Despite the beautiful weather, it’s finally fall – the pumpkin spice lattes are out, students are heading back to school, and businesses are getting down to work solving big issues. This past week, Net Impacters had the chance to work with two such businesses at the Net Impact Happy Hour Consulting Challenge.
On Wednesday, participants gathered near North Station (thank you for the office space, Trip Advisor!) to work with two local startups making an impact in the Boston area – Bootstrap Compost and Project Repat.
Bootstrap Compost was founded from the idea that many people would like to compost, but often don’t have the time, resources, or space to do so. Bootstrap Compost offers Boston-area residents weekly or bi-weekly pickup of their organic waste, which is then converted to compost. Residents can collect the now-fertilizer or donate it to local organizations.
The Challenge: As Bootstrap Compost grows, more and more businesses with large-scale organic waste have expressed interest in joining the composting program, and they need to figure out the best way to deal with such large-scale waste.
Ever take a look in your closet and realize the sheer number of t-shirts you own? Project Repat helps people who have more t-shirts than they can wear, or that aren’t in the best condition anymore, but that they can’t bear to part with, and turns those old shirts into blankets backed with recycled PolarTec fleece. In the process, they’re bringing textile jobs back to the U.S.
The Challenge: Project Repat already has a positive impact on the environment, by upcycling items that would otherwise end up in a landfill and giving them new life. There’s one aspect of their businesses that they have not yet found new life for, however – the t-shirt scraps. So far, they’ve managed to find ways to donate the scraps for new, useful purposes, but as the business grows, they’ll need to find a use that is sustainable, and ideally, that will give the scraps new use.
Net Impacters broke into two teams and gathered over sandwiches and drinks to share their ideas. Many of our initial thoughts had already been considered, but as we began to branch out into other possibilities, we touched upon new and promising ideas. Here are some of the the top lessons we learned from the process:
- Look to the big players: Both challenges were caused by growth, and will only increase as these companies continue to expand. For ideas, it’s helpful to look to players who have already experienced these growing pains to see where to go – and where not to.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day: Finding the perfect solution might take some time and even failures, and that’s okay. Businesses can use periods of growth as a chance to experiment and try different ideas while they’re still flexible, to see what works best.
- Create partners: Having expert partners in related fields can ensure that these businesses find new opportunities and resources, without having to drastically change their own businesses models and operations.
- Research and development: Many of our suggestions were based off of our own limited knowledge and experience – which was actually an advantage in terms of getting the ideas flowing. After the event, these companies took home potential contacts and a bunch of ideas that will require more careful thought and consideration. Some serious homework! The long path forward might have looked daunting at 8pm on Wednesday evening… but that brings us to the final takeaway:
- These would be fantastic projects for an intern.
Needless to say, these companies still have some legwork to do before declaring, “Problem Solved!” We were thrilled to hear about their compelling and complex challenges, and their dedication to maintaining their social/environmental missions along with their business growth. We hope to have given them a jump start with fresh pairs of ears and bright minds for them to find the best possible solution!
Think you might have the solution they’re looking for? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll compile and send them to the companies in early October!