Part 1 in a series where Krates Ng (co-founder of Mokugift environmental rewards) interviews fellow ecopreneurs. Today, Krates interviews Brendan Gill of PlentyWays.
1) Why did you start PlentyWays?
We’ve always wanted to create an environmentally focused organization and its really our first opportunity to do that. At school and college we learned about the climate change issue and it became obvious that this issue is going to form a backdrop to our entire lives. Its already a crucial matter, but it is only going to grow more and more important over the coming decades. We wanted to be involved with this issue and to do our bit to help.
2) Is there a story about the name ‘PlentyWays’?
These days its very hard to come up with a name. Finding something short, simple and with an available web address is difficult so when we finally came up with PlentyWays, we were really satisfied. The idea behind it is that there are plenty of ways to make a difference. That’s really our guiding philosophy: through the products we make available, the tips we provide, the services we review, we are trying to show people all the ways in which they can do their bit.
3) What was the toughest challenge in getting your company started and how you got over that?
There was a combination of challenges at the beginning. It took us a long time to come up with our name, we even tried crowd sourcing it and put up a bounty of $200 we were so stumped, but even that proved fruitless. The second big challenge was picking out the right products to offer our customers. There are a lot of green products out there now and the number is increasing by the day. We had to do a lot of research into what we thought were the most popular ones and would be most useful to our users. Its a lot of work to then build relationships with the companies that make these products as well, which we are still working on.
4) If you had to pick one company in your lineup, which one would you showcase and why?
When people ask me what they can do to go green, the very first thing I ask them is if they have switched from incandescent bulbs to CFLs. This is the most simple straightforward thing someone can do which is guaranteed to save both energy and money. Sometimes it can be a challenge to convince people of a more expensive option that is more ecological, but using CFL bulbs is a complete no brainier. Also people who are waiting for their current incandescent supply to run out before switching to CFLs – a quick calculation will show you that in almost all situations you should switch straight away.
5) How is PlentyWays going to grow in 2010? And how can other ecopreneurs help?
PlentyWays has huge plans!… We are working extremely hard on our blog, which we are going to focus on helping people to go green. We will keep our ears to the ground on all the latest environmental apps, services and products and review them on our blog making it easy for budding ecopreneurs to take advantage of them. We also want to provide some apps of our own. The first we made was a very simple tool to stay on top of the latest green news, which pulls in news from some of the most popular green-focused websites out there e.g. TreeHugger and NY Times Environment. We also want to work on a system that can monitor the energy and monetary savings people can make with various green goods. For example, if someone purchases a few CFL bulbs from us, we would like to use the date they purchased to automatically calculate how much energy savings that has resulted in and the effect on their wallet. It will probably use an average energy cost and an average figure for daily light usage as default, but would allow people to customize the calculation to their situation by entering their cost per KWHr and average light usage. Stay tuned to our blog for details on all new features.