60 SECONDS WITH CEDAR ANDERSON – CEO OF FLOW HIVE
The story of Flow Hive begins with a young Cedar Anderson, who was born and raised at an intentional community near the Channon NSW, in a half built mud brick house in the forest. The community was held together by the common values of sustainability and environmental conservation.
Cedar has been keeping bees since the age of six under the watchful eye of his dad, Stuart, and with three generations of bee-keepers in the family, it is a tradition he was born into.
On the day of a regular honey harvest, Cedar was struck by the flaws in the process: he was hurting bees to get to the honey, being stung repeatedly, and it was taking over a week to get the job done. The young entrepreneur said to himself “there must be a better way”. Cedar and Stuart spent almost a decade prototyping a flow system that would collect the honey from the hive with minimal intervention, and after perfecting the design, they took it to Crowdfunding in 2015 and launched one of the most successful Crowdfunding campaigns of all time. Fast forward to today and there are 75,000 Flow Hives in use in more than 130 countries and those numbers just keep on growing.
In our interview with Cedar, we learned how the success of the business has allowed him to donate more time and money to projects in habitat protection. What started as a personal goal to increase harvesting efficiency, became a worldwide shared passion for beekeeping and a new mindset on how we treat the planet.
What do you believe is the family business advantage?My father and my brains are kind of wired in the same way. When it comes to Christmas time and there’s a game of Pictionary, we’re not allowed to be on the same team because half a squiggle and we understand what the other one’s talking about. When it came to inventing the Flow Hive, it’s this that made it so good to be able to work together. Just a single hand movement and we’ve got what the other one’s talking about. And it really did mean we could progress very quickly with ideas when prototyping and inventing. The seven and sometimes more family members working in our business, and the passion, the dedication, the deep care, and the trust that comes with working with family members is a really important element that’s no doubt led to the success we’ve had today.
What has been the most challenging time working in the family business?I have an amazing family full of talented, intelligent people. And while most of the time everything’s good, of course, there’s times when it’s not smooth sailing. And it’s actually the passion and the dedication that comes with family members, which is a bit of a double edge. On one hand, that’s a really, really important quality. And it can get challenging when there is a disagreement or there is a misunderstanding. And it’s at these times that extra thought and extra care needs to go into the communication to make sure that everything is resolved because in the end, it’s your family. They’re not going away. And me being the CEO, it is an awkward position to be sometimes between two family members, having to make a call on this way or that way.
What has been the most rewarding?The most rewarding thing is to have our invention become a part of the world and be appreciated, used and seen by so many. And what keeps us going is having a product that is actively having a positive impact in the world. But what we’re finding is it’s far beyond that. A lot of our customers are brand new to beekeeping and bees are a real gateway insect. We continually get feedback of how it’s changed people’s lives and changed people’s thinking. It’s like a window’s opened to understanding the world in a different way, to seeing how interconnected life is, to seeing the work that all the amazing pollinators do.
We get so many great stories of people converting their whole block into insecticide free zones, and advocating for all of these tiny insects that do such extraordinary work and are vital to not only our survival, but the whole natural world in itself. And it’s really having a positive impact in the world that gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us going. And on a personal note, the success has allowed our little family to stay right where we invented the Flow Hive in this beautiful coastal forested region and that is a dream come true for us.
What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?The legacy we want to leave behind is a brand that through its work and through its products is making a positive impact on the world. And the environmental views and values are infused into the brand in such a way that without those, the brand is worthless. That way, when we’re no longer part of the brand, it’s a legacy that can continue to have a positive influence in the world.
So we’re constantly coming up with new ways that we can raise funds for habitat regeneration and protection, how we can do projects in the world that really do help our bees and our pollinators. How we can educate to have a positive impact in the way that people look at the world and the way that people treat the environment around them.
Through various projects, so far we’ve raised over a quarter of a million dollars and donated them to amazing projects around the world, to help with habitat regeneration and protection, and also disaster relief. But it’s only a starting point. We’ve just launched a new initiative called thebeekeeper.org, which is an online education platform with 50% of profit donated to habitat regeneration and protection. Through this, we plan to help by educating people about bees, but also raising funds.
If you could give one piece of advice for those building a brand, what would it be?Make great video content that lets the passion and dedication for your brand really come through and connects with your audience. Use a mixture of high quality content that really shows you as a high quality brand, and also do things like your live streams. They’re lower quality, but allow you to get information out there on a regular basis in an efficient way.
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