A Conversation with OZOlab

by Braden Kelley

I had the opportunity to tag along to the first part of the ?WhatIf! Innovation Field Trip on May 4, 2009. This event began at the Apple Store SOHO, which was then followed by a conversation with OZOlab.

OZOlab was founded by Jordan Harris and Roo Rogers, a blending of Virgin branding experience and economic development experience. The two got together to try and have a positive impact on the world through business. One of the things they realized early on is that companies in the green space do a very poor job of branding (exemplified by the poor audience recall of ‘green’ brands when asked).

OZOlab’s first venture is OZOcar – a black car service in New York City that uses only Toyota Priuses with WiFi and AC Power Adapters. OZOcar went from idea to business in six months and was launched on the back of the Green Car to the Red Carpet movement. They did their first fashion show in September 2005, and now have a profitable business servicing celebrities, corporate accounts and individuals. They have run into a lot of challenges that they did not expect in greening the car service business, but feel they are doing a lot of good. The most frustrating thing has been corporate clients’ reluctance to give up the traditional paper voucher system for a more efficient (and more green) paper-free system.

OZO is designed to be an umbrella brand focused on green values and good design and they are currently working on a couple of other product line ideas. One is OZOhome – a cleaning system shipped to stores without water. The second is OZOwater – a water system based around stylish bottles and a series of filtration, enhancement, and flavor discs. OZOwater is the farthest along the product development process. OZOhome was started on first, but they didn’t make the product real soon enough and lost a bit of momentum on the project (they are trying to pick it back up now).

Along the way OZO Labs has said no to a lot of ideas, including OZOvodka, OZOfertilizer, and creating their own green-focused retail stores (a Green Depot idea).

It will be interesting to see if OZO can change our water drinking habits and our cleaning habits, but I wish them the best. The OZOhome cleaning system is something that has to happen sooner or later. We just can’t keep shipping water all around the country if the consumer can add it at home at the end.

I wish OZOlab every success with these challenges in changing behavior.

What do you think?

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