Browse Tag

Eco friendly

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Black Engineer Creates Eco-Friendly, Disaster Proof Smart Homes

Housing is amongst the most basic of human needs, and yet, it’s becoming increasingly elusive — even in wealthy countries like the US. Technology has changed every sector leaving construction as the last industry prime for revolution.

The SolutionRoombus produces high quality and eco-friendly modular Smart Homes that are affordable for everyone. The homes engineered to withstand storms, earthquakes, and even stop burglars.

We caught up with founder, Dami Jegede to learn more about his company.

Eco-Friendly
Roombus founder, Dami Jegede

What inspired you to start Roombus?

So my background is software engineering, and I’ve built 2 successful fintech companies. In 2018 I started looking to solve a bigger and more impactful global challenge. It became immediately clear that affordable housing was what I really, really wanted to do. It has been a big and hairy problem for decades and it gets bigger every year.

Eco-Friendly

Initially, it was about building affordable homes, but when we took a deep dive, it evolved into building the future of housing. We believe that is smart, health-focused, safe and eco-friendly homes.

How does Roombus differ from the homes built from shipping containers?

We actually looked at shipping containers at the onset. In fact, it was what made the venture seem attainable to me, but we abandoned the direction after much research.

We found in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology found that the majority of containers have harmful levels of toxicity inside — with spillage of harmful substances and chemicals that were not removed by thorough washing.

Eco-Friendly

Hazardous chemicals and pesticides are used to treat the wooden floors, and some were coated in paint which contains harmful chemicals like phosphorous and chromate.

To top it off, container housing was too niche a market for our vision, only 16% of people we surveyed were open to owning a container home.

Roombus, on the other hand, has designed a proprietary steel core frame system that allows us to build truly disaster proof and healthy homes. Great for humans and the environment. Our homes are not limited by container dimensions and compromise, and so our spaces are much bigger.

Please explain how the homes are designed with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind.

Construction is one notorious industry that produces one of the highest amounts of waste in the world today. Building homes on lots are highly inefficient from cost, labor and waste perspectives.

Most of us have passed by homes under construction and seen the amount of wasted materials on-site — broken wood framing, off-cuts from roofing sheets, insulation, and drywall. Most of that new junk is heading to a landfill near you.

Eco-Friendly

Our prefab method (building in a factory), and precision manufacturing reduces material wastage by a whopping 95%! Our steel framing system is 100% recyclable, and we use bamboo to replace as much wood as possible.

Bamboo grows super-fast and is extremely light on the environment. We utilize above-code insulation to save energy and reduce the need for heating and cooling all year round — from Florida to Alaska.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Grit and resilience can’t be overstated. You need to learn to pick yourself up and just keep moving. This is why you have to be double sure about your venture before you start.

Does it really matter to me? How much do I love this?  Hold on tightly to your destination, but let your path be flexible. Too many people waste too much time on a path that just never will open. Pull up your goal maps and try new routes!

How can people support you right now?

We’re raising our pre-seed round via Equity Crowdfunding. You can invest as little as $100 to own a stake in the company. Support us here: https://wefunder.com/roombus

Tony O. Lawson


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Couples, Inc. : Java and Michelle Help the Environment by Putting Your Food Waste to Work

Java’s Compost is a family-owned, full-service composting company that seeks to make composting as fast and convenient as possible. The husband and wife team, Java and Michelle Bradley of  South Orange, NJ, provide on-site composting equipment and services to sustainably dispose of food waste.

Their services include weekly at-home composting, consultation services, and the provision of a starter composting kit for customers’ homes. Additionally, excess household compost can be donated on the customer’s behalf to Java’s Compost’s urban farm partners in Newark.

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate earth day than to spotlight a company that is doing their part to save the environment.

How did you both meet?

Michelle: We met in Massachusetts in 1992 as freshmen at Amherst College. We were mostly just friends there and luckily, didn’t start dating until after we graduated.

Java’s Compost
Java and Michelle Bradley

What inspired you to start a business together?

Michelle: Honestly, it wasn’t totally thought through. Java became really passionate about composting as a result of managing the compost system at a charter school in Newark. The transformation of taking what is normally considered trash and giving it a second chance at life, by turning into compost, was fascinating to him.

I, on the other hand, was completely repulsed by the idea and it literally took me years to even consider composting. I grew up in NYC and Java is from San Francisco so that should shed some light as to why!

After seeing the documentary, DIRT, the movie, I did a complete 180 and started to feel incredibly guilty when I threw away food. If I could feel this way, we knew there had to be other people that did too. So the idea to start a food scraps recycling service was born.

How do you balance being parents and business owners?

Michelle: Wow, great question. It’s anything but easy and most of the time we aren’t that successful at it. For the first year in business, all our “down time” would be spent working and much of it still is.

But we still make sure we keep up with our boys’ basketball practices and games, even if it means we have to bring some work along to do in between games or while we’re waiting for practices to be done.

Java’s Compost

Describe your individual personalities and how you blend them to make the business work?

Michelle: Blend them? We’re still working on that! Java and I are very different and going into business together has brought that out even more clearly. He is a gentle soul that would give away all his knowledge and expertise for free if he could.

He is extremely patient and works at a pace you would expect from a California kid. He is meticulous so his work is extremely thorough.

Java’s Compost

I, on the other hand, am the opposite. Growing up in Manhattan, I learned to do most things pretty quickly, which can serve a purpose but is not always good. I need to practice being more patient and also need to work on toning down my critical nature. My strengths lie in my ability to connect with people and get out there and hustle to help our business get to the next level.

What advice do you have for other couples in business together?

Michelle: Be willing to learn about and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Be open to working on them but also be realistic in your expectations of one another. Java and I have been together for 22 years, so all our quirks and habits are pretty ingrained in us as is our dynamic.

Java’s Compost

Going into business together won’t change any of those things and may heighten them as you work through all the growing pains of starting a business. I think we went into a little naive thinking it will be “fun”. Some parts are fun and some challenging. Building something from nothing, together, is the best part.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

Michelle: In 5 years, we hope Java’s Compost is known as the solution to residential and small scale commercial food waste production in Northern New Jersey. We want all people to understand that their food waste has value.

Right now, that is very hard to see when all food waste either gets piled up in a smelly landfill or burned in an incinerator. We’re trying to educate people that composting your food scraps reduces your garbage by more than 50% and that it actually turns into a valuable, useable product.

Java’s Compost

Composting can do everything from helping combat climate change to restore our nutrient depleted soils. Continuing to throw food in the trash isn’t sustainable and since we only have one planet that’s habitable at the moment, the sooner we adopt composting as the norm instead of the exception, the better it will be for all of us.

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG@thebusyafrican)

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Couples Inc. : Eco-Friendly Timepiece Makers, David and MarQuerite

As concerns about the environment have grown, so have the demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products. One couple that’s all about creating a business that has a minimal effect on the environment is David Gandy and MarQuerite Hamden, founders of Ecowrist.

Eco-Friendly
David and MarQuerite

SB: How did you both meet?

David: We met in Amsterdam in 1999. Mutual friends of ours, Nicole and Glynis Terborg, convinced us to take a course called The Landmark Forum. We ended up becoming partners in the course and then partners in life.

SB: What inspired the creation of EcoWrist?

MarQuerite: We were traveling and found watches made with sustainable materials. We bought them and wore them every day when we got back to NY and everyone commented on how cool they were.

A light bulb went off and since I have a background in fashion and both David and I are performing artists and entrepreneurs, we decided to take the steps to create Afrocentric versions of the product.

We started with a couple of designs for wrist watches at first and Ecowrist grew organically with a collection each year that now consists of our signature wristwatches, pocket watches and sunglasses.

SB: What is the most important thing to remember when you are married to your business partner?

David: You are not going to agree on everything and it’s okay. Compromising and offering positive and honest feedback about something that your partner really is set on and giving them the room to develop it.

MarQuerite: I’d like to add that you discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses and with that knowledge you work to get the best out of each other and use that to benefit the company.

The positive effect is that it also benefits your marriage. Again, being straightforward, having integrity and leaving Ecowrist at the end of the day at the table/office, which is very hard. We work on that every day. Some days are better than others.

SB: What has been the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial journey so far? What is the most gratifying?

MarQuerite: Having the capital to help Ecowrist to further grow and getting it to the next level by funding a solid inventory, managing social media and affording the time to put into the company. But, raising three children and maintaining a relationship in the midst of it all has been quite challenging as well.

The most gratifying has been the love we receive for the products we design.This year marks our 10th anniversary! All of the love and support that we got from our customers, family, our tribe ( you know who you are) , and our team means the world to us! We could not have gotten this far without them (you).

David: The connections and relationships that come through Ecowrist are invaluable. Ujamaa and Umoja has been part of Ecowrist and one of our goals is to be a part of the movement to connect the Diaspora throughout the world.

We now see the fruits of our labor. The ideas and vision we had, has become a reality and is still continuing to manifest in a way that is much bigger then we hoped for and we are riding on that wave.

SB: In what ways do you both have similar entrepreneurial traits and in what ways are you different as entrepreneurs?

David: We both want to have passion about our career choices and really don’t want to work for anyone else.

I’d say that I’m a bit more spontaneous (not always good) while MarQuerite is a bit more detail oriented and processes information more thoroughly.

MarQuerite: We like to dive into something new and completely give it our all. If it works out, great! If not, we take that experience, cut our losses and proceed into a new direction.

We’re both competitive, have great negotiation skills, are people’s people, ambitious, fair, and have integrity with our work. I’m better with logistics and budget. David can stay calmer when there is a storm, and line the initial steps out.

SB: Why is it important for you to create products using sustainable material?

David: Why spend more money on developing raw resources, destroying the environment and contribute to more global warming (real news not alternate fact news) when everything has already been pretty much processed for us? It’s not just through their business where they think about using sustainable products and being environmentally friendly. They’ve even thought about making simple changes within their home too. From looking to replace their old toilet with something like the TOTO drake ii, to using energy efficient light bulbs around the house, every little bit helps in improving the environment. More people should be like this.

With minimal processing you save time, money and the environment.

MarQuerite: We have been incorporating a healthier lifestyle for over 15 years now through Organic nutrition, skincare, and much more. All of the research I do has turned me into a scholar.

There are so many toxins in our environment and most people don’t have a clue or don’t care. Wanting to be more knowledgeable and conscious to achieve and prioritize our well being is a priority for us but, not in this society.

It was only a natural step that followed with our business that we stayed on that path! Having the power to create a product that looks and feels great, and actually has a minimal impact on our environment is important to us. Having our children witness this will help them implement sustainability and an entrepreneurial mindset in their lives.

SB: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

David: Stay the course and be open to being critiqued by folks who know better. Just make sure the critique is coming from love and not jealousy.

MarQuerite: Go for what you believe in, even if no one else sees it. Follow through, trust your instinct. Have integrity and honesty.

Find out more about Ecowrist from their website.

 

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson aka @thebusyafrican

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Switch Fresh: The Patented Deodorant from Dwayne Wade’s Cousin

Antoine Wade, founder of Switch Fresh, has produced the world’s first replaceable deodorant. This patented product reduces plastic waste and is an eco-friendly alternative to the hundreds of deodorant bottles the average person will dispose of in their lifetime.

We caught up with him to find out more about his business:

SB: What inspired you to create Switch Fresh?

AW: Products evolve and deodorant has seen limited innovation. I wanted to break the cycle and change the way we use and purchase deodorant. After analyzing a bottle of deodorant I realized two things, most solid deodorants are only half full. Half is the stick you twist to raise it and the other half is the actual deodorant.

Also, I noticed that there’s nothing wrong with the packaging we discard, besides the fact that it’s empty. I wanted to create something that we could reuse, but also worked well and looked cool.

I thought, how awesome would it be to have a bottle with your favorite colors, designs or vacation spot? We love products that we have a connection to. We keep reminders of people we love and places we visited on our walls and screen savers. Why not have one in our bathroom to put a smile on our face?

With that in mind, I wanted to blend style and convenience. Everyone knows they’ll need to purchase deodorant again and again, so we created a platform to simplify the transaction. Order the bottle once and schedule how often you’ll need the refills to come. That way you can skip the store and spend time doing things that you value.

SB; Switch Fresh is patented product. How many patents do you have for it and for what specifically?

AW: I have two patents for the Switch Fresh deodorant bottle. One for utility and one for design. We wanted to protect the way it looks and functions. I also have three additional patents in the works.

 

SB: Dwyane Wade is your cousin. Have you discussed this project with him and what was his response? Is he involved in any way?

AW: Yes, he said it’s the best idea he’s ever heard(laughing) just kidding. Honestly, he was one of the first to know about it. He thought it was really unique and cool. He’s given great advice and encouraged me to pursue this dream. He’s not involved in any way besides being a supportive family member.

However, I can say that if I hadn’t worked with him for over a decade, learning the business of building a brand, I probably wouldn’t have set my sights on launching a company of my own.

SB: We’re always interested in businesses that manufacture. What was the process for finding the right manufacturer?

AW: Relentless searching. (laughing). The internet is an awesome tool to narrow down specifically what you’re looking for. A lot of companies told me to go international with both the injection mold (bottles) and deodorant to keep my costs down. But I wanted to keep the manufacturing of both our bottles and the deodorant in the US, and more specifically the Chicagoland area.

I think it’s important to be a short drive or plane trip away so I can easily meet face to face with our partners. From there, I had to find someone who was not only capable of producing our bottles, but willing to try something new since this is the first deodorant bottle of its kind. Some manufacturers weren’t interested in making anything other than standard deodorant bottles. Others required a huge minimum order that was much more than we could commit to, being that we’re a startup.

When it came to the product to fill the bottles, I needed a vendor who could produce a wide variety of deodorant and antiperspirant formulas, as well as other personal care products because we plan to grow the brand. The process took about a year and ultimately, I partnered with two great local companies that are experts at what they do. So, the time was well worth it.

SB: Your products have a cool design. Do you have a designer as part of your team are you outsourcing that task? 

AW: I was an art major so I love being involved in the design phase. On the other hand, it’s time consuming so we do have designers. Marlon Muñoz, our Creative Director handles the designs. He and I collaborate on the overall look and feel, but what you see is the result of his technical expertise.

We also have Melanie Gales who works with the product design and our lead engineer, Matt Nottingham, who helped bring the vision to life. Collectively I feel we have a great team that recognizes new consumer trends but also creates timeless designs customers will love.

 

SB:What is the most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur. What is the most challenging thing?

AW: The most rewarding part is having a vision and watching it unfold into an actual tangible product. It’s extremely gratifying to see what once was an idea become real. I liken it to having a child. You plan, then wait as your baby grows to the point where it’s ready to be introduced to the world, later there’s birth.

Switch Fresh

You have this exciting addition in your life and you can only imagine how their life will unfold. We’ve given birth to Switch Fresh, now we get to watch it grow up. The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur – patience! We all want our businesses to be a huge success instantly. However, it takes time for a tree to become a tree. I constantly have to remind myself that the best growth is organic and that doesn’t happen overnight.

SB: Where do you see your business in 5 years?

AW: I see us doing new exciting things in personal care. I don’t want to jump the gun and divulge what we have in store. We’ll save that for a follow up interview. But I think we’ll be an up and coming player in our industry.

We already have preorders from all around the world and we’re brand new. To continue to build on that and turn our brand into a household name is the goal. I know God has a plan for our business and I just have to have faith and continue build it.

 

SB: What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs?

AW: You can do it! You’re smart, you’re creative don’t ever tell yourself or let someone tell you otherwise. What’s cool or important to you may not be to someone else, and that’s ok. Because there are people like you who are interested in the things you like and value your voice or creativity.

You will hear no very often. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because it’s difficult to explain your vision to someone and have them interpret it exactly as you see it. Don’t lose faith because they see in black and white while you see in color. Keep working and find those who speak the same language that you do.

 

To learn more about Switch Fresh and to support their crowdfunding campaign, click here.

 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson