Founders Readers - Ep 37 - Taylor Zehren of wasted*
The Founders Keepers podcast, podded
The Founders Readers pod-letter is not a transcript, but an accompaniment to the weekly podcast detailing key insights from that exact conversation.
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This week, we’re speaking with Taylor Zehren about her company, wasted*: Burlington-Vermont based start-up building the circular sanitation economy and transforming human waste into effective, safe, and sustainable fertilizers...
💬 Quote from the pod:
“There is a big paradigm shift at the core of what we’re doing… (we want to )Get people to rethink the way they think about their waste as it pertains to sustainability.”
- Taylor Zehren, Co-founder and COO wasted*
🔑 Key insights from the episode:
On wanting to make a difference: Taylor’s impact spirit was awakened initially through studying in Argentina, which highlighted to her the intersection of how humans cultivate land and waste management, and the conflicts therein in managing resource.
On “doing good shit”: Wasted* follows on from the initial non-profit that Taylor co-founded, DGS, where she focused on developing circular infrastructure that transforms human waste into products for beneficial end use.
On storytelling: Taylor centres a lot of the wasted* storytelling around adventures with purpose; storytelling where “humans benefit the environment and social impact” and to “keep pulling on that thread”. Likewise, pairing with investors that focused on the sustainability impact and narrative of what they do at wasted* is key to their company mission.
On wanting to do everything at once: Taylor in her own words claims that she was initially “naive and very ambitious”, wanting to “reinvent the entire industry at every touchpoint”. She claims that the hardest part of overcoming this hurdle was to effectively integrate pragmatism into idealism, and focus on doing what was best for the business at that time - a practice she continues to implement to this day.
On doing scrappy things: Taylor and the wasted* team would “drive out into the woods and pump out the urine themselves” - and she claims that part of their team’s success lies in the fact she would never ask a team member to do anything she wasn’t prepared to do herself.
On their “why”: Core to Taylor’s success is the need to “stay focused on your “why”” and to stay focused on the centre of the business; she argues that in climate tech, one cannot “move fast and break things”, but instead companies need to “move intentionally and make things better.”
Location: Williston, Vermont, United States
IPO status: Private
Industry: Waste Treatment and Disposal
Employees: 2-10 employees
Total funding to date: USD$7.5million
Lead investor(s): Third Sphere, Gratitude Railroad, Divergent Capital, Day One Ventures, Collaborative Fund
A Vermont-based startup building the circular sanitation economy and transforming human waste into effective, safe, and sustainable fertilizers. The company was founded in 2020 and recently raised USD 7.5 million in seed funding from investors including the Collaborative Fund, Divergent Capital, Day One Ventures, Third Sphere, Pure Ventures, and Gratitude Railroad.
The company’s mission is to demonstrate the value of human byproducts and connect people to their local environment every time they need to “go”.
Wasted*’s unique separating system diverts waste and prepares it for upcycling processing, swiftly and discreetly.
Wasted* stations feature:
Ventilation & air flow
All Stations offer sustainable toilet paper and cleaning supplies
Free of harsh chemicals
🏙 Company tagline:
“Here to reimagine human “waste””
👉 Find out more:
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