There are many student entrepreneurs — Gates, Zuckerberg, Dell — that the masses know about. Tom Szaky of TerraCycle is probably one of the most innovative and few are aware of his vision and actions. The story of his rise out of Princeton is legendary in my mind and his concept of creating everything out of waste is in many ways revolutionary for industrial and post-industrial societies.
David Karas of the Christian Science Monitor has a very good profile of Tom and TerraCycle in their People Making a Difference feature. From the piece…
Mr. Szaky founded TerraCycle in 2001 while a freshman at Princeton University. He and another student fed dining hall leftovers to worms and liquefied the worm compost, creating an organic and highly effective fertilizer. Lacking the money to package their product, the duo used soda bottles they retrieved from recycling bins as containers to peddle the worm poop.
Szaky grew up in Budapest, Hungary, prior to the fall of communism and has been intrigued by entrepreneurship ever since he arrived in North America. He sees the world of business as a vehicle for positive social change.
“I think business is more powerful than war, and more powerful than politics,” he says. “It transcends borders very easily, and it is much more lasting.”
He rejects the paradigm that businesses are intended only to generate profits, and that only charities can do good. His goal is to find a way to overlap those missions.
Tom has always been one of my favorites and I think I will see if I can make a trip up to Trenton to meet him and see what he has been building all these years. (Looks like Trenton is about 3 hours from DC… fill ‘er up….)
#trenton #recycling #waste #innovator #princeton #studententrepreneur