TerraCycle on Starting a Green Business
30-year-old social entrepreneur says movement’s time has come
Friday November 19, 2012 -- Kristian Partington
Being true to a core strength is the biggest lesson entrepreneur Tom Szaky has learned in his business life and that’s the advice he offers others who are eager to dive into the world of social enterprise.
“A social business needs to work as a business first and foremost,” he says.
“Really focus on what makes you special, and hold onto that. Outsource everything else around you, other than what makes you exceptionally special.”
When you stay true to the core principles of a green business, “karma is on your side,” Tom says, and in a world that demands green choices, success is totally attainable.
Tom founded TerraCycle in 2001 based on cycling waste into plant fertilizer, and the company has grown steadily since. It is considered by many today to be a leading example of a business that lives and breathes environmental and social sustainability.
The company now offers a range of affordable, eco-friendly products created from waste.
At 30, Tom represents a new generation of social entrepreneurs that is keenly aware of the public’s demand for consumer choices that allow them to feel good about the companies they support through their spending.
TerraCycle’s dedication to environmental stewardship is generating loyal customers and supporters.
“For us it’s very simple,” Tom says. “We have very strong customer service in-house, we have very strong social media, and things like that really help foster a relationship with the consumer.”
His company and his team are committed to the core principles of sustainable development and growth, he says, and this creates loyalty among consumers.
There’s no question in Tom ’s mind that the shift to a more socially-conscious approach to business is a movement whose time has come, and he points to the fact that media and consumers are making green issues a central topic as cornerstones of this growing momentum.
“Media has picked up that ‘green’ is an issue that people care about and resonate with, and because of that it’s made it much easier for social businesses to get credit and to be seen as an important aspect of the economy,” he says.
Governments are now making green jobs a priority and investing in an ecology of sustainable business enterprise, Tom points out, and that’s because society now demands it.
“The topic has gone out there and become mainstream, and I think when you mainstream a topic, that’s when things get very exciting for a movement.”
Tom will be speaking at SVN's Fall Conference November 14-17. Resister now www.svn.org/fall2012.
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