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PANGEA Movement Founder William DiRicco on Regenerating the Environment

Introduction

There are 165 million tons of plastic currently polluting the Earth’s oceans. Scientists have found that rivers are the primary source of plastics that end up in the ocean. As much as 80% of plastic waste comes from about 1,000 different rivers, which makes the problem even harder to address.

PANGEA Movement is an outdoor gear company that sells sustainable products, including bamboo towels and waterproof jackets made from recycled plastics. The profits from these sales partly fund the company’s mission to clean rivers, which it does by building river barriers that catch plastic and other waste. The company also uses the money to plant mangroves to help offset carbon dioxide. We reached out to co-founder and COO William DiRicco to hear more about how meeting his co-founder sparked the company’s start and PANGEA’s plans in the event of an economic recession.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Inez Sanjaya

In your own words, how would you describe PANGEA Movement?

William DiRicco

We are creating the most regenerative products in the world, preventing trash from entering the ocean, and restoring mangrove forests. 

Inez Sanjaya

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

William DiRicco

Marcos and I met while backpacking through South America, looking for beautiful beaches and untouched nature. No matter how beautiful the location or how remotely we ventured, we would find trash and observe the devastating effects on the environment. We are now creating innovative products for nature lovers and travelers so that their purchases can fund the protection and preservation of these natural places.

Inez Sanjaya

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

William DiRicco

Marcos and I met in South America while traveling in 2018. We started the company from our laptops and continued to travel for another year. We got some traction in 2020 with the launch of our first product, which sold $150,000 in the first month. Later that year, we raised our pre-seed round from a venture capital firm called REAPRA and started to accelerate growth. Now we are a team of six full-time workers, with a network of part-time and freelance workers supporting the business.

Inez Sanjaya

How is PANGEA Movement transforming the outdoor gear industry?

William DiRicco

The belief from many outdoor brands is that “sustainable” means “doing no harm.” We understand that to solve the complex problems that are destroying the remaining outdoor landscape, we need to go beyond and regenerate the planet. Every purchase of a PANGEA product has a massive positive impact for the planet. All of our products are designed and created by us, with sustainable and circular supply chains implemented into the manufacture and production of our products. On top of that, every $10 spent with PANGEA intercepts four pounds of trash on its way to the ocean and removes four pounds of carbon dioxide from the sky.

Inez Sanjaya

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

William DiRicco

The competitive landscape has companies that are doing very well with sustainable messaging and selling outdoor products. Cotopaxi and Patagonia are great examples. PANGEA can disrupt the entire sustainable outdoor category by going beyond the donation model and filling the demand for direct, quantifiable impact. By avoiding donation and making all of the impact ourselves, we create super efficient solutions. Because of this, we  have been able to achieve the most direct impact per dollar on the market. If anyone can find someone making more direct impact per dollar than PANGEA, please let us know so we can beat them.

Inez Sanjaya

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

William DiRicco

We will build an in-house product development team that can improve and accelerate our proven product-launching strategy. Our new target will be one new product launch per quarter. We will also build an in-house content and marketing team that can scale our existing products on Shopify, Amazon, and other platforms. Finally, we will use some of the funds to supply inventory to our top-selling countries. This will improve shipping time and ensure we don’t sell out of our best-selling products.

Inez Sanjaya

How is PANGEA Movement handling inflation and economic concerns?

William DiRicco

PANGEA is built for survival. We are keeping reserves in the company for 18 months of runway in case we enter a recession. If we do enter a recession, we will stay lean and flip our operations into profit in three to six months. During that time, we will be able to take market share from our competitors who did not plan and are forced to go out of business. 

If we do not enter a recession and the economy and spending stay strong, we will invest in more aggressive growth and prepare to raise another round at a higher valuation in 2023.

Inez Sanjaya

What is the company’s strategy to scale both its product development and its movement?

William DiRicco

We have about 10 products in our pipeline. We will hire an expert in product development to execute on creating prototypes of our product pipeline. We will produce one new product per quarter, and we will produce them in order of their speed to production. Some products take much longer to manufacture and produce than others. 

As for the movement, our plastic-catching barriers and mangrove restoration are highly efficient and highly scalable. We solved three rivers in three months with 17 barriers, which created more than one year’s worth of our impact promise. We can very easily scale the impact as our sales increase. 

Inez Sanjaya

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

William DiRicco

We will not stop. Our mission is far too important, and our solution is the most efficient we have ever seen. We are built for survival. Our company has the cash reserves and financial discipline to survive a recession or market downturn, even if it lasts up to two years. 

Outdoor adventure lovers are the perfect target. They spent $100 billion in 2021. We have demonstrated an ability to capture and convert this audience effectively. As more and more customers ask for direct, quantifiable regeneration of the planet, PANGEA will be one of the first and most well-trusted names producing high-quality products that fulfill this need.

Inez Sanjaya

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

William DiRicco

Here are our 10-year targets: 

  • $100 million USD in sales per year
  • 100 million trees planted
  • 100 rivers restored
  • One cleanup in every country in the world

We look forward to seeing where William and his team take the company. PANGEA Movement is currently raising on Wefunder.

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About: Inez Sanjaya

Inez's background is in the startup ecosystem, which she is very passionate about. Inez has experience working in a startup, a Google-backed accelerator, and lastly in Plug and Play Tech Center. Prior to this, she was a part of VU Venture Partners doing deal sourcing and conducting due diligence. Inez graduated from the University of California Berkeley with an Economics degree.

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