21: Tim Bennett

Show Notes

  • Tim Bennett is the founder and CEO of Bennett Compost
    • Tim attended Temple University for his bachelor's degree
    • After graduation, he worked in the Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
    • He went to The Fox School of Business while working at the SBDC
  • He knew he wanted to start a business, but didn't have an idea
    • He knew he wanted to have a positive impact beyond the bottom line
  • Tim didn't know much about composting before starting Bennett Compost
    • He was living in a two-story apartment and didn't have a way to compost
    • He spoke to some other people who felt similarly
    • The idea for Bennett Compost began here
      • He started in the summer of 2009 by handing out flyers and other small marketing efforts
      • He had one client in the first week
    • It was a slow build over the summer
    • In the fall, he participated in Green Fest, putting most of the money he'd made from the business into securing a table there
    • He had hundreds of people sign up for his list and converted many into clients
  • He continued working at Temple while ramping up the business for 11 months before taking the full-time plunge
    • Tim says that he prefers the "bootstrappy" way of doing things if its possible for a business
  • For the uninitiated (myself included), composting is a way of recycling organic matter back into nutrient-rich soil
    • Among other things, the soil can fertilize plants
  • Bennett Compost provides the consumer with a bucket to put their food scraps and other compostable materials in and picks it up once per week at the low cost of $18 per month
    • They also have commercial clients - the price varies based on the amount of waste and required pickups per week
    • They are now scaling their retail business
      • They sell soil directly to customers and in select locations across Philadelphia
      • See the "links" section at the bottom for a list of locations
    • The "getting paid on both ends" model is the only way the business can work because essentially, residential consumers are only paying about $4 per pickup
  • Their biggest competition is actually The City of Philadelphia
    • Even though the city isn't composting waste, they are collecting it for free
    • Although the cost of trash removal is built into property tax, the consumer doesn't see the direct cost
  • The composting movement in Philadelphia has been driven by local farms and smaller companies like Bennett Compost
    • This is counter to the movement in most other places, which is dominated by larger players
  • Their growth has been steady each year since 2009
    • However, they saw huge residential growth in 2012, because they sold almost all their commercial accounts to focus on the residential business
      • They didn't have the proper pricing model in place for commercial clients, so they niched down
      • They are now back up to about 75 commercial clients
  • In addition to scaling their commercial and residential service, Bennett Compost is now looking into expanding their soil production

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