OEN interviewed 2023 Early Stage Entrepreneurship Award Winners Bold Reuse to learn the history of the business, the amazing impact this company is having and plans for the future. Read on to see what Co-founders Jocelyn Quarrell and Heather Watkins had to say about running a sustainability focused start-up.
So tell us about the history of your business.
Our story is unique, as the building blocks of our business have been around for over a decade.
In June 2011, Laura Weiss launched GO Box with a few food carts and corporate clients in downtown Portland. In 2017, Laura posted the business for sale on Facebook. This was after China had enacted the National Sword Policy banning the purchase of most recyclables due to the poor quality they were receiving. I saw reuse as a solution to our impending waste crisis and acquired the business.
The first sixteen months was the steepest learning curve I could have imagined but we found success locally, launching with New Seasons Market, and nationally, to support two reuse pilot programs based in New York City. Everything was going according to plan until the pandemic – we shut down for several months until it was clear we could operate safely again.
In late 2020, our business began to grow quickly again – we received inbound inquiries from both Imperfect Foods and Starbucks to support their reuse initiatives. While our consumer business model has been slow to rebound, we’ve found greater traction focusing on enterprise clients. I brought on Heather Watkins, an expert in B2B enterprise growth, as a business partner earlier this year and changed the name and the vision for our business in the summer to Bold Reuse. We’ve been on an incredible trajectory ever since, acquiring new accounts like Walmart, Loop, and the Portland Trail Blazers and diverting millions of pounds from landfill.
What kind of impact does Bold Reuse have on the community?
The waste crisis is increasingly getting worse. The production, use and disposal of single-use products drive two major environmental issues: carbon emissions and overflowing landfills.
At Bold Reuse, we’ve made it our mission to eliminate single-use waste by making reusable packaging a safe, convenient and affordable option for everyone. The goal is not to just make reusable packaging an alternative, but to replace all disposable products with reusables.
We are drastically reducing waste and reducing scope three carbon emissions for our clients. This will have a lasting impact on our communities and planet.
We want Bold Reuse services to be available in major cities across the United States – and dare we say it – the world. Our ambition is that within 5 years we will have coast to coast operations, managing reuse for every major arena and stadium in the country. Our plan is already in action. In Q4, we expanded to Bentonville, Arkansas and in 2023 are expanding our services throughout the West Coast starting with Seattle and Los Angeles.
Our team has also strategically invested heavily in technology and operations. We’ve already reduced our cost of goods sold (COGS) by 25% in the last quarter due to our diligent focus on reducing efficiencies within our team and process. In 2023, we’ll be upgrading our washing technologies in a pretty dramatic way, with estimates of reducing our COGS by another 50%. This enables us to match single-use pricing and dramatically beat our competitor’s pricing.
Lastly, we are continuing to invest in our IP and technology advantage within the industry. We have a few critical technology projects on the horizon, including mobile tech to incentivize customer returns, a mobile wallet to support refunds of deposits, and smart dropsites that automatically tracks assets put into them.
The future is bright and the leaders will be bold!