Vanessa Barzasi of BioBright tells us about setting up business with her brother, how covid changed her life, and why algae is the future of interior design.
Tell us a little about your business
My brother and I founded our business, BioBright, in December 2021. We supply beautiful algae plants for homes, offices and businesses. Algae provides the same benefits as usual plants and flowers while being easier to care for, more resistant and producing more oxygen.
We provide solutions for environmentally conscious clients who want their interior design to reflect their eco-friendly values, transforming homes and businesses, including hotels, spas, restaurants and offices with a unique, eco-friendly interior design solution. Our mission is to add value and uniqueness to your home or business, reduce pollution, reduce the global carbon footprint, and promote a lifestyle that is environmentally friendly. Our algae pollute less than other plants and flowers and just need natural or artificial light plus nutrients twice a month. Our two algae varieties, Amphitrite and Poseidon, produce oxygen and can live forever. Both of them can also boost your mood and improve productivity.
We can advise our customers about the best kind of algae to have in homes and businesses, and can also offer an Algae Designer Service that creates customised products with different shapes, sizes, and colours to suit different environments or requirements. We also offer a Rental Algae service, perfect for people who organise parties, weddings, and other events. We offer rental for days, weeks or even longer. This makes your business or event more sustainable: rather than fresh flowers that are dead in a week, our algae live forever.
Why did you start the business? Share your story so far.
Covid changed my life. Before the pandemic, I had a job at the Swiss embassy in London. When Covid came, I was no longer able to work there, so I decided to go back to Switzerland. Unfortunately, in Switzerland I was unable to find a job that I liked and that was right for me, and I became very stressed, unhappy, and depressed. One day, I went for a walk with my brother and he told me that I should follow my passion. He said that sometimes people who are very creative and think outside the box are not understood. As a result of that conversation, I decided to focus more on my dreams and on what I wanted to do with my life. At the same time, my brother bought several bioluminescent algae and we decided to launch our first idea at Oxford Brookes University. We won two awards, which gave us the courage and determination to set up BioBright.
What do you see as the main challenges facing your business and its continued operation or growth?
The biggest challenge is letting people know what we are doing and selling products. Our business is very new and the idea is very peculiar: it’s not common to see algae in a bottle and we are the only company that is doing that. We want to communicate to our customers that what we are offering is game-changing: I firmly believe that this is going to be the future. We are very young and inexpert, and it is very difficult to speak with interior designers, architects, and shop owners.
What can we do to encourage more disabled entrepreneurs to start businesses – what is holding them back and what can we all do to help change that?
They need support. Being an entrepreneur is very difficult and most of the time you feel alone and a lot of people will not understand why you are doing what you are doing. There is a lack of support, not only for disabled entrepreneurs, but for everyone.
I would love to see groups or networking events where you will feel less alone and more supported. Disabled entrepreneurs need a society or a group that can support them.
What do you consider your greatest achievement or the proudest moment in your life so far?
When I was just 19 years old, I decided to move to the UK and start learning English. After that, I completed my BSc in Economics at Oxford Brookes University and an MSc in Politics Violence and Crime at UCL. I then set up BioBright, which I think is my biggest achievement so far, especially after winning our two awards from Oxford Brookes University and being selected to take part in the NatWest Accelerator programme.
If there was one thing you could change about peoples’ perception of disability what would it be and why?
I want people to see you for the person that you are, not just the disability. We are not perfect and you should not judge people just because they are different to you. People should focus more on their values and personality.
Who or what inspires you?
My brother (pictured above) inspires me. He always supports me and he has inspired me to become a better person. He was the only one that believed in me and helped me. I am very happy that I am running BioBright with my brother. I have grown so much and am a better person thanks to his support.
Do you have a recommendation for a book or a podcast which has helped you along your journey?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey