One man’s trash is another’s treasure — and Tom Szaky (this week’s live chat host – RSVP here) is living proof.
The Hungarian native’s fascination with trash goes back a long way. While studying at Princeton, he and his mates cultivated a huge worm farm, which they fed with cafeteria waste. They then sold the resulting Worm Poop (very effective fertilizer, or so we’ve heard) in bottles they’d found in the trash. It was a win-win: they made money, and the project was environmentally friendly too.
Fast forward to 2012, and Tom, as the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, Inc, one of the world’s foremost leaders in eco-capitalism, recycling and upcycling, was named #1 CEO in America Under 30 by Inc. Magazine.
Today, with a projected $15 million in revenue and clients like Kraft Foods, Nestle, L’Oreal, Mars, GSK and Kimberly-Clark Professional, TerraCycle is a post-consumer waste solution force to be reckoned with. They’re even teaming up with cigarette companies — talk about an odd couple!
TerraCycle isn’t just good business — it’s ‘good’ business. They’ve expanded their recycling and upcycling fundraisers, which pay schools and nonprofits to collect used packaging and products, into 20 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brasil, UK, Ireland, most EU countries, Israel and Turkey.
Tom is a man of ethics behind the scenes, too. In 2003, one year into business and on the verge of bankruptcy, Szaky turned down $1 million from Carrot Capital Business Plan because they wanted TerraCycle to focus less on the environment.
Have YOU ever wondered how to find that sweet spot between financial success and throwing away your values? How to do good while doing Good-with-a-capital-G? (Or how in the world to turn down $1M when bankruptcy is staring you in the face?)
Well, why rifle through the trash on your own?
This Thursday, December 20th at 3 PM EST is your chance to learn firsthand what it really means to be “green” from a man who’s trodden through many a garbage pile — and come out with clean feet on the other side.
Tom will talk more about how his humble worm-farming roots led to TerraCycle’s now-extroardinary success during our hour-long #StartupLab live chat, presented by Citi. Got questions for Tom? Bring them with you Thursday to the live chat!