Kompotoi offers a sustainable, green and much more visually and odourly pleasing alternative to deployable chemical toilets. The Recycling of the "Human Output" can be used
to improve soil fertility and closes an important resource cycle.
"If everyone copies us, we're happy. We're not in it for the money, but for a purpose." - Jojo Linder, Co-founder Kompotoi
Learn more: www.kompotoi.ch
Interview with Jojo Linder, Co-founder of Kompotoi
"How can it be that we throw these valuable resources away, there have to be better solutions!", is what Jojo realized after coming home from his work in development aid
when he visited an event. After 4 years of prototyping, he founded Kompotoi with his friend Marcos in 2016. With about 400 mobile toilets, the project is steadily growing but
also facing some challenges. We talked about the upcoming and future of Kompotoi and about how to support sustainable projects.
Xander Reimann, Andrea Martac: What is sustainability for you?
Jojo Linder: Living our lives, that our children and grandchildren have the same possibilities as we have.
We always try to make certain parts of a process more sustainable, but we never rethink the whole system, for example in the wastewater sector: We wash away nutritions and then it becomes pollution. A hundred years ago, farmers were dependent on the nutrients of the city, and now we can't believe that we can use human waste as a resource. The systems are too big, they hardly change. But now is an interesting time, we need big solutions for big problems like cities. It is all about trust. In smaller companies you see the face behind it that you can trust. But for bigger companies, the decisions are made by the shareholders with the goal to create more shares. That's why it's important to support small, local businesses.
A: Does Zürich need more low-barrier alternatives? What could be done to make Zürich more sustainable?
J: The small things are here, but now it's time to make the big things sustainable!
The government tries to be more sustainable. But the regulations have to be more strict and adaptive. The big companies are not pressured to change anything. Only Regulations can force them to be more sustainable.
During the development aid I realized, 95% of the world is looking at us (meaning Switzerland & western europe) and want to become like us. We have a big impact by being a good role model! And it's also important to note that while we talk about big Companies and big systems, every individual choice as a customer also matters.
A: How did it all start?
J: It's a long story. As a Teenager and in my early twenties I only had snowboarding and skateboarding in mind. After working in this field, I wanted to do something with more Purpose, so I worked in development aid projects without getting paid. I also did Permaculture Workshops to teach people in third world countries how to be more sustainable and less dependent on aid. It was all about how to hold and manage your resources. When I was working in India I saw a project about composting toilets, which improved the local soil by a lot.
On an Event while peeing in a plastic chemical Toilet I realised: "Das chas nöd si, there are so many better solutions". The Idea was growing and discussed with my friend and now business partner who studied environmental sciences. When another friend held a barbecue, the first prototype out of recycled wood was built in 2012. After about 8 prototypes, the company was founded in 2016. Last year we built about 200 Cabins, so we had to switch away from recycled wood due to consistency.
X: Did you get state funding?
J: We have not received any state funding, but we have got some support from Klimastiftung Schweiz.
X: Who are your customers?
J: We have a lot of associations like Quartierverein, or other small clubs, where a private person wants the product. But we also have customers like green stadt Zürich or smaller villages that have a Kompotoi on their playground.
A: What are your experiences with customers?
J: After the prototype Phase, we mostly got positive feedback. If there is a problem it is mostly due to human error, forgetting something during delivery or thelike.
The Price is a big factor. In our case, we have such a much better solution than our competitors have, so there is never a discussion about which product to take if the price is similar. They only dismiss our products because of the price, I know that also from my experience doing event management.
If our concept gets copied, we're happy about that. We don't protect our product (aside the brand), it is too simple. And if everyone adapts this, we still reach our goal. Maybe we don't get rich but we did this out of purpose.
X: What are your next goals?
J: You have to see there are about 22'000 mobile Toilets in Switzerland, and we have around 400, it's still nothing. It is a very visible product, but the price is defined by the product. So we try to partner with other organisations in other regions, and we supply them with the knowhow and with customers and they can do the cleaning and delivery in these autonomous hubs.
Last year and this year were very difficult to manage but we were still growing. Next year, there will be a huge growth and the challenge will be how we manage this. We're looking for financial partners but during these times it's difficult to find one.
We also have 3 small partners in Germany and we want to establish a company in Germany to make cooperation with those partners easier. And sadly, we have to leave this area here, they're going to build some big complex. So there are a lot of challenges ahead.
Kompotoi (Image: Cathia Corti)
Kompotoi (Image: Désirée Laroche)