Small Business Trends Radio

Garbage to Gold: Organic, Eco-Friendly Business

Tom Szaky on Garbage to Gold: Organic, Eco-Friendly Business

While a student at Princeton University, Tom had a vision. What if you took waste such as plastic soda bottles, saved them from landfills and reused them? He answered his own question when he left Princeton in 2002 to follow his dream and TerraCycle, affectionately referred to as the “worm poop company,” was born.

Tom Szaky, Founder of TerraCycle, is our featured guest in this Episode of The Small Business Trends Radio. Tom will share some the tips and strategies he used to turn garbage into gold.

Here’s a sampling from the show:

  • Upcycling programs — drive the creative force behind Tom’s company. Collection system chains are in place for collecting waste products such as wine bottle corks, Oreo wrappers, Capri Sun wrappers, plastic bottles and more. These items will then be reused, in their original form, and recycled into new products for distribution into the market.
  • A small business or entrepreneur — should not be intimidated by large retailers. Tom’s first two orders were placed by WalMart and Home Depot. The competition to drive your prices down will only be felt if you have others with similar offerings to compete with. But if your product is truly unique, you’ll stand alone. The majority of the American public shops at these large retailers and your presence there is important.
  • Do not fear rejection — because you can only gain from the experience. If you’re told no, you loose nothing because you didn’t have it anyway. Never fear!
  • Bootstrapping was used — to build TerraCycle. But angel investors, private wealthy men and women willing to invest funds, will give you much more freedom than other options would.

Would you like to learn more about building and conducting an eco-friendly business? You can do so by listening to Tom’s full interview by clicking the red and yellow player below.

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4 Responses to “Garbage to Gold: Organic, Eco-Friendly Business”

  1. Arthur Bland Says:

    That was cool, Tom! Never fear on rejections. I strongly agree to that and I believe most if not all, do believe on that too.

  2. Chris Says:

    Seems Tom’s early days of experimentation served him well :-) That was funny and I appreciate that he shared that bit of humor with us.

    Fascinating how things come about and Tom’s story is a real story of success, that’s for sure. In spite of it all, Tom seems very down to earth and genuine. With a couple more people like Tom on board, who knows? Maybe our way of life will change entirely. It’s already starting to turn “green” everywhere – and that’s a good thing. It’s the right direction.

  3. Paula Says:

    Tom, very interesting way to discover the value of worm poop ;) It sounds like Terracycle is quickly becoming a leader in upcycling. It’s amazing that they have found a way to get free advertising and make great eco-friendly products at the same time. That’s quite a success!

  4. Bianca Aquino Says:

    A small business or entrepreneur — should not be intimidated by large retailers. Well, as have been always said: “No guts, no glory.”

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