A practical solution to wasteful sticky notes

We caught up with FSB Insurance Service policyholder, Nicola Walters of Organisational Elephant, who founded her first business 20 years ago and has been an FSB member ever since! Her new business has been responsible for the launch of reusable, dry wipe sticky notes called onits (on it, get it?) and we have to say, they’re very impressive!

Tell us about yourself and your business

I have spent the last 20 years turning around troubled programmes for some of the world’s largest blue chip companies. This has taken me across the globe from Sweden to South Africa, from Austria to Argentina and everywhere in between. I invented and began selling onits because we live in a disposable economy with a throwaway culture. 50 billion paper sticky notes were sold in 2017. Every single one has to be shredded and either disposed of in landfill or recycled. A meeting room that uses 2 packs of paper sticky notes a day will use over 129,000 in 3 years.

A single pack of 200 onits will do the same job and at a fraction of the cost. Organisational Elephant and the onits that we sell are very much my own creations. From product creation in 2015 to developing the first prototypes in 2016 to launching in 2018. The biggest challenge was finding a manufacturer who had both the ability and interest in going through the process of “try, try again…”

Tell us about the journey you’ve been on with Organisational Elephant and onits.

In 2015 my now husband Andrew and I decided to get married. We set ourselves 3 months from getting engaged to getting married. The challenge was identifying who we possibly could invite, who we actually had invited and who had accepted.

We used sticky notes to track our guests through the process but they just curled and kept falling off! We were losing track of who had said yes and who we were yet to invite. Disaster! So I looked to the market to find a more reliable solution (and one that wouldn’t need to go in the bin at the end of the day). The market was bare and so I invented onits- reusable, dry-wipe, magnetic notes.

In January 2018 we won a dragon’s den style competition for our first product, onits, which led to a period of branding, marketing and preparing the product for general release. In August 2018 I on-boarded my first staff member, Eleanor, and the following month I went into running the business as my full-time job.

What are you most proud of?

Part of life is being able to give back to society in which ever way we can. At Organisational Elephant we believe in not just Corporate Social Responsibility but also Personal Social Responsibility and make it a point to integrate “doing the right thing” as a matter of course. We work with the local school, community groups and businesses and are excited to be taking on our first interns this year. As part of our efforts to give back to the community, we took the Scottish Business Pledge, Resource Efficiency Pledge and registered as a Disability Confident Employer.

One of my proudest moments recently was presenting to the 2019 entrants of the #THEHEAT19 competition. I had been asked to give them a flavour of what to expect in the competition, what my journey had been like since winning in 2018 and what tips and hints I’d give them. The initial brief was 15 minutes however the session was going so well I was asked to extend to an hour and got incredible feedback- what a boost!

What has been your experience with FSB and its various benefits?

When I first joined I had just launched my previous company Competitor’s Edge Ltd – a management consultancy providing Troubleshooting, Programme Management and Interim IT Director services. I won an Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was a Shell LiveWire finalist. I attended a number of FSB networking events but it took me a while to make the most of the benefits available. Partially as my clients were predominantly multinationals and partially as I was always abroad or away from home.

Would you recommend FSB and the Membership Benefits to other small business owners?

Yes, FSB membership comes with great value for money benefits. There are many networking groups but FSB is the only one where services like the advice you get from FSB Insurance Service come as standard within your membership fee.


You can visit Organisational Elephant (and buy your very own onits) here: https://organisationalelephant.com/shop