The concept of TerraCycle came up when my friends and I were trying to figure out how to grow "better tomatoes" in our basement and figured out that worm poop did the trick. The fascinating thing for me was that the worm poop itself was made from waste, a commodity that people are willing to pay you to take. Within six months of that serendipitous moment during my fall break (freshman year at Princeton) I left school to corner the market on worm poop. Inc. magazine wrote about us in 2002, giving our business plan a rating of 4 out 10. Little did anyone know that three years later we would be on the cover as The Coolest Little Startup in America.
Since then, our company has grown at Inc. 500 rates, and our products are now available at almost every major retailer in North America (from Wal-Mart to Whole Foods and everything in between). We've been sued by our biggest competitor and survived. We have succeeded in setting up our own factories and making our product in America, in the inner city (Trenton, New Jersey). We've raised more than $10 million without changing our culture.
What started as a company that made worm poop and packaged it in reused soda bottles has led to a paradigm of eco-capitalism that is much bigger than plant food. Today, we are a consumer products company that sells more than 50 products -- including garbage cans made from crushed computers, hand bags made from energy bar wrappers and juice pouches, and the most eco-friendly binders and pencils. All are available in major big-box retailers. If you average out the year, we are launching a national product every two weeks.
Our business plan is based on using stuff that people either don't value or, in many cases, give a negative value to. The result is a brand that has been called the most eco-friendly in America -- all while holding true to three simple brand principles: Better, Greener, and most importantly Cheaper.
Welcome to the Eco-Capitalist.