This guy makes money off your cigarette butts and flip-flops
In To mS zak y’ s vision of the new economy, nothing is garbage. Not cigarette butts. Not dirty diapers. Not even usedtampons.
Szaky,t he founder of Terra Cycle, a New Jersey based garbage startup, has built a $24 million business around the belief that everything is recyclable. He’s convinced some of the world’ s largest brands and retailers, including Pro ct er& Gamble Co, ColgatePalmolive and Office Depot, that there’ s value in spending to keep garbage out of land fills.
Now he’ s seeking millions to help fund a bigger mission: making trash the star of a circular economy, where re-use is the norm. Inspired by the glass milk bottle porch deliveries of yesteryear, he’ s creating a durableconsumer-recyclingsystem. Thinkshampoo encased in gleaming stainless-steel capsules, ice cream packaged in thermos-like containers, coffee sealed in metal pods instead of plastic—all the packages to be carted off, sanitised, de constructed and used again.
Szaky, 35, says major brand names have already signed on. He’ ll unveil them at the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the world’ s problem solve rs every January—but in 2019, not 2018. First, he needs to appeal to the environmentally conscious mom-and-pop masses and raise as much as $25 million through a kind of pr e-initial public offering.
For investors in the private company, one risk is S zak y’ s expectation to lose money on research-and development at least until D av os, when Terra Cycle plans to unveil the products for sale starting in New York andParis. Ontopofthat, thecompanyhasa complicated business model driven by one key e xe cut ive:Sza ky. He’ s a self-proclaimed “chronic over projector” of revenue who survived an effort by senior staff to oust him before the company started earning a profit in 2011. Plus, the money part of being green could be green er. Last year, of $19.4 million in revenue, about $500,000 was profit, according to Szaky. This year it’ s expecting $24 million in revenue, with just under $1 million profit.