Although I haven’t really written about them in awhile, it is certainly no secret that I am a huge fan of Terracycle – the now hugely popular ‘liquid worm poop’ fertilizer company. I can still remember when I first heard about them – at the time they were just a couple of young entrepreneurs at Princeton trying to make things work on a shoestring budget. Part of me was kicking myself for not thinking of the idea first (haha), but I was also very excited to see someone helping to raise awareness about vermicomposting!
We’ll they’ve certainly come a LONG way since then – they’ve attracted a massive amount of media attention, their sales have gone through the roof (showing no signs of slowing down any time soon), they even went head to head the billion dollar mega fertilizer corporation, Scotts (see: Scotts Miracle-Grow Sues Terracycle?). According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer (thanks to ‘Friendly Worm Guy’ for passing that one along!), that battle cost them $400,000 in legal fees. Thankfully they weathered the storm and were able to settle the dispute (agreeing to change their labeling).
Here is some other interesting info from that same article:
It wasn’t easy raising capital, and TerraCycle, based in Trenton, has yet to make a profit. But already its products have been embraced in the United States and Canada by corporate bigs like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods.
Fourteen thousand stores – and counting.
And get a load of sales: $70,000 in 2004, $500,000 in 2005, $1.5 million in 2006, an estimated $4 million this year, and a projected $8.6 million in 2008.
In another five years, Szaky (pronounced ZACK-ee), a CEO who’s “really not much of an eco-freak or recycler,” envisions sales topping $50 million. Don’t laugh. Inc. magazine last year dubbed TerraCycle “the coolest little start-up in America” – and where it finishes is anybody’s guess.
TerraCycle lawn and garden products are made from 100 percent recycled garbage, thanks to the red wiggler earthworm known as Eisenia foetida. The worms’ excretions, or castings, are brewed into a “compost tea” and packaged in recycled plastic milk jugs and soda bottles collected by schoolchildren around the country. TerraCycle pays them a few cents per bottle – $78,000 so far.
So what is it exactly that I love about Terracycle? Here are the “ten things” (in no particular order):
1] They’ve clearly demonstrated that ‘green’ entrepreneurs (or ‘ecopreneurs’) can make it big too!
2] They’ve helped to raise awareness about worm composting – I can only imagine what the future holds!
3] They epitomize my Compost Guy motto – ‘turning wastes into resources’
4] Speaking of mottos, they have a great one too – ‘Better, Greener, Cheaper’
5] In 2003 they won the $1 million Carrot Capital Business Plan Contest – yet turned down the prize money when it became clear they’d be required to stray from their original vision! (i.e. it’s not just about the money for them). This is a prime example of how…
6] They’ve dared to be different!
7] They’ve harnessed the unbelievable potential of the web to get their message to the masses – in fact…
8] They haven’t even had to spend ANY money on marketing or advertising (according to the Philadelphia Inquirer article mentioned above)
9] The stuff really works!
10] Not content just to rest on their laurels in the ‘worm poop’ market, they have also been expanding their line of products – still making everything from ‘garbage’
Oh, and one more bonus “thing”: 11] They have an awesome website! Check it out:
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