Focus on Entrepreneurs: Earthbound Environmental Solutions, LLC
Posted by Eau Claire Area EDC on January 20th, 2019
The Eau Claire Area EDC works with entrepreneurs in the Eau Claire Area to help them become established small businesses within our community. Earthbound Environmental Solutions, LLC is one of these small businesses that we have had the privilege of working with and we are thrilled to share their story!
Earthbound Environmental Solutions, LLC is run by the dynamic husband and wife duo, Zacharious and Jamie Pappas. They submitted their idea for a garbage service that collected organic waste to the Idea Challenge in 2014 where they were one of five finalists. Recently, they participated in the Chippewa Valley Regional HATCH program in 2018 where they won audience favorite in the Eau Claire Community Program and took home the Chippewa Valley Regional HATCH Grand Prize of $5,000.
Could you briefly describe for everyone what Earthbound Environmental Solutions does?
“Earthbound offers a multi-pronged waste management program consisting of weekly curbside collection of organic materials, traditional recycling, and refuse. The organization also operates a compost facility where organic material is processed for composting. We think of Earthbound as specializing in offering dynamic sustainability based solutions that can be implemented in a variety of industries. Our innovative services such as organics recycling increases the percentage of material diverted from local landfills for other uses while offering subscribers an easy to use and dependable service.”
This is a new business service that was introduced to our community – how did your journey to becoming an entrepreneur start?
“Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t just one thing, we are still becoming entrepreneurs, and we don’t think it is just something that happens. But in becoming an entrepreneur it started with us identifying a community need that was currently not being served. Creating a garbage company is not an easy task. Starting at the idea phase, it took us roughly four years to bring our idea to full execution. During that time we connected with many community stakeholders to become educated, to seek guidance during our exploratory process of starting a waste management company, and to gain community buy-in. We also had to participate in the democratic process of public hearings, citizen engagement, town, county, town hall-style meetings, and going through the necessary permitting and licensing process.”
It is exciting to know that you still consider yourselves in the process of becoming entrepreneurs – how do you stay motivated?
“It is really our combined passions of supporting the environment and people with disabilities that helped motivate us to begin the exploration into the organics recycling niche. Prior to launching Earthbound’s first of its kind service, we spent many years working in Wisconsin’s various Medicaid waiver programs.
We knew there was a tremendous opportunity to create meaningful employment for folks right in our community through our Everyone! program. We also knew that the current waste management infrastructure on the bureaucracy side; regulations, oversight, ordinances, already existed and that a paradigm shift in the public’s view on sustainability, waste management, etc, was starting to take shape.”
I love how you are using your journey of entrepreneurship to leave a positive and lasting impact on our community!
“Yes, through Earthbound we can offer programs that enhance our community in two big ways; we can protect the environment by handling landfill-destined materials, and also support an informed citizenry to reduce the overall percentage of landfill-destined material through organics recycling, information on waste reduction practice, and supporting an overall awareness of how we can reduce our footprint. The second way is to create meaningful employment to populations historically underemployed and marginalized, such as the disability community.
It is also important to us to show that women can be successful as entrepreneurs, no matter what industry. We hope that through Jamie’s leadership in Earthbound that the next girl scientist, math wiz, or entrepreneur will find inspiration in knowing that you girls will someday be our leaders and can accomplish anything they put their minds on.”
If you had to pick only one word to describe your life as an entrepreneur- what would it be? Flexible
Do you think Eau Claire offers any advantages to you as entrepreneurs?
Right now there are not a lot of companies doing what we do in our area, even in our region. This allows us to differentiate ourselves among the other providers in the market place. As an emerging business, the initial community support is great, as various stakeholders have a vested interest in our overall success and are very willing to offer assistance. There is the early buzz that entrepreneurs need to take advantage of as excitement builds around your business’s offering.
Eau Claire has many individuals who either are entrepreneurs or are considering starting their own business – what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
“Get as much help as you can, do as much research as you can, and know that there will be many failures and obstacles in your path that you simply need to overcome. Early in our exploratory process we partnered with organizations like EDC, SBDC, etc, and received valuable assistance that allowed for the further development of our idea. Doing anything worthwhile is never going to be easy, and it is complicated further if you do not seek in others, the skills or abilities you do not possess. Believe in yourself, even when key stakeholders may not believe in you or your idea. Not everyone is going to “get it” right from the start. Learn from those experiences and how to better educate your audience on what you do and how you’ll be successful.”
Earthbound has also done so much – what are your plans for the future?
“Earthbound has just completed our pilot and is focusing on a 2019 expansion of both our commercial and residential services. For our commercial accounts, we are strengthening existing partnerships while focusing on future collaborations that will allow the organics recycling movement to achieve greater metrics and increase the role of sustainability in our local waste management system. Earthbound will also be expanding its organics recycling curbside service to all Altoona and Eau Claire neighborhoods as 2019 continues its trajectory. We also plan to increase the number of individuals participating in our Everyone! program which is an asset-based community development program that creates meaningful employment opportunities for groups of people that are often marginalized and historically underemployed.”
Thank you to Earthbound Environment Solutions, LLC for taking the time to share a little more about their journey with us!
You can learn more about them, and sign up for their services online at https://www.earthboundenviro.com/
Ready to start your entrepreneurial journey? Submit your idea to the Idea Challenge today at wwww.theIdeaChallenge.com!