UK small business credits Amazon Sustainability Accelerator for start

The founders of SURI joined Amazon’s Sustainability Accelerator; 15 months later, they had shipped over 100,000 toothbrushes.

3 min
April 22, 2024

It’s a little-known fact that’s fueling the co-founders of SURI, the sustainable toothbrush company built in London: every year over 4 billion toothbrushes end up in landfills or in oceans. What’s “just absolutely wild,” said co-founder, Mark Rushmore, “virtually every toothbrush you’ve ever used since childhood, probably still exists.”

It’s the realization that they could do better that brought Gyve Safavi and Rushmore together. The former Procter and Gamble colleagues started SURI, short for ‘Sustainable Rituals’ in 2020. “We wanted to create a product that championed a modern design,” said Rushmore. An electric toothbrush “that was enjoyable to use, a high performance clean, and was as sustainable as possible,” seconded Safavi.

Sustainability for SURI, starts at the top. The company’s toothbrush heads are made from cornstarch and the bristles are made from castor oil, the handle is aluminum and built to be repairable. Rushmore said it took calling 25 factories to find the one that was willing to innovate with the founders. Many, he said, laughed at them, saying it would be impossible to use plant-based materials in their design. “But we were really insistent that we had to make something that was slim, but also made from these new sustainable materials and in a modular way as well, so we can repair and replace the battery, which is very different from an industry that just wants you to consume and waste,” said Rushmore.

It’s the sustainability of SURI’s design that caught the eye of Amazon’s Sustainability Accelerator team. Before they had even sold a toothbrush, Safavi and Rushmore were invited to be part of the first Amazon Sustainability Accelerator, an equity-free program supporting start-ups who are driving sustainable innovation. “I really cannot exaggerate how fundamental it was in our journey,” said Rushmore. SURI was part of a cohort of 11 startups working in Amazon’s London headquarters on Principal Place, in Shoreditch, rent-free.

“From day one, it really gave us an opportunity to connect with other like-minded startups as well as an amazing curriculum that got us off to a good start,” said Safavi. “There was the expert guidance on how to optimize your listing. They brought in experts from Climate Kick and we were taught how the Climate Pledge Friendly Accreditation could really help support our listing,” said Rushmore.

“Fast forward 15 months,” he continued, “and we’ve shipped over a hundred thousand electric toothbrushes in large part actually to the growth we saw on the accelerator.”


SURI was part of a cohort of startups working in Amazon’s London headquarters

In that same time, the company grew internally from three employees to 12, with monthly revenues exceeding a million pounds. SURI products can be purchased on Amazon and in big box pharmacies in the UK, something that Rushmore said came from working with the accelerator.

There were there to help us grow our business, said Rushmore, “both on Amazon and off Amazon, which was amazing.” As the company scales, they are looking for growth opportunities in other markets, namely the US, Germany and then broader Europe.

“There’s a team helping us set up our listing right now in the US,” said Rushmore. “Likewise, there’s another team who are helping us set up in Europe and Amazon has a host of different ways to help make that really easy. You can take your existing listing and without much effort have it translated into other languages, but also you can have it set up and your reviews will shift as well so that when you launch in another market, you’re not starting from scratch, you are already running.”

Helping them run, Rushmore and Safavi credit Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), an optional service, small businesses can elect to use. Instead of spending time processing orders, handling customer inquiries, and managing returns, Amazon fulfillment specialists do that for them. Added to that, they’ve opted for Amazon Freight, which picks up product from the SURI warehouse and delivers to Amazon warehouses, “which is both quicker and more cost-effective than what we were using previously,” said Rushmore.

Rushmore said growing with Amazon has been better than expected. From the lower than expected fees to the support and logistics, Amazon just makes it easy, he said.

“There’s no conversations about shelf space. You can go onto Amazon immediately, no matter what your size and compete right there alongside the world’s largest companies. I think that’s a real advantage of working with Amazon.”

Tags and related tags:
Launch & build a brand