By Vlad Shapiro
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of talking with Audrey Bolduc, the co-founder and CEO of Groundit, a McGill-based startup that is planning to redirect coffee grounds from landfills and put them back into the ground as premium and affordable compost. As the motto of the company accurately claims, they see potential where others see trash. Coffee waste contains high proportions of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium as well as macro and micro nutrients, making it a gold mine for anyone in the compost game. Considering that over 99% of the coffee stays in the filter after it is brewed, Groundit is tapping into a source of cheap and environmentally-friendly potential compost that is otherwise wasted in landfills.
The company’s business model entails collecting coffee waste from coffee shops from around the city, bringing it to their designated compost area and then redistributing the final product to interested farmers and gardeners. With over 50 letters of intent already signed, Groundit is well on its way to making their dream a reality. A key component of the company’s ideology is keeping it local: for the city, by the city. It’s not a surprise then that their future expansion strategy entails creating closed local supply chains that would eliminate the need for export and thus keep the process as green as possible.
If someone wants to make a template of what an entrepreneur should be like, go find Audrey. Bubbling with energy, highly critical of the status quo and enthusiastic about the unknown future that comes with having a start-up, her lexicon is seeping with the latest start-up lingo. She is a self-proclaimed book worm that shows great pride in her work and holds in low regard the “normal college life”. Audrey also possesses a trait that most entrepreneurs find can identify with: she describes herself as an outlier. To her this manifests itself through a lack of identification with the university culture that trains you to become a mainstream member of society, through having to deal with the family worrying about the very uncertain future of the startup world and through the fact that she is a woman operating in what has historically been and old boys club.
When asked what advice she would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, she says “screw the people doubting you and find the ones that will give you constructive advice”. We couldn’t agree more at the Dobson Center. We will never get tired of telling young entrepreneurs to take advantage of any/all mentorship opportunities that they can find. A five-minute conversation with the right person can save you months of wasted work and having an experienced mentor is often the deciding factor behind the success of a startup.
If you want to learn more about the Groundit team check them out at http://groundit.ca/ and stayed tuned for the developments to come.