“Running your own business I think is one of the coolest experiences that you can have, I'm 30 years old today and I've been running Terra Cycle for nine years. I started when I was 21 years old and today I'm sitting on a nice global business. We operate in 22 countries with about a hundred and ten employees collect hundreds of unique types of waste everything from chewing gum to use cigarette butts to dirty diapers and chip bags and have found that every type of garbage, if it's collected can be either reused up cycled or recycled.”
“The way we got into is basically dealing with garbage was my friends and I were honestly growing better part and we found that feeding worm poop to the pot plants would make them grow really well.”
“We basically started as a fertilizer company and became quite successful, and then the question is that you know what was special about our business. Was it that we were taking organic waste and feeding it to worms? Or was it that we were selling garbage? Our essence is solving garbage, when I first started Terra Cycle I was 21 years old as my friend of nine our dorm rooms and we had a really hard time raising money. We actually tried and totally failed and no one would finance it. So at the very beginning because we didn't need some capital we decided to enter our business plan contest, you could just google them, there's hundreds of them all over the US and in fact all over the world and the great thing about a business plan contest is you can win anywhere from five to ten to twenty thousand dollars but there's even contests that go up to half a million dollars. And even if you don't win because we don't win the first few. What was really cool is you learned a lot about how you sell but how to present. What was wrong and the best feedback truly really listen to is everyone telling you why your ideas sucks because just hearing good feedback doesn't progress, you hearing bad feedback or constructive feedback does because then you can learn and change.”
“And so we started basically financing ourselves by winning business plan contests. We won seven in a row raised one hundred thousand dollars and was able to get the business going. And as we did that we also refined our business so much so that by the time we were finished the business plan contest circuit we were now able to raise money.”
“One of the things to note is if you're a small business don't go to a venture capitalist venture capitalists suck in every capacity, they do give you lots of money but they also give you really aggressive terms and these aggressive terms may sound good when everything is rosy, but it's not always rosy and that's when you get fired and get hurt by these terms you accepted the place to go to get money is rich individuals called angel investors and actually angel investors invest typically in the US economy and startups twice as much as venture capitalists. So there's tremendous money out there. Finding angel investors is not as difficult as it seems and you don't need to be wealthy to do it. The best way to find angel investors is go to Web sites thefunded.com is a great resource but also Google and other search engines. Now if you do go out and raise money I have two strong pieces of advice, get a good lawyer, get a good accountant., make sure you incorporate it properly, make sure you have good legal support.”
“Fundamentally business is about change. And if I could you know pass any words of wisdom as a young 30 year old CEO. It's that don't think that what worked yesterday will work tomorrow. The more flexible you are and how fast our economy moves the more successful you will be. So today we move millions of pounds of garbage every month.
I mean truly phenomenal amounts of things that were never recyclable, through two thousand unique products, through selling raw materials and licensing and it works like a charm and we went from losing in 2008 almost five million dollars to two years later being profitable.”