RipPak: Helping Solve A Global Hygiene Problem
Donald Williams, RipPak’s founder, was deployed with the United States Marine Corps to help the people affected by the Haiti earthquake in 2010. With clean water scarce, it was difficult at best for the people to maintain their dental health. The product he developed is a single serving powder that combines with your own saliva to clean your mouth.
The company’s biggest goal is for the product to be included in every Humanitarian Daily ration (H.D.R.) for humanitarian efforts and every Meal-Ready-to-Eat (M.R.E.) for deployed military. Their short term goal is to be accepted and shelved by retail companies nationwide in order to provide a completely versatile and effective alternate to the current method of dental hygiene for the outdoor person and those that need an on-the-go hygiene solution.
Donald, what is RipPak in 2–5 words?
RipPak is “Perfectly Portable Tooth Powder”
For all your on-the-go dental hygiene needs
What motivated you to start the company?
In 2010, my Marine Corps unit with the 22nd MEU was recalled from our post deployment leave to aid in the Haiti Relief effort for the earthquake that happened there. My platoon was the first on the ground in Port-Au-Prince and Leogane Haiti.
The local populations dental health was truly heartbreaking. I observed numerous times people breaking open the MRE and splitting the food up into the smallest pieces possible in order to consume it because their teeth bothered them. We had bilingual Marines in our unit that spoke Creole and they would translate to us just how bad off the local populations dental health was.
While I was there, we handed out hundreds of thousands of M.R.E’s. (Meals-Ready-to-Eat) to the local people. Tragedy was everywhere and people/things were displaced. One thing that was certain was that people needed help. I noticed how the aid that we were providing through the food (MRE’s) that we were handing out was not helping the overall health and hygiene of the population. Please keep in mind, MRE’s have toilet paper in them and sanitizing wipes but they do not include anything for oral/dental health.
It drove me to think of a product that could be provided to third world countries and places where water is scarce or not clean, and dental hygiene is inadequate. Something that is Simple, Convenient, and Effective. I wanted to create something that the current dental hygiene method was missing. For toothpaste, you need a toothbrush to agitate it and make it foam on your teeth and gums. Almost EVERYONE gets the bristles wet before they brush their teeth because they don’t like the dry feeling of paste on their teeth or because it’s how they were taught. This gave me the idea for a single serving tooth powder that would foam on contact with your saliva once it is poured in your mouth. The formula would completely canvas your mouth, teeth, and gums which the current method of toothpaste can’t promise to do.
I also experienced time while training and on deployments where my toothpaste tube would freeze or burst due to the intense heat and cold. So, coming to the conclusion of how many people my single serving tooth powder could impact was two-fold. Humanitarian aid worldwide and any person who travels or needs clean teeth while on-the-go, including the military.
What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?
My team is a group of go getters who have a passion to help those in need. They have a heart to bring light into a world where it is relatively dark. They have the drive to stop at nothing to make sure that RipPak reaches every mouth across the globe whether it is through retail sale in the U.S., to implementing it on military bases across the nation for the service men and women and/or global distribution for humanitarian aid/natural disasters.
In a few sentences, what do you offer to whom?
RipPak provides CONVENIENCE to take care of your dental hygiene no matter where you are at. A Single Serving Tooth Powder that goes wherever you may go. A perfectly portable On-The-Go dental hygiene solution. RipPak isn’t a mint or breath-saver like every other product out there. This is something that will actually clean the residue off your teeth and not leave anything behind.
It is offered to outdoor men and women, adventurists, hikers, campers, travelers (work/business commute) (airline travel), business professionals who are in between important meetings, military personnel, and humanitarian aid relief efforts.
Where do you think your growth will be next year?
I trust in what we do here at RipPak. I fully believe we can make a substantial impact in the outdoor market which will help aid our efforts in pushing this product globally (non-profits) when disaster strikes. We are in the people business. If all goes right, hopefully we will go from a small 4–5 man show to a growing business that provides jobs to those locally wherever we may be.
What is the biggest risk facing your company?
Our biggest risk/threat is the current method of dental hygiene care. People are used to the “norm” of a plain old toothbrush, spreading toothpaste on the brush, putting it under the sink, getting it wet, brushing, spiting, rinsing, REPEAT. It’s dull to be honest.
We have to build awareness of our method/process and doing that takes valuable time and resources which we are striving to gain.
What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
1 Month Goal: Sell out our small batch of self-funded inventory to help spread the word about RipPak and get the product out to the masses to build awareness. We also want to run a successful crowdfunding campaign come end of December/beginning of January that will help us build brand identity to those involved all while earning enough money to set us up to make this long-time dream/goal a reality. It has been a long and bumpy road. We are finally arriving at our first stop light. Hopefully the light turns green. The more people who know about us, it just might!
3 Month Goal: We are a small business with no investors and self-funded money. We are self-starters and are trying to build this from the ground up. Therefore, a successful crowdfunding campaign will allow us to push product to the retail market which will in turn allow us to have inventory on stand by for when disaster strikes. I was born and raised in Florida. I know all about hurricanes and the damage they can do. We want to be ready for when that disaster strikes so that we can give product away for free when the natural disaster seasons arrive. (hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, floods, etc).
6 Month Goal: Have an established warehouse where we manufacture the product ourselves. We want to cut out the middle man and have full control of our future. Fill stick paks, fill pouches with the RipPaks, box it up, ship it out. We want to give back to those who support us. We want to provide the local people where we are at with the opportunity to work for a new and upcoming business that has big goals of making a global dental hygiene impact. You must have a servant’s heart to be in the business that we are in because we will be offering this product to people from all walks of life. Giving away free product isn’t easy. It takes all walks of life and great minds to think of unique ways we can make this impact collectively.
12 Month Goal: Establish contracts with aid and relief non-profits/start a non-profit that will aid the global dental hygiene dilemma. We want to send a pak out to those in need every time we sell one.
You’ve teamed with country singer/songwriter Michael Ray to spread the word about RipPak. How did Michael get involved?
I met Michael in the beginning of 2003. We both grew up in Eustis, Florida. My younger brother went to the school Michael attended, so our social circles crossed paths a time or two. I joined the Marine Corps in 2006 and left Eustis, and barely returned due to my duty in the Marine Corps. While I was dating my wife in 2008, I found out that Michael and her were good friends and hung out in the same social group. We stayed in touch with him from that point on, and have grown to appreciate each other’s company when we both just happen to be back in town in Eustis from our tours of duty.
We made contact one day in 2015 and he began by saying, “Hey man, do you want to be in my ‘Kiss You in the Morning’ music video?” I immediately said YES. In fact, the day he shot that video was the first time I told him about RipPak and he was intrigued ever since. Of course, he was driven to be the best that country music can offer so it took a lot of his time, effort, and attention. Over the last 6 months, he was able to take a step back, breath, gain an understanding of where my goals are, where my dreams come from, and completely join team RipPak.
If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?
That is a great question. I have been told that I have a huge heart when it comes to helping people. This explains my passion for RipPak. If I weren’t in the Marine Corps, I would more than likely be serving others in another area by assisting people with their finances. I earned my degree in finance from the University of South Florida and it gives me a sense of happiness when I can help family, friends, and advice seekers with balancing a budget, or how to save money for bigger purchases, and how to get out of debt. If you can’t manage finances in this day and age, your family’s generations to follow will ultimately pay the consequences.
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