May through August are the most popular months for relocating and moving, and as anyone who has had to pack up their stuff knows, it is no picnic. Moving takes time and a considerable amount of effort. It’s also expensive. And once it’s over, your new place of residence is filled with empty cardboard boxes and plastic totes you don’t have space to store. This week’s Small Business Spotlight has an answer to that and is headed up by a crowdSPRING community mainstay– Spencer Brown!
Rent A Green Box solves a problem for someone moving and a problem for the Earth. Spencer’s newest venture allows people to rent moving containers made out of recycled post-consumer and industrial trash. They are delivered to your doorstep, you pack up all your belongings, move them to your new place, unpack and then they are whisked away as if they were never there. The system is kind of double whammy for environmental conservation: not only are the packing crates made with recycled materials, but it also prevents people from purchasing their own cardboard boxes and plastic totes.
Spencer speaks about his own ventures better than we ever could, so he tells more of his story below:
How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?
I buy post-consumer and industrial trash from landfills, recycling centers, and industries across America. I use massive amounts of trash and recycle this waste into usable materials that can be upcycled into innovative, eco-friendly, zero-waste packing and moving products for the world. We make over 25 eco-friendly packing and moving products that are sold exclusively to our dealers in America and internationally. Our dealers rent my products to consumers, businesses, and industries on the move.
So instead of buying packing and moving materials that are used once maybe twice and then simply tossed into a landfill, we’re using trash to reinvent the way America and the world packs and moves without trashing our planet.
What are some industry specific challenges you faced?
We have had to overcome three huge challenges in creating the zero-waste Moving Box Rental Industry.
#1- Convincing industry that trash was a resource and that we could “Detox Landfills” by using post consumer and industrial trash to make my Zero Waste packing and moving products. Rather than saying use this recycled trash in manufacturing, we offered to supply our own “custom blended materials” in production and kick started an entire industry.
#2 Staying ahead of the curve. We have had over 200 companies copy the moving box rental business that we created 8 years ago, so we’re always working on the next phase of the industry a few years before it’s even here. We use crowdSPRING to help us develop visual graphics to help us better communicate our value proposition to the marketplace. So the challenge is to always stay in the first mover position and crowdSPRING supports our first to market innovations.
#3 Dealerships and new markets in America. We’re growing at a great rate now and it’s a challenge to determine the right dealer for their specific market. We usually have between 3 to 10 very qualified applicants for major markets and it’s a real challenge to pick the right partner.
What made you use crowdSPRING?
I’m a huge believer in group efforts with a competitive twist and crowdSPRING offers global effort with amazing prices and blazing fast delivery for creative projects. It’s such an amazing service. We need creative projects, we simply post up our requirements, budget and timeline and get literally hundreds of designs to choose from without hundreds of meetings and countless hours hand- holding creatives. The cream always rises to the top and we have been blown away with the quality, price and process at cS.
What was your biggest learning curve/experience?
To date, my biggest learning curve has been pivoting my company over the last year to be a strict design, development and manufacturing company. At one point, we had so many moving parts and directions that it was all very exciting, but not really enjoyable. Rather than really finding the right people to help build the businesses, I allowed warm bodies to stand in key roles and make very important decisions. The best part of learning and making mistakes– really big mistakes– is that lessons are learned and you get better and wiser. Only through failure can you really learn and become better. Sure, it’s painful, but looking back, I am very fortunate to have had these tough experiences to amplify my personal and professional growth.
What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?
The first time I bought trash, the broker was this little Armenian man named Yurgi and he was chomping and chewing on a cheap cigar. His teeth were very small from years of grinding and he winced when he spoke. His gold necklaces were from the Mr. T “I Pity The Fool” start-up kit. He was a legend in the trash business. When I told him that I was going to make a rentable and reusable moving box from recycled plastic trash, he leaned in and said in broken English: “You either smardest man I meet or dumbest. We find out.” Nine months later, I brought him my first Recopack and showed him how it would change the moving industry and he winced and said, “You make box from Yurgi trash?” I said yes and he said… “You make coffin from same trash?” I said no, only moving boxes and he said “ I need coffin for some dumb people.” So the moral of the story is… don’t be dumb around trash brokers who wear tacky gold chains.
Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?
I would interview a lot of people for each position, find the right person for every position and never settle for a warm body. I learned that moving people up in a company based on tenure is not the right way to scale a company. It creates a sense of position or tenure entitlement rather than performance based promotions.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
I am so excited about the future of Rent A Green Box as we scale up through our dealership network coupled with 25 amazing Zero Waste products and a very innovate viral marketing program that’s the culmination of 8 amazing years of promoting a cheaper, faster and easier way to move in America!
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