Over 30 billion water bottles are purchased in the US annually.
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If you put the bottles end to end they would go around the world 50 times. With most folks not bothering to recycle, these plastic water bottles have created a big environmental problem.
That's created an opportunity for some entrepreneurs to do well by doing good, helping to reduce the waste and improve the environment.
Tell me about your current business, Danelle. What are you doing exactly?
CynerGreen markets and sells environment-friendly stainless steel water bottles to the meetings and convention industry.
We also have a line of eco-friendly kids water bottles that we market through our daughter's website that she manages, www.cgkidz.com.
The business is doing well. In less than one year, we've sold over 300,000 stainless water bottles and customers now include Microsoft, Staples, Marriott and Terra Resorts.
CynerGreen is an online business. The business is run out of our home with warehouse facilities in Baltimore. However, we're opening our very first retail location in thirty days outside of Little Rock, AR where we live. It will be a 400 square foot "Eco-Chic Boutique" that will feature green products, the first of its kind. We are very excited about that new part of our company.
When did you start the business? Also, what were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I started the company in September 2007.
This is not my first business but I have been in the meetings and hospitality industry for nearly 20 years. I just finished opening the largest resort and convention center on the Eastern seaboard and decided to venture out to start this business when "green" was still new in the industry.
Where did you get the startup money?
My back pocket. With $15 and A LOT of determination, we did some research and sent out an email newsletter to a few people I knew… thus, the company was born.
This is a perfect example of how good marketing and public relations efforts, coupled with a great idea, can start a business quicker than you ever imagined.
We did some very specific targeted marketing in an industry we were extremely familiar with and that we knew would produce sales right away. Although it was a risk, we spoke to the needs of these customers in their own language, offered an innovative product and a very fair price. It took off amazingly well.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
Fortunately we haven't had any "main" competitors until recently. Now that we have ventured into individual bottle sales I would say that Klean Kanteen is our major competition. We have the exact same product that comes from the same manufacturer as theirs so for now, we're featuring a "comparison" against the two and we offer ours at half the cost.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
My experience has been tremendous. I never thought the business would take off this quickly but the demand is there.
People want change and they are willing to make good buying decisions for products such as these to do so. I am very passionate about CynerGreen and love that we never lose sight of our focus. I had no idea what to expect with this business but I knew the idea was solid and timely.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Started selling to the individual market about six months sooner – and not been afraid to do so!
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Spread the word any way possible, through viral marketing, personal emails, continuing to TALK, TALK, TALK, and most run a very effective PR campaign offering to write articles, send samples and really just get the product in front of everyone I can.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Be passionate, stay completely focused and if it's something you know is marketable and you believe in it, don't give up easily.
That's great advice. Passionate business owners are virtually unstoppable in my experience, but you do have to stay focused. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience and your advice with us, and good luck in growing your business. For folks who would like to get in touch with Danelle, you can reach her by phone at (727) 934-3726.