launched at the height of it when there was a tidal wave of consumer interest in home-delivered goods. We also captured the trend of supporting local businesses – with our nationwide distribution of home manufacturers we can provide locally-produced goods at all times.

Our supply chain was also not affected. Where traditional factories had to close during lockdown, our producers could continue to make our products from their kitchen tables. We only source our raw ingredients from the UK so we also avoided the importation delays that many other producers suffered from Brexit and the pandemic.


Personal growth

Did you study business or learn on the job?

I studied dance – perfect preparation for my subsequent 20+ years in business! Founding bide came after a successful career in film & TV distribution. I have developed and launched B2B and DTC digital platforms globally. This extensive experience has enabled me to fast track the business.

What would make you a better leader?

I love to get my hands dirty and get in the thick of things. I am constantly learning and aiming to improve as a leader every day. I’d love to get into more startup groups and learn from others doing similar things as an early stage startup – from becoming a B Corp to female founders to seeking the right investors for a purpose-led business.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without?

One business app: It probably has to be Google Calendar – it keeps me on track and I carve out my focus time, work time, meetings, and plan my week here.

One personal app: Instagram, it’s personal and business mixed together. I love seeing bide’s engaged community, comments, tags and likes – those little emojis with hearts from our customers make me very happy.

A business book or podcast that you think is great.

‘Tapestries of Life' by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson. Anne is a biologist who delves deep into the ecosystem of the natural world. Whilst not a conventional business read, this is an invaluable lesson of how we can learn from nature’s innovation and resourcefulness.

Finally, what’s the most important piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting a business?

Never compromise your integrity or your values. You will be challenged every day on this. Your mission and values help you determine what's right and wrong, and are key to making wise decisions, so stick with them.

Never compromise your integrity or your values. You will be challenged every day on this. Your mission and values help you determine what's right and wrong, and are key to making wise decisions, so stick with them.

Ross has been writing for Startups since May 2021, specialising in sustainable business and telephone systems. He also runs the successful entrepreneur's section of the website.

He's previously written for Conde Nast Traveller and the NME and is passionate about music, sustainability, and travelling. Follow him on his Twitter - @startupsross for helpful business tips.

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