Actor Chris Hemsworth, known for his role as Thor, the god of thunder in the avenger Franchise, is immediately recognizable by his bulging biceps and his torn figure. And that is thanks to the coach of the stars Luke Zocchi.
Mr. Zocchi is also an entrepreneur.
He introduced his company, Sipp Instant, to a pitch at SparkLab's Cultiv8 Demo Day in Sydney, which aims to make coffee more accessible, affordable and sustainable than plastic coffee pods.
Developed with co-founder Dylan Garft, Sipp Instant produces probiotic-infused instant coffee with pouches made from 100 percent compostable household packaging.
"We've been trading for about 18 months, but I expect the process to go there, we probably worked on it about a year ago," Zocchi told My Business.
The idea came from traveling around the world with Chris Hemsworth over the last five years, when he flew to various locations to film and the large sums of money he spent on his caffeine fix.
"I'm always in London or … basically everywhere [but home]," he said.
"So the idea came up to drink a good coffee that you can take with you and take with you."
Common ideas, passions
However, both he and Mr. Garft have incorporated their own passions and ideas into the final product.
"I had the whole idea of the milk jug and health, but its big impact was overall sustainability – he's really excited about it," explained Zocchi.
"He has really put me a lot more on this side of things. It's funny now because we've changed roles: he's fit and trained now, and I'm more passionate about the environment now. "
But why did he start a new business in addition to his existing work commitments? My Business asked Mr. Zocchi.
"It was just a small side project that we started and it just grew," he replied.
"I was super busy … I trained Chris while traveling and went online [fitness] Business, and that was a side project just started. "
Be part of an accelerator
Mr. Zocchi admitted that growing a start-up with a growth accelerator such as SparkLabs' Cultiv8 program was "a massive learning curve".
"I do not think I realized what we're getting into," he said.
"I remember when we started and tried all the different tastes, we just learned and got along over time."
According to Zocchi, the Accelerator program meant regular contact with mentors and counselors, who provide lots of guidance and answers to questions as they arise.
Pitching for investment
For many startups undergoing an accelerator program, it is time to ask investors for funds to bring their product to life, or, as in the case of Sipp Instant, to give additional scope to the fledgling company.
So what about putting your business in a room that has hundreds of investors, industry representatives and assembled media?
"I do not like talking in public," Zocchi said.
"I'm good at talking to people, but I was scared [it], I'm so glad it's over. I never want to do that again! "
[For the record, these nerves weren’t evident to most people in the room, including My Business, with Mr Zocchi’s presentation flowing very smoothly, and no sign of the head cold he had been struggling to overcome.]
The company has also opted for sustainable packaging of its coffee blends, although such alternatives to plastic are still relatively new to the human-quality food market.
Mr. Zocchi acknowledged that the costs are "much" higher than with normal options and that they are more likely to flow into the business than to be passed on to customers.
"I think a normal package cost about a few cents [each]And when we started, we were almost close to a dollar, "he said.
However, this happened both for personal and for branding reasons.
"The marketing bad luck we got from telling our story, and what we have to do with it, we just committed ourselves to, and I think it obviously worked for us." But it is much more expensive. "
Other companies seeking more sustainable packaging options should work openly and closely with the supplier to reduce costs.
They had come across a personal connection with their UK-based supplier who had not previously dealt with such a small business.
"They also helped us a bit and supported us because they really liked our branding."
But in the end, Sipp Instant had to "bite the ball" and buy a full-size roll to get healthy edges.
"It was a bit nerve-wracking in the beginning, because as a start-up, everyone counts for a small dollar," he said.
Of course, most startups do not work closely with high caliber people like the brothers Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Cate Blanchett. How did Sipp Instant really try to use these connections?
"It definitely made things easier – it was definitely a big advantage for us," Zocchi said.
"It only opens doors."
But he admits that celebrities have to cautiously deal with a brand or a product in order not to devalue their own "brand".
"I think the reason why these guys [the Hemsworth brothers] I helped because they really like the product, "he said.
"I think if they do not really like the product, whether I'm friends with them or not, I do not think they'd really push it."
And for the Hemsworth fans out there, what's it like working so closely with one of Hollywood's leading men?
"There are so many [stories]"Said Mr. Zocchi laughing.
But it's a funny story, while they were in Japan, one that came to mind.
"We were in Japan and Leonardo DiCaprio and his entire entourage passed me and Chris. And I saw Chris raise his hand to wave to him … and DiCaprio raced around the lobby with about 12 people, just ignoring Chris and walking right past him.
"I looked at it [Chris] like "Oh, that was so awkward" and he just stood there as if he did not know what to do. "
Mr. Zocchi added, "They did it now, Chris talked to him at one of the awards … but I remember the day DiCaprio fended us off!"
Adam Zuchetti is the publisher of My Business and has been managing the editorial team since the beginning of 2016.