Defunkify was satisfied it had the business of removing odor from clothing all sewn up, but then realized it was struggling to manage operational planning, scheduling and execution capability in house. That’s when River Rock Advisors stepped in.

With the slogan, “Wash the Funk Out!” Defunkify was created with the aim of making sure that consumers had access to household cleaning products that are free from toxic chemicals. Leveraging Material Scientists from the University of Oregon, the company started its “better for you” range of cleaning products, to help customers solve what it identified as the number one problem in laundry: removing odor from clothing.  The range includes multiple scents across liquid and powder laundry detergents, odor remover sprays, laundry stain remover, all-purpose cleaner and, most recently, automatic dishwashing detergent.

Defunkify has won multiple EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards, and has worked to improve the consumer experience and environmental impact, not just via the product itself, but the packaging as well.

Using mid-market focused raw material distributors, contract manufacturers and third-party distribution providers, the company developed a strategy to go to market using multiple channels, including direct to consumer, via its website; on Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA); through grocery retailers; and through specialty and sports retailers.

Things got complicated fast. In order to accommodate customer requests, and to encourage new customers to give their products a try, the company produced multiple pack sizes of many of its products and scents. There was also a need for marketing and sales samples.

That’s when Defunkify realized it did not have sufficient operational planning, scheduling and execution capability in-house to handle the unanticipated complexity of its outbound activities. As a small start-up, it was going to be tough without adding multiple additional in-house employees.

Luckily, a friend introduced CEO & founder, Richard Geiger, to Steve Keener of River Rock Advisors (RRA) in late 2020.

Keener, his business partner Gary Jones, and junior team members worked with Defunkify, mostly pro bono, over the course of a few months in order to understand the business situation and provide a number of options. These included steps the company could undertake to fit its special needs, from installing commercial software to creating a planning and operational environment using Excel, or outsourcing support to RRA.

Initially, Defunkify’s internal operations personnel wanted to take RRA’s recommendations and run with them. However, after almost a year, it became clear that the company was not going to be able to achieve the efficiencies it needed, so Geiger reached back out to Keener and RRA. The hope was that they could come in and run the full breadth of the supply chain so that it was no longer having a negative impact on customer service and profitability.

RRA immediately jumped in, performing triage where needed, and taking over management of outbound operations so that CEO Geiger could focus on growing the business.

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With the transition to RRA’s business process outsourcing services, Defunkify was able to support the regular Amazon FBA demand, as well as offer the products to Amazon Prime Day customers. It also reduced finished goods inventories, while improving customer service and reducing raw material lead-times while freeing up working capital tied up in inbound materials. Another benefit was the ability to support a short-notice national rollout of Defunkify’s liquid laundry detergent at Whole Foods. The company also improved relationships with, and service from, raw material and packaging vendors and contract manufacturers. Defunkify was able to switch out 3PL providers in two different market channels (Amazon FBA and Direct to Consumer). It also had a freer hand with a new product launch, changes to packaging and more.

“RRA’s willingness to start on a dime and market-price their services while helping us to reduce complexity, in addition to the stated planning and execution capability of their contract, has meant that I can focus on growing the business without worrying about the supply chain,” says Geiger.